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Rocco's Five Minute Flavor: Fabulous Meals with 5 Ingredients in 5 Minutes Hardcover – December 6, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (December 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743273842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743273848
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 8.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I agree with the other reviews that this cookbook is nothing more than creative marketing. As a new mom, I was enticed to buy because of the five min cooking time. I can prep holding a baby, but I can't cook with her in my arms. So the less time over heat, the better. However, the recipes consist of a lot of fondue (not a meal, but more of an appetizer), "ideas" (brownies w/ sauce on top) rather than real recipes, and too many processed or prepared foods that simply are not widely available (and I live in a metro area!) After reaading other reviews that refer to Rachel Ray I think I'm going to check out her books! At least she uses ingredients that I can find in a grocery store. I've tried several of our specialty grocers and still have not been able to find the majority of the Rocco ingredients. I asked for this book as a birthday gift, and I'm truely saddened to have wasted my mother's money on it!
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Format: Hardcover
`Rocco's 5 Minute Flavor' by famous culinary `personality', Rocco DiSpirito is the type of book I typically avoid reviewing, except for the fact that it answers the question I asked myself just a week or so ago. It tells us what former NY restaurateur / Food Network star / Reality Show martyr Rocco is doing nowadays. While the quick cooking theme is pretty much owned by the current queen of the Food Network, Rachael Ray, it has been appropriated by just about every major chef / author with good name recognition. But Rocco is promising us, to borrow a phrase from Emeril, `to kick it up a notch' by reducing the window to it's bare minimum of five minute cooking with five key ingredients or less for $5 per serving or less.

My overall impression of the book is that there are many, many gotchas with this book's premise and many weaknesses, but the skills of a very talented chef to this task does have its rewards which make the book worth reading and studying. I'll start with the many caveats and end with my overall impression of why the book still works.

My overriding impression is that the book is a perfect illustration of Marold's Two Laws of Fast Cooking which state that `Fast Cooking requires a firm grasp of good cooking techniques, above and beyond what the written recipe tells you.' and `Fast cooking requires more expensive or more highly processed ingredients than slow cooking.'.

As I read each recipe, I sense that each and every one requires some special culinary knowledge without which you may be fumbling with the prep long after your perceived `quick result' time expires.

The very first recipe assumes you can peel and chop garlic, grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and chop basil promptly, before leaf blackening sets in.
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Format: Hardcover
I can only believe that people who left a 5 star review are friends or family of Rocco's.

The reason people are into quick cuisine is because they're busy, they have children, they work long hours, etc. His recipes promise 5 ingredients, 5 minutes, under $5.00. Ah! It's at least 30 minutes prep time on even the quickest recipes and some are up to 60 minutes and most are not family friendly. There is a recipe for scallops with lemon butter and the recipe never calls for cooking the scallops. Well yeah, I guess you could prepare it in 5 minutes when it's raw. Then you're suppose to get a teflon skillet as hot as humanly possible (which I've always read is a no no) and brown some butter with lemon zest then pour over the uncooked scallops. Gross! Then his 5 ingredients does not count for herbs, spices, oil, vinegars, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, butter, etc etc so there's another 5-10 ingredients per recipe that are not included in his "5" ingredients. And many of the 5 ingredients are packaged jello, canned cheese whiz, etc. Gross!

Most of the pictures are black and white and just absolutely horrible photography. There's a B&W picture taking up both pages of what appears to be a stock pot filled with who knows what. They picture is so dark and undefineable that the contents actually look gross. There are a few color, glossy pictures near the back of the book, not enough to give you a feel for the dishes.

And then to say thanks to your partner for putting out for you? Isn't that an open sexual innuendo? Gross.

Overall, don't bother. Book is poorly designed, recipes are so-so, and the photography is just horrible. How embarrasing for Rocco who I'm sure is a nice person, he seems to have a nice personality and I love his shows but forget this cookbook. He should be suing his publisher for putting this to print.
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Format: Hardcover
I hesitated purchasing this book until I browsed through it at a local book shop because I feared that 5 minutes and 5 ingredients meant bland flavor. Not true at all. While the name and premise of the book are somewhat misleading, i.e., 5 minutes refers to the COOKING and not the time it takes to prepare the meal (as Rachael Ray says) "from start to finish." Nevertheless, the recipes that I have tried or reviewed require easy preparation (a little chopping here, a little grating there), and they contain minimal ingredients with big flavors that result in enjoyable dishes. The flavor combinations are often more complex than the simplistic nature of the cookbook might suggest, and these are certainly meals that you can make for yourself on a busy week night, or for friends on lazy weekends. They'll never have to know that you made the dish in "5 minutes," and you'll have more time to spend socializing rather than slaving away in the kitchen.

Rocco hopes (and he expressly states this in the book) that 5 minutes will become the new cooking catch-phrase, leaving Rachael Ray's 30-minute meals in the dust. I'm not sure that this will happen (nor do I want it to because I'm a loyal RR fan), but this book and concept will certainly be a welcome addition to anyone's cookbook library. If you're a kitchen novice, hey, here are some recipes too impress that won't break the bank or your back. If you're a foodie, these recipes will serve as tasty additions to your repertoire when you just don't have time to make a more complex meal. Sure, Rocco uses prepared, pre-packaged ingredients in a number of the recipes, but you couldn't have a 5-minute book by avoiding them completely, and overall he balances these quite nicely with fresh and healthy ingredients.

So, for the overall concept - quick, easy and flavorful - the quality of the recipes and the layout of the book, I rate Rocco's new cookbook 5 stars.
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