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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent but lacking a bit of inspiration
This is a decent book with a fairly wide variety of recipes. Most recipes have photographs accompanying them, which are of a pretty good standard. The idea as stated on the cover is "really exciting recipes in 20 minutes" which necessarily means that there's nothing too complicated. I think the proportion of fish/seafood dishes is too high and there is not enough...
Published 11 months ago by red0209

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mix
This cookbook is okay, but I wasn't overly impressed by it. There was nothing that made me think, "that sounds amazing, must make it today!" - it reminded me of the kind of dishes I might make when needing to use up bits and pieces in my fridge (I know this contradicts other reviewers who've said the ingredients are not cupboard staples, and while I agree they aren't...
Published 8 months ago by CJ Savernake


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent but lacking a bit of inspiration, 24 Sep 2013
By 
red0209 (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is a decent book with a fairly wide variety of recipes. Most recipes have photographs accompanying them, which are of a pretty good standard. The idea as stated on the cover is "really exciting recipes in 20 minutes" which necessarily means that there's nothing too complicated. I think the proportion of fish/seafood dishes is too high and there is not enough originality or recipes a little different that haven't been seen elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, there are some reasonable ideas and the recipes are (from the ones I've tried) possible to prepare in 20 minutes. However the starters and mains are mostly things I've already seen elsewhere in other books or are very simple. However the puddings are varied with some unusual and good ideas which work well. They are certainly the highlight of the book and make it possibly worth buying, depending how much you like puddings of course! Otherwise I wouldn't really be rushing out to buy this book as it's not outstanding.

The contents page looks like this:

Introduction 7
Fast starters 10
Fast mains 70
Fast puddings 154
Index 204

The full list of recipes:

Asparagus with sweet soy & sesame
Green pea & watercress soup
Deep-fried soft-boiled egg with crispy bacon salad
Endive, charred pear, pecorino & walnut salad
Hampshire mozzarella with red cabbage & Parma ham
Baked goat's cheese with red onion jam
Hot-and-sour soup with chilli & shiitake mushrooms
Summer vegetable vodka tempura with aļoli
Ogleshield toasts
Smoked salmon mousses with melba toast
Crab & sweetcorn spring rolls with sweet chilli dipping sauce
Coriander crab cakes with chilli jam
Avocado & crab with citrus salad & dill crème fraīche
Potted shrimps
Crayfish cocktail with spicy mayonnaise
Piri-piri prawns
Deep-fried squid with ponzu
Pan-fried scallops with black pudding & ginger apple purée
Scallops with caper berries & sage
Sautéed prawns with stem ginger & soy
Ten-minute fish soup
Baked hens' eggs with smoked salmon & chives
Creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon & buttered crumpets
Smoked salmon & crème fraīche tart
Pan-roasted chilli salmon with cucumber ribbons
Sushi salmon with sizzling sesame oil & soy
Steamed salmon dumplings with soy
Pan-roasted potatoes with anchovy & tomato
Crispy bacon & pecan salad with Parmesan crisps
Teriyaki skewers with spring onion
Devilled chicken livers on toast

Tuscan bean stew with basil & pine nuts
Potato rosti with fried egg & crème fraīche
Singapore chilli crab
Linguine with mussels & courgettes
Crab & sweetcorn risotto
Teriyaki squid with beansprout & red onion salad
Pan-fried brill with sauce Albert
Cod with sauce Grenoble
Smoked haddock & herb fish cakes with quick hollandaise
Smoked haddock omelette
Plaice with spiced shrimp butter & lemon flowers
Pan-fried sea bass with white raisins & baby spinach
Sea bass in a paper bag with herbs & lemon
Salmon with sorrel cream sauce
Grilled sardines with bacon & tomato chutney
Smoked eel with clams, new potatoes & butter sauce
Trout with green beans, almonds & brown butter
Deep-fried skate with paprika aļoli
Turbot with charred leeks & red wine vinegar tartare dressing
Tuna Niēoise salad
Seared tuna with coconut chilli chutney & cabbage salad
Blackened tuna with spiced apricot glaze
Ginger & mustard glazed tuna with red cabbage slaw
Blow-torched mackerel with beetroot & blinis
Chicken & prawn Pad Thai
Pan-fried chicken with lemon & fennel salad
Chicken with coriander yoghurt chutney
Chicken with soy & shaved fennel
Chinese lemon chicken
Thai chicken & cashew stir-fry with charred limes
Spicy chicken with orange & green bean salad
Thai green chicken curry
Steak with peppercorn sauce
Steak frites with Béarnaise
Beef stroganoff
Chinese chilli beef
Warm Thai beef salad with chilli, lime & palm sugar
Wet polenta with calves' liver & sage
Veal Milanese
Pan-fried lamb with chermoula & herb couscous
Grilled lamb chops with ratatouille
Grilled pork chop with apple scrumpy mash & black pudding
Pan-fried chorizo & merguez couscous
BBQ beans with chorizo & wilted spring greens
Pork with Armagnac & prunes
Sesame-roasted duck with pak choi & noodles
Duck with umeboshi & lotus root

Three-star chocolate puddings
Baked chocolate & raspberry mousse
Chocolate mousse with maple syrup & bananas
Raspberry millefeuilles
Baked Alaska with hot chocolate sauce
Ice box cake
Ice cream with whisky toffee sauce & toasted marshmallows
Apple & marzipan tart
Quick sticky toffee puddings
Apple Charlottes
Banoffee sundae
Baked banana & filo parcels with pishachios
Five-minute banoffee cheesecakes
Blueberry, apple & mint crumble with cornflake crumb
Black cherry clafoutis
Instant strawberry ice cream
Cranachan with raspberries & crème de cassis
Strawberries with vodka sabayon
Strawberries, shortbread & cream
Strawberry cupcakes
Instant passion fruit soufflé
Lemon posset with limoncello
Spiced charred pineapple with ice cream
Warm chocolate & marshmallow cookies
Butterfly cakes
Waffles with bacon & maple syrup
Blackberry & maple syrup pancakes
Passion fruit whoopie cakes
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful short cuts to tasty cooking, 2 Dec 2013
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
James Martin has provided us with another set of useful recipes. We like most of them, some are variations on old favourites we have cooked many times over the years (such as the Pork with Armagnac and Prunes, and also the Sesame Roasted Duck), and others are new to us, especially amongst the seafood and puddings. The best feature is that here they are all presented as "Fast Cooking" - something he suggests can be done in 20 minutes.

Quite a few of the recipes can be done this quickly, but several I have looked at will be closer to double that target when the preparation time is also counted in, and even that assumes you are well practised at that particular set of techniques. But this is reasonable, and all the new recipes we have tried over the last week did work as hoped.

His expectations of what should be in our stock cupboards might take some getting used to, and it will be necessary to plan ahead for many of the recipes to make certain of having all the ingredients to hand. Also, a lot of the recipes are based on hot-pan-roasting or frying; fortunately, our main non-stick lidded frying-pan has a removable handle so also allowing for cooking under the grill or in the oven.

A minor criticism I have is that he is often profligate with pans and dishes; for example the Ten Minute Fish Soup uses two large pots, a large frying pan and a liquidiser, as well as the four serving bowls. Think of the time also required for washing up, which here would be a significant part of the meal experience and one I would prefer to minimise by using the least amount of hardware possible while cooking. In his excellent introduction he even admits to his team getting fed up with all the washing. I don't have the luxury of a team to do it for me; I cook, I wash up.

BUT the real annoyance, and one that made me reluctantly dock the book a star, is because the publishers have not done us any favours by the presentation. They have followed the idiotic gee-whizz fashion of making it look pretty without thought for the poor people who might want to actually use the book to cook from. Too much of the text is small, white and on pale coloured pages. I could understand them employing a small font if there was a lot crammed in to a page, but no, the text usually only occupies about a third of the otherwise unused page area and the font could easily be much bigger and more readable. And there is just no excuse for the poor contrast between white text and pale background fighting the legibility. I cite Delia's early Complete Cookery Course books as models of readability and utility; they score 100% for presentation, and I rate this one at only about 25%.

On balance, despite the criminal lack of legibility, this is an excellent book with numerous interesting short-cuts to producing a quick meal, usually aimed to serve four. There is a preponderance of fish, poultry, egg and seasonable vegetable dishes, mainly because they are quick to cook, but this is not a bad thing when meat is becoming so expensive.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast and Straight Forward, 5 Dec 2013
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a book which is really limited in its remit. After all there is a limit to what you can accomplish in twenty minutes. However, given that restriction this is not a bad effort. It is nicely presented and adopts the format of the recipe on one page and a picture of the final dish on the facing page. This is a good quality print job and it feels like a quality book.

As to the recipes themselves there is quite a reasonable selection. There are a lot of fish recipes which pleased me although there are is a selection of courses and the book is divided into Fast Starters, Fast Mains and Fast Puddings. The list of ingredients for each recipe is clearly stated and generally is quite easily sourced - there would be nothing more frustrating than quick recipes that took hours to source the ingredients. The methodology is clearly stated and not too difficult for most dishes as one might expect for fast recipes.

There was certainly enough here that I would feel inclined to confidently have a go at and some of the recipes were quite appealing such as the Chicken and Prawn Pad Thai and the Sesame Roasted Duck, but generally the emphasis here is on practical rather than inspirational cookery. Not a bad book to have in your collection, but probably not one where you are going to source that special meal when you need it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mix, 6 Dec 2013
By 
CJ Savernake (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This cookbook is okay, but I wasn't overly impressed by it. There was nothing that made me think, "that sounds amazing, must make it today!" - it reminded me of the kind of dishes I might make when needing to use up bits and pieces in my fridge (I know this contradicts other reviewers who've said the ingredients are not cupboard staples, and while I agree they aren't staples, neither are they wildly exotic. For the most part. Who would want a cookbook filled with cupboard staples anyway?)

Two mildly annoying things:
- occasionally he is very specific about an ingredient requirement, and doesn't explain why. For example, in one recipe he refers to a specific kind of mozzarella that is only sold by one UK farm. He tells you you can order this stuff online, but doesn't explain why you'd want to use this in preference to a high quality mozzarella from the supermarket (and, since the farm is local to him in the UK, how have people around the world been surviving without this particular mozzarella for millennia?)
- I'm not convinced by his timings. He'll say to "soft boil" an egg for 5 1/2 minutes - but if I boil an egg for 5 1/2 minutes, it will be hard-cooked, not soft. Does he live on a mountain? Does he take them straight from the coldest compartment in the fridge? If so, he should explain that - otherwise I don't know how he manages to get a runny yolk after 5 1/2 minutes of boiling. Similarly he refers to 'searing' meat for a few minutes on each side. That sounds more like cooking than "searing". I wonder how hot his pan gets, and if it's significantly less hot than mine?

Overall, would not recommend unless you are a particular fan of this chef.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FAST COOKING - LONG SHOPPING, 30 Oct 2013
By 
BRIAN PLAYFAIR "SAQQARA" (CLELAND SCOTLAND) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"FAST COOKING" is a new title by James Martin the popular chef and presenter of Saturday Kitchen and follows his previous edition "Slow Cooking". It is designed to bring exiting recipes to the home kitchen that take no longer than 20 minutes. The book is a quality product with three sections ...Fast Starters (with 31 items), Fast Mains (with 47 items) and Fast Puddings (with 28 items) and an index at the end. note - I found the book a little frustrating to use as there is no main index at the front for each section.

For each item there is the usual list of ingredients, simple 1 2 3 instructions to follow, some general tips about preparation, origin and some useful short cuts and a full page photograph to show what it is to look like.

James Martin makes the point that the items are designed around readily available ingredients that can be bought in your local supermarket. This is basically correct however using these recipes needs forward planning as they are unlikely to be in your cupboard (not all of them). So it might be quick and simple to follow but not one to dip into at random. Many people will plan their meals ahead especially if entertaining so this would not be a problem but clearly the implication is to be able to prepare something quick and easy without an extensive shopping trip.

The author freely admits that this is the type of cooking he utilizes himself rather than the fancier restaurant meals we see on TV and that each item was cooked at his home on basic equipment and photographed there. This accounts for the pictures looking more like your own results than being carefully presented prior to the picture being taken. I do not find fault with this although it is unusual.

Being fast cooking limits many items to products that indeed cook quickly so there are quite a few fish based items however these are varied and look quite exciting. The recipes are sourced from many of his trips abroad especially the US and Singapore plus home based presentations and some from visiting chefs on Saturday Kitchen.

The book is well written and presented with a basic simple style that comes from experience and knowing how to make things easy to follow and adaptable.

I like James Martin,his style and his sense of humour. Saturday Kitchen is one of the best cooking programmes on TV. Each week he produces amazing food but this book falls a little short of the implied brief - unless you add in the shopping time of which there is no mention - and then it's not so quick. On the plus side I am sure you will enjoy any of the recipes contained and as they are quick to prepare, the host/hostess will have a little more time with their guests.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle byers beware, 5 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fast Cooking: Really exciting recipes in 20 minutes (Kindle Edition)
Fast Cooking: Really Exciting Recipes in 20 MinutesThis may be a really good book, hard to say as you can't download it onto Kindle for PC or Kindle keyboard (fairly old, at least 2 years) got it on my android phone unfortunately there's no option to enlarge the print and expanding it just makes the print blurry! This is the first time I've encountered problems such as these so I suppose I should be grateful right?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bookalicious, 28 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Love this book. Bought it for my husband because he is a big fan but the food is more suited to my tastes haha, so love it and the recipes are soo easy to follow. Only problem is I need to buy my husband another James Martin Book suited to his tastes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potential for a number of new staples, 15 Jan 2014
By 
purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been a fan of Jamie's 15-Minute Meals and Jamie's 30-Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast because I would much rather cook meals with fresh ingredients than use ready meals or take aways and we all know how ravenous we can be when we get in late from work. So, it was the Fast Cooking title that first attracted me to this book, as well as liking James Martin's James Martin - Desserts which is very well explained.

I find this book a bit of a mix - it covers fast starters, mains and desserts and some of the food is dinner party level whilst some is clearly for mid week suppers. I had no problem with a number of the ingredients since I cook often and have an array of herbs and spices -however I don't have a deep flyer or a blow torch so that's a few recipes I can't tackle.

I like fish but the book is heavily skewed towards fish and seafood so be aware of that if you are not as keen as me. Examples of quick fish suppers without going to the chip shop are:

Smoked Haddock & herb fishcakes with a quick hollandaise
Blackened Tuna
Coriander Crab cakes
Grilled Sardines
Trout with green beans
Blowtorched mackerel

all delicious and all of which I've tried except for the mackerel, but if a blow torch shows up I'll be trying that too.

I cook Thai chicken stir frys frequently but picked up some tips here such as charring limes on a griddle for some flavour. I also liked the hot noodle soup with chilli and mushrooms and roast duck with cumin-spiced lentils.

Puddings are a strength here as well but so far I have only tried the strawberries with vodka sabayon.

I will update this review when I have cooked more of the dishes
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, 29 Dec 2013
By 
scoon2 "scoon2" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a fantastic volume of great simple recipes that actually can be made quickly.
It is full of useful short-cuts and useful tips..The cooking on show is functional but the taste is never compromised.
Should be in every kitchen.
Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the fans, 24 Dec 2013
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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I was very sympathetic to this book as Saturday Kitchen is on a semi-permanent loop in my household. The book is well-presented, colourful and at a very competitive price.

As many others have pointed out there is a bias towards fish dishes, so especially recommended for seafood fans.

There is a fad for cookery books that lure you in with promises of 20 minute or 15 minute cooking times. Given Mr Martin's skills this may be viable but not for the clumsy amongst us.
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