Rocco's 5 Minute Flavor

Rocco DiSpirito, Author, Kris Kurek, With with Kris Kurek. Scribner $26.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-7432-7384-8

The publicity-loving chef of NBC's The Restaurant and former executive chef of Manhattan's three-star restaurant Union Pacific (now closed) devotes his third book to the everyday challenge of cooking without time, money or fancy ingredients. Organized around the gimmick of "5 ingredients/5 minutes prep/$5 per portion"—a weekly feature of DiSpirito's daily radio broadcast on WOR—the book distills dishes like Crab Cakes with Avocado Dip, Beef Curry Sauté, and Cod Provençal into four or five steps. Novices may find the instructions too compressed to be useful (there's no explanation of how to execute techniques like deep frying), and users should know that "5 ingredients" excludes pantry staples such as oils, vinegars and flours. DiSpirito also includes 75 photos of himself with family and friends, and relatively few of the food. But harried home cooks with some culinary experience will relish the chef's secret weapon: the 100 commercially prepared ingredients on which he builds his recipes, including Campbell's Cheddar Soup, Hellman's Mayonnaise and Stovetop Stuffing. The result is a book of 175 uneven dishes that are cheap and easy but constrained by the "5" format—a far cry from the creative juice that made DiSpirito's first book, Flavor , a James Beard Award winner. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/31/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
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