Faster! Easier! Simpler!

At the end of this month, Nigel Slater’s Eat will be published (in the U.S., anyway.  I think it came out in fall of last year in the UK).  I’m a fan of most Slateriana, so when the book arrived this week, I dove right in.  Instead of the usual Slater ramblings in lush prose, I found a trim little volume chock full of 5- or 6-ingredient recipes.

First of all, I was charmed by the format. And I like books that encourage you to believe inspiration – lots of it – is right around the corner, even in the most apparently boring fridge.  

But the second thing that occurred to me was that this book, the “easy” book, was a familiar friend and almost its own genre.  The easy book is never an author’s first book.  Often the first is an ambitious book, filled with memoir-y anecdotes and an eclectic range of recipes, to introduce the author to the public.  Then there’s a book about a specific technique or ingredient or region the author loves.  And then, after a while, you get the easy book.  (For restaurant chefs, it goes restaurant book – at-home book – cooking with kids or for a crowd.)

It didn’t actually work that way for Slater. But if you look around, you’ll notice that most well-known chefs have an Easy or a Fast book on their list.  There’s Nigella Express.  There’s Mario Batali’s , Molto Italiano (Actually there are three Molto books, all “simple” or “easy”.)  Jacques Pépin, Sara Moulton, Jamie Oliver, Melissa Clark – all cooks of varying renown.  But each one’s gotten their Easy on at one point or another.

I always love these books, but for some reason they don’t end up on the downstairs use-it-all-the-time shelf.   I don’t know why – goodness knows I could use a bit more Easy in my life. But it always seems like the books that end up getting loved to bits in my kitchen are the highly focused or long-labored-over, Trust Me, I’m Authoritative books. 

How about you? Are there any Quick, Fast, Easy, or Simple books you just can’t do without?

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One Comment

  • readingtragic  on  September 17, 2014

    I dont like Easy as a rule, but I do like Sandeep Chatterjee's Quick and Easy Indian Vegetarian Cookery – mainly for the Carrot and Yoghurt Salad, I might add…

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