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

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3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  380 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Clarkson Potter (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 927)
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Sps
Jan 21, 2013 Sps rated it liked it
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 ...more
Katie
Oct 17, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks, food
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
...more
Stephanie
Sep 05, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Kathleen
Nov 03, 2015 Kathleen rated it liked it
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
...more
Melissa
Nov 20, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Melissa
Jul 23, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
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
...more
karenbee
Jan 27, 2015 karenbee rated it liked it
Dirt Candy is a graphic novel/cookbook mashup. Dirt Candy, the NYC restaurant, serves vegetable dishes -- innovative, weird-but-good vegetable dishes, going by the recipes in the book.

The graphic novel bits are entertaining and interesting, covering cooking techniques and food history as well as things like how restaurants price their food, why restaurants often hire immigrants to wash dishes, and the stresses of cooking food for strangers for a living. So the comics are informative but they're
...more
The Styling Librarian
Dirt Candy- A Cookbook by Amanda Cohen & Ryan Dunlavey with Grady Hendrix - “Flavor-forward food from the upstart new york city vegetarian restaurant” – Graphic Novel – what an incredible book… I wish every cookbook could be graphic novel. I loved the attitude of a business person juggling the life of opening a business, explaining her perspective on vegetarian food, and managing many people in her life. The cookbook actually made sense to me overall, which is honestly a miracle, usually eve ...more
Amanda
Jul 04, 2014 Amanda rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this one. It's half graphic novel memoir about Amanda Cohen and her career as a chef (including a stint on Iron Chef America) and half recipe book. The graphic novel part was really fun. It got into the details of both the cooking and the business of running a successful restaurant. It got uncomfortably political at points, but it added poignancy to the story. The artwork is very Scott Pilgrim, but doesn't feel derivative.

The recipes, however, don't really match up with
...more
Jeannine
Mar 05, 2014 Jeannine rated it it was ok
Shelves: food-and-cooking
This is a graphic novel/cookbook. (Is that a first?)

I actually thought I wouldn't like the comic aspect, but I liked that better than the recipes. The recipes didn't particularly inspire (the first recipe I came across? Kimchi Donuts. I think, yeah, I'll pass on that) and some of the recipes (tomato pearls) involved strange substances not easily found at a regular grocery store. Mostly it seemed like a ton of work.

I hoped to be swept away by new and interesting vegetarian entrees, but mostly w
...more
LAPL Reads
Feb 19, 2014 LAPL Reads rated it really liked it
Before your mother was trying to get you to eat your vegetables, someone was doing the same to her. All the way back to John Harvey Kellogg’s vegetarian diet that was intended to restore the body’s purity (But what will I eat!? Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, of course) and Sylvester Graham’s sweet and crunchy cure for onanism (the Graham Cracker), American health foods have framed vegetables as bland, better-for-you alternatives to meat – rather than the delicious ends in themselves that they are. Dirt ...more
Becki Iverson
Mar 25, 2015 Becki Iverson rated it it was amazing
Dirt Candy is such a delightful book! I wonder why no one else has thought to create a graphic novel cookbook. The illustrations add whimsy and humor to the text, but most importantly they make techniques VERY easy to follow. The visual element really adds something extra to the recipes. I hope to see more of this!

The content is great too. Cohen has a lot of truths to tell and myths to debunk about the restaurant industry and vegetable cooking. My boyfriend is a chef and he laughed through the
...more
Wren Wilson
Jul 06, 2015 Wren Wilson rated it it was amazing
I definitely loved the more graphic/memoir sections of this book as they are a charming, funny look into food and a chef's journey starting a restaurant. The recipes however, are intimidating and take patience. Even as a young cook with mad scientist tendencies who is happy to emphasize vegetables, I find myself shrinking away from wanting to make the heavily involved dishes in this book. Perhaps I will make some when I'm feeling super fancy. I do love the diagrams for how to plate the food. The ...more
Jenica
May 16, 2016 Jenica rated it really liked it
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
...more
KathleenB
Jul 01, 2015 KathleenB rated it liked it
This book has some innovating features that I liked. The sections of graphic novel narration give a new perspective, especially for some of the less than idealized parts of the presentation. Some of the parts of the 'story' of starting and running a restaurant get a bit politicized (some commentary on illegal immigration for example) which distracts from the cookbook purpose, but I do like how the author points out that she wants a more realistic portrait of her business than a lot of recent boo ...more
Theresa
May 05, 2013 Theresa rated it liked it
Shelves: food, book-club
I didn't have high expectations for this book; it was an assigned book club read and all I understood was that it was a cookbook and graphic novel in one. I'm down for both genres, but usually separately. I found it cute, energetic and brief. Just because the story is being depicted in illustrated panels doesn't mean you can't convey deep emotion or profound moments. I was hoping to feel more connected to the author and her journey of running a restaurant, but it seemed condensed and after any m ...more
Marsha
No start-up company is without its hiccups and the restaurant business is one of the hardest ones there is. Even when success has been assured, every day in the kitchen is a crisis waiting to happen. A chef calls in sick and others scramble to take his place. The vegetables you ordered are rotten and you pray that no one asks for that dish until you get them replaced. Injuries are common, inevitable and potentially crippling. Prepare for scar tissue.

Ms. Cohen knows all this first hand and her br
...more
Louise
Jan 01, 2013 Louise rated it liked it
Dirt Candy, a comic and collection of recipes by the chef of the eponymous restaurant, is an entertaining look into what she learned during the years of owning her restaurant. There are some funny and heartfelt anecdotes that I enjoyed reading and in between those, there are recipes, which I mostly skipped. The recipes were skipped because they were all just too complicated sounding to make for a meal at home.

I found that Cohen contradicted herself at times, like first saying that vegetables sho
...more
Astrid Yrigollen
Feb 18, 2014 Astrid Yrigollen rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a really cute cook book slash biography of Amanda Cohen, owner of Dirt Candy in New York. Illustrated in comic book style, Amanda details her journey,opening a restaurant, being taken advantage of by evil contractors,and dealing with uber picky customers.Refreshing and light fare for the mind and tummy. Loaded with interesting recipes for the veggie lover that include a pickling chapter,main fare and desserts. So glad I picked this up!
Samantha
Feb 27, 2016 Samantha rated it liked it
I probably won't ever make the recipes in the book, but from a reading standpoint the book was enjoyable. It was interesting to see how Amanda started her restaurant and how she dealt with the chaos of running one. I had never heard about Amanda or Dirt Candy before picking up the book but am now intrigued that if I ever do get the chance to visit New York, to also visit the restaurant.
Ben Wilson
Aug 24, 2014 Ben Wilson rated it it was amazing
This book is inspiring. It is a politics aside celebration of the possibilities of a vegetable based cuisine. The comic book format is immediately accessible and inviting. The book will get you excited about unlocking the potential that vegetables have and it will make you think about food preparation and presentation in a different way. I completely recommend buying Dirt Candy.
Alicia
Aug 02, 2015 Alicia rated it liked it
A combo graphic memoir and cookbook--that's a first. The graphic novel (memoir? Not fiction) part about the chef and her vegetable restaurant were great, and the recipes, while intriguing, were mostly way too fussy for me to try at home.

But definitely want to try the restaurant next time I'm in New York when someone else can execute these complex, layered dishes.
Shannon Casey
Feb 19, 2014 Shannon Casey rated it it was amazing
A friend from nyc eats at this restaurant regularly and recommended the book.

I've made many recipes as I tend to be an adventurous cook, and while they are extremely labor intensive and time consuming, are well worth it if you live vegetables as I do.

As a lover of all cook books, this one is also a fun read with the graphic novel element.

Fantastic.
Mark
May 29, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
This was a library copy so I'll have to buy one for the recipes, but this was a fun illustrated look at Cohen's struggles with opening a 9 table vegetable restaurant in NYC (it has recently reopened as a 60-seater). And in many ways it's about expectations, both practical and fantastic, and living up to them--or not. Funny, lively and informative.
Jojo
Apr 26, 2015 Jojo rated it really liked it
Delightfully fun to read. With comics showing explanation on dishes and the history of the restaurant and owner. An honest look at what it takes to run a restaurant. The dishes are all explained simply and with plating instructions. The recipes are a bit restaurant level, but appear as if they can be reproduced at home with basic skill.
Tina
Jul 02, 2014 Tina rated it liked it
I love vegetables, and so I was really excited to read all about Chief Cohen's innovative veggie recipes. While I did enjoy her humorous tales of restaurant-owner woes, the recipes were a bust. Weird ingredients, unusual flavor combinations, and multiple (not to mention time-consuming!) steps just don't mix with my life. Overall, I felt like her writing focused too much on how "other" people dislike vegetables and not enough on why she loves them.
Etchison
Feb 08, 2016 Etchison rated it really liked it
I'm such a sucker for any kind of food memoir book - and this one was done as a graphic novel with recipes added too. Lovely way to spend 45 minutes; I'm not sure I'll actually make any of the food but only b/c I'm feeling rather lazy about cooking right now. A lot of it looks delicious, even if it is focused on vegetables.
Rascal Drrmrmrr
Mar 05, 2015 Rascal Drrmrmrr rated it really liked it
I've never rated a cookbook before but this is so cool! A lot of vegetarian/vegan cookbooks are a little boring but this has a graphic novel spin to it and you learn about her process and her personal experience through comics. Really fun and a good way to explain basic vegetable cooking that can sometimes get confusing.
Erica
Sep 15, 2013 Erica rated it really liked it
This memoir/comic/cookbook is entirely wonderful and unlike anything else I've ever read. There's some great general tips on how to cook properly as well as delicious-looking recipes. Reading about the process of opening and running a restaurant and prepping for Iron Chef was fascinating and throughout the narrative there's humorous asides that are supported by drawings of everything from drunk tomatoes to synchronized swimming butter. Cohen also goes into the history of food and why we view veg ...more
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