15 February 2011

Review: Double Take: One Fabulous Recipe, Two Finished Dishes, Feeding Vegetarians and Omnivores Together by A.J. Rathbun and Jeremy Holt

The Book:

It can be difficult to get people to agree on a meal, but when you put vegetarians and omnivores together, it is near impossible at times to please everyone.  Double Take attempts to bridge the gap and bring common meals for both in one recipe.  With just a couple substitutions, dishes can be prepared for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.  From appetizers to soups to entrees, A.J. Rathbun and Jeremy Holt bring both of these lifestyles to the table.

The Yarn:

As an omnivore dating a vegetarian, I was looking for common recipes that could be adapted for both of us and still satisfy my kids.  The premise is good:  one recipe that is started in one pot, but when the meat is introduced, it is split off and finished separately to keep some portions vegetarian.  There are clear instructions for the recipes, and each has notes to make it all vegetarian or for just omnivores.  At the beginning is a good description of kitchen tools and 'Meat Alternatives 101', plus handy tips from both authors throughout the book.

However, the cookbook really seems to be mostly recipes that are meat-based, then adapted for vegetarians using meat substitutes.  Most of the vegetarians I know rarely use meat alternatives on a regular basis, so it seemed a rather narrow view of what could be adapted for both kinds of diners.  It had an overtone of  "the only way to please omnivores is to make sure there is MEAT".  I don't have to have bacon in my quiche, nor do I see it necessary to split a recipe of French Onion soup up just to make half with beef broth and half with vegetable stock. I think this book is more focused on entertaining guests than being an actual family meal cookbook, although the 'Comfort Entrees' chapter contains recipes for macaroni and cheese, fish sticks (using tofu or cod), and biscuits and gravy.  I also found the lack of photographs or any dessert recipes a bit sad, but I guess there is no need for separation of chocolate chip cookies for vegetarians and omnivores (unless they are BACON chocolate chip cookies....).

All in all, Double Take is a nice beginner's cookbook for ideas on common meals for both the vegetarians and meat-eaters who sit around your table.

The Ink:

Title:  Double Take: One Fabulous Recipe, Two Finished Dishes, Feeding Vegetarians and Omnivores Together
Author: A. J. Rathbun and Jeremy Holt
Publisher:  Harvard Common Press
Date:  January 2010
Read:  Library Paperback

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