Over time, in his cookbooks, and on his TV series, Jacques Pépin has taught people how to cook simple, fully flavored dishes--food that reflects his French training while embracing American informality. Jacques Pépin: Fast Food My Way takes this approach one step further by providing 100-plus recipes for a wide range of delicious, meant-to-be fast dishes. These include Stuffed Scallops on Mushroom Rice; Chicken Breasts on Mashed Cauliflower with Red Salsa; Pasta, Ham, and Vegetable Gratin; and Apple, Pecan, and Apricot Crumble. The "my way" of the title can mean the use of time-saving tools (Pépin uses pressure cookers to achieve easy stews like his beef short-rib, mushroom, and potato dish) and convenience foods (canned black bean soup or sweet potatoes for new soup versions). Generally, though, the Pépin approach emphasizes the use of foods that are themselves quickly cooked, like chicken breasts or beef fillet and that can be made flavorful with equally fast-to-fix accompaniments, like his salsa mayonnaise or his tomato-olive sauce.
Fast is, of course, a relative term, and readers will find more than a few dishes in the book that may require more time or attention than they're willing to spend on a daily basis. But overall, the book offers enough easily made recipes, and super-time-saving formulas, like Instant Vegetable Soup, to make it a true cooking resource. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Longtime fans of Pepin may cherish their copies of La Méthode, a gorgeously lush cookbook that devotes pages to his elaborate knife technique. But no one can accuse Pepin of falling behind the times. If the great French chef and popular peer to the late Julia Child misses the days of food as elaborate edible sculpture, he's keeping it to himself, cheerfully hosting a PBS series (Fast Food My Way) and now penning this companion book. "More often than not, I prefer simple, straightforward food that can be prepared quickly," Pepin swears, and most of the recipes stick to that statement, sometimes to excess: recipes that do little more than suggest readers add boiling water to couscous or try microwaving their potato probably add little to the repertoire of even minimally experienced chefs. The cookbook's best sections take traditional French food—braised endive, beef stew—and show readers how to skip steps to achieve a different but similarly pleasing result. Although Pepin has always packaged himself brilliantly, some of his recipe names could use a redesign: Soupy Rice and Peas hardly stimulates the appetite, and Tomato Tartare with Tomato Water Sauce actively turns it off. Other charming recipes, however, invoke the same aspirational lifestyle that older, elaborate cookbooks do, but with a different spin: Pepin says his recipe for Banana Bourbon Coupe was just something he whipped up one afternoon fresh off the slopes, making the best of the few ingredients on hand. French cooking, Pepin reminds us, is not just a matter of technique; it's a matter of chic.
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