1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES by Gregg R. Gillespie


A type of cookbook that I am greatly enamored with is the trend of cookbooks that offer recipes using as little as seven or eight ingredients – or even as few as two or three. Obviously, I’m not the only one who appreciates and enjoys using this type of cookbook – even many famous chefs, such as Rozanne Gold, have latched onto the ease of these recipes. (One chef pointed out—why spend the time putting together something like a salsa to add to a recipe, when so many really good salsas can be found in the supermarket?).

One of the cookbooks in this genre is something called “1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES” by Gregg R. Gillespie, published in 2001 by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, but distributed by Workman Publishing Company.

In its Introduction, Gregg explains, “I love cooking and eating great food but, like everyone else, I don’t have the time to juggle complex, multi-ingredient recipes on a daily basis…”

Gregg decided he could have his cake and eat it too, so to speak, and the quick and easy way of cooking would be using a minimum amount of ingredients. He writes, “One day, I went into the kitchen and didn’t come out until I’d devised the absolutely simplest way to prepare great homemade foods,. I stood at the counter, tossing and turning chickens, potatoes, pasta, pork, and any of the basics I could get my hands on, along with wonderfully prepared (store-bought and homemade) sauces and seasonings. Fewer ingredients mean more time at home and less time at the market; more time with family and friends and less time washing, peeling, cutting, chopping, slicing, and dicing….”

In the end, Gregg created more than a thousand dishes, using only four ingredients—and not sacrificing any flavor.

“How can such great food be made with only four ingredients?” he asks. “Easy. Cooking great food is never dependent on the quantity of ingredients you use. In fact, the simpler the cooking, the better the food. The main ingredient in simple and quick cooking is knowing the basics abut how to create flavor and texture….”

Gregg believes that once you realize how well garlic imparts great taste and bacon adds moisture, once you understand the versatility of poultry, and how olive oil yields more taste than vegetable oil, how vinegar and lemon can perk up a sauce and how flour thickens it, you will be able to cook with less because you know how each ingredient contributes to making a balanced recipe.

Gregg points out what I’ve discovered, what other famous chefs have noted -–our grocery stores and supermarkets stock an enormous variety of quality dressings, easy to use canned beans, zesty salsas and sauces.

Gregg goes a step further with the 4-ingredient pantry and provides lists of what he calls the Basic Pantry and the Optional Pantry. The Basic Pantry contains such products as sugar, salt, dried herbs, seasonings, soy sauce and a few other non-perishables; foods you should try to keep in stock at all times to simplify your cooking life so that you don’t have o run to the store every time you cook a meal. These pantry items are not counted as any of the four ingredients, however; they’re items you should always have readily available. Water is not listed as an ingredient; it is indicated in the directions.

However, the Optional Pantry lists items which would be convenient to keep on hand but not necessary to have around at all times, such as canned beans, bottled salsas, seasoning blends. Gregg says that, if your local store doesn’t carry something like a Honey Soy Sauce or Ginger Dressing, with this list in mind you will be alert to picking up these items whenever you do come across them.

Your Basic Pantry contains everyday essentials such as butter, milk, mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, honey and garlic; vinegars such as distilled white vinegar, red or white wine vinegars. Your Optional Pantry will have a selected of beans which includes chickpeas, black beans and white beans, an assortment of dressings, sauces such as barbecue and chili sauce, chutney and pepper jelly, staples such as rice and various types of pastas. Gregg also lists a variety of seasoning mixes with recipes so that you an put together your own All-purpose seasoning mix or Cajun Seasoning Mix. He offers recipes for mixing together your own curry powder, fine herbs, herb blend seasoning mix and five spice Powder, Oriental Spice Mix and Poultry Seasoning Mix.

(And, while Gregg doesn’t say this, I’ve found that you can save up a wide variety of little jars and bottles when you use up the last of a seasoning or a bottle of dressing; scrub the bottles and jars, remove the old labels and you will have the perfect containers to store your homemade seasoning mixes. Lacking this, I’d suggest buying a box of half-pint-size canning jars to store your homemade seasoning mixes).

One of the greatest features of “1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES” is that every single recipe is accompanied by a photograph of the finished product. Say what you want—I consider myself a pretty good cook—but I like to see a picture of the finished dish.

What a fabulous cookbook! You can make dishes as elegant as chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, Chinese Style Stew, or Chinese Pot Roast, Orange-Glazed Corned Beef or Hawaiian Roast Pork. You can put together Huevos Rancheros or Eggs Baked in Sour Cream, Eggs Florentine or Hawaiian Ice Salmon – four ingredients! Imagine – Zucchini Pie, Stir-Fried Celery or Tiny Corn Casserole – four ingredients! As a matter of fact, “1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES” has a complete table of contents, ranging from Appetizers and Snacks to Eggs and Dairy, Salads, soups, Poultry, Meat, Pasta, Vegetables and Desserts – plus more. As an added bonus, Gregg has even included a chapter devoted to Sauces, Dips, Condiments and Dressings—this section alone would be worth the price of the cookbook. You can learn how to make all sorts of basic dipping sauces, relishes, your very own Chinese Mustard, Cilantro Pesto, Homemade Zucchini-Pineapple Preserves, Parmesan Cheese Sauce, Mushroom Sauce or Mornay Sauce – not one recipe takes more than four ingredients. I’m impressed.

Gregg Gillespie, the mastermind behind the successful 1001 series of cookbooks, has owned, operated, and managed retail and commercial baking establishments in New England and California. He lives, cooks, and collects recipes in Reno Nevada

We found this copy of “1001 4-ingredient Recipes” at a Costco Store where it was on sale (at the time) for only $12.79.

However, that was over a decade ago and as you and I both know, cookbooks can now be found for a fraction of the original cost (most of the time—except when you are searching, as I was recently, for the Vegetable cookbook by the Browns and the only one available was $25.00. Yes, I bought it—it completed my collection of their cookbooks).

You can buy 1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES at Amazon.com for $7.20 new and starting at 84 cents pre-owned. Alibris has copies starting at 99c.

Once you get hooked on these “X number of ingredient cookbooks, you won’t want to stop. I have an entire shelf of them now.  If you enjoyed reading about this one, let me know & I will share more of this genre with you!

Happy cooking! Happy cookbook collecting!



12 responses to “1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES by Gregg R. Gillespie

  1. Pingback: 1001 4-INGREDIENT RECIPES by Gregg R. Gillespie | Sandy's – Blog – Fine Food Recipes

  2. Sandy, Hi! it’s been awhile! I loved this entry on X number of Ingredient Cookbooks–sounds like I need to start looking for one! I have been reading for the last hour or so, trying to catch up on your articles, and now I’m hungry! Can you gain weight just by reading recipes? Hope all is well with you. I am recovering from foot surgery–the worst part was I couldn’t sit at the computer–had to keep my foot up! So I am behind on everything…

  3. Hi, Jane–good to hear from you again although I am sorry you have been laid up. If you like I will type up a list of the X-ingredient cookbooks that I have. Being unable to sit at the computer while recuperating – that would suck. (I DID learn to use a laptop while I was in South Dakota recently. that’s all my son & his wife have, now. In fact, MY computer was theirs–they sent it to me last year because they both wanted to be able to watch TV and work on their individual laptops at the same time. Would you like to see a list of titles? let me know. Hope you are doing well now. – sandy

  4. Hey Sandy, I have just read what you’ve written about 4-Ingredients cookbook. I thank you, of all of the feed back from recipe books I’ve had the smallest number from that one.
    Just as a little more info, I have several new small recipes books on Amazon. I published them myself through Create Space. Right now am planning a whole series of ebooks to come out later this year.
    In addition I am well into writing fiction. I also just published my latest fiction. It is called “Tales of Albannach”. It is the tale of a young boy in Ancient Scotland. He and his father couldn’t get along living together, so papa kicks him out, and into the world of God, Kings, and Monsters.
    Once again, Thanks for the write up. I like them all good or bad. The good helps the ego, and the bad makes us go back to the kitchen.
    Gregg G.

    • Greg, your fiction writing sounds intriguing – may I say it sound like something young people would really go for. Keep me updated on your recipe books. Thanks for sharing.– Sandy

    • Hello Gregg – how is the writing coming along? Did you get another book finished? The Scottish boy and his father sounded like a good storyline. Regards, Sandy

      • Gregory Gillespie

        I thank you for the comments. There are a few more books in my 1001 series, and they all seem to be very popular. There has been two new ones out. 70 Plus Vegetable Casserole Recipes, and Miniature Cupcakes.

      • I will look for these cookbooks – if I can find them I will do a review of them. – Sandy

      • gregg gillesp9ie

        As far as the Scottish Tales, its title is “TALES OF ALBANNACH”. Albannach being an ancient name of Scotland. Yes, Book II of that series is in progress. Also there are three murder mysteries I am working on.

      • Congratulations, Gregg. I will look for your books. You are certainly keeping busy! I have let my ambition of being a writer slide much to the wayside once I started working on a blog — and I HAVE been greatly rewarded with this endeavor.
        Regards, Sandy

  5. I read this post fully concerning the cokparison of latest and previous technologies, it’s awesome

    • Thank you for your response. I apologize for the delay in responding – my computer has issues and I have been having problems getting into all of my mail.

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