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Book Review: Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes

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Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express emphasizes fast and easy recipes, but you’ll never get bored with it. The book oozes with 101 recipes times four seasons, using as few as three or four ingredients, and taking up just three or four sentences of instruction. Most require about 15 minutes to make, so what’s not to love?

You may know Mark Bittman for his New York Times “The Minimalist” column, road trip party-goer with Mario Battaglia, and author of several other cookbooks. Here he takes it easy, with uncomplicated, good food, using seasonal ingredients. Working with what’s available when it is at its best is also part of his “Food Matters” theory.

Follow Kitchen Express from "Summer" to "Fall" and "Winter" into "Spring," arranged, as Bittman says, to use the right ingredients at the right time.

Bittman emphasizes his approach of “fast, steady, sequential cooking.” If you want to organize everything first and do all the prep work, then your time might vary by a few minutes. But when the process is so easy, and relaxing, why not take a little longer, and enjoy the journey. Like in all good cooking, the best method is to follow your own path. With these succinct recipes you can’t get lost.

For all its simplicity, there’s not a food he overlooked or overcooked in Kitchen Express. Beyond the order by season, you can jump in, as I did, and start with what looks good to you.

Its summer, so I stopped reading Kitchen Express to try to try the Garlic Ginger Shrimp, then adapted his Middle Eastern Pizza to the ingredients I had on hand. Next was Lemon Parmesan Chicken, an amazingly simple recipe, followed by fast and tasty Broiled Bananas.

You can’t help but love a cookbook that says “some is as good as a teaspoon,” which is true in this type of cooking with a few ingredients, but not something you’d try with baking, where the chemical balance is what matters in batters.

Kitchen Express includes over 20 quick, fresh ideas for fish, and earns five stars for the cross-index offering pages of menus, arranged by need: dinner parties, romantic dinners, buffet, kids night, potluck and much more.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have Bittman in your kitchen, you’ll be happy with Kitchen Express and you will eat well.

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