Now, normally I'd be incredibly skeptical of a cookbook that promises to deliver 120 recipes that can be made in five minutes flat. But if anyone can pull off a feat like this, it's got to be Iron Chef competitor Michael Symon. It's all about the economics of time, whether it's in a food competition or when you come home starving after a long day of work.
• Who wrote it: Michael Symon
• Who published it: Clarkson Potter
• Number of recipes: About 120
• The Angle: Symon promises easy weeknight meals made with fresh ingredients (5 of them!) that can be made in just 5 minutes. And to up the ante, he also promises that a recipe for four should cost no more than $5.
• Recipes for right now: Cavatelli with Cauliflower & Red Peppers, Spaghetti with Mussels & Tomato, Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce, Fried Bologna & Egg, Philly Cheesesteak with Provolone, Salmon with Rosemary & Garlic, Chicken Thighs in Tomato & Olive Sauce, Swiss Steak
• Major Takeaways:
So. After puzzling over this book a bit, I'm just going to straight-up say that I don't think there's any way these recipes can be ready in 5 minutes. Yes, maybe if you only count the time that the food is actually in contact with the pan, but I don't. I also count the time it takes to chop everything up, pound the chicken cutlets into even thinness, get the water boiling, heat the grill and so on.
This said, I don't think we should dismiss this book or its recipes out of hand. These are still solid recipes that can be quickly assembled on a weeknight. From pulling out the cutting board to sitting down to eat, I think most of the recipes will easily come in under the 30 minute mark — and that's plenty "quick" for me.
There's a good variety here, too. Getting inspired for weeknight meals can be hard, and I will always be grateful for cookbooks like this that just give me ideas for what to make. I also really appreciate the charts that Symon includes at the beginning of the book. These show his favorite mix-and-match pairings for things like chicken, fish, and pasta and make it easier to do a last-minute swap if I forgot an ingredient or just want a new twist on a recipe.
• Who would enjoy this book? Chief family meal-planners, busy bee students living on a budget, folks trying to get into a habit of cooking weeknight meals (P.S. Heads up to the vegetarians: most recipes involve a bit of meat)
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Michael Symon's 5 in 5 by Michael Symon
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)