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Book Review - Best-Ever 30-Minute Cookbook

ĒĒI found the Best-Ever 30-Minute Cookbook at my favorite warehouse store. It was such a bargain (under $10) and promised hundreds of quick and easy recipes, so I had no problem justifying the addition of yet another cookbook for my collection.

When judging whether a cookbook is worthwhile, one of the criteria I look at is whether or not the book has pictures. While there are a few good cookbooks out there without them, most would agree that pictures are important, especially to those who arenít experienced cooks and would like an idea of how the dish should look. In this book, there is not only a picture of each of the finished dishes, there are also additional pictures showing some of the steps for preparing the dishes. The pictures are professional, colorful, and appealing.

The book also has an excellent index, which I find to be essential in a good cookbook; a good index makes it possible to find recipes easily according to specific ingredients, or by the name of each dish, both of which are listed.

Another plus for this cookbook is that there are several pages at the beginning of the book that have hints and tips for speeding up the preparation of food, as well as an explanation of time saving equipment, and basic recipes for quick sauces, salad dressings, dips, and accompaniments. There is also a section with suggestions for full menus using the quick recipes in the book.

The table of contents is straightforward and easy to follow, but the chapters are unconventional in that the book is divided into sections such as Breakfasts and Brunches, Soups and Appetizers, and Light Bites and Lunches. These sound nice, but donít really tell me much about the recipes included. For instance, if Iím looking for a good light pasta dish to serve at a ladies luncheon, do I look in the section called Main Course Pasta Dishes or should I try Light Bites and Lunches? Flamenco Eggs, which is a delectable dish that Iím planning to serve at my next brunch, is in the Meat Meals section rather than the Breakfast and Brunch section; the Homemade Venison Sausages are also in the Meat Meals section, but if I were to serve them, it would probably be at breakfast or brunch. As far as Iím concerned, there is a reason that most cookbooks are divided up by appetizers, beverages, breads, etc.; the name of the chapter should let us know exactly what weíll find in it.

The variety of dishes in this book is excellent and includes Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, and Continental. However, since the author, Jenni Fleetwood, is English, many of the ingredients are referred to by the British names- aubergine for eggplant, corgette for zucchini, bacon chop for pork chop. I checked my collection and found that I own several cookbooks by this author, and when I glanced at the cookbooks I already own, I noticed that many of the recipes included this cookbook are also in her other cookbooks.

For busy cooks, the most important question is whether the recipes can really be prepared in 30 minutes or less (without sous chefs and assistants like on the television cooking shows). The answer is a definitive Yes! Jenni Fleetwood is the Queen of Quick! I did a little research and found that she has authored or edited over a hundred books, mostly cookbooks, and while they cover a variety of ethnic subjects and also several with a hot and spicy theme, most of her recipes are quick and easy.

While no cookbook is perfect, I think this one is worth owning; itís inexpensive, has beautiful pictures, and includes a variety of delicious recipes that are truly quick and easy. Iíve tried several of the recipes with excellent results, and have several others marked that Iím planning to try soon. Peruse this book and you will be inspired to make something different; the bonus is that the something different can be accomplished in just a matter of minutes!

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