New York Women's Culinary Alliance

"The Heart of the Plate" with Mollie Katzen & Sara Moulton

More than 55 Alliance members attended an evening with Sara Moulton and Mollie Katzen. Photos by Lou Manna

"The Heart of the Plate" with Mollie Katzen & Sara Moulton

By Sara White / 17-Dec-2013

Iconic cookbook author Mollie Katzen (photographed at far right) delighted 55 enthusiastic Alliance members with her new book, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation

Interviewed by NYWCA founding member Sara Moulton (seated next to Mollie in photo) at Appellation Wines, Mollie discussed the evolution of vegetarian cooking from the publication of her first book, The Moosewood Cookbook in 1977.  Attendees feasted on delicious recipes from the book, which included Pomegranate Tabbouleh, Spiced Carrots with Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette, Ricotta Muffins, Asian Slaw, Peanut Coleslaw, Farro and Tuscan White Beans, Celery-Almond Date Saladita and Shortbread Cookies.

We learned that Moosewood Cookbook was originally a self published compilation of Mollie's illustrations and recipes requested by customers from the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY, never imagining that it would be later published by Ten Speed Press and become the cooking bible for a generation.  A 2007 inductee into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, Mollie spoke with humor and passion and gave us an insight intro her thoughts from farming to food presentation.  A bottle of olive oil, which we take for granted in 2013, was not available in the 1970's and has been invaluable in the transformation of vegetarian cooking as well as the availability of a wide variety of vegetables unheard of 40 years ago.

Her passion for vegetables, and not at the exclusion of meat, highlights education and promotion of health benefits, the importance of the local farmer and presentation of the vegetable as the prominent element of a meal.  Whole grains play a big role in her new book and she emphasized their importance in our diets.  Both Mollie and Sara spoke of simplicity of preparation as another of the changes seen in contemporary vegetarian cooking.  And even Mollie's definition of "vegetarian" has changed from noun to adjective.  She prefers it to describe a plate of food rather than a person, which she feels can sound exclusionary and even put up invisible walls at the dining table.  The evening ended with 

Special thanks go to Scott Pactor of Appellation Wines in Chelsea for not only providing the space for our gathering but for supplying four delicious wines to sample with our feast.  We sipped on a Weszeli Terrafactum, Langenlois and Domaine Nerantzi, Crinon for whites and two delicious reds; Bernard Vallette, Quartre Saisons and Yorkville Cellars, Hi-Rollr Red.  In addition, thanks to members Fran Costigan, Vera Eisenberg, Sharon Franke, Susan Knopf, Diana Melendez, Roberta Roberti, Jackie Topol and Allyson Vogel for preparing the fantastic dishes from Molliie's book and also to Carrie Bachman for planning this special evening.  Congratulations to Mollie on the publication of her 12th cookbook and to Sara, on hearing that her PBS program, Sara's Weeknight Meals, has been renewed for a 4th season.Mollie signing her new book for all attendees.

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