Fast Food a la Jacques

by Jeanne

Jacques_1 During the work week all I want in the evening is a good, simple dinner in about 20-30 minutes. But I’m fussy.  I don’t want to have to sacrifice taste for speed. 

So you could do things the Rachel Ray way–have someone prep all your food, (where is that manservant of mine?), and open a can or you could learn how to prepare gourmet fast food a la Jacques.

While I was at first suspect.  Quick meals in a minute are the cookbook trend of the moment–right up there with low carb cooking.  But this is Jacques Pépin afterall. Fast Food My Way is his 22nd book. He knows his way around the haute end and the maison end without compromising presentation and flavors. The collection is concise, straight-forward and is culled from over 50 years of cooking not only in restaurants, but at home for his wife Gloria. 

This is the food that Jack eats. His creativity and passion for good, simple food shines in this book.  Techniques are primarily French and Italian with ingredients influenced from far and wide–Latin, Asian and the Far East.

There’s something for everyone in this everyday cooking manual. Silky Tomato Soup with Spinach Coulis, made from a few ripe tomatoes, onion, spinach leaves, spices and a splash of Tabasco, quite tasty. Pear Brown Betty and a Lavash Pizza so simple I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.

His new PBS show is also called Fast Food My Way and includes a companion cookbook by the same name.  The show has it’s own website that is a charmingly interactive set–clanging pots, steaming oven, and contains recipes and clips from the show.

Mushroom and Raisin Chutney
Excerpted from from Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way

Serves 4

1 pound white button mushrooms, quartered (about 5 cups)

1/3 cup dark raisins

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2 bay leaves

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

½ cup coarsely chopped onion

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a nonreactive (stainless steel) saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 5 minutes. Cool. Serve cold from the refrigerator or at room temperature.

The chutney will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. 

NOTE: I serve this alongside thin pounded braised chicken breasts.