Book Review: Jacques Pépin’s Quick & Simple

Jacques Pépin's Quick and Simple coverThis book, Jacques Pépin’s latest, comes at a perfect time for everyone as we find ourselves cooking more at home than ever before. After 8 months, many people are “cooked out” and tapped out for ideas of what to make fore dinner every single day. It’s tough, for sure to keep that motivation going but this little book is “intended to make your life easier [with] streamlined cooking techniques [using] good quality convenience foods […] supplies for a well-stocked freezer and pantry [with suggestions for] the most useful cooking equipment and utensils.” Sounds perfect for right now, right?

From the publisher:

You don’t need a kitchen brigade, decades-honed skills, or expensive ingredients to cook and eat like master chef Jacques Pepin. Just like the rest of us, he doesn’t always have as much time or energy as he’d like to put together a satisfying meal. So, he came up with Jacques Pepin Quick & Simple, 250 recipes for surprisingly achievable, impressive fare. Covering homemade staples and every course, with tips for kitchen tools and equipment, pantry staples, and techniques to simplify and improve every dish you make, this foundational, classic collection is essential for every busy home cook who refuses to eat poorly. Dine on the Braised Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce that Jacques is proud to serve, prepared in under an hour. Or, for healthier fare, Supremes of Chicken with Paprika comes together in under thirty minutes. Originally published as The Short-Cut Cook, this revised edition is a testament to Jacques’ timeless food and advice, and now includes beautiful photographs.

This is, indeed, a rewrite of an earlier book (originally published in 1990) but updated beautifully with colour photographs and Jacques’ own illustrations (did you know he has an art shop too?) and extra recipes added from the original lineup. The subtitle (“Simply Wonderful Meals with Surprisingly Little Effort”) tells you everything you need to know about where Pépin is going with this book – basically it’s a guide to help you get real food meals for dinner on the table with less effort than you think!

This is a smart, interesting collection of recipes that, coming from Jacques Pépin, might surprise you. He makes liberal use of good quality store-bought ingredients and convenience items (like canned and frozen foods) and appliances like the food processor and pressure cooker which can help save time and reduce mess in the kitchen. As well as bookmarking a ton of the recipes as I read this book, I also took note of some of the helpful tips provided in nearly every recipe (and there were a fair few “of course!” and “why didn’t I think of that?” moments! Here are just a few…

Ten tips for getting dinner (and dessert!) on the table faster from Jacques Pépin

  1. Keep a supply of frozen berries in your freezer for use in fruit desserts, parfaits, breakfast bowls etc…
  2. With frozen pizza and bread dough on hand, you’re not far from a great main dish or side!
  3. Good quality store-bought frozen pie shells can turn the ingredients in your fridge and pantry into an elegant quiche with very little hands on time at all!
  4. Brush store-bought (not all-butter) puff pastry with a little melted butter – it will give it the richness it’s missing from not being prepared with butter!
  5. Good quality sausages from the supermarket can add lots of flavour to a dish with not fuss (since they are pre-seasoned). They are a good thing to have stashed in your freezer too!
  6. V8 juice, red wine and mustard are an excellent stand in for a traditional red wine sauce usually prepared with time-consuming demi-glace (I mean, who knew?)!
  7. A store-bought pound cake can be easily fancied up with a luscious homemade buttercream
  8. Any ice cream can be elevated by the addition of a homemade chocolate sauce
  9. A pressure cooker can be a game changer in terms of getting dinner on the table fast (the French have always been fans of the “cocotte minute” decades before the Instant Pot came along!)
  10. Tortillas (corn or wheat) provide a great last minute base for “pizza” – either individual serves for a meal or cut into slices for an apéritif.

This is a wonderful book not only for beginner home cooks – most of the recipes are one-pagers – but also for more experienced home cooks looking to streamline their meal preparation. With simple images for many (not all) of the recipes and Jacques’ adorable illustrations, it’s not only a smart book to cook from but also a lovely book to leaf through (and trust me, you’ll get so many time-saving ideas from these recipes!).

This is the balm we need for these times.

Also, if you don’t already follow Jacques on Facebook, do yourself a favour. He shares (nearly) daily videos of him cooking recipes and it’s just the best thing ever!

Jacques Pépin's Quick and Simple coverBuy Jacques Pépin’s Quick & Simple on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store geographically closest to you). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!


Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post and all opinions are my own.


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