Let me first say this - why the obsession that Rachael Ray's meals come in under 30 minutes? The way that journalists love to test her meals, you would think that every cookbook came with a money back guarantee if dinner took 31 minutes to make instead of 30.
I've always thought the 30-minute meal thing was slang for quick and easy recipes. I consider a meal with an entree and sides made in 30-45 minutes to be quick and easy. Do I prefer a meal that takes 30 minutes? Yes. Do I pick meals that I know I can't prepare in 30-45? No (except on the weekends).
What really drives me bonkers is the logic that because Bianchi goes through a cookbook and feels "a mischievous glee in choosing recipes that looked like they didn't have a prayer of being finished on time," then all of Rachael Ray's recipes are some sort of hoax. How about next time, I pick the meals that are tested and pick all the ones that we know can be made in 30 minutes? Does the same principle apply so that we can conclude all of Rachael's meals can be made in 30 minutes? I guess that wouldn't sell newspapers.
Do me a favor, journalists of the world, look through the recipes on this site and tell me if it was a better idea for me to cook those healthy and interesting recipes using fresh produce in about 30-45 minutes or whether it would be a better idea for me to spend 15 minutes to hit the Golden Arches like I used to. Stop discouraging people from making recipes that are quick and easy because you don't like Rachael Ray.
Three-quarters of the article are devoted to criticizing Rachael and her recipes, but Bianchi grudgingly admits the following in the end:
Still, this vegetarian dish tastes great, and here's where Rachael is absolutely correct: A lot of her recipes are -- cringe -- "yum-o." She consistently chooses bold ingredients that build flavor quickly. Among them: fire-roasted tomatoes, earthy mushrooms, cumin, coriander and hot seasonings like chili powder, jalapeno and salsas. She squeezes in fresh lime or lemon juice, shreds in pepper jack cheese and sprinkles on scallions. Another plus: because she repeats ingredients throughout the book you can always find another use for the rest of your cilantro, white cheddar cheese or bottle of coriander. Beyond that, her recipes are easy to read -- ingredients are in bold face -- and instructions are generally easy to follow.
After admitting that she chose recipes that she was pretty sure could not be made in 30 minutes, Bianchi then implies that none of Rachael's recipes can be done in that amount of time by asking: "So why can't she tell time?" So, here are the stated reasons and my responses:
- "[Y]ou'll notice she never washes any of her produce or meat before using ingredients." Rachael consistently recommends washing all produce when you bring it home from the grocery store (except for berries). This is exactly why. It saves a ton of time to have them all ready to go in the fridge.
- "Pots, pans and tools are magically at hand -- I have to dig through a jumbled utensil drawer for my zester . . . ." Setting aside the fact that it's not Rachael's fault you have a disorganized kitchen, it's important to note that Rachael hates gadgets. She hardly uses any of them for just this reason - they junk up your drawers. The most complicated kitchen tool she uses is a food processor and she was even hesitant to do that. Clean out your drawers, it will save you time.
- "[A]nd she has the recipes memorized. No, she doesn't just have them memorized. She wrote them. And how much time do you spend reading the recipe while cooking? I read it through when I get started, then refer back to it now and then. And, of course, the more I make a recipe the faster it goes.
Bianchi closes by saying: "Give yourself twice as long as the estimated time, then relax and enjoy the experience. You're in for some great eating." Again, even if it took an hour to make a recipe by Rachael Ray (which is an anomaly instead of the norm, for me at least), it would still be worth it. A full dinner on the table in 60 minutes, even with washing all the veggies and not being familiar with the recipe? Certainly better than a two cheeseburger meal with fries, huh?