Friday, March 20, 2009

Cookbook Friday: The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

If, like most people, you find you just don't have enough time most nights to get a decent meal on the table, Bon Appetit's Fast Easy Fresh will save your life. Honestly, since purchasing it in January I've gone to it again and again for dinner suggestions.

The title doesn't lie -- these are dishes that are relatively quick to prepare, with uncomplicated ingredient lists and often very few steps involved. You're not going to be soaking dried beans overnight or marinating for hours on end. But this is Bon Appetit so you're also not sacrificing quality for the sake of convenience.

The book is very well laid out, generally divided by ingredient, although there are sections on starters, salads and a sizeable index of sandwich, pizza, rice and pasta options. And there are 1,100 recipes! So you can't say you're tired of making the same old thing. There are so many options here -- if anything the problem will be deciding on one thing. (I often end up bookmarking a few before I end up settling on something.)

Not too many photos here, but not to worry. This tome is jammed with useful info on ingredients and techniques to help ensure your recipes turn out as they should. The first thing I made from it was the Wisconsin mac and cheese and it was delicious.

More recently I made the Salmon with mustard and brown sugar glaze -- only six ingredients, one of which I didn't bother with, and again it was a success. I reduced the ingredient quantities since I was making a dinner for one, and it's easily done.

Salmon with mustard and brown sugar glaze

3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup butter, diced
1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (I didn't use this, instead used salt and pepper to taste)
1 2-pound center cut salmon filet
1/3 cup spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Boil wine, butter and Old Bay seasoning (if you're using it) in a small saucepan for 3 minutes. Sprinkle salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on rimmed baking sheet; pour wine mixture over. Bake until salmon is just opaque in center, about 14 minutes. Remove from oven.

Preheat broiler. Mix mustard and sugar in small bowl to blend; spread over salmon to cover. Broil salmon until topping is brown and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Transfer salmon to platter.

Serves 4. Serve with a spinach salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette.

Courtesy The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook, Barbara Fairchild, 2008.

If you know someone who's just starting to cook, or is rekindling their passion for cooking, I highly recommend this book as an all-purpose go-to. Sure there are others, The Joy Of Cooking springs to mind, that might offer more in the way of general advice and basic recipes, however I maintain if what they're looking for is inspiration for interesting dinners, breakfasts, or even lunches to take to school or work, this will be the one they take off the shelf most.

I recently picked up a copy for my sister, who's been cooking more in the last few months, and she's already tried a few things from it. If you're looking for it, the cover's green, and it weighs a ton.



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