cover image Simply Done, Well Done

Simply Done, Well Done

Aaron McCargo. Wiley, $19.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-470-61533-1

As unwieldy as its title, Food Network host McCargo's cookbook debut lurches wildly, offering rote recitals, some genuine hits, and head-spinning combos that are more likely to raise questions than satisfy cravings. Must-try dishes like Pork Empanadas with Ranchero Sauce and Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Smoked Gouda make a strong case for the book. But when McCargo misses, he swings just as hard: Spicy Steamed Mussels with Tomato and Basil calls for an entire can of condensed tomato soup, and Barbecue Chicken Penne Melt adds a full quart of barbecue sauce to shredded chicken, cheese, and pasta, resulting in recipes that are more dare than dish. He's eager to offer reliable recipes for marinades, seasoning blends, and marinara sauce, but puzzlingly just as happy tossing tablespoons of salty bouillon into almost every soup, cracking open a can of cherry pie filling for Spicy Chocolate Truffles, or busting out the boxed cake mix and an entire container of Cool Whip for Tiramisu Cupcakes. With a little more time and focus, McCargo could have created a unique and usable guide. Instead, his collection feels rushed and cobbled together, likely leaving many readers with plenty of room for more. (Apr.)