Gourmet Meals in Minutes Hardcover – Jun 29 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Having trained thousands of professional chefs, the CIA addresses home cooks here in an effort to "cultivate a passion for cooking" despite today's hectic pace. With an emphasis on a multiplicity of ethnic flavors, the recipes are largely familiar and manageable. In fact, many of the simpler ones (Vichyssoise, Romaine and Grapefruit Salad with Walnuts and Stilton; Ratatouille; and Tiramisu) may be found in scores of other cookbooks. However, such dishes as Lobster and Roasted Red Pepper Salad, and Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Tomato Relish seem rather ambitious when described as "meals in minutes." And suggesting the use of premade phyllo dough as a prime ingredient in Fennel and Chorizo Strudels, or packaged puff pastry dough in Fresh Fruit Galette, undercuts the book's premise. Oddly for home cooking, nearly every recipe serves eight. Still, there are dozens of quick and easy recipes, such as Niçoise-Style Grilled Tuna and Cider-Braised Pork Medallions. Presentation is often a key aspect, as in Haricots Verts with Prosciutto and Gruyère, in which prosciutto slices are twisted into spirals to resemble roses. CIA fans, who include viewers of PBS's Cooking Secrets from the CIA, will turn to this book. Others may find that it does not entirely fulfill its promise. 125 color photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A big reason I love this book is because it does not try to trick you into believing that a great meal will just magically appear in 30 minutes. This book educates you on how to organize your kitchen so you will be able to produce gourmet meals with minimal cooking time. This includes practical suggestions on how to stock your kitchen pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Detailed time-saving techniques on how to prepare herbs, spices and other ingredients ahead of time so that their flavor is preserved and you have minimal prep-time when cooking. There is also advice on equipment and a lot of time is spent on techniques; each individual technique or set of techniques are explained step-by-step and illustrated when necessary.
I find that knowing my skill level helps me to determine if a cookbook is written for me; so far my stages of development have been total disaster, occasional disaster or novice, beginner, experienced beginner, advanced beginner/almost intermediate, and now I consider myself an intermediate cook. I am not a gourmet or professional by any means. I would not recommend this cookbook for a novice or beginner but for an experienced beginner through intermediate cook who wants to expand his or her repertoire and wants suggestions on technique, food preparation and stocking up their kitchen. I imagine this would be too simple for someone who is really advanced. If you fit in the categories I described above then this is a great option.
For the reviewer who described dishes she prepared as bland I have not had that experience. Although I follow the recipes from cookbooks as closely as possible I have found that it is always important to taste a dish when I am cooking and making changes if needed.
Anything in life can be cooked in minutes, ranging from 1 minute to more than a million of minutes. But the title of the book misleads you if you are expecting to find recipes and instructions to plate and cook gourmet food in less than 30 minutes. This is just another recipe book from the crowd to me, with many of the recipies of little interest.
The Chicken with Artichokes and Mustard Sauce, Walnut Chicken,and Stir Fried Garden Vegetables with Marinated Tofu were all incredibly bland; I found myself acting as a physician of mercy, desperately trying to revive these dishes. Ditto for the Fruit Salad with Orange Blossom Syrup. The Manhattan Clam Chowder was good, but not memorable.
I was expecting a lot more from the CIA, which turns out so many great chefs. If you're looking for a book that has some great quickie recipes, I would spend my money on The Gourmet Cookbook, which has over 1,000 recipes. I've yet to make a bad one out of that book, and each recipe lists how long it will take. There are a great many recipes in the book which take under 30 minutes. The CIA should take a lesson from Gourmet Magazine before they put out another mediocre cookbook.