Books for Cooks

Barbara Burke

Organize kitchen
to make cooking
a nightly pleasure

"For most cooks -- even above-average ones -- I don't think planning, shopping, and cooking is at all simple or easy. That's probably why Americans eat out on the average four nights a week (not to mention lunch) and why people are getting fatter with no end in sight," declares Susie Quick, author of "Quick Simple Food" and former senior food editor at "Health" magazine.

What's the answer? One way is to get organized, according to Quick. She recommends approaching your kitchen like your wardrobe: Give away or store items you haven't touched in a year. Toss out outdated canned goods or ingredients that appear to be stale. And, those silly tools that clutter up your drawers (like the apple slicer you never use)? Get rid of them!

Some kitchen items are essential, however, such as a heavy skillet with an ovenproof handle and lid, a stockpot and a few good knives. You'll also want baking sheets, saucepans, sieves and a dozen or so utensils. Just the thought of an organized kitchen somehow makes cooking seem easier.


"Quick Simple Food"
By Susie Quick
(Clarkson Potter, 2003, hardcover, $32.50

This coffee-table cookbook has more than 150 tempting recipes and 75 full-color photographs. Most of the dishes can be prepared in 30 minutes -- less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered.

The cookbook offers a variety of recipes from Latin America, Italy, Greece, India, China and Japan, as well as a wide array of updated American classics, such as Cold Soba Noodles, Orange Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry, and Cowboy Cookies.

The following recipe shows that healthy food can be quick and simple to prepare.

Barbecued Salmon with Potatoes

1-1/4 pounds Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed, in 1-inch cubes
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 large red (or yellow) bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 skinless salmon fillets or steaks, 6-ounces each, about 1-inch thick

Partially cook potatoes by steaming in microwave or parboiling in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes; set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet, heat oil over a medium flame. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté 5 minutes, until wilted. Remove from heat and add potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to incorporate.

In a wide, shallow bowl, stir together paprika, brown sugar, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat fillets in spice mixture on both sides, shaking off excess. Place fillets on top of potato-pepper mixture and slide the skillet into the oven. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, or until fillets are firm to the touch and cooked through. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (without adding salt and pepper to taste): 440 calories, 24 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 36 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 580 mg sodium.

Rating Scale: StarStarStarStar Best in its class / StarStarStar Highly recommended / StarStar Recommended / Star Not recommended

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who teaches and writes about food and nutrition. Contact her at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail her at:

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