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Fresh Food Fast: Delicious, Seasonal Vegetarian Meals in Under an Hour Hardcover – June 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the outset of this superb guide to cooking uncomplicated vegetarian fare, Berley asks a rhetorical question: "Stylish, sophisticated, home-cooked meals without a fussâ€"is that too much to ask for?" If this cookbook is any indication, it isn't too much to ask for; in fact, it's a very simple request that Berley happily fills. The former executive chef of New York's Angelica Kitchen and chef and co-owner of the city's Miette Culinary Studio lays out healthy, quick meals requiring minimum effort. He divides the book by season and gives 12 menus for each. In a minimalist style reminiscent of Mark Bittman's, Berley describes key ingredients to keep in the pantry (herbs, grains, beans, oils, etc.) and important tools (he's particularly fond of the pressure cooker). As the title suggests, the recipes draw on seasonal produce; Berley reminds readers that buying vegetables in season will save money and ensure the best quality. Each menu consists of at least two dishesâ€"a main course and a sideâ€"and some include a third accompaniment or appetizer. Although simplicity reigns, the dishes do encompass a variety of ethnic cuisines, including Asian, Caribbean, Italian and Mexican flavors. Berley gives a brief intro to each dish (e.g., before giving the recipe for Wild Mushroom Fricassee over Farro, he explains what farro is and how to cook it; he also makes a case for saving some Rhubarb Crisp for the next day, since "leftovers are great for breakfast; just substitute yogurt for the whipped cream").
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From the Back Cover

From award-winning chef Peter Berley: mouthwatering seasonal vegetarian menus that can be created in under an hour

Sophisticated, home-cooked vegetarian meals without the fuss. Is that too much to ask? Absolutely not.

True to his roots as a restaurant chef, cooking teacher, and family man, award-winning vegetarian chef Peter Berley has a passion for meals that taste incredible, salute the seasons, and are easy to prepare in under an hour. In Fresh Food Fast, he provides forty-eight meals -- twelve for each season -- including recipes, a shopping list, an equipment list, and a game plan that takes you step-by-step through the menu.

Included are substantial, satisfying meals that will bring pleasure to vegetarians and omnivores alike:

bibb lettuce and radish salad with crème fraîche citronette braised spring vegetables with grits, poached eggs, and chives

spicy corn frittata with tomatoes and scallionscucumber salad

pasta with spicy cauliflower, chickpeas, and cherry tomatoespan-grilled radicchio salad with honey- balsamic glaze over frisée

balsamic-roasted seitan with cipollini onionsgarlic mashed potatoes and parsnips

Berley also provides delectable dessert recipes for each season, including spring's Warm Honey Lemon Curd over Strawberries, summer's Blueberry-Nectarine Crisp, fall's Roasted Grapes with Red Wine, and winter's Caramelized Bananas with Blood Orange and Pistachio.

In a world where fast food is generally prepackaged and second-rate, Peter Berley teaches us how we can live without compromise and enjoy fresh, wholesome meals any night of the week as we connect with family and friends.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060515147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060515140
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Mooner on June 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a gift and immediately put it to use for father's day. I made the cold avocado w/ lime and jalapeño soup to start and seared tofu w/ black beans & mango salsa as the main dish. They were really both fantastic, and even my extremely carnivorous father was pleased! The meals are very quick and yet are slick and sophisticated. The book itself is gorgeous, and Peter Berley did a very interesting thing with the organization, where it is organized seasonally into menus. Whats so nice about this is that it makes making an entire meal even easier because you are given the ingredient list for everything (in addition to individual recipes), and a "game plan" for what to do and in what order. Fabulous book!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By reenybeeny on November 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I love this cookbook! I'm a pretty good cook who likes to make good food...but does NOT have hours to do it. Berley explains that although he is a professional chef, when he cooks at home, he takes the express route--and that's what these recipes are.

As mentioned in other reviews, the cookbook is organized by seasons. Within each season are 12 menus of two dishes that can be made within an hour. (Desserts are included at the end of each section.) Plus each menu includes a shopping list and a "game plan" with a suggested order of cooking. I have most of the ingredients (eg onions, oil, basic spices) in my kitchen already, and it doesn't take too long to make a brief stop at the market and pick up the 5-8 ingredients I don't have. Plus cooking the menu itself doesn't take longer than an hour. Since these menus are for 4 and I'm cooking for 2, these recipes usually provide at least one more meal.

The other thing I like about this cookbook is that, because I "trust" the recipes and have found a number of them to be very good, it has encouraged me to try ingredients I don't use too often--such as delicata squash, masa harina, or quinoa.

Important note: it would be easier to use this cookbook if you have access to a grocery store with a variety of items, such as the ones I mentioned above. If you don't have these ingredients nearby, you may have to get creative about getting them, or make substitutions.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Annonymous on February 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. This is the greatest cookbook I've purchased in a long time. The book is beautiful to start, gorgeous photos, pleasant layout and high quality paper and binding.

The book is designed in four sections, one for each season. Each season has 12 "menus", each menu containing 2-3 recipes for dishes that go well together. Each season also has it's very own dessert section as well.

A great feature of the book is that every menu starts with a shopping list (divided by food category) and a game plan. The game plan helps you organize what order you cook the 2-3 recipes in so that everything is ready at the same time.

As if that isn't enough, the recipes are varied and interesting. They are also relatively simple. So far I've made the Balsamic Roasted Seitan with Cipollini Onions with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips and a crunchy cabbage salad (winter menu #4), Tomato and Goat Cheese Strata with Broccoli Rabe with balsamic brown butter (winter menu #10) and Caramelized bananas with blood orange and pistachio (winter dessert #3). They were ALL delicious and fairly served 4 people as they stated.

It's worth pointing out that even though this is a vegetarian cookbook I am not a vegetarian. I was just looking for interesting ways to cook vegetables that are in season. The meat substitutes were delicious and some of my other carnivore friends also commented that they were suprised.

I'm delighted with this book and would highly recommend it to anyone.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Beanhauer on August 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, I will echo the positive reviews on this site. The recipes in this book are truly fast and dependable. Everything has been good, and some have been amazing. Berley avoids the pitfalls of vegetarian cookbooks, offering tasty, well seasoned food with truly fresh ingredients without reliance on pasta or bland hippie mush. A non-vegetarian would enjoy these meals.

What surprised me about this book is that the seasonal and menu organization works, and works well. I am not normally a fan of books that are organized this way. I especially find myself avoiding cookbooks that are arranged by menu, as they usually list an overwhelming number of dishes more suited to a dinner party than a weeknight dinner. In this book, both organizational schemes work. I bought this book in summer, and opened to the twelve summer menus. I started with the first three menus. Each recipe used ingredients that are local, abundant, and inexpensive this time of year. This made the shopping painless, and meant I could use produce I might naturally have on hand this time of year (sweet corn, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes). Each menu includes a dish that could stand alone and a simple complementary side dish. The side dishes tend to take about five minutes: put the ingredients in the blender until it is soup, or toss the cucumbers in a dressing. They are also easily left out if you still have leftovers from last night or you're having a smaller meal. The main dishes are quick, use fresh ingredients, and are restaurant quality.

In short, this is the first book I've ever had that could, by itself, form the basis of my weeknight cooking. The 12 summer menus can easily form two weeks of healthy weeknight meals; repeating the pattern all summer is an actual possibility. At the very least, these 12 menus can form a basic meal plan when I'm stuck for ideas. Having twelve realistic weeknight menus that match the season is enough to keep me in ideas all year.
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