FIVE YEARS AGO, when sales began, Mollie Katzen's "The Moosewood Cookbook" was the book that mothers who didn't know from hot dogs on the grill bought for their vegetarian children. "It had a really pretty cover. I looked inside and said 'This is for him,'" says one such mother, whose vegetarian son then told his friends about the book.
It was "a real word-of-mouth book," says George Young of Ten Speed Press.
And so, with virtually no publicity, "Moosewood" sold more than 600,000 copies, and keeps up with the sales of its new companion, the big, bold "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" -- publicity being plentiful for the new book.
Now both books are widely available in mainstream bookstores. In both, Katzen has written, illustrated and produced material to make cooking, vegetarian cuisine and "a real good time" accessible. Accessibility is a key word for Katzen. She wants vegetarian food to be accessible to people.
Katzen's books are middle-of-the-road vegetarian. Not clunky vegetarian like the brown-rice-and-seaweed tomes of the 1960s, but with more accessible recipes than the "refined" gourmet vegetarian books of the big publishing houses.
"Moosewood," a book inspired by the Ithaca, N.Y. restaurant of the same name that Katzen once managed with friends, relies heavily on dairy products, which is how the cooks at Moosewood compensated for not serving meat but still wooed nouveau and even nonvegetarians. Katzen's goal was to "remove the mystique" from cooking by showing people that good food could be created with common ingredients. "Moosewood" leans heavily toward easy, practical, thrown-together-but-wonderful cheese- and sour cream-rich recipes.
"Moosewood" and "Broccoli" should be "used as springboards to get into the kitchen," says Katzen. Like most good cooks, she believes that a recipe should only be used to guide the cooking process, not to dictate. Both her cookbooks support this idea through asides, lists and illustrations.
For instance, anyone who has ever stir-fried knows that a recipe inadequately expresses -- indeed inhibits -- the ease and variety of the dish. On the other hand, people who have never stir-fried have no conception of how to make the dish and need a recipe to guide them.
Katzen obliges with three pages on stir-frying. There are lists, directions and suggestions -- on mixing and matching vegetables according to cooking times (cook carrots before mushrooms before spinach), on ingredients (chopped toasted nuts, sesame seeds), on seasonings (wine, tamari, sesame oil). Hints are where you'd expect them to be, written off to the side or added parenthetically at the correct chronological moment -- the end-all and be-all stir-fry recipe, complete with options, reminders and a list of "Essential Elements."
If "Moosewood" seduced cooks into vegetarianism, "Broccoli" tidies the diet a little. Cheese, eggs and sour cream give way somewhat to tofu, nuts, grains and beans. "I don't like very rich foods," says Katzen, and this book reflects her personal tastes.
"Broccoli," a four-year project, takes "Moosewood" one step further. "Moosewood" fans will be delighted to know that there's a real index in "Broccoli" -- while Katzen handletters, draws, compiles and produces her books, she left the index to someone else this time around. Her chapters are broken up more efficiently, there's a breadbaking chapter and several discussions about food, such as funny vegetables, the art of chopping and so on.
She illustrates all her recipes. Indeed, each page, complete with recipe, is an illustration -- all executed by hand, some with pictures, some with diagrams. One illustration for "Broccoli's" bread chapter shows a fist going "thwap" into a bowl of risen dough.Yeast bread becomes less mysterious. Accessible. STUFFED ARTICHOKES KATZEN (6 servings) 6 artichokes 2 tablespoons butter 1 1/2 cups minced onion 1 large clove of garlic, crushed 1 1/2 cups finely minced walnuts 1/2 cup wheat germ 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/4 cup freshly minced parsley 1/4 teaspoon each thyme and paprika 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Steam artichokes for 35 minutes or until leaves come off easily. Cool. To hollow them, grab hold of the central leaf cluster (at the tip) and yank it out. Reach into the cavity with a regular spoon and with a few masterful strokes, scrape out the choke (inedible fuzz) and discard it.
In a large, heavy skillet, cook the onions and garlic in the butter over medidum-low heat, until the onions are soft (5 to 8 minutes). Add walnuts, wheat germ, salt and pepper. Continue to stir and cook over low heat another 5 to 8 minutes. Add wine and herbs. Keep cooking gently another 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese and lemon juice -- mix well. Divide the stuffing evenly among the 6 artichokes. Fill each cavity firmly. Place the stuffed artichokes in a shallow baking dish, standing them upright (you may need to cut off their stems to stabilize their posture). Cover the pan loosely with foil and place it in a 325-degree oven for about 30 minutes, so that all elements heat through nicely. SPICED LENTILS (4 to 6 servings) 1 1/2 cups raw lentils 2 tablespoons butter 2 large cloves garlic, crushed 1 cup minced onion 1 large stalk celery, chopped 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon chinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander A few tablespoons of water, as needed Freshly grated black pepper, to taste Juice from 1 large lemon 2 cups chopped tart apple (approximately 2 large ones) Cayenne pepper to taste
Cook the lentils in 2 1/4 cups water (bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer) 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, cook everything else -- except the apples -- until tender (use a deep, heavy skillet) adding water, if necessary, to avoid sticking. Add the apples to the saute, cook 10 minutes more, covered, and then combine this mixture with the lentils in a casserole. Cover and keep warm in a 250-degree oven until serving. Serve with chutney, chappatis (Indian wheat bread) and raita (yogurt-vegetable salad). BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (12 muffins) 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup honey 1/4 cup butter 1 1/2 cups blueberries, cleaned and set aside (fresh, frozen or canned but unsweetened and completely drained) 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime rind 1/3 cup milk 1 large egg 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center. Combine butter and honey and place over low heat to melt butter. Combine honey-butter mixture with remaining ingredients and pour this into the well of dry ingredients. Stir gently until just blended, gradually adding the berries. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes before removing.
"So what is this stuff called tofu," poses "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest." "(Are you afraid to ask, because it seems that Everyone Else knows, and they'll think you aren't cool?).
"I am happy to offer a few words on behalf of tofu, having been completely won over by the charms of this humble and versatile substance. Whether you are a vegetarian, or you would prefer to consume less meat, there may come a time when you need a change from eggs and dairy products as your main protein alternatives."
And this is one of Katzen's favorite tofu recipes: BROCCOLI & TOFU (4 to 5 servings) Sauce: 1/2 cup good, unprocessed peanut butter 1/2 cup hot water 1/4 cup cider vinegar 2 tablespoons tamari sauce 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Saute: 2 to 3 cups cooked rice 1 pound fresh broccoli 3 tablespoons peanut oil 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root 4 medium cloves garlic, minced 1 pound tofu, cut into small cubes A few dashes of salt 2 cups thinly sliced onion Freshly ground black pepper 1 cup coarsely chooped raw peanuts 2 to 3 tablespoons tamari sauce 2 freshly minced scallions
To make the sauce whisk together the peanut butter and the hot water in a small saucepan until you have a uniform mixture. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. Set aside. (Don't forget to start cooking rice about 10 minutes before you begin your stir-fry).
For the saute cut off the bottom 1/2-inch of broccoli stems. Shave off the tough outer skins of the stalks with a sharp paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Cut the stalks diagonally into thin slices.Coarsely chop the flowerets. Set aside.
Begin heating the wok (or large, heavy skillet). When it is hot add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Add half the ginger and half the garlic. Salt lightly. Saute over medium heat for 1 minute, then add the tofu chunks. Turn the heat up a little and stir-fry the tofu for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer it, including whatever liquid it might have expressed, to the saucepanful of peanut sauce. Mix together gently.
Wipe the wok with a paper towel and return it to the stove to begin heating once again. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the hot wok and follow suit with the remaining ginger and garlic. Salt lightly. Add the onion and grind in some fresh black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes).
On another burner, begin heating the peanut-tofu sauce on a very low flame. It shouldn't exactly cook -- it only needs to be warmed through. Add the broccoli and the chopped peanuts to the wok. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of tamari sauce and stirfry over medium-high heat until the broccoli is bright green and just tender (about 5 minutes).
Pour the heated peanut sauce over the saute. Toss gently until everything is coated with everything else. Sprinkle in the minced scallions as you toss.
Serve over rice and pass around some additional tamari, hot sauce and even more chopped peanuts, if desired.