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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Donna Hay, bestselling Australian cookbook author, gets credit for teaching cooking to members of the younger generation who were brought up on microwave dishes but now want to turn out Martha Stewart look-good food. She expands her franchise in this stylish, well-illustrated, oversize book, through more than 190 fast, fresh, and simple solutions to the nothing-for-dinner dilemma.
Hay starts by restocking the pantry with basics like pastas, grains, lentils, and rice. Combine those basics with a few fresh ingredients, using quick cooking techniques, and you've got a Donna Hay dinner on the table.
Her Pasta chapter, for example, offers ten good-looking recipes, some tips for cooking pasta and keeping it warm, followed by nine short-order recipes (summer pasta, fettucine with rocket and ricotta). Chapters on rice, noodles, Mediterranean, and Asian follow a similar format.
Hay's recipes go from short to shorter and don't follow the usual format of ingredient list followed by directions. Here's an example, for Pear and Almond Galettes: "Cut ready-rolled puff pastry into 15 cm (6 in) squares. Sprinkle ground almonds over and top with slices of pear, leaving a border around the edge. Brush the pear with melted butter and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake in a preheated 180° C (350° F) oven for 20 minutes until golden." As you can see, there aren't too many details addressed (what kind of pears, should they be peeled, and can brown sugar substitute for demerara sugar). Cooks who need detailed instruction may flounder, but cooks who just want the basic idea will be serving up the dish in no time.
Hays also offers a tip I've not seen before -- an alternative to using a propane torch for a crème brûlée that she calls "spoon brûlée." You heat a large metal kitchen spoon over the gas until it is red-hot, and -- using an oven mitt -- run the hot spoon over the sugar on top of the tart in a circular motion until the sugar caramelizes.
Published initially in Australia, Off the Shelf lists its measurements first in grams, then parenthetically in ounces, and its temperatures first in Centigrade, then in Fahrenheit. (Ginger Curwen)