Minute Recipes 1
Fish and Shellfish 59
Poultry and Meat 93
Potatoes, Rice, Pasta, Pizza, and Bread 140
The Menus 218
Author’s Acknowledgments 223
Producer’s Acknowledgments 226
When I wrote Fast Food My Way, I hoped that many of my friends would prepare my recipes and feel comfortable cooking this way. It turned out better than I had expected and now more people cook from this book than any other of the twenty or so books that I have written in the last thirty years. Friends, family, neighbors, students, and colleagues alike tell me how happily surprised they are by the results, especially given the minimal investment of time. It amazes many cooks that a few simple and uncomplicated steps can produce such great dishes, and they often say, "That’s it!? That’s all there is to it?" Yes, simplicity was one of the main assets of Fast Food My Way, and the same is true of More Fast Food My Way: simplicity of thinking, techniques, ingredients, combinations, and presentation.
The best, freshest ingredients are essential as well for this "fast food," even though great use is made in the book of the pantry and canned food. This is not a paradox: your canned sardines will be better served on a bed of the freshest baby arugula with a sprinkling of great olives, and a can of cannellini beans that you have transformed into a soup will be accented and improved with great sausage, fresh herbs, mild onion, and roasted croutons from an earthy country bread. Using the supermarket the right way, you can buy good-quality partially cooked or prepared food and make that food personal with a few additions or changes. It’s a gratifying way to cook and it makes you feel that you have created something. This is the easiest of my cookbooks for beginners, for people afraid to cook, for people pressed for time or limited by a poorly stocked supermarket or by a family of finicky eaters, or for anyone who wants great food quickly.
When I think about "fast food" cooking, I realize that I have always cooked this way. My mother did so and so occasionally do my professional chef friends. We all have moments when, pressed by time, we’ll use a can of tuna and a tomato to make a first course or we’ll transform frozen raspberries into a scrumptious dessert in minutes. It’s a question of choosing the right recipes. On a leisurely weekend I may take my time making long-simmering stocks, puff pastry, and slow-cooked stews. A couple of days later, I may be stuck in traffic, come home late, and be hungry and short of time, so I’ll concoct a few fast dishes with what is available in my pantry and fridge—often with as much success as a long-planned, time-consuming meal. These recipes are as much a part of my culinary past and as much a part of my cuisine as are the more complex, longer-to-make recipes from my other books.
In a restaurant, the food is ready in minutes because of thorough beforehand preparation. The work is always divided into two parts, the preparation (called the mise en place) and the mealtime finishing touches at the stove (called le service). The prep cook bones the chicken, fillets the fish, minces the shallots, slices the mushrooms, cleans the spinach, peels the tomatoes, and chops the herbs ahead, all to be ready for mealtime. Then, if a customer orders a fish dish, it takes the cook at the stove only seconds to combine the fish with presliced mushrooms, chopped shallots, peeled tomatoes, and wine, and a couple of minutes to cook the dish and finish it with a pat of butter and fresh herbs.
The supermarket is my modest, efficient prep cook, there specifically to make my life easier. At my disposal are prewashed baby greens and spinach, presliced mushrooms, skinless and boneless chicken breasts and thighs, fish fillets, shelled peas and beans, precooked beets, precleaned vegetables for soup, and much more. At the deli counter, many varieties of olives, marinated mushrooms, pimientos, and all kinds of grated, crumbled, or sliced cheeses stand ready to be used in salads or as garnishes. I find rolled sushi, raw stuffed roasts of veal, stuffed chickens, and marinated ribs. As I see the products, recipes pop into my head. I can make rotisserie chickens my own by cutting them up and placing them on a bed of Boston lettuce sprinkled with sautéed shallots, garlic, and herbs (see page 21).
Good equipment is important as well. I use a pressure cooker to make a fast delicious curry of lamb (page 118) and a spicy chili con carne (page 106). A food processor, a grater, sharp knives, nonstick pans, and rubber spatulas are as essential as are great olive oil, eggs, chicken stock, and breads, along with the freshest vegetables and salad greens and superb nuts, olives, and cheeses.
A few changes in your habits can save a lot of time. Peel vegetables directly into the sink or the garbage can. Line trays with aluminum foil to save time on washing and keep using the same pot when you cook, rinsing it quickly between uses and filling it with water when you are finished with it. Cook in attractive vessels, like a red cast-iron Dutch oven that you can bring directly from the stove to the table. If using a food processor more than once—let’s say to make bread crumbs and a puree of peas—start with the crumbs, so you don’t have to wash the bowl between uses.
This cuisine is the answer when guests invited for drinks are still lingering two hours later at dinnertime. Then is the time to survey the pantry and the refrigerator to see what you can cook with a minimum of effort. More than anything else, you may be surprised at how elegant and easy this type of entertaining can be. Your "fast food" will be different from mine, because along the way you’ll discover your own shortcuts and your own special style that you can apply to the dishes in this book to give them your personal stamp. Happy, easy, and elegant cooking!
Good seafood chowder can be prepared in minutes. In this recipe, I use shrimp, fish, and clam juice and finish the soup with a sprinkling of crabmeat. Oysters, scallops, and mussels are good alternate choices. The most important thing is to have a good base, of which leeks are an essential component. Mushrooms lend complexity, zucchini adds more texture, and potato flakes give a velvety smoothness and the proper thickness. The chowder can be made ahead up to the point where the fish and shellfish are added, which should be done at serving time. Bring the chowder barely back to a boil and serve immediately, with crabmeat sprinkled on as a special garnish.
4 SERVINGS (ABOUT 6 CUPS)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1½ cups trimmed, split, washed, and sliced leeks
1 tablespoon coarsely
2½ cups bottled clam juice
1½ cups water
1 cup coarsely chopped white mushrooms
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ cups diced (½-inch) zucchini
1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
¾ cup 1-inch pieces peeled uncooked shrimp
1 cup 1-inch pieces boneless fish fillet
2/3 cup half-and-half
About ½ cup crabmeat, for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. When hot, add the leek and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the clam juice, water, mushrooms, and salt, bring to a boil, and boil for about 2 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and sprinkle the potato flakes on top, ...