Simonds ( Chinese Seasons ) just might put Chinese takeout out of business. Her goal, she tells us, was to create recipes that would make Chinese cooking practical for the average cook, who is short on time. And so she's streamlined the time-consuming preparation and shopping usually involved in Chinese cooking, while retaining the flavorings and healthy aspects of traditional Chinese dishes. She has succeeded in creating a cookbook that is--as she puts it--``user-friendly for a non-Chinese audience.'' Chinese recipes traditionally don't require much cooking time, but the slicing, dicing and measuring involved can be arduous. Simonds has reduced these steps, and uses traditional cooking methods of stir-frying and steaming to impart flavor and texture. The ingredients for the recipes can be found in any well-stocked supermarket. While you won't find any exotic recipes like birds' nest soup, you will find grilled rainbow peppers in garlic dressing, braised stuffed game hens and steamed lemon cake. Readers will probably want to invest in a wok, though Simonds says a skillet can be substituted. A glossary of basic ingredients and advice on cooking techniques is included. Those new to Chinese cooking may want to go slow, particularly if they're unused to dealing with a wok or steamer, but more experienced cooks should have few problems with any of these dishes. (Sept.)
With her son's birth, Simonds, author of China's Food (HarperCollins, 1991), no longer had the time to prepare her adored traditional Chinese favorites. Her answer? Faster, fresher, lighter, and easier Chinese cooking, which became the basis of this book. Her authentic-but-streamlined recipes cover a full range of Chinese fare and will inspire any cook who has been daunted by the lengthy preparation times usually required when cooking Chinese. Some ingredients lists appear long at first glance but actually just require very simple combining of measured ingredients. Be aware that not every recipe is quick to prepare; some are just quick er than the laborious originals. Simonds provides many do-ahead tips along with freezing and reheating instructions, and her suggested substitutions make the recipes very versatile. Highly recommended.-- Paige LaCava, New York
The mounds of vegetables and meats that need to be chopped, sliced, and minced before preparing a Chinese meal can dissuade almost anyone with little kitchen time from fashioning an Asian feast. Simonds to the rescue! Her streamlined yet authentic Chinese gastronomy depends on the food processor, pared-down lists of ingredients, and slight variations on traditional techniques such as stir-frying and steaming. Each of her more than 200 recipes borrows and mixes some new and some old tastes. Asparagus, a relative newcomer to mainland China, appears as a finger food (lemon asparagus), a soup (summer asparagus soup with crabmeat), and as an entree (stir-fried asparagus with crabmeat), among others. Simonds is meticulous about documenting her sources of inspiration and just as careful in using only the best and freshest of ingredients. One wishes, though, that she would have included approximate preparation and cooking times for in-a-rush chefs.