cover image Fresh & Fast: Inspired Cooking for Every Season and Every Day

Fresh & Fast: Inspired Cooking for Every Season and Every Day

Marie Simmons. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $29.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-881527-95-4

Life is too short to waste on a bad meal, suggests Simmons, coauthor (with Richard Sax) of Lighter, Quicker, Better. Drawing from her syndicated weekly newspaper column, she sets about to liberate home cooks from the processed tastes of convenience foods. Some 250 recipes showcase fresh ingredients in such uncomplicated dishes as Quick-Chilled Cumin-Scented Fresh Tomato and Corn Soup, Oven-Roasted Halibut with Herb Citrus Vinaigrette and Crystallized Ginger Ice Cream wtih Red Plum Sauce. Cooking times can run to close to an hour (as in Honey-Glazed Orange and Rosemary Chicken or Sesame Brown Rice Pilaf with Garlic and Vegetables), but preparation times are generally 10 to 15 minutes. The pasta recipes feature streamlined, tried and true combinations (e.g., Penne Rigate with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Mushrooms). The chapter devoted to sandwiches proves that a little attention and ingenuity can lift this common luncheon fare to full dinner status: Pan-Grilled Smoked Turkey, Fontina, Bacon and Avocado; Sliced Pork Loin Sandwich with Fennel, Garlic and Roasted Pepper. Side boxes review basic techniques and suggest recipe variations. Straightforward directions, generally short, affordable ingredient lists and suggestions for staples make this a valuable collection for novice and veteran cooks who want to prepare tasty, preservative-free meals. The Good Cook/BOMC and Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book Club main selection. (July)