In Rocco's 5 Minute Meals
celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, ex-restaurant owner and one-time reality-show star, offers 190-plus recipes "made with 5 ingredients cooked in 5 minutes at no more than 5 dollars a serving." The recipe range covers all courses from appetizers to desserts, and includes fondues (which can be prepared speedily) paninni, pasta, and vegetarian dishes. Typical recipes include Warm Artichoke and Parmigiano Dip, Chicken and Cauliflower Stir-Fry, Salmon with Shiitake Mushrooms in Ginger-Soy Broth, and Apricot and Dried Cherry Pound Cake.
A good deal, right? But read the "fine print" and you'll discover that the five-minute rule doesn't include prep time, which can balloon when, for example, you're required to shell a pound of shrimp or slice zucchini into cups of half-moons. DiSpirito's five ingredient constraint is also fudged by his not counting basic items like salt, flour, and butter in ingredient tallies. Also, the dishes require dozens of sometimes hard-to-find convenience items like frozen pigs in a blanket, hot dog onions, precut and precooked potatoes, soup mixes, gelatin snacks, and even rotisserie chickens. These may speed the "cooking" process but can do nothing to make DiSpirito's "five-minute" dishes taste homemade. Though estimated costs are given per recipe, and all fall below the five-dollar-per-serving ceiling, a truer economy would involve buying and preparing fresh items, which, besides yielding superior results, cost relatively less, and won't leave the cook with, for example, leftover bottled buffalo-wing sauce or prepared hummus.
Even so, time-pressed cooks will undoubtedly jump at DiSpiritio's strategies, if even for occasional cooking, and many will find the "high-concept" recipes fun to make. Die-hard fans will also appreciate the many, many photos of the star chef in action--shopping, cooking, or just posing for the camera. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The publicity-loving chef of NBC's The Restaurant
and former executive chef of Manhattan's three-star restaurant Union Pacific (now closed) devotes his third book to the everyday challenge of cooking without time, money or fancy ingredients. Organized around the gimmick of "5 ingredients/5 minutes prep/$5 per portion"—a weekly feature of DiSpirito's daily radio broadcast on WOR—the book distills dishes like Crab Cakes with Avocado Dip, Beef Curry Sauté, and Cod Provençal into four or five steps. Novices may find the instructions too compressed to be useful (there's no explanation of how to execute techniques like deep frying), and users should know that "5 ingredients" excludes pantry staples such as oils, vinegars and flours. DiSpirito also includes 75 photos of himself with family and friends, and relatively few of the food. But harried home cooks with some culinary experience will relish the chef's secret weapon: the 100 commercially prepared ingredients on which he builds his recipes, including Campbell's Cheddar Soup, Hellman's Mayonnaise and Stovetop Stuffing. The result is a book of 175 uneven dishes that are cheap and easy but constrained by the "5" format—a far cry from the creative juice that made DiSpirito's first book, Flavor
, a James Beard Award winner. (Jan.)
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