When Andrew Schloss, author of seven popular cookbooks, wrote Almost from Scratch: 600 Recipes for the New Convenience Cuisine, he was probably thinking of all four seasons. But his "convenience cuisine" concept is ideal for laid-back summertime meals. Schloss is a strong advocate of using the "hidden power" of the myriad prepared items now available to streamline cooking. After all, you can buy tapenade, hummos, pestos made with basil, cilantro or sun-dried tomatoes, curry simmer sauces, pickled ginger, Mexican mole, Moroccan harissa, washed and torn salad, peeled and prepped veggies, roasted chicken, fully-cooked pot roast and much, much more in the supermarket. And, with Schloss' coaching, you can make the most of these convenient ingredients to take your epicurean efforts to new heights. First, he takes you shopping for pantry essentials, then tours the market, section by section, pointing out the pros and cons of what you'll find. When you're set and set up, you can turn out marvels in minutes Garlic Figs and Brie, Tuscan Clam and White Bean Soup, Lemon Pesto Veal Chops, Caribbean Salmon Couscous, Mango-Spareribs, Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce, plus substantial salads, stir-fries from around the world and an ample array of desserts. Convenience has never tasted so good.

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