The Modern Cook’s Year

Cover of The Modern Cook’s Year: Over 250 vibrant vegetable recipes to see you through the seasons by Anna Jones

The Modern Cook’s Year: Over 250 vibrant vegetable recipes to see you through the seasons
Anna Jones
4th Estate/Harper Collins, 2017

I wish this book had existed twenty years ago when I was vegetarian. This seasonal cookbook, divided into 6 rough seasons (YMMV depending on where you live), focuses on the produce that is ripe and delicious at any given point throughout the year. Chef, stylist and food writer Anna Jones, who came up through the ranks of Jamie Oliver’s kitchens, has put together this massive collection of really beautiful dishes that make the most of what is in season, and she’s not afraid of imports. The tomatoes in a salad of winter tomatoes and whipped feta are not dismissed for their food miles but are celebrated for their interesting flavours and ripeness.

Jones has some really fun dishes to keep the vegetarian diet interesting, like berry-studded breakfast cake, or really cool muffins with a soft-cooked egg inside (those look like magic!). Influences come from all over, with Thai, Indian and Japanese ingredients making starring roles. Tofu also shows up in a few dishes, but it’s unobtrusive and Jones makes it flavourful in dishes like summer taco salad or kimchi and miso soup.

The chef also offers a selection of what she calls “flavour maps”, sort of a “choose your own adventure” situation with flatbreads, salads, or fritters where she lists out how to choose a base, a “hero” vegetable, some texture, and a top note. These would be helpful to folks who find themselves staring into the fridge or cupboard, unable to think beyond cliched dishes for new ways to combine ingredients.

In terms of usability, I’d like a larger font for instructions and ingredients (I want a book that someone can glance at easily when it’s sitting on their kitchen counter) and most dishes have lots of ingredients, even if they’re not especially complicated. Measurements are in metric only, and photos have that soft, hazy lighting that reminds me of Kinfolk magazine but tends to not do too much for the food. Which is too bad, because if you get past the soft, hazy lighting the dishes themselves look great.

Images aside, this looks like it would be an important addition to the cookbook collection of any modern vegetarian, or even a non-vegetarian who is open to seasonal vegetarian eating.

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