Kim O'Donnel's Meat Lover's Meatless Celebrations provides plant-based meal recipes for festive occasions.
The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations:
Year-Round Vegetarian Feasts (You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into)
by Kim O’Donnel
Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012, 226 pages, $22.00
O’Donnel’s newest title is an automatic follow-up for those who strive to move meat off their plates and who already know her previous book The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2010).
But more so, this book comes to the rescue of meat eaters everywhere who have been called to cook outside their comfort zones by preparing plant-based meals for a festive gathering.
If you’ve experienced the challenge of cooking for a loved one who recently announced becoming vegetarian, you know what this means. Just as there is likely to be at least one person at table who prefers vegetarian or vegan fare, there are many cooks who can’t imagine vegetables as anything but a side dish.
Kim O’Donnel lays a safety net of menus for festive occasions. Twenty-six menus are outlined according to the seasons, and it’s also easy to pick and choose recipes from which to build a feast.
To best appreciate this book, let’s concentrate on the recipes. These are creative and tasteful enough to satisfy meat eaters and vegetarians of all ages—and many are identified as being gluten-free, vegan, and/or kid-friendly. Thankfully, we’re not asked to shape a turkey from tofu or craft a glazed ham from vegetables.
Here the richest dish is “Potato-Turnip Gratin with Blue Cheese Sauce”. The aromas of “Eggplant Timpano” and “Creole-Style Bread Pudding with Boozy Citrus Sauce” wafting through the house are sure to make anyone feel simultaneously hungry and comforted. Using seasonal ingredients, O’Donnel makes dishes special but not too complicated. Some recipes are simple, while more complex dishes can be prepared in stages. All good.
However, readers must draw on their imaginative powers to visualize how most recipes will present on the festive table because, despite the cover’s promise, great photos are few and far between. Some of the expected photos are barely relevant and disappointing. A generic photo of zucchinis does nothing to stimulate the appetitive for “Grilled Zucchini Hero” like a capture of the finished recipe might do. I would have enjoyed seeing a serving of “Apple-Rosemary-Walnut Pie” but there’s only a photo of apples.
This author has a solid reputation, but production of Meatless Celebrations does not match the quality of its recipes.