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I have a couple of different cookbooks that are marketed as collections of recipes that require 5 or less ingredients, and the result of these recipes is often disappointing. I was hopeful that this collection would fare better. In one sense it does and the recipes I have tried have turned out reasonably well. However, there is some creative counting going on here.
I will start by saying that this is a relatively small collection of recipes, approximately 60 recipes total. If you are looking for a large collection of quick and easy recipes, this isn’t it.
One of the things that has always bothered me about the Joy of Cooking is that it is filled with recipes that are based on other recipes which in turn are based on still more. As a result you end up making things going 2-4 recipes deep to get what you want. This cookbook does some of that too, and it lists the result of one recipe as one single ingredient. More obvious is that some ingredients like salt, pepper and butter aren’t counted at all. Why not? This might be a relatively minor complaint but the collection claims 5 ingredients, not 5 main ingredients plus 2-3 more that “don’t count”.
Creative math aside, this is a reasonable collection broken down into several chapters: quick dinners, breakfasts, soups/salads, vegan/vegetarian main dishes, poultry/seafood, beef/pork, snacks/side dishes, desserts, and finally spice blends. I have not tried too many of these but those I have tried have turned out well and I have earmarked a few others. Each recipe is clearly labeled with special attributes of the recipe – vegan, freezer-friendly, gluten-free, etc., which is helpful for those looking for special preparation styles or have dietary restrictions.
This is not a bad collection but the creative counting methods are deceptive. In many cases, “five” means 8-10. This is a marketing issue, and the cookbook would have been better marketed as a collection of simply and easy-to-prepare recipes instead.
I can see how this book, which uses many shortcuts (frozen veggies, canned beans, seasoned salt) and limits each to recipe to five ingredients, apart from salt, pepper, butter and other seasonings, will really appeal to harried working people and especially working parents. But I'm someone who loves to shop the farmers markets and now, in the midst of the coronavirus quarantine, has been ordering farm boxes with fresh produce. I also don't eat meat. So I'm not really the target market for this book.
That said, I can see how I might adapt some of the recipes for my cooking style--substituting fresh veggies for frozen and beans cooked from dry for the canned ones.
If you're looking for shortcuts to tasty meals, this may be a good bet. If you're more like me, you might want to explore something a little less basic.