In September, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish James Beard hall-of-famer Mollie Katzen's next cookbook, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation. To keep you busy until then, Katzen told us about her three favorite cookbooks.
Honey from a Weed, Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia, by the English writer Patience Gray, is a rich combination of travelog and recipe journal. My own discovery of this work was an across-the-board revelation: my first exposure to the concept of Mediterranean food as fully life-embracing, as well as life-sustaining. And the pen-and-ink illustrations telegraphed what felt to me like a personally kindred aesthetic message.
The Vegetarian Epicure opened my eyes to the possibility that vegetarian food could be elegant, sophisticated, and sensual. This now-classic tome was written in her early 20s by Anna Thomas, a precocious, articulate, multi-tasking visionary of my own generation (she is also a filmmaker, who used the advance for this work to put herself through film school) who was a great inspiration to me and many others.
Mediterranean Grains and Greens by the great Paula Wolfert was a three-fer for me: the two most basic staples of my cooking delved into by one of the most eloquent and knowledgeable food authors of our time.