It’s no wonder that the idea of a 30-minute meal is so popular. No matter how much we like to cook and how much time we’re willing to spend in the kitchen working on a perfect dish, there will always be times when something quick and simple is what sounds the most appealing. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, a quick meal became synonymous with a semi-homemade one, where premixed and precooked ingredients are thrown together to approximate a more thoughtful dish. This shouldn’t have to be the case, and The Best 30-Minute Recipe seems to prove it.
The cookbook was put together by America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated Magazine with the exact same kind of attention to detail that they are so well known for. The 300 or so recipes in the book are primarily short and to-the-point, written in the clear and precise style that the test kitchen has developed over the years. There are lots of tips for saving time during cooking, and every recipe starts with a brief description of how the test kitchen developed and perfected it. On top of the recipes, the book also includes reviews of kitchen equipment and ingredients, both of which should help you to shave minutes from your cooking time while adding flavor to your dishes.
Most of the dishes are savory (as opposed to just dessert recipes), but there is a tremendous amount of variety in here that makes the book a very useful all-purpose one to have around. As usual, the only negative thing that springs to mind is that there are only a few (admittedly excellent) photos in the center of the book, where there could certainly be more. That said, the presence of photos is a definite improvement over the many other ATK books that are devoid of pictures entirely. Lack of photos doesn’t come close to putting me off of this cookbook, however, especially since the test kitchen has taken pains to include numerous diagrams and sketches that show your specifically how to prep the food to get the best – and, in this case, quickest – results possible.