cover image Cooking to Beat the Clock: Delicious, Inspired Meals in 15 Minutes

Cooking to Beat the Clock: Delicious, Inspired Meals in 15 Minutes

Sam Gugino. Chronicle Books, $16.95 (156pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1860-5

The title is an attention grabber but unless they have trained as short-order cooks, most readers will have a tough time turning out these recipes in a quarter of an hour. They could do them in under 30 minutes, though, and not collapse into their seats at the dining room table. The few extra minutes are worth it. Gugino, a chef, cooking instructor and food columnist, offers 60 tasty and imaginative dishes that can be put together in about the time it takes to get a pizza delivered. These inspired one-pot or one-platter meals draw on a variety of cuisines including Mediterranean, French, Mexican and Asian. There's Chili with Beans, Smothered Lamb Chops with Orzo, Quick Cassoulet featuring turkey kielbasa, Chicken Fajitas with Mango Salsa, Asian-Spiced Salmon with Braised Bok Choy and a startling 15-Minute Thanksgiving Dinner. There are also soups, such as cumin-scented Moroccan Chicken and--the harried cook's best friend--pasta dishes, including Spaghetti Carbonara. While the focus is on casual family meals, there are dishes fit for company as well (15-Minute Bouillabaisse and Chicken Saltimbocca with Arugula and Tomato Salad, among others). In addition to recipes, the book recommends labor-saving techniques and creative substitutions. Gugino's style is terse and on the bossy side, but cooks in a hurry won't mind. (Jan.)