Easy to prepare + minimal use of over-processed ingredients = some good solid basic meals ...
Reviewed in the United States on 7 December 2015
There's a lot to like about this cookbook. With 100 menus consisting of 2 recipes each, it really does have something for every taste. And it's true to the title: every recipe pair that I've made so far came together in under 30 minutes, including the requisite prep work.
What I really like is that there is minimal use of highly-processed components (canned soup, for example) which is generally the rule in other "quick fix" recipe collections. Most of these recipes use fresh ingredients, and their simplicity (fewer ingredients) is what keeps the time in the kitchen to a minimum.
As is my practice with every cookbook I review, I chose 3 selections to try based mostly on what I had on hand in the pantry or freezer. Since this book is based on the idea of 30-minute meal preparation, I chose to prepare both recipes in each of 3 menu choices.
First up: Roast Beef and Cheddar Salad. A good basic "dinner"-type salad with some meat, salad greens (romaine lettuce in this case), tomatoes, scallions, and garbanzos (in this case, canned), with a nice basic dressing with red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, topped with a healthy sprinkling of cheddar cheese. This is paired with Tomato-Olive Muffins -- made from scratch, with prepared pesto, chopped black olives and chopped sundried tomatoes. The salad was fairly standard -- not too special, but good -- but the muffins were EXCELLENT! You put together the muffins first, and while they're baking, assemble the salad. This made a VERY nice meal, and I'll definitely be making the muffins again for sure.
Next: Chicken Sauté with Mushrooms and Spinach paired with Honeyed Carrots. For this meal, I started the carrots first, then got to work on the chicken dish. You first cook onions, mushrooms, and chunks of skinless/boneless chicken breast, set it aside and then make a sauce of sherry, cream, sun-dried tomatoes and sage. When the sauce is reduced, you add the chicken/veggies back in and add your baby spinach. By this time, the carrots are finished, so the entire meal comes together in about 20 minutes or so. And it is lovely! Will definitely do the chicken/spinach mixture again, and probably serve it over spiralized <something> - maybe zucchini or ... carrots! Easy, tasty.
Finally, I did the Pork Medallions with Sherried Shallot Sauce and Rebel with a Cause Smashed Potatoes. The pork dish uses pork tenderloin sliced into 3/4"-thick slices that are seasoned with one of the spice mixes featured in the book (they're all good), browned, and then finished with a sherry/shallot sauce. The potatoes are again fairly standard: small red or gold potatoes cut into chunks, boiled for 15-20 minutes until tender, then mashed with a potato masher leaving some chunks, and seasoned with olive oil, chicken broth, salt and pepper. They work as a nice foil for the pork, but I have to admit this wasn't my favorite combination. It was good, but nothing special, and I already make my own "smashed potatoes" (with garlic!) that I like better.
So ... 2 out of 3 winning meals, but I see enough good recipes here to warrant a solid 4 stars.
The only truly negative I can report has to do with photos. I'm personally OK with the photos in the book --there are quite a few, but not one for every recipe, and I'm OK with that. But there's a note in the introduction that if "you're a visual person, you'll be pleased to know that there is a database of photographs of recipes in this book ... " with a URL listed. I went to that URL (a specific page on the author's blog), and there are exactly 5 photos, several of which are already included in the book. So either the URL in the book is wrong, or they haven't updated the "gallery" with the additional photos as of this writing. So if you need a photo of each recipe, you may be disappointed.
That said, I did like this book, and will likely use it again.
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