As I noted in a recent review of another title in this series, the last thing I want to do when I come home from teaching and working with kids all day is to stand in the kitchen and work on making dinner. I primarily work with special needs students which are often physically demanding and by the end of the day I am worn out. I don’t find it therapeutic to chop and slice stuff for dinner after getting the first load of laundry going and the dishwasher started. While the Slow Cooker installment of this series had been a real disappointment, I had high hopes for this one once it finally made the way to me through the local library system.

Broken down mainly into three sections titled, “30 Minutes Start To Finish,” “20 Minutes Start To Finish,” and “Make More To Store” this cookbook like others in  the series is designed to make food preparation a fast activity while delighting people with the results. There is a wide range in dishes from “steaks with herb butter,” to “farfalle with salsa cruda” (no, that really isn’t a typo) to polenta with vegetable ragout,” or “Greek lamb kebabs” and “chicken couscous with dried fruit.” Like other books in the series, while providing detailed sections on food storage, pantry suggestions, what to buy at the store, weekly meal planning and other very helpful tips not one word is devoted to fat counts, calories  levels, salt counts, etc. With so many people needing to watch what they eat because of dietary issues for a variety of reasons it is rather surprising that such important information is left out of these cookbooks.

What is here is another strong entry in the series and one that didn’t work for me despite the promising opening of “steaks with herb butter.” My family are rather picky scavengers and it quickly became clear with recipes noted above and others such as “lemongrass chicken and asparagus,” “lime shrimp with coconut rice, or” pappardelle with beef ragu” that this book isn’t going to work for us. Not just because these and many other recipes in this book feature ingredients that the scavengers won’t eat. Many recipes lost me from the point that they said to prepare the grill or broiler and then do something. Most of the recipes in this book are rather complicated and exceed my modest abilities in the kitchen. Not only that but while the dishes are beautifully photographed as they always are in this series, most of the dishes just don’t look good to me. Like other books in this series, each recipe gives a portion number but it is impossible to tell how realistic the portion sizes are.

While a beautifully done book, as are all of the books in the series I have seen, this book just won’t work for me and my family. Most of the recipes are either way to complicated for this cook at this time or feature item such as “peas” or “asparagus” which my family absolutely won’t eat for any reason. Not that I blame them as I don’t like to eat them either. This book goes back to the library quickly and the hunt continues.

Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Weeknight

Recipes by Melanie Barnard

General Editor Chuck Williams

Oxmoor House

October, 2006

ISBN# 0-84873137-9

Hardback

112

Pages

$17.95

Reviewed book provided by the Plano, Texas Public Library system http://www.plano.gov/Departments/Libraries/

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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