BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

BRASSICAS by LAURA B. RUSSELL REVIEWED


Brassicas
By Laura B. Russell
Published by Ten Speed Press
ISBN#978-1-60774-571-6
167 Pages

Back Cover: A cookbook showcasing 80 recipes for the most popular of the world's healthiest vegetables--kale, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, leafy greens, and more--tailored to accommodate special diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.

The eighty inventive, flavorful recipes presented in Brassicas play to each vegetable’s strengths, favoring techniques that celebrate their intrinsic flavors instead of masking them by blanketing under layers of cheese or boiling. Think of the inherent sweetness that can be coaxed from perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts, or the bright, peppery punch of a watercress and arugula salad.

Straightforward cooking methods like roasting, sautéing, pickling, and wilting transform brassicas into satisfying dishes, such as Cauliflower Hummus, Spicy Kale Fried Rice, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Crust, and Broccoli and Pepper Jack Frittata. These recipes also maintain the vegetables’ stellar nutritional properties. High in vitamins and minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and glucosinolates, brassicas have been shown to act as antioxidants, anticarcinogenics, anti-inflammatories, and liver detoxifiers, and have many other health benefits.

The beauty of these “superfoods” is on full display in Brassicas; exquisite photographs of brassica varieties in their raw forms—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and buds—can be found throughout, helping you identify Lacinato kale from curly kale or mustard greens from collard greens at the farmers’ market or grocery store.



Laura B. Russell is the author of Brassicas , The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen  as well as the blog, Notes from a Gluten-Free Kitchen . Her newspaper column, "Gluten Freedom", appears monthly in the FoodDay section of the Oregonian. Laura frequently contributes articles to many local and national magazines, including Prevention, Living Without, Easy Eats, NW Palate, and Portland's MIX magazine. She is a culinary advisor to The Heart's Kitchen (theheartskitchen.com), an organization collaborating with Oregon Health and Sciences University to improve nutrition of moms-to-be and consequently benefitting the long-term health of their children.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that allowed me to learn about Brassicas veggies and change my view of vegetable altogether. This author has opened up a whole new world of veggies to me and my family that are wonderful for your body, and with a few techniques and knowledge under my belt, will become frequent visitors to my dinner table.

The author explains, “Brassicas belong to the family of plants known as Brassacae…nearly every part of the plant within this sprawling botanical clan is used for food: roots (radishes), stem buds (Brussel sprouts), sprouts, and seeds (mustard).”

“Sadly, brassicas as a whole have an unwarranted reputation for having strong flavors and smells. Yes, some of them can overwhelm any other vegetable in the kitchen.”

When I was growing up veggies were boiled or steamed to death; leaving them pale in color, mushy and undesirable.  The author not only includes nutritional information but other important information about how to pick veggies, prepare and serve them for maximum taste and nutrition.  I learned so much.

The author created a “Flavor Profile” chart of all these veggies which I found helpful under the heading, “Cooking the World’s healthiest veggies: Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel, sprouts and more.”  There are 8 or so different veggies in each category. The list veggies under their different flavors: mild, stronger, peppery, and pungent.

The next section is, “Taming the Beast: Turning bold flavors into tasty dishes.” The author states, “The first rule when cooking boldly flavored veggies is never to equate the words strong or bitter with unpleasant. When properly handled, these flavors will add excitement to your plate rather than overwhelm their neighbors. You just need to plan. Here are my three go-to strategies: balance – find a counter point to balance the flavors, match bold with bold, or add heat. : 1. Balance – creating the correct blend for the best taste. 2. Bold on Bold – Sometimes the best way to compliment assertive flavors is to stand right up to them, and create bold on bold flavor. 3. Heat – Heat mellows harsh edges. The author had another helpful chart – it has a list of Universal Pairing: Brassicas’ Best Friends!” Helping readers implement her three strategies.

The next section was beneficial to be too. It was called “Selection, Storage – Prep-tips.” This part talks about how to pick out veggies, how to store them in order to keep them vibrant and what you need to do to prepare them for a tasty meal.

“How to Wash you Greens” was next. The author instructs readers on how important this step is for flavor and your health. She states that brassicas veggies have more dirt that needs to be washed away before eating.

Another helpful section, “Techniques to make Brassicas Shine.” Here the author discusses different ways to bring out the best flavor for each veggie; making them shine by using different methods of cooking. Example roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, grilled, moist-hearty cooking, wilting, pickled and raw.

I tried four recipes in this book Broccoli & Pepper Jack Frittata, Chaired Brussels, Spicy Kale Fried Rice and Caldo Verde. My family really liked them all. They loved the Caldo Verde so much it was all gone by the end of our meal. My oldest son said, “Mom this is amazing!”

The recipes had easy to find ingredients, clear instructions that helped me get yummy results. It was great to see my family eat their veggies and not complain about it. This hard back book had beautiful color pictures throughout. At the end the author talked about, “Brassicas and your health; Special Issues and Special Diets.” Which included Gluten Free diets.

I highly recommend this cook book filled with great information and yummy recipes; your family will love. It’s for the experienced cook and a newbie like me. You’ll feel great about them eating their veggies and watching them enjoying something so healthy!

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
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