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30-Minute Meals Paperback – July 20, 1999
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About the Author
Rachael Ray is host of the Food Network shows 30 Minute Meals, Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, Worst Cooks in America, and Week in a Day. She is also the star of the syndicated talk show Rachael Ray. Rachael has authored over twenty cookbooks and is the founder and editorial director of the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray. Her non-profit organization, Yum-o!, was founded in 2006.
Top customer reviews
Now for the minuses-- 1) unlike the show, recipes are not grouped together with a main dish, side and a dessert/drink. This is rectified in the sequel, but it is not easy to always pick dishes that can be cooked at the same time and still finish in 30 minutes. 2) no pictures! I like pictures of the finished product. Not a biggie, but it bugged me. 3) I like the "pinch of this" and "dash of that" style of cooking. If you *have* to have precise measurements, this may not be your book. 4) I am a profecient cook, yet many of the dishes are really 40 minute meals for me. If you're a fast chopper and can multi-task, you may get these meals done in 30 minutes on the first try. Otherwise... plan for a little extra time.
This is not a book for an advanced chef, it is simple food and it makes no pretensions to anything else. However, if you have a new cook in the family, or you are looking for new ideas for weeknight meals, I highly recommend this book. Ideal for your niece or nephew's first apartment!
In many ways, the grouping of dishes by type rather than by meal is an advantage, making it easier to match up different pasta and salad courses on different days. The drawback is that you have no hints on how to coordinate your time in preparing the three dishes at one time, although this is not exactly rocket science.
The main chapter headings / dish types are:
Pastas 29 dishes
Salads 28 dishes, some suitable as main course salads
Take out lookalike 39 dishes, primarily burgers, sandwiches, pizza, Tex-Mex, and Asian lookalikes
Comfort Foods 34 dishes such as chilis, sauces, soups, and casseroles
Full meals 5 menus for small party (8 to 12) quick cooking
Meatballs 5 recipes
I believe it is an important symptom of one of Rachael's main objectives that many of her dishes are named after family members. She presents the great Italian love of food and family together when you don't have Nona and three aunts at home all day to do all the prep work and braising.
One recent book on cooking traditional recipes slowly to recapture both the joy and flavors of this cooking makes the suggestion that Rachael's style of cooking is too hectic and has too little flavor. While the first has an element of truth, I say it does not remove the `Joy of Cooking'. It actually rescues it from the drive in take out window. On the latter point, this author if plainly wrong. I compared Rachael's Caesar Salad to a recipe from Martha Stewart and Rachael's was superior in taste, as Miss Martha really overloaded her dish with raw garlic.
It is very fortunate that the cuisine on which Ms. Ray's food is largely Italian, as the Italian cuisine has spent centuries perfecting the concentration of flavor in foods such as balsamic vinegar, cheeses, hams, and tomato concentrates, all of which are available in first class products at the local American supermarket.
The only drawback to using these products and prepackaged meats and vegetables is that you may be paying more for the same meal than if slower, prep intensive recipes were used. For thirty-something parents who are in the early middle of their career, this cost is probably inconsequential when compared to the benefits. It is certainly both economically and nutritionally inconsequential when compared to the fast food fare.
I have a lot of respect of Rachael's not overloading the book with suggestions for the pantry. Stocking up a pantry without specific recipes is a waste of time and money. I also strongly suggest the reader play close attention to the tips on knife use. Very important.
I'm afraid Rachal's recommendations on equipment are not helpful. One look at her Food Network show and you may see a Dutch oven, two large saute pans, a grill pan, and a blender in action at one time. Don't scrimp on the pots and pans. Do what Rachael does, not what she says in this department. I will give her credit for getting by with just one very good knife.
Rachael is not Mario or Martha or Emeril. She is teaching you how to do it fast, without loosing the fun and the flavor. As always, the price of the book is very right. Enjoy yourself!