'Nigellissima' and Other Quick-and-Easy Recipe Cookbooks
A great meal can be a gratifying experience from start to finish--kneading batter, stirring stew and plating a perfectly trussed roast chicken can add pleasure to a delicious spread. But busy home cooks don't always have hours to spend leading up to the big moment: Sometimes you need it fast and with no questions asked. Luckily, these ardent chefs from Giada de Laurentiis to Rachael Ray offer flavor and ease in these cookbooks full of quick-turn recipes.
Nigella Lawson: Sumptuous and Easy
Nigella Lawson, the vivacious force behind shows like "Nigella Bites" and "Nigella Express"--and their sister cookbooks--believes that food is a sensual experience. Taking "loving food" to a whole new level, she doesn't mind that she's been crowned "The Queen of Food Porn." In her new book, "Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes," Lawson brings her penchant for fresh, delicious and unpretentious cooking to the most sensual of cuisines. As a special bonus for Valentine's Day, she gives fans her recipe for Love Buns, saying, "In another time I'd have been satisfied with calling these Valentine's Day buns but, as the saying goes, if you're going to get wet, you may as well go swimming."
Rachael Ray: Quick and Easy
Rachael Ray is adored for her family-style cooking, quick-and-easy recipes and casual approach in her many TV shows and cookbooks, most recently "My Year in Meals." But she's not afraid to put a little skin in the game, too, telling ABC News that she has no regrets about appearing in a racy photo shoot for FHM magazine to promote her Food Network show: "I'd do it again tomorrow." As Ray recently told Bookish, the cookbook that was the most fun for her to write was "30-Minute Meals," the book that spawned her career as a powerhouse cookbook author.
Jamie Oliver: Naked and Easy
The 30-minute meals of Rachael Ray may seem fast, but "Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver can get the job done in half the time. Britain's bestselling cookbook author of all time ups the quick-and-easy ante with "Jamie's 15-Minute Meals." Oliver makes cooking at high speed sound romantic: "In 15-Minute Meals there is only a certain number of moves you make, it is like a dance." As a Valentine's Day special, check out Oliver's special message. After all, he is "Mr. Romance."
Padma Lakshmi: Exotic and Easy
Padma Lakshmi is a model chef--literally. The Indian-American TV star, model and actress won Best First Book at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for her "Easy Exotic: Low-Fat Recipes from Around the World." Lakshmi obsessives recently got a look into her private life with the publication of her ex-husband Salman Rushdie's memoir, "Joseph Anton," in which he describes being seduced by "an American of Indian origin who had grand ambitions and secret plans that had nothing to do with the fulfillment of his deepest needs." (Poor Salman.) Lakshmi seems to being doing just fine post-divorce, securing her place atop the food world as a "Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet" cookbook author and "Top Chef" judge. She's not shy about the connection between food and desire: As she told Playboy (chastely recapped by USA Today), "If I kissed you, I could probably tell you what you had for lunch."
Ina Garten: Barefoot and Easy
Sure, Padma Lakshmi might own the culinary runway, but you know who Maxim voted Hottest Female TV Chef in their 2012 Food and Drink Awards? That's right, seductress of the palate Ina Garten: "There's nothing sexier than a woman who whips up some delicious treats, tells a soothing story and packs everything up so nicely for her friends. We'd love to go Barefoot with this Contessa." But for all her verve behind the counter, Garten is more than just a sweet smile and sultry voice: Before opening a specialty store in East Hampton, "The Barefoot Contessa," which would inspire her cookbooks and her show, Garten was the White House nuclear policy analyst for Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. In Garten's hands, dinner is much simpler--and a good deal more alluring--than nuclear warfare. And check out those Easy Sticky Buns.
Giada De Laurentiis: Italian and Easy
If you've got picky, hungry kids, you know you've got to get dinner on the table fast--but it can't be boring, either. Enter Giada De Laurentiis, the Italian star chef who makes the cuisine of Italy as delicious and simple as ordering a glass of montepulciano (or Italian cream soda). As she demonstrated on the "Today" show: a dish as tantalizing as pasta alla Formiana and chicken with tarragon and white wine is surprisingly straightforward. Put some gioia di vivere in your daily cooking with "Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner."
Gwyneth Paltrow: Clean and Easy
On the horizon is the new book from actress, lifestyle blogger (and tweeter) and bestselling cookbook author Gwyneth Paltrow, called "It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great." The book was inspired by the "elimination diet" that Paltrow went on after she'd become anemic, vitamin D-deficient and highly stressed. (A more precise subtitle for the book might read: "It's All Good: Except for Coffee, Alcohol, Dairy, Eggs, Sugar, Shellfish, Deep-Sea Fish, Wheat, Meat, Soy and Processed Foods.") Paltrow has a talent for putting something vibrant on the table from such a seemingly meager palette: The book includes recipes for Huevos Rancheros, Hummus Tartine with Scallion-Mint Pesto, Salmon Burgers with Pickled Ginger, Power Brownies and Banana "Ice Cream."