First off, this is a really good cookbook with some really great tasting recipes. So let's get that out of the way. However... Don't let the title of the book mislead you into thinking that all of these recipes are quick and easy because they only use six ingredients. Because that's not the case. Granted, six ingredients is not many. But a number of these recipes are pretty complex and time consuming. I for one was under the impression that the small number of ingredients would mean I'd be whipping out great tasting food quickly and easily, with minimal effort. But that's not really the case. I really would've liked if America's Test Kitchen had added a "Prep Time/Total Time" rubric to each recipe so I didn't have to read all the way through the recipe to figure out how long it will take from start to finish. All that being said, it's a really good cookbook. And I love the ATK recommendations of brand-name products that are scattered throughout in the "Ingredient Spotlight" features. The "Test Kitchen Tips" are helpful, too. Just remember: Fewer ingredients does not always mean "easy."
I own most of the ATK cookbooks, giving most of the ones I own a steady 5 stars. This one fell a little flat for me as some of the recipes while having only six ingredients still take a bunch of time and is perhaps no easier than a full recipe. I live a few blocks from the Italian Market in South Philly, and Reading Terminal where I would have no problem finding any of these ingredients like oyster sauce, hoisin, baby bok choy, and fig jam just to name a few, however if you are in a small town those ingredients and others not named may not be attained so easily.
The recipes I cooked came out well as they always do, but something just seemed to be missing, and perhaps that is the other ingredients, for when you are going to take the time to cook something you might as well have the full pantry ready to go.
Bottom line for a beginner cook this is an excellent book, for a more seasoned chef you may be bored by the simplicity, but your guests will enjoy it none the less.
That's what the America's Test Kitchen founder and editor claims in his preface to this latest ATK recipe collection. The mission of the "6 Ingredient Solution" is to show us how to "coax more flavor from fewer ingredients." And how are we to go about that? By 1. learning how to look beyond the usual cooking fats 2. using high heat to develop flavor, 3. stocking up on spice blends, 4. unlocking the flavor of spices and herbs, 5. discovering new uses for store-bought sauces, 6. building glazes for meat with jams and jellies, 7. rethinking pickles and marinated vegetables, 8. exploring the international aisle, 9. considering the snack shelf when cooking, 10. remembering to season--and taste. And trying these recipes.
Nearly a hundred of the 175 recipes here feature a full color, full page 5x7-inch photo of the finished dish. Each recipe is accompanied by a "why this works" analysis. There are also conversion and equivalencies charts for volume, weight, ingredients commonly used in baking and oven temperatures for Fahrenheit, Celsius and Gas Mark. As for the recipes...here's a sampler:
24 EFFORTLESS APPETIZERS, among them: "Pink Peppercorn-Crusted Goat Cheese Log," "Spicy Shrimp Cocktail Shooters," and "Crispy Spiced Chickpeas."
11 SIMPLY SENSATIONAL SOUPS like "Chai-infused Butternut Squash Soup," "Roasted Tomato Soup" and "Thai Red Curry and Coconut Chicken Soup."
22 CHICKEN recipes, including "Unstuffed Chicken Cordon Bleu," "Mustard-Glazed Drumsticks," and "Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Burgers."
18 BEEF, PORK & LAMB recipes, including "Steak Salad with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan," "Sesame Pork Chops with Orange and Radish Salad," and "Lamb Pitas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.Read more ›
Celebrating great ingredients and the best flavor-producing techniques are the reasons behind the cookbook, and those ideas come through abundantly. As Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country founder and editor Christopher Kimball notes in the preface, "recipes with a limited number of ingredients are often the best recipes" and "They also show off one's skills in the kitchen since one has to pay attention to each and every item."
As a guide for new cooks, this is an impeccable volume. There are standards in the beginning of the book that reveal basic secrets that just make sense, such as remembering to flavor and taste what you're preparing. More experienced cooks will find new ideas.
The recipes themselves are featured in a wide variety of sections that most comprehensive cookbooks would include, including a vegetarian main dish section for everyone, and a Slow and Easy section that will get plenty of use this winter here. The recipes are clearly and cleanly written, and are easy to track while using them. The photographs are clear and make the finished food look appealing and easy to replicate.
6 Ingredient Solution is a cookbook to keep with any cook's most trusted ones, and to pull off the shelf for frequent use.