Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season
I like to cook, but I like most to cook simple, tasty recipes that don’t take forever. That’s why I was interested in Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season, a cookbook by the Chew cohost that promises recipes that only have 5 ingredients and can be cooked in 5 minutes, with a focus on seasonality, or using ingredients that are freshest in a given time of year. I don’t think I’ll be keeping this cookbook, though, for the following reasons:
I get bored quickly. Although I can appreciate that the Spring section, for example, has lots of pea and asparagus recipes, I don’t want to eat the same few ingredients that often, even though they’re freshest at that time period. Also, there are a lot of “meat with greens” or “pasta with greens” recipes that seem similar.
I want more meal ideas, less single recipes. Symon’s previous book, Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners, promising “dinners”, may have been the one I should have looked into. This book has main courses and side dishes, but unless you consider a salad or pasta dinner by itself, you’ll need to make other things to pull together a complete meal. Or serve everything with a green salad on the side.
I’m eating less pasta, so the number of dishes of that type here aren’t what I’m looking for, particularly in the Fall section. (I hope it’s clear by this point that I’m not criticizing the book, but how good or poor a match it was for me.)
Sometimes, Symon cheats. He includes a section early on about pantry basics, and those items aren’t included in the “5 ingredient” count. When you’re talking about spices or olive oil or chicken broth, I’m ok with that, but he also doesn’t count mustard, honey, couscous, canned tomatoes, bread crumbs, and similar items.
Not every recipe has a picture. At 250 pages, this is already a chunky book (and one that should have had a stay-flat binding to make it easier to cook from), but I like to see what I’m making is supposed to look like.
I’ve mentioned Spring’s featured ingredients already, but Summer, as expected, has lots of zucchini and fruit (surprisingly, not as much corn as I hoped, and more fried seafood than I expected); Fall, meats and onions; and Winter, greens and sandwiches. There’s also a fifth section, Holiday, which features quick side dishes, heavy on the root vegetables.
I know I’m not going to want to make every recipe in a cookbook. I consider it a good deal if, flipping through, I see more than 10 dishes I want to try, and if I like more than a handful of recipes enough to make them more than once. I didn’t try cooking anything from this book, because on a read-through, I didn’t see anything I wanted to make. While I love the concept, it’s not a good match for what I want to cook and eat. (The publisher provided a review copy.)