Saturday, May 15, 2021

Bare Minimum Dinners: Recipes and Strategies for Doing Less in the Kitchen

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 Bare Minimum Dinners is a cookbook and strategy guide written by Jenna Helwig. Due out 7th Sept 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's 240 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is a cookbook for the rest of us. I work full time in healthcare and to say this last couple years have been hectic is a massive understatement. There are so many days when I have come home and none of the adults in the household have had energy to put together much of a dinner at all. This book is packed with good recipes which are streamlined in terms of ingredients, time, hands-on prep, or cleanup. 

The introduction includes a good overview of basic tools and supplies including a list of basic staple pots, pans, and tools to have on hand which would be a good jumping off point for newly-fledged folks living on their own for the first time. The rest of the chapters are arranged thematically: time-saving (30 minutes or less), 7 ingredients or fewer, single pot/pan for easy cleanup, instant pot & slow cooker (life savers for me for the last couple years of the pandemic), and easy side dishes to round out dinner.

Ingredient measurements are supplied in American standard measurements only.  The nutritional information is not included.  Each recipe includes a header with a short description of the recipe and approximate servings. Extra tips or recipe alternatives are listed in text boxes in the recipes. The recipes themselves are fairly straightforward and are made for the most part with easily sourced ingredients. Many are very simple, none of them are overly complex. The photography is abundant and clear and the recipes are illustrated simply and clearly. Serving suggestions are appealing and appropriate. Nearly all of the recipes also include tips and alternative presentations and variations.

There were, admittedly a couple recipes I tried which didn't thrill me. The refried black bean "burgers" were very very mushy and bland. All of the other recipes can be spiced up and changed up, but that one defeated me. 

This cookbook is bare minimum (which is even in the title!). It's not haute cuisine, it's not for fancy company or special dinners. It's for when inspiration refuses to strike standing in front of the refrigerator and peering inside. This would also be a good selection for folks newly living on their own as the recipes are especially beginner friendly and require little in the way of exotic ingredients or tools/supplied.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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