The Best 30-Minute Recipe is another compendium of thoroughly researched recipes from Cooks’ Illustrated, but I don’t think it is one that will remain in my permanent collection. While I did learn some good time-saving techniques — such as cooking pasta in its sauce — many of the recipes were simply variants of dishes I already know by heart, such as frittata, or dishes I already know how to cook better, such as pan-roasted chicken breasts.
But a larger problem with this and other Cooks’ Illustrated cookbooks is that they don’t reflect the way I like to cook. Many recipes rely too heavily on high-fat ingredients, which I don’t like to use in everyday cooking, or on convenience products like quick-cooking rice, which I don’t use in my kitchen. Some recipes require the microwave, a tool I don’t even own anymore. But the intangible issue is that the recipes just don’t seem to have a lot of soul. Perhaps it is possible for a recipe to have been tested too many times.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some very good dishes in here. But on the whole, The Best 30-Minute Recipe doesn’t really belong in my kitchen, or probably in the kitchen of any serious cook. Even if you are pressed for time, you can surely find more creative and fun ideas elsewhere.