Anyone who knows me, knows how crazy I am about Jacques Pepin. Always have been. I have tons of his cookbooks and I become glued to the TV whenever he’s on. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn his latest series would address “fast food”. Though many of his books have recipes that take very little time to make, no one seems to believe it.

For years I have cooked quick dinner at home and never resorted to Hamburger Helper. Whenever I told friends that I cooked dinner after a day of work they would always say the same thing “how do you find the time?” not believing it possible to whip up a terrific meal in 30-40 minutes.

In the past few years there have been a plethora of “cook it quick” chefs and cookbooks and even TV shows. But mostly the food has been, well, not quite as appealing as it could be. I won’t mention any names, but some of these chefs resort to using some pretty disgusting packaged foods. I don’t think there is anything wrong with using dry pasta, canned tomatoes, or a jar of jam, but Velveeta? I don’t think so.

For all those people who never believed I could pull off a great meal in very little time, I give you exhibit A, Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way. The book is designed as a companion to the TV series and it will teach you the tricks and techniques to making meals quickly.

Pepin is really a master of technique, and while watching him you can’t help but pick up a few tricks. The one that surprised me recently was how he sliced the root end off a clove of garlic, gave it a slight whack, and off came the skins with no hassle.

So why get the book? Because reading the book will help you add even more new techniques to your arsenal. For example he gives a recipe for slow-cooked tuna steaks, that cook up easily in the oven at very low heat. This same technique can be used for other fish as well such as halibut, and there is a slight variation for cooking salmon.

I recommend this book as a way to get into an easy style of cooking. Even if you don’t follow any of the recipes to the letter, you might just be convinced be convinced, finally, that cooking great satisfying doesn’t have to take all day.

Jacques is Back! 9 March,2005Amy Sherman

  • wendygee

    Another resource for Jacques Pepin techniques is his Celebrates site.
    There are slideshows of culinary basics like chopping an onion, shucking a clam, preparing a turkey, kneading dough, cutting up a duck and preparing an artichoke. There are also great recipes for special occasions too– but these are a bit more elaborate than his fast food dishes.


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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