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Nigel Slater does 'fast' food
Real Fast Food - Nigel Slater
Member Name: cerys82
Real Fast Food - Nigel Slater
Date: 02/05/10, updated on 02/05/10 (528 review reads)
Advantages: Really great, simple recipes
Disadvantages: Some of the fish section relies on a larger budget!
Nigel Slater - Real Fast food
This book contains what Slater describes as 350 recipes ready-to-eat in 30 minutes.
There is a short introduction where Slater sets out what he means by 'fast food' - that is, 'simple food that is easy to prepare and quick to food (...) written for anyone who enjoys good food eaten informally," that should encourage people not to resort to foods that come under the conventional meaning of 'fast food'.
Next he moves on to " a few notes for the fast cook" - in which he explains that all of the recipes are written with quantities for two people in mind, so that it is easy to halve for people who eat by themselves, or double for a family/small dinner party. He also explains that he has created the recipes with the World health Organisation's recommendations in mind, including lots of fresh fruit and vegetable where possible. He also then advises on issues like timings, accompaniments, ingredients lists (which he tries to keep quite short), herbs, measurements, effective shopping for ingredients and finally ways to 'speed up your cooking' - that includes organising your kitchen effectively and using the right tools.
Next up he talks about 'the fast foodies storecupboard', that is vital components that should be kept in in order to make quick meals, these include oils, tinned goods, vinegars and other condiments.
Each section begins with an introduction by Slater in his usual nigh-on poetic prose (people tend to forget that he was quite an influence on his friend Nigella Lawson in this regard - you can definitely hear his voice throughout this book.) First up we have bread including recipes for bruschetta, toasted sandwhiches, regular sandwiches, sweet sandwiches such as peanut putter and banana, pitas, muffins, bagels, pizza bases. Please note, that as you would expect, the actual creation of the breads would be too time consuming to fit into the 'fast food' category - so these are instead ideas for fillings and toppings.
Next there is a short section on suggested drinks - eg a lush and indulgent hot chocolate and banana milkshake.
The next section is on eggs and is largely quite basic - eg boiled, scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas, stirfried eggs, baked eggs, and egg sandwiches.
Next up we have 'fish', what Slater describes as 'the finest of all fast food', but a section I have not really used because I find a lot of fish a bit too pricey and do not feel that confident about cooking it. Recipes include cod in parsley sauce, baked cod in butter sauce, baked fish steaks with tomato and breadcrumbs, a lot of ways of preparing grilled salmon as well as ideas for trout, red mullet and mackerel. He then moves on to shellfish with ideas for mussels, scallops, oysters and prawns. This isfollowed with ideas for smoked fish - eg grilled kippers, smoked salmon with warm pasta. Next he looks at tinned fish - beginning with anchovy ideas, sardine butters and sandwiches, What I have found quite useful though are the ideas for tinned salmon and tuna which I have used for packed lunches eg sandwiches and salads, as well as a quite useful sauce to jazz up occasionally bland tinned tuna.
One of my most used sections in this book is the next one, pasta - he has put together some really nice, fresh clean ideas that are unfussy eg pasta with yoghurt and herbs, whole garlic, goats cheese and thyme, with grilled tomatoes and onions, sausages, onions and mustard (a personal favourite), cream and parmesan and hot butter and herbs. He supplements this with a section entitled even faster pasta where he recommends simple dressings and shop-bought goods which will simply accompany a pasta dish.
Next we move onto the vegetables and salads section - in which he talks about certain vegetables and salad ingredients before giving some indicative recipes, which include: Grilled aubergine with lemon, basil and cracked coriander, avocado with warm bacon vinaigrette, guacamole, broad beans with ham, peas cooked in butter with fresh garlic, rumbledethumps (not dissimilar from bubble and squeak and one of my favourites in this book), a lovely savoy cabbage and bacon recipe, spinach with blue cheese and pasta, mushrooms with potatoes and garlic, grilled peppers with balsamic vinegar and basil. This is followed by various preparations for potatoes - eg various toppings for baked potato, potatoes with onion and olive oil, new potatoes with garlic and cream and then some salad accompaniments ie dressings.
He follows this with tomatoes - eg grilled tomatoes, tomato and basil sandwich (simple, but lovely), eggs baked in tomatoes, an uncooked tomato sauce, a really useful tomato and chilli sauce.
The next section focuses on grains, lentils and beans - recipes include porridge, bulghur wheat and black-eyed beans, quinoa with grilled peppers and oregano, various simple preparations of white and wholemeal rice, risotto with parmesan cheese and basic fried rice. When it comes to lentils and beans he suggests ideas such as lentils with tomatoes and hummous.
The next section is on chicken, recipes include mozzarella chicken with pesto gravy, chilli chicken pitta, tarragon chicken, ideas for chicken sandwiches, grilled chicken with herb and shallot butter, grilled chicken with garlic and lemon, devilled chicken, sautéed chicken livers and ideas for leftover turkey.
Follwing this we have the meat section including lamb chump chops with yoghurt and mint, Moroccan spiced grilled lamb, pork steaks with lemon and sage, five-spiced pork buns, hamburger, roast beef hash.
The next section is on cheese; recipes include ploughman's lunch, deep-fried camembert, croquet monsieur and ricotta beans.
We then move onto fruit, recipes include steamed apples with butter sauce (simply stunning and so simple), panfried apple and cheese salad, honeyed pears, hot banana brioche, citrus fruit with honey, hot poached figs, grilled peaches with honey, strawberries with orange juice and Grand Marnier (really lovely in the summer) , hot raspberry and marscapone brulee, ten minute trifle, hot blackcurrant bread and butter pudding.
Slater completes the book with a short section called secret snacks and the quick fix - ie recommended snacks that you can keep in for when you have cravings without resorting to unhealthy alternatives eg - pumpkin and sunflower seeds, oatcakes, yoghurt, tahini on toast. He then does a select bibliography where he lists the details of books that have influenced the writing of this one.
As regards a recipe that does what it says on the tin - this certainly fits that criteria. All the recipes are straightforward and can certainly be completed within half an hour. Some of the recipes look quite simplistic in that the ingredient list is quite short, but in reality Slater has obviously chosen them in a really considered way because all the recipes I have tried have been really tasty. They are also really easy to follow with the bare minimum of fussy preparation required.
Where they come to the fore is when you require a lighter main evening meal, thereby I find that I use this book mainly in the summer - the portion sizes tend to be generous without being overly filling. Therefore I have also found that some of these dishes are just as suitable eaten cold as part of a packed lunch at work - especially the canned fish and pasta dishes.
One misstep I have perhaps found is the fish section which contains pricey and tricky ingredients to prepare, namely oysters and mussels. However, with the sheer number of recipes and ideas in this book which are useful - these are greatly in the minority. And, refreshingly, although the focus is on ease rather than cost-effectiveness - a lot of these recipes are highly suitable for people on a budget concentrating on depth of flavour rather than masses of ingredients. There is also a bare minimum of stodge in this book - although he does get a little slaphappy with the cream at times!
Slater has an unpretentious, passionate voice which is encouraging throughout and an obvious passion for simple, enjoyable food really comes through and is quite infectious in all honesty. There are no photographs or drawings in this book, however with the simplicity of the dishes - these are not really necessary.
In conclusion, this book contains some really good solutions to those times when you really want something tasty but do not really have the time or energy to come up with something extravagant!
Summary: A great book to dip in and out of for light meals and breakfasts
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