Culinary Dream Team

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Culinary Dream Team

Roots: The Definitive Compendium

by Diane Morgan Chronicle Books, 432 pp., $40

In this ambitious work, Diane Morgan takes on the staggering task of demystifying root vegetables – all of them, from all the cuisines of the world. From arrowroot to carrots, jicama to yucca, each is examined, its history given, and recipes for its use presented. What makes this book worth happily plunking down $40 for are the aforementioned recipes: Morgan has selected, and I mean this literally, the perfect ones. There is no sleight of hand, no straining after novelty, no pretense. Instead, recipes are given that are classic, sometimes even traditional, showcasing why each root is beloved by people in one or more regions of the globe. There are between six and 14 recipes for each vegetable, and each list includes what might be thought of as each root's "best use." For celery root: celery root gratin, cream of celery root soup, and celery root remoulade. For galangal: red curry paste and tom kha gai. For potatoes: colcannon, latkes, mashed potatoes, and the "ultimate" french fries. For ginger: sushi-style pickled ginger, gingerbread, and homemade ginger ale. Along with familiar vegetables like turnips, sweet potatoes, and radishes, Morgan reveals how to cook with exotic roots like salsify, lotus root, taro, and malanga. As farmers markets continue to abound and Ameri­cans are presented with an entire world of unfamiliar vegetables, this volume becomes the perfect go-to for figuring out what in the world you are going to do with that parsley root or those rutabagas you impulsively bought. It really is the definitive compendium.

Diane Morgan appears in the Cooking Tent at 11:30am on Saturday.

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