Navigation Link

Review of "Make It Fast, Cook It Slow"

By Stephanie O'Dea
Hyperion, 2009
Review by Tony O'Brien on Aug 30th 2011
Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

This book is a compilation of recipes using a slow cooker, aimed at people who want a meal in a hurry, and are prepared to put a little time into preparation in advance. There is an emphasis is on saving time; the idea is that preparation time is reduced to a minimum, and meals are available when you want them. An ideal arrangement for people who don't want to eat out or by takeaways but who find the time involved in preparation a barrier to cooking. Recipes are also developed to be healthy and inexpensive, so this is a recipe book with wide appeal.

The recipes are the result of a year long experiment. In 2008, the introduction informs us, author Stephanie O'Dea decided to use her slow cooker every day for a year. The story is reminiscent of Julie Powell's exploration of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 2002. Like Powell, O'Dea maintained a blog of her experiences, and you can find many of the recipes on her website. Powell's inspiration was a successful crème brûlée, something she didn't believe possible. An email to the Rachael Ray TV cooking show brought an interested response, and pushed Powell to consider a book of recipes.

The book has an accessible format, divided into sixteen sections (beverages, breakfast, meat etc). There is a vegetarian section and others on side dishes, desserts, and baking. Each recipe accompanied by O'Dea's verdict. These are chatty little paragraphs that personalize the book as well providing a few additional hints. The presentation of recipes is clear, and the instructions are straightforward. Production costs have been kept to a minimum by excluding photographs, but you can see pictures on the website. That gets around one of the problems of recipe books, cost. If you're not used to using a slow cooker, O'Dea provides a brief guide in her introduction, including advice on choosing the right cooker for your needs. 

I can recommend the Moroccan lentil soup, especially for the winter. It may be a little hot for some tastes, but it's very tasty, and definitely easy to prepare. I wasn't so keen on the sun-dried tomato dip. The taste was fine, but two hours in a slow cooker hardly seemed worth it to combine two ingredients. There are plenty of recipes to choose from and my sense is that those that combine a lot of ingredients where different flavors need to blend will be the most successful. If the idea of slow cooking appeals its worth exploring O'Dea's website. You can try a few recipes and decide if you want to add this book to your collection.


© 2011 Tony O'Brien


Tony O'Brien, Auckland, New Zealand