Book Review: Cornucopia at home

A friend recently lent me her copy of the cookbook Cornucopia at home: A collection of recipes from Dublin’s Cornucopia Restaurant. For anyone living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, this is a must-have for your kitchen library.  This book contains a collection of dozens of vegetarian and vegan recipes with many variations that can appeal to any dietary lifestyle.  But it’s way more than a recipe book.  It is the most comprehensive and straightforward guide that I have found regarding many issues and philosophies relating to food, such as movements toward diets based on raw produce and food made with organic, fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients.

From the story behind the restaurant, to the recipes themselves, I was gripped by this book.   I found the Introduction to be thought-provoking and inspiring.  Consider the following two quotes that are words from the restaurant owner:

“At a time in history when we can feel frustrated that there is little we can do to effect positive change in the world, why not start with our food, our most personal interface with our nature?”

“Processed foods are quick, convenient and sometimes tasty, but they steal from the body and the mind and even the spirit, taking away far more than they give back in time saved.  Home producing more natural, healthy and energy-giving meals, as with any creative endeavour, yields pleasure and satisfaction on many levels.”

There are also several pages within the Introduction that are dedicated to explaining commonly used (but often misunderstood) terms, such as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.  Throughout the book, background information is provided for each of the recipes, describing much more than how to cook the food, but also how and why the ingredients work together to create something delicious that will nourish our bodies in a complete way.

For someone who considered herself to be pretty knowledgeable about cooking vegetarian and food in general, I was able to find golden nuggets of useful information on nearly every page.  I haven’t had the book in my possession long enough to make much of a dent in the recipe list, so I asked my friend, who lived in Dublin for several years and knew the restaurant personally, to make some recommendations for a few tasty dishes.  So if you decide to purchase a copy of this book, or find one to borrow, here are a few recipes to try:  honey roasted parsnip, toasted almond, and cumin seed soup; garlic mayonnaise potato salad with roasted hazelnuts; bulghur wheat, roasted butternut squash, and baby spinach salad; sweet potato, broccoli and lentil sambar.  They also have many lovely ideas for quiches and desserts.

My copy of this book is ordered and on the way.  I’ve never been to Dublin, but over the next few months I look forward to becoming more acquainted with one of its most treasured eateries by way of Cornucopia at home.

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