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Pure Simple Cooking
Effortless Meals Every Day
By Diana Henry
ISBN: 1580089488
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication date: Feb. 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
List price: $21.95 
Type: Quick
Sample recipe: Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs and Lemon Crumbs; Vine-Growers Sausages
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Do not even open this book unless you intend to buy it – the photos alone are so seductive, most people will not be able to hold themselves back. Who would not want to eat this way?

The recipes are meant to be thrown together quickly and with little fuss. The difference between this and so many other work-night cookbooks is that these recipes look fabulous. Many of them include two or three variations, so no matter what you have in the house, you should be able to come up with something good. So much the better if you stopped at the market on the way home and have a few fresh ingredients to complete a particular recipe.

In addition to the core recipes – featuring chicken, chops, sausages, leg of lamb, fish, pasta, greens and herbs, spring and summer vegetables, autumn and winter vegetables, spring and summer fruit, autumn and winter fruit, and a variety of non-fruit desserts – there are dozens and dozens of quick little recipelets that will allow you to spice up or transform anything you're making. These include 10 stuffing recipes (not at all limited to turkey), 15 sauces, 16 no-cook desserts, a dozen flavored butters, 13 "virtually" no-cook starters, nine "flavored creams," and two dozen ideas for what to do with "a tub of good ice cream."

There are a few lapses that we'll attribute to turning a British book into a book for the American market, mostly having to do with measurements. Who in their right mind would measure 14 tablespoons of milk? Even saying 7/8ths of a cup would be better, but the recipe that requires it is not so fussy that it couldn't have just said 3/4 cup of milk or 1 cup of milk. There are other odd measures, but you should be able to figure most or all out. Likewise, a few ingredients are going to be challenging to track down, but that only affects a few recipes.

Even if the photos did not call out to you, this could easily become one of the most-used books in your kitchen.


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