BOOK AND AUTHOR: "Fast Food My Way," by Jacques Pepin (Houghton Mifflin, 2004, $30). Happy, happy, happy to have the accomplished author, television host, culinary dean and decorated French chef back on the new release shelf with his 22nd cookbook.
FORMAT: The key word is easy -- recipes that are easy to read and prepare, page design and food photography by Ben Fink that's easy on the eye. This companion to M. Pepin's latest PBS series is cross-referenced by suggested menus and the usual cookbook way (from Appetizers to Desserts). The author's commentary is served in small, sufficient portions.
WHO WOULD USE THIS BOOK: This one feels personal, so home cooks who want to eat like Pepin and his wife-muse Gloria do in Madison, Conn., will inhale deeply.
Not every recipe can be thrown together in minutes, as the title might suggest: The ingredient list for his Chicken Bouillabaisse looks long, but the cooking itself takes about a half-hour, and it is flagged as one of the dishes that can be made hours in advance. Still, the concept of simple is put into practice, canned-convenience foods and even the microwave are not eschewed. Best of all, you may get the chance to see him make all 26 menus' worth on TV, without commercial interruption.
-- Bonnie S. Benwick