Hot Best Seller

Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant

Availability: Ready to download

Amanda Cohen does not play by the rules. Her vegetable recipes are sophisticated and daring, beloved by omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan diners alike. Dirt Candy: A Cookbook shares the secrets to making her flavorful dishes—from indulgent Stone-Ground Grits with Pickled Shiitakes and Tempura Poached Egg, to hearty Smoked Cauliflower and Waffles with Horseradish Cream Sauce, Amanda Cohen does not play by the rules. Her vegetable recipes are sophisticated and daring, beloved by omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan diners alike. Dirt Candy: A Cookbook shares the secrets to making her flavorful dishes—from indulgent Stone-Ground Grits with Pickled Shiitakes and Tempura Poached Egg, to hearty Smoked Cauliflower and Waffles with Horseradish Cream Sauce, to playfully addictive Popcorn Pudding with Caramel Popcorn. It also details Amanda’s crazy story of building a restaurant from the ground up to its currently being one of the hardest-to-get reservations in New York City—all illustrated as a brilliant graphic novel. Both a great read and a source of kitchen inspiration, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook is a must-have for any home cook looking to push the boundaries of vegetable cooking.


Compare

Amanda Cohen does not play by the rules. Her vegetable recipes are sophisticated and daring, beloved by omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan diners alike. Dirt Candy: A Cookbook shares the secrets to making her flavorful dishes—from indulgent Stone-Ground Grits with Pickled Shiitakes and Tempura Poached Egg, to hearty Smoked Cauliflower and Waffles with Horseradish Cream Sauce, Amanda Cohen does not play by the rules. Her vegetable recipes are sophisticated and daring, beloved by omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan diners alike. Dirt Candy: A Cookbook shares the secrets to making her flavorful dishes—from indulgent Stone-Ground Grits with Pickled Shiitakes and Tempura Poached Egg, to hearty Smoked Cauliflower and Waffles with Horseradish Cream Sauce, to playfully addictive Popcorn Pudding with Caramel Popcorn. It also details Amanda’s crazy story of building a restaurant from the ground up to its currently being one of the hardest-to-get reservations in New York City—all illustrated as a brilliant graphic novel. Both a great read and a source of kitchen inspiration, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook is a must-have for any home cook looking to push the boundaries of vegetable cooking.

30 review for Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sps

    Read it more as a regular book (specifically a graphic novel memoir about the restaurant industry in Manhattan) than as a cookbook, since the recipes are too time-consuming even by my standards. Despite a kind of irrelevant kung fu theme, the book is an amusing read that I'd suggest to graphic memoir fans and anyone who is fascinated by the fine-dining world. The characters, both good and evil, are really brought to life, as are the struggles of trying to run a business, cook to please other peo Read it more as a regular book (specifically a graphic novel memoir about the restaurant industry in Manhattan) than as a cookbook, since the recipes are too time-consuming even by my standards. Despite a kind of irrelevant kung fu theme, the book is an amusing read that I'd suggest to graphic memoir fans and anyone who is fascinated by the fine-dining world. The characters, both good and evil, are really brought to life, as are the struggles of trying to run a business, cook to please other people, and at the same time do something innovative with food. The one recipe I did try required making a broth, using that broth to make another broth, cooking paella, separately grilling three kinds of vegetables, and making a sweet-savory rice krispie thing. The Wüsthof and I probably chopped a full cup of garlic that day. The resulting dish looked beautiful on the plate and parts of it were super-tasty (saffron-tomato broth and lemon-garlic grilled vegetables), but the main thing, the paella, was just so-so. Also she had the Lacey Sher problem where the instructions didn't quite work (1.25 cups liquid to 2 cups rice, really?) so I ended up combining them with the instructions on the bag of paella rice. Finally, it's the 21st century and we're all groovy to eating locally and seasonally, yes? Where I'm from, asparagus season generally ends before tomato season begins, so I'm not sure what time of year you get to eat asparagus and tomato paella. I'm also not sure who would be the intended audience for the cookbook part. If you don't already know how to caramelize onions, you should probably not try the recipes here, yet Cohen gives detailed instructions for caramelizing and other basic techniques. Maybe this is for people who who feel about cooking the way I feel about cycling: they aren't practitioners themselves but they love to read about it and see how the professionals do it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    LOVE this cookbook/graphic novel. While I will probably never make a thing in this book as it's filled with fine dining recipes that take A LOT of time (except the pickles chapter, I will make EVERYTHING in that chapter), I still adore this book. Here's what it's got going for it: -There's a chapter on pickled veggies. Need I say more? -The style of this book is awesome. I found myself actually reading this like a graphic novel instead of just as a cookbook. There are actual plots and stories. So LOVE this cookbook/graphic novel. While I will probably never make a thing in this book as it's filled with fine dining recipes that take A LOT of time (except the pickles chapter, I will make EVERYTHING in that chapter), I still adore this book. Here's what it's got going for it: -There's a chapter on pickled veggies. Need I say more? -The style of this book is awesome. I found myself actually reading this like a graphic novel instead of just as a cookbook. There are actual plots and stories. So cool. -It truly is a celebration of vegetables. Her description of her "philosophy" of vegetable cooking is so accessible and refreshing. I feel like she's the kind of vegetarian that wouldn't cause non-veggies to roll their eyes while she talks. -It's funny. -You know that introduction in every cookbook that's all "here's what boiling is" and "here's how you braise something" that you completely ignore? This one has it rolled into the story of her and her team training for Iron Chef America that makes it actually fun to read. I'm an avid home cook and some of her tips were clever and new to me. Check out this book. Especially if you're a veg head.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I don't normally review cookbooks unless I really read them. This book is half cookbook half graphic novel, something I think stands alone, and stands tall, all by itself. Will I ever make the recipes? Not likely. They are long, involved, complicated, and some have really obscure ingredients. (This from a girl with a pantry full of obscure ingredients.). But will I use the favors, the floor combos, the recipe ideas as bases to come up with my own easy recipes? Absolutely. They all sound deliciou I don't normally review cookbooks unless I really read them. This book is half cookbook half graphic novel, something I think stands alone, and stands tall, all by itself. Will I ever make the recipes? Not likely. They are long, involved, complicated, and some have really obscure ingredients. (This from a girl with a pantry full of obscure ingredients.). But will I use the favors, the floor combos, the recipe ideas as bases to come up with my own easy recipes? Absolutely. They all sound delicious, they are mostly vegetarian, and most even have vegan options. But most also have about five different components. Apparently dirt candy is a fancy restaurant with fancy plating and fancy stuff. My kitchen isn't fancy, but I can appreciate the effort that goes into them m The graphics and the stories in the other half of the book are great. They are mostly memoirs about how the author became a chef and insider secrets about what happens in the kitchen. Turns out owning a restaurant isn't glamorous at all. I'll let the pros handle it. I'll read about it, and drool over the recipes while my boxed pasta and canned sauce heat on the stove. Okay, in the microwave.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This adorable book is the Scott Pilgrim of cookbooks. While I probably will not be making portobello mousse or rosemary cotton candy any time soon, there are some really interesting recipes in here that sound delightful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    Maybe the publisher was afraid this would get shoehorned as a graphic novel and people would miss the parts that are a legit cookbook? I feel like the average GoodReads surfer would probably miss that this is largely written in comics-form, with speech bubbles and panels and things. This book is written very much through the voice of Cohen, the chef, but there are three authors listed on the cover. Ryan Dunlavey has copyright on the artwork, according to the verso. Grady Hendrix is Cohen's husba Maybe the publisher was afraid this would get shoehorned as a graphic novel and people would miss the parts that are a legit cookbook? I feel like the average GoodReads surfer would probably miss that this is largely written in comics-form, with speech bubbles and panels and things. This book is written very much through the voice of Cohen, the chef, but there are three authors listed on the cover. Ryan Dunlavey has copyright on the artwork, according to the verso. Grady Hendrix is Cohen's husband. I imagine the three of them sitting around a tiny NYC apartment, spitballing ideas of how to present the three different angles of information Cohen wanted to put into a book. The final product combines 1. advice on/principles of/opinions about cooking, with 2. comics-style memoir about portions of her cooking life (the nightmareish process of setting up her first restaurant, going on a reality TV show, etc.), and 3. fairly straightup recipes. Personally, the recipes hold little interest. Although I don't eat meat except for the occasional restaurant visit, my flavor sensibilities and preferences differ quite a bit from Cohen's. Just in case your tastes mirror mine, and you're considering this for the recipes... I don't like peppers, raw onions, or eggplant, and although I'll eat a pickle every once in a while, I don't get excited about a menu dominated by pickled things. If you're horrified by my list of dislikes, you'll prolly like these recipes a lot. The food history/techniques/advice stuff was pretty fascinating, for the most part. I read how to make a home smoker, some interesting tips about cleaning gunky pots and pans, and lots of opinions about how to cook Vegetables, which is her soap box. Her tone is that of an advocate, a freedom fighter for vegetables, someone who's had to defend the "vegetarianness" of her restaurant a lot. She sounds defensive. And as someone who's eaten a primarily vegetarian diet for most of my life, living in the PacificNW, the "good news" tone feels a little over-the-top, particularly when it gets angsty. But maybe her perspective is more revolutionary in NYC. I haven't watched Top Chef in quite a few years, but I know from that exposure to the cooking scene that not eating meat is REALLY WEIRD to a lot of people. Which is really weird to me. I dug the memoir stuff a lot, since I'm someone who likes hearing about the backstages of life and industry. I didn't come away from the book liking Cohen very much, but I appreciated her sharing her experiences, missteps and otherwise.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    The graphic novel portion of this novel kept me reading. Amanda Cohen compellingly describes what it's like to run up a restaurant and the logistical and personnel struggles involved. With limited words and pictures, she seems grounded and appealingly honest. She is not a perfect person, and she's not afraid to let us know. A telling section of the book involves a pastry chef she basically admits to mistreating in her fervor for perfection. At the same time, the recipes didn't inspire me nearly a The graphic novel portion of this novel kept me reading. Amanda Cohen compellingly describes what it's like to run up a restaurant and the logistical and personnel struggles involved. With limited words and pictures, she seems grounded and appealingly honest. She is not a perfect person, and she's not afraid to let us know. A telling section of the book involves a pastry chef she basically admits to mistreating in her fervor for perfection. At the same time, the recipes didn't inspire me nearly as much as the narrative. I'd love to eat at her restaurant. I don't want to fuss nearly as much over food, and I'm usually willing to fuss quite a bit if something seems delicious enough. And, usually, I can pick up virtually any cookbook and find something I want to make. It didn't happen with this one. I am going to make sugar-coated grapefruit sections for my kids, if I can let myself get past the warnings about the risk of third-degree burns from the sugar syrup.

  7. 4 out of 5

    First Second Books

    I loved it! The illustrations are lively and witty, and the writing is dense and interesting. The recipes look fantastic, too — I'm looking forward to eating at Dirt Candy as soon as I can get a reservation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I’ve been to this restaurant once, and it was the best vegetarian meal I have ever had in my life. If they all tasted this way, I could easily convert to a meat-free diet. When I learned of this book's existence, I checked it out immediately from my library. Now I’m going to buy a copy for my personal library. I appreciate the graphic novel format to tell the human interest portion of this (and to depict Alton Brown with one of those arrow-thru-the-head visual gags) plus it’s an easy way to inclu I’ve been to this restaurant once, and it was the best vegetarian meal I have ever had in my life. If they all tasted this way, I could easily convert to a meat-free diet. When I learned of this book's existence, I checked it out immediately from my library. Now I’m going to buy a copy for my personal library. I appreciate the graphic novel format to tell the human interest portion of this (and to depict Alton Brown with one of those arrow-thru-the-head visual gags) plus it’s an easy way to include visual instructions in a compact fashion. I also really liked the lesson about the history and evolution of the vegetarian movement in the United States, and what other movements subsumed and damaged it. While most of these recipes are way too involved for me, it makes me appreciate the time and effort the restaurant spends on every dish. I will see what I can do to adopt some of the individual techniques and salad dressings. I’m totally going to make that beet green pesto.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Plenty of recipes, yes, but written like a graphic novel. Entertaining read, and the recipes are quite interesting if you've eaten at or intend to eat at the restaurant and are curious about exactly how the heck they do those amazing things.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jamie K

    Cute graphic novel about a chef and her restaurant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hesper

    Part memoir, part cookbook, this is one ambitious package that doesn't quite succeed. There's a panel on p.28, detailing the Iron Chef judges' reaction Amanda Cohen's dishes, that perfectly sums up this book. Pondering Cohen's pickle and broccoli combination, Kelly Hu finds it "confusing," while the competitor's is deemed "illuminating." And that's exactly it. Given the abject mistreatment that vegetables often receive in the US, you'd think that a recipe book that claims to do to flavor what Just Part memoir, part cookbook, this is one ambitious package that doesn't quite succeed. There's a panel on p.28, detailing the Iron Chef judges' reaction Amanda Cohen's dishes, that perfectly sums up this book. Pondering Cohen's pickle and broccoli combination, Kelly Hu finds it "confusing," while the competitor's is deemed "illuminating." And that's exactly it. Given the abject mistreatment that vegetables often receive in the US, you'd think that a recipe book that claims to do to flavor what Justin Timberlake claimed he did to sexy would make the recipes generally accessible. But no. What Cohen offers, beyond some pickles with dubious claims,* a few solid tips for vegetable cooking, and a good salad philosophy,** just isn't feasible at home if you have a life at all (8 hr dehydration, followed by rehydration, and 2 more hrs prep? lol no keep your one trick recipe thanks). *No, hot vinegar is not a substitute for fermented pickled goodness. Never in the history of ever will this occur. **Her dressings, however, are TERRIBLE. 3T acid to 3/4C oil??? 2.5T acid to 1/2C oil??? Those are oil spills on your plate, not dressings. If using lemon juice, a much more palate friendly ratio is closer to 1:1 for acid:oil, and 1:1.5-2 for vinegar:oil. Anyway, the book is useful if you: 1) want to catch a glimpse of running a trendy restaurant in NYC (and don't mind tone deaf attempts at social commentary); 2) know exactly nothing about vegetarian cooking and feel up to kitchen challenges; 3) need ideas for time consuming things to do to carrots and zucchini. Beyond that? Not sure. There are better vegetarian cookbooks out there, but no one probably picked this up because of the recipes. I know I didn't.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenica

    Oh, vegetables. What did you ever do to us to deserve such hatred? It's not your fault that you are microwaved into oblivion and tossed onto so many dinner tables as more of a nutritional obligation than an actual dish to be enjoyed. If you're lucky, maybe you get a quick shake of salt and pepper, or even a little dab of margarine, but all in all, vegetables are seen by a HUGE majority as the villain of the dinner table (My personal childhood arch-nemesis was frozen peas!) Dirt Candy is a hilario Oh, vegetables. What did you ever do to us to deserve such hatred? It's not your fault that you are microwaved into oblivion and tossed onto so many dinner tables as more of a nutritional obligation than an actual dish to be enjoyed. If you're lucky, maybe you get a quick shake of salt and pepper, or even a little dab of margarine, but all in all, vegetables are seen by a HUGE majority as the villain of the dinner table (My personal childhood arch-nemesis was frozen peas!) Dirt Candy is a hilarious read: half comic book describing her culinary journey and the story of her restaurant and half cookbook filled with the most imaginative uses for vegetables that I have ever seen. Granted, a lot of her recipes call for specialty ingredients and equipment that I have never seen and will never use in my kitchen, but Amanda Cohen makes a riveting case in the defense of nature's candy. Most inspiring was the panel in which she describes a dream where Julia Child herself paid her a visit and took her to task. Why DO we expect vegetables to be boring? Bring flavor! Add butter! Salt! Spices! Be bold and daring! I'll probably never make even a quarter of these recipes, but this was a VERY inspiring read for someone who loves to cook.

  13. 4 out of 5

    melissa

    I was lucky enough to get a proof copy, and I loved reading (yes, reading) this cookbook. I haven't tried the recipes yet, but they look interesting and delicious. What sets this cookbook apart is the story. This isn't just a collection of recipes; it's a tale of opening a restaurant, opening a "vegetable" restaurant, being a chef, and it's all done through funny and witty comic sections. I'm giving this 3.5 stars for readability, but I'll need to make some recipes before knowing for sure how to I was lucky enough to get a proof copy, and I loved reading (yes, reading) this cookbook. I haven't tried the recipes yet, but they look interesting and delicious. What sets this cookbook apart is the story. This isn't just a collection of recipes; it's a tale of opening a restaurant, opening a "vegetable" restaurant, being a chef, and it's all done through funny and witty comic sections. I'm giving this 3.5 stars for readability, but I'll need to make some recipes before knowing for sure how to rate this cookbook. For my vegan friends, she offers vegan variations for some of the recipes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    More than a cookbook, a very funny expose/reflection on opening and running a restaurant.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    It's a weird mix of cookbook, graphic novel and business memoir. Dirt Candy is a small New York City vegan restaurant. There's a few basic recipes that are helpful (how to improve grits by cooking them in stock instead of water), but most of the recipes are for restaurant level training and preparation. It is pretty defensive about vegan food and vegetables. There are some nice parts like "I Fell in Love with the Wrong Dish" and how American cooking's fascination with French cuisine obscures Asi It's a weird mix of cookbook, graphic novel and business memoir. Dirt Candy is a small New York City vegan restaurant. There's a few basic recipes that are helpful (how to improve grits by cooking them in stock instead of water), but most of the recipes are for restaurant level training and preparation. It is pretty defensive about vegan food and vegetables. There are some nice parts like "I Fell in Love with the Wrong Dish" and how American cooking's fascination with French cuisine obscures Asian and Southern Indian cuisine that is vegetarian. The comics illustrate the chef's theory to working in a restaurant, being a chef, and starting up her restaurant. The recipes have the barest illustrations to show what basics to combine for a plating or meal. It's strange because most graphic novel cookbooks illustrate the food or how it's prepared (see Lucy Knisley's Relish or Robin Ha's Cook Korean). It's also weird how the food is anthropomorphized to be female. The illustrations are cramped for the space and the quality of the scan seems kind of poor. They are all in black and white. There's not much to recommend. It's okay if you want to make a fancy vegan dinner, but otherwise there's not much memorable about this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    After finishing this book I had to add another tag. I added 'memoir' because the author details how she started the restaurant in the book's title. It's really fascinating. The recipes are cool but so far I haven't made any of them (this is also due to the fact that I have 5 cookbooks checked out right now!) This book also appealed to me and received an extra star for its unique format: a graphic novel cookbook! How awesome is that? Great use of Japanese-style manga in spots but don't worry, anyo After finishing this book I had to add another tag. I added 'memoir' because the author details how she started the restaurant in the book's title. It's really fascinating. The recipes are cool but so far I haven't made any of them (this is also due to the fact that I have 5 cookbooks checked out right now!) This book also appealed to me and received an extra star for its unique format: a graphic novel cookbook! How awesome is that? Great use of Japanese-style manga in spots but don't worry, anyone can read it and enjoy. Heard about this one on The Taste Podcast https://art19.com/shows/the-taste-podcast/episodes/f10cf891-3427-4cd6-a982-78ed804143c1

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rich

    I enjoyed the comic story-telling about what it was like for her to open and run her restaurant, although there were some uncomfortable representations at times. The recipes were fascinating and inspiring if a bit complex for small portions; they seem more conducive to batching than home cooking, which makes sense. Some of the recipe instructions were less than clear. However, in the end, I do find myself wanting to visit the restaurant next time I’m in NYC!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lecy Beth

    This was such a fun book. It's a vegetarian cookbook in the form of a graphic novel. The illustrations are phenomenal, the writing is hilarious and I cannot wait to try some of the recipes. My favorite part is when Amanda challenges Iron Chef Morimoto in Kitchen Stadium. What a blast. :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Love & Flour

    I appreciate the unique idea for a graphic-novel cookbook, but it was just too hard to read. Plus, a black and white cookbook, especially when your recipes feature colorful recipes, is never a good idea.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    The restaurant lit me up recently, so why not try the cookbook? The comic book gimmick didn’t appeal to me, but the cut-the-bullshit attidude did. Will probably try a few of the more manageable-seeming recipes in the next week or so.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chloe A-L

    There’s a lot of weird racism in this book! Add that to the poorly aged early-00’s webcomic art and the frankly weird recipes (complete with ludicrous plating diagrams) and it adds up to an underwhelming whole.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    As a graphic novel about the realities of opening a high-end restaurant in NYC, this book is great. Its entertaining and funny. As a cookbook however, it just wasn't for me. Too many intricate, time-consuming steps in each of the recipes.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex Lawless

    I just could not get into this. It's part graphic novel, part cookbook. It just felt very dated and honestly out of touch. Plus, the recipes sounded.... interesting. Overall, I just wasn't interested in either aspect and ended up skimming through to see if anything interested me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    JB

    Much more than a great cookbook, which it also is.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rick Ernest

    I really enjoyed this book! I'm not vegetarian or vegan, but these recipes and the story that surround them make me want to try and make everyone of them!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Taylor

    Very fun to read. Recipes are a bit complicated, but look worth trying.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aja Marsh

    do not recommend this as an ebook-- really hard to get through because of the unique format.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Cute comic book on the restaurant industry and trying to break out with creative veggie recipes. A bit blah in places

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie Pecone

    An entertaining read! This book is still affecting the way I think about eating vegetables. One day I may get the guts to attempt a recipe or two.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Lots of veggie options presented that would be best as side dishes - just add grilled cheese croutons:)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.