BOOK: "Fresh Food Fast: Delicious, Seasonal Vegetarian Meals in Under an Hour," by Peter Berley and Melissa Clark (Regan Books, 2004).
AUTHORS: Peter Berley is a cooking instructor, former chef at New York City's Angelica Kitchen and award-winning author of "The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen." Melissa Clark is a food writer and cookbook author adept at translating chefs' lexicon to a language easily understood by home cooks.
FORMAT: It is no small feat to compile more than 100 quick-cooking and enticing vegetarian recipes. Berley has accomplished just that -- and more. He provides creative relief by taking typical ingredients for standard vegetarian recipes and turning them upside down. The recipes are less academic and more approachable than those in Berley's first book. Tofu bourguignon is swapped for zucchini and black bean quesadillas.
Berley appears intent on putting something different on the table every night as opposed to concocting something truly exceptional for the occasional dinner party. It's a well-intentioned, laudable and ambitious goal. Although Berley's talents seem better suited for these simpler concoctions -- including a superb deconstructed gazpacho and watermelon wedges sprinkled with sea salt -- several recipes don't quite seem to jibe. It's the price one pays for quickness.
Recipes are organized by season and bundled into menus for those who care to use them. And for the time-pressed, unorganized or just plain inept, each menu comes with a market list and time frame of what to do when.
WHO WOULD USE IT: Anyone -- vegetarian or not -- bored with their day-to-day recipe routine.
-- Renee Schettler