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Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 inspired seasonal dishes you can make in 20 minutes or less Hardcover – July 7, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Bittman here offers a sampling of 404 inspiring recipes. But don't expect another How to Cook Everything. This newest is of a different kind—simple and snappy, and rarely calls for measuring spoons. The no-sweat recipes are divided into four sections: summer, fall, winter and spring, capitalizing on the freshest ingredients of each season while whittling down the prep time of ordinarily elaborate dishes like coq au vin and ricotta cheesecake to 10 minutes or less. The book includes a drill-down of how best to stock your kitchen, and given the impromptu nature of the book, the substitution grid proves indispensable. While many dishes are sandwiches, dips or salads, Bittman offers a handful of innovative gems like figs in a blanket and pasta jambalaya, drawing from a diverse gastronomical panorama including Latin, Asian, Mediterranean and Creole flavors. And while quick, Bittman's recipes don't lack his signature creative punch. Lavender-thyme braised chicken, scallop and peach ceviche and a five-spice lobster sandwich will make most readers both salivate and appreciate the ease of his recipes. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“I’d buy any cookbook Bittman wrote.”
—The Miami Herald
“This is a man who loves food in the most unstuffy way possible.”
—The Chicago Tribune
Top customer reviews
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This book is broken down by season. Within each season, recipes are organized in a natural meal progression (breakfasts first, then salads, soups, meat, fish, chicken, pastas, desserts).
As promised, the recipes are very quick but not all are truly only 20 minutes, unless your knife skills are killer! He seriously seems to think you can chop an entire onion, a couple carrots and celery and mince garlic in, like, 2 minutes. I wish I was that fast! Even so, the recipes are reasonably easy and fast to pull together (perfect for weeknights!) without being short on flavor.
One important thing to note: the recipes are written to be very flexible, not rigid at all. He literally does not give you a list of ingredients (Often he says things like this: a handful of cilantro, "some" garlic, but he does give specifics when it counts (eg. 1 lb shrimp, 4 cups broth) and instructions like these are typical: "Cook a chopped onion in olive oil in a saucepan until soft; add 1 cup red lentils and 4 cups broth and bring to a boil; continue simmering until the lentils are soft." Hmmm... How long does it take to cook but not overcook red lentils?? Who knows!! (FYI, about 15-20 minutes). He's taken the Rachael Ray "just eyeball it" philosophy to a new level!
Anyway, his approach allows you to make each recipe your own, tweaking as you go, which is great if you are comfortable with your cooking skills and open to experimenting. But if you aren't that confident, his casual approach can be unnerving and downright irritating. Just tell me EXACTLY how many minutes to cook it, please!!! My husband actually refers to this as the "if you like" cookbook because Bittman so frequently leaves things up to you ("top with grated cheese if you like"). Needless to say, my husband finds this book a bit frustrating. I did too at first but after experimenting with recipes, I've found some awesome dishes and become more confident in my own cooking skills. Win-win!!
A bonus section in the back has recipe suggestions for different events (romantic dinner, kid-friendly, brunch, cocktail party, room temp buffet, etc).
Some of our favorite recipes:
Summer: Smoke n Spice Fish Soup; Four-bean Salad; Shrimp w/ Cilantro, Garlic & Lime
Fall: Lemony Red Lentil Soup; Tomato Soup w/ Chickpeas & Greens; Greek-Style Eggplant Salad; Gruyere Apple Grilled Cheese
Winter: Quick Cassoulet; Tofu w/ Pineapples & Red Peppers; Linguine w/ Butter Parmesan & Sage
Spring: Greek Stuffed Pita; Curried Chicken Salad; Chickpea Burgers; Panko Chicken w/ Grapefruit-Honey Sauce
Note: we cook & eat vegetarian 90% of the time so I haven't really tried the meat recipes, but there's plenty of them. There's also - obviously - a ton of recipes to satisfy vegetarians too!