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The Best Simple Recipes Paperback – March 1, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Here's the need it fills:
Let's say you are at least reasonably comfortable in the kitchen and want to make interesting food in a hurry. You want some down home Americana, but you also want some international flavor without having to look for truly exotic ingredients. And it's got to be *really* quick and stress free - none of this stuff with "30-minute" recipes that leave out the slicing and dicing time and actually take 2 hours to make from start to finish. You're not looking to blow the doors off dinner party guests, but just feed the family. And you don't want to read the usual CI/TK 3 pages on how they came up with the recipe - just cut to the chase, folks.
These recipes are perfect for that need - 80% of the goodness of full-bore gourmet with 20% of the effort. That's a pretty good ratio for a weekday.
I've made a bunch of these recipes (and some recipes from the associated series of supermarket cards some folks have mentioned). The ones I've made have been yummy. The family loves them. They use real ingredients and they're interesting and tasty. I'm a big fan of the whole Cooks Illustrated / Cooks Country / America's Test Kitchen empire and for my money this is one of their very best cookbooks so far - even if it is a bit different from their usual output.
I have used other cookbooks that tout collections of recipes that can be prepared from start to finish in 30 minutes (in particular Rachael Ray's numerous offerings). My experience is that when a recipe is supposed to be prepared in 30 minutes or less, I usually finish up closer to 45 minutes. Perhaps someone who is more organized and motivated can accomplish this but I cannot. Regardless, every recipe I have tried from this book takes me less than an hour to put together and serve, which is still very much in line with reasonable as far as I am concerned.
One thing that is special about ATK cookbooks is the inclusion of the quick tips, brand comparisons and helpful suggestions that appear on almost every page. This book includes those same helps, and personally I find them interesting and useful.
Although not every recipe in the book comes with a nice picture, many of them (more than half, actually) do. This is always a helpful tool when deciding on what to make for a meal - eye appeal of a dish goes a long way to making a dish more likely to be tried, generally speaking. Also, each recipe is written to be clear and easy to follow and the results are consistent.
There is one main flaw with this cookbook. Many of the recipes call for uncommon ingredients that are not present in the average kitchen.Read more ›
Now I have had a chance to make five recipes so far, two of them I loved, 3 of them were okay and one I didn't care for so much. Now the one of the ones I found to be okay probably had more to do with the my tortellini selection than anything, and the one I didn't care for much at all tasted plain and bland to me. The thing is though, the recipes are so straight forward that, for instance for the gumbo, I can easily add in my own seasoning the next time around and I will. The cooking method turned out great so it's just a matter of adjusting to taste.
Here are some bullet points of what I found to be good and not so good about the book overall.
Pictures: not every recipe has a picture, but there are a lot of quality pictures here including technique and info pictures ( 2 pages on cuts of beef too!)
Techniques: this is great, it talks about cutting leeks, cuts of steak, best way to make stir-fys, very instructional tips and the like that is great for novice and reminders for experiences cooks
Brand: they mention brand choices that they find to offer the best flavor, or texture, or etc. I find this especially useful when I am dealing with an ingredient I am not as familiar with.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have made about 10 recipes from this cookbook so far and have loved every one of them. I even decided to give it as a gift. Leave it to ATK to not disappoint.Published 2 months ago by Rochelle Frank
bought this for my retarded aunt and she has been able to use many of the recipes without any kitchen disasters. More complex cookbooks led to some epic disastersPublished 5 months ago by Beach Bum 80538
I love this book. The recipes are great! I have had tremendous success with the recipes in this book. I would highly recommend it.Published 6 months ago by Christine
So far have tried 5 recipes. Instructions are very clear, I like that recipes use accessible ingredients and are pretty easy for a not very experienced cook. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lindy R.
great book. fun recipes. good refences to other dishes to play with.Published 8 months ago by AMAZONMIKE