Semi-Homemade Cooking: Quick, Marvelous Meals and Nothing Is Made from Scratch

Sandra Lee, Author, Wolfgang Puck, Author, Wolfgang Puck, Introduction by
Sandra Lee, Author, Wolfgang Puck, Author, Wolfgang Puck, Introduction by Miramax Books $19.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4013-5923-2
Reviewed on: 10/01/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-0-696-22685-4
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-0-696-22684-7
Paperback - 978-1-932270-47-1
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Replete with high-gloss, high-glam food photography, Lee's debut looks like a sophisticated cookbook, but closer inspection reveals that most recipes offer little a neophyte couldn't figure out for himself. A professional ""lifestylist,"" Lee includes recipes such as a Golden Mushroom Soup that's simply a gussied-up can of Campbell's, and a Kahlua Tiramisu that demands three containers of refrigerated pudding. Harried home cooks might appreciate her shortcuts on the nights that authentically homemade meals are strategically impossible, but some will take issue with her use of brand names for virtually everything but the cooking water-a decision that, unfortunately, makes the book read as though it were underwritten by Nabisco, Kraft and Swanson. Pumpkin Cinnamon Pancakes, for example, call for Aunt Jemima pancake mix, and the Tropical Salmon necessitates French's mustard and Sunsweet Fruitlings. Lee even extends to animals the prospect of semi-homemade dishes: the chapter on pet foods includes a recipe for Kitty Tuna Cakes, wherein the intrepid cat-lover is instructed to fry Purina Pet Chow and StarKist tuna into patties. With a eye towards crafting the whole dining experience, Lee also suggests wine and music for some of her creations: pork kabobs, for instance, call for Hugel Gentil (an Alsatian white) and Celine Dion. Television appearances and Lee's sunny persona will help sales, but purists should look elsewhere for quick recipes.
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