‘A Modern Way to Cook: 150+ vegetarian meals for quick, flavor-packed meals.’ By Anna Jones. Ten Speed Press. $35.

In the middle of a snowstorm earlier this month, in the middle of making Parsnip and Potato Rosti, from Anna Jones’ “A Modern Way to Cook: 150+ vegetarian recipes for quick, flavor-packed meals,” I found myself sending this email to a co-worker: “Even if this turns out to taste like a Michelin-starred restaurant, it won’t have been worth the trouble! Ask me if I have now dirtied just about every last pot in my kitchen??!!”

The question was rhetorical. I had. That single recipe required a grill pan, a bowl, the food processor, a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth, an oven-proof frying pan, a second frying pan, a third frying pan. Maybe I was supposed to combine frying pans 2 and 3, but if so, the recipe directions did not say so. Nor did Jones specify the size of the oven-proof frying pan, so I had to guess. I guessed wrong. Ergo, a fourth frying pan. Also, because my rosti looked nothing like the beautiful one in the photograph – the top of mine was anemic and unappetizing – I flipped it over and baked it on its second side for a few minutes. That flip required a baking sheet. In sum, eight things to wash, not counting my kitchen towel, now soggy and awaiting my next load of laundry.

In the end, the rosti, which was topped with sauteed spinach, dollops of ricotta cheese, grilled baby leeks and fried eggs, was tasty. No question it would make an attractive, impressive brunch dish. Would I make it again? I’m not so sure. Did it live up to the promise of “quick” in the book’s subtitle? Definitely not.

I don’t know what to make of this very beautiful cookbook. The gorgeous photographs make me want to cook. Many of the recipes are vegan. As a passionate cheese lover, I am as much able to imagine turning vegan as I am to imagine winning an Olympic Gold. Yet the recipe titles alone make me want to cook, like Crispy Cauliflower Rice with Sticky, Spiced Cashews, Charred Celery Root Steaks with Crispy Sweet Potato Fries, and Lentil Ragu Agrodolce. (“Charred” and “crispy” pop up a lot in the names.) The ideas intrigue me, for instance a polenta recipe served with roasted root vegetables has the cook quick-pickle the vegetables before roasting, “giving them a delicious piquant note,” writes Jones, a cook, stylist and writer who worked for Jamie Oliver for years. The Times of London has dubbed her “the new Nigella” Lawson. (It’s neither here nor there, but another new cookbook I have on my shelf mentions that the Sunday London Times has called that author, Izy Hossack, “The new Nigella.” Is every young woman cook in London the new Nigella? Is something wrong with the old Nigella?)

Jones outlines her culinary philosophy in the introduction: “I want standout, delicious food that leaves me feeling energized, light, bright and satisfied. It’s this intersection between wellness and deliciousness that I strive for with every plate of food I make and eat.”

I can get behind that. Still, based on the five recipes I tested, I am not sold. My notation on the page for Crispy Chickpea and Harissa Burgers (made slightly and deliciously sweet with four pureed Medjool dates) says “good, but a lot of work and dishes.” The Kale, Tomato and Lemon Magic One-Pot Spaghetti used, as promised, one pot, and by cooking the pasta in its sauce, a clever trick, it developed a lot of flavor and gave that sauce lovely body. But I wasn’t happy with this instruction: “… simmer on high heat for 6 minutes, using a pair of tongs to turn the pasta every 30 seconds as it cooks.” Doing so was critical or the pasta cooked unevenly, but seemed far more work than the standard cook-the-pasta-in-boiling-water technique. In fairness, the recipes are divided by times, ranging from 10 minutes to 45 minutes (not, in my experience, including clean-up time).

The Malted Chocolate Buckwheat Granola will enter my repertoire, however – with a few tweaks. I didn’t love it with yogurt, but with milk, it was a less sweet, more healthy, all-grown-up version of Cocoa Puffs, a cereal I was forbidden as a kid, making this granola taste all the better now.

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or at:

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MALTED CHOCOLATE BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA

I made a few changes to Jones’ recipe below. To begin, I added 1/2 teaspoon salt to the liquid ingredients. Also, I found the chia seeds didn’t integrate into the granola while baking; next time, I’d lose them from the recipe and instead add a spoonful of chia seeds to my morning bowl with the milk. I assumed – from the photo – that buckwheat seeds are what I call buckwheat groats; perhaps it’s a Britishism? In any case, the groats worked and were a fun item I’d never before thought to add to granola. Finally, I prefer to bake granola slower and longer, so I baked it in a 300 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes a good jarful (about 1 3/4 pound, 800 g)

3 cups/300 g rolled oats

11/4 cups/200 grams buckwheat seeds

31/2 ounces/100 g dried fruit (such as coconut flakes, chopped dates, raisins or chopped apricots)

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 tablespoon/30 g chia seeds

4 ounces/125 g pecans

1/4 cup/60 ml maple syrup

4 tablespoons barley malt syrup

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F and get all your ingredients together.

In a generously-sized bowl, mix the oats, buckwheat, dried fruit, cocoa powder and chia seeds. Coarsely chop the pecans and add these too.

Put the maple syrup, barley malt syrup and coconut oil into a pan and warm through.

Pour the syrup mixture over the oat mixture and mix until it’s all coated. Then put on a large rimmed baking sheet or two smaller ones and squish it all together with your hands to form little bundles of granola.

Put into the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, then take the granola out and use a spoon or spatula to roughly break it up a bit. Put back into the oven for a further 5 to 10 minutes.

It’s done when it starts to form lovely crunchy bundles. The dark color from the cocoa will mean it’s easy to overcook, as you won’t be able to see, so if anything, take it out a little earlier than you think it’s ready.

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