"You won't find any corny pictures of a chef guy out in a field, pretending to be a farmer for the day," promises Michael Anthony. You won't find recipes calling for large hunks of meat, either. What readers will see in the pages of V Is for Vegetables, however, is exactly how the acclaimed chef cooks at home.
Anthony — who is known for his finesse with vegetables — currently helms the kitchen at two prominent New York City restaurants: decades-old Gramercy Tavern and museum sensation Untitled. The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook was Anthony's first, and showcased how he cooks vegetables in a restaurant. With his sophomore book, the chef hopes to offer home cooks a more approachable methodology: "I am a cheerleader saying, ‘Hey, you can do this. Give it a try.' I tell readers, ‘Set yourself up like this in the kitchen and you'll be able to cook this quicker." None of the recipes are overly fussy and rarely involve a lengthy list of ingredients. For example, Anthony's nettle custard recipe — a riff on chawanmushi — calls for just four ingredients and a couple pinches of salt.
While vegetables are the main focus, Anthony is quick to explain that V Is for Vegetables isn't a vegan or vegetarian cookbook by any means: "I decided to include fish and meat because that's the way I eat." He explains he wanted to write a book on "vegetable cookery" to help people think about "re-proportioning the way they eat." Most Americans, Anthony notes, compose dishes "starting with a huge piece of meat and adding a few vegetables alongside it to accompany it." Anthony's approach is a role reversal: Vegetables go in the center of the plate, and the meat, if he uses any, becomes the accompaniment.
As the name hints, V Is for Vegetables is formatted differently than other cookbooks, eschewing a meal-based organization system in favor of a more "encyclopedic format." The cookbook groups vegetables together by letter from A to Z. And for each vegetable, there are multiple recipes, lessons in technique, illustrations (done by Anthony's wife Mindy Dubin), and even "process shots" of a recipe coming together, not just of the final dish. "I wanted the book to be balanced. It is not an art book. It really is a book that belongs in the kitchen, with pages turned down, and stains, and sauces."
V Is for Vegetables is co-authored by Dorothy Kalins. It will be released by Little, Brown and Company on October 27 (pre-order now). Take an exclusive look inside below: