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Do It Yourself!
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Intimidating in size, but not in approach to cooking!

  • Feb 27, 2009
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I recently picked up Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything on EBay.  I have a pretty decent cookbook collection, but I don't own a definitive resource on, well, how to cook everything. I normally utilize my former-chef husband to be my "phone a friend" when I'm stuck in the kitchen at 3 p.m. trying out some new dish and not sure if I should really be doing what the recipe says I should be doing!

So, to allow my husband the pleasure of focusing on his day job, I welcomed this book to my collection. It is an epic tome. It arrived in the mail and I was highly intimidated by its sheer size and weight.  In fact, it sat on my desk for a week, staring back at me each time I sneaked a peek at it, daring me to actually open it up.

When I finally rose to the challenge, I was really pleased to find that this book is refreshingly simple in both its approach to cooking and its overall layout.  Rarely will you find an unusual ingredient that you have to schlep 30 miles across your city to go find at a specialty market. These are solid, simple dishes. Bittman really builds on basic recipes, too: he shows you how to make a commonly used item - say, vinaigrette dressing - and then gives you ways to make 20 different flavors of vinaigrette dressing in a handy chart.

Along with approachable recipes that build on themselves, Bittman takes the time to explain a lot of basic cooking techniques, how they differ, and when to use what technique. It really is a book on how to cook everything and also WHAT to cook. This book is going to be an invaluable resource for my kitchen. I recommend this book for new cooks to intermediate cooks who are looking to expand their repertoire of skills and recipes by understanding the building blocks of cooking.

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February 27, 2009
I heart Mark Bittman. He really does make cooking much more approachable. My favorite suggestion of his (that I've tried) has to be the edamame-gruyere salad. Classic example of simple ingredents, sublime results!
February 27, 2009
Great Review. Friedpez beat me to the punch, but I was going to ask if you have the Joy of Cooking. I have never been disappointed using it as a resource.
February 27, 2009
Great question, and it's why I only gave a rating of 4 instead of 5. There are some illustrations to demonstrate cooking techniques and such, but no lush, tempting photographs.
February 27, 2009
This book sounds fantastic! Does it contain any pictures or images to help the chef? I have always used Irma Rombauer's "Joy of Cooking," but wished there were images to help out.
More How To Cook Everything: Simple... reviews
review by . October 11, 2010
Lets say you don't know how to cook, or you know how to do a limited number of dishes.  (What I call the amateur with the "specialty."  I-can-cook-I-make-great-spaghetti-sauce syndrome.)  Lets say you've been faking it, but you really are not sure how to make poached eggs or good roast chicken.  What's your first step?       I have a suggestion.  Get yourself at least one good general cookbook that assumes you know absolutely …
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
A comprehensive resource. If you have one cookbook this should be it!
review by . December 27, 2009
How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
This book really does have everything! This cookbook never fails. I can always find a basic how to in this cookbook. And then I can elaborate on the recipe to make it my own. Great ideas!
About the reviewer
Gigi Ross ()
I'm Gigi....internet junkie, fumbling foodie, reality TV maven, harried parent, poker novice, tennis hack and recovering lawyer. Currently, I call Austin, Texas my home, having landed in the Great State … more
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Wiki Review
Mark Bittman, award-winning author of such fundamental books as Fish and Leafy Greens and food columnist for the New York Times ("The Minimalist"), has turned in what has to be the weightiest tome of the year. There are more than 900 pages in this sucker--over 1,500 recipes! This isn't just the big top of cookbooks: it's the entire three-ring circus. This isn't just how to cook everything: it's how to cook everything you have ever wanted to have in your mouth. And then some.

Bittman starts with Roasted Buttered Nuts and Real Buttered Popcorn, and moves right along, section by section, from the likes of Black Bean Soup (eight different ways), to Beet and Fennel Salad, to Mussels (Portuguese-style over Pasta), to Cream Scones--and he hasn't even reached seafood, poultry, meat, or vegetables yet, let alone desserts. There are 23 sections in this cookbook (!) that reflect directly on the how-to of cooking, be that equipment, technique, or recipe.

Every inch of the way the reader finds Bittman's calm, helpful, encouraging voice. "Anyone can cook," he says at the beginning, "and most everyone should." More than a few college kids are going to head off to their first apartments with Bittman's book under arm. More than a few marriages will benefit with this book on the shelf. And anyone who loves cooking and the sound of a great food voice is going to enjoy letting this book fall open where it may. No matter what the page, it's bound ...

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ISBN-10: 0471789186
ISBN-13: 9780471789185
Author: Mark Bittman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Date Published: 2006
Format: Book; English
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