How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Great Food Made Simple Here's the breakthrough one-stop cooking reference for today's generation of cooks! Nationally known cooking authority Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare great food for all occasions using simple techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic kitchen equipment. Just as important, How to Cook Everything takes a relaxed, straightforward approach to cook...

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Title:How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
Author:Mark Bittman
Rating:
ISBN:0028610105
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:960 pages

How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food Reviews

  • Missy
    Jun 18, 2007

    Okay, so, October is National Book Month, and there's a meme going around: what book do you want everyone to read, fiction and non-fiction. And why. So, this was my non-fiction book.

    Why I want you to read this:

    I know so many people who tell me they can't cook, they don't know how, it's too hard, and it's

    . If I could teach all the people I know and love how easy it is to have real, good, actual food, I'd be a very happy woman. Since I can't come into your kitchens and show you how few steps i

    Okay, so, October is National Book Month, and there's a meme going around: what book do you want everyone to read, fiction and non-fiction. And why. So, this was my non-fiction book.

    Why I want you to read this:

    I know so many people who tell me they can't cook, they don't know how, it's too hard, and it's

    . If I could teach all the people I know and love how easy it is to have real, good, actual food, I'd be a very happy woman. Since I can't come into your kitchens and show you how few steps it takes to make something that tastes fifteen times better than takeout and is so much better for you and costs half as much, I'll point you to Mark Bittman, who wrote the Minimalist column for the New York Times.

    One of the good things about Bittman is that he doesn't cook the way your mother cooked. (If your mother *did* cook this way? Contact me immediately; I'm not too old for adoption.) He's clear and easy to read and he explains things and he generally makes me way less crazy than the Joy of Cooking (I own four copies of three different editions of that one, because people keep buying it for me, and I never use it. I don't even pick it up and read it. Yes. I read cookbooks for fun, but that's an entirely different post.)

    Pick something that sounds too delicious, just one thing, and make it. And then pick something else. Put a post-it note on the ones that actually do turn out to be yummy. Write in the margins. Leave yourself notes that you really can't stand capers but everything else in this recipe rocked. Don't worry if the butter splatters on the page or the tomatoes drip. Brush it off, let it dry and see how many more pages you can get dirty.

    Do I still eat take-out? Oh, hell, yes. But it's usually something I love but that the rest of the family is ambivalent about--curry or sushi or pesto (THERE'S GREEN STUFF ON YOUR SPAGHETTI, MOM, WOW THAT'S NASTY.) And most of the time, when I'm dead-tired from work, it's still faster to make soup and muffins than it is to call out for delivery, or stop somewhere and get something.

    And yeah, I subscribe to the Food Is Love way of life, but not in that psychotic, OMG, if you don't eat 5 helpings of everything she's slaved in the kitchen to make, you hate your mother/grandmother/crazy Aunt Sally way. It's love in the way that you're important and valuable enough to deserve something that tastes fabulous and nourishes you.

    /rant

  • Leslie
    Jul 03, 2007

    I first saw this cookbook in the kitchen of one of my favorite families, the Gambells, in New Haven, and the pages were falling out of the binding from extensive use - a pretty good recommendation. The reviews that say, "hm, these recipes are simple... almost minimalist" are funny... what did they expect from the author of "The Minimalist" column in the New York Times? Many friends of mine have complained about this, that the book doesn't go far enough beyond three-ingredient recipes. But from m

    I first saw this cookbook in the kitchen of one of my favorite families, the Gambells, in New Haven, and the pages were falling out of the binding from extensive use - a pretty good recommendation. The reviews that say, "hm, these recipes are simple... almost minimalist" are funny... what did they expect from the author of "The Minimalist" column in the New York Times? Many friends of mine have complained about this, that the book doesn't go far enough beyond three-ingredient recipes. But from my time as a kid in my parents' house forward, I've always had some kind of super-basics cookbook in my kitchen, and although the copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I inherited from them has an awesome 70's kitsch factor (bound as loose leaves in a red-and-white checked ring-binder and full of recipes for cocktail wieners and jello-mix cake), I had to get updated at some point. So I asked for this one for Christmas, and was not sorry. Not only was the book useful, but it inspired my mom to get me another giant cookbook of the same color and shape (

    ). Bittman does have a few problems - his prose can get repetitive (by the end of the book, you feel like he's declared everything from fish heads to green tomatoes to be "a revelation"). And as some have said, he does lead you astray once in awhile with slightly off proportions, and encourages overdoses of butter regularly, but if you love butter like I do, you'll forgive him.

  • Louis
    Apr 02, 2008

    There are many different types of cookbooks. The most basic type is a collection of recipes, presumably built around some theme. Another type is the picture book, filled with pages of pictures of beautiful gourmet dishes. Then there are the celebrity chefs, with books that promise something akin to what you can get from their restaurants, or results like their TV shows. I have one cookbook that is basically a travelogue, beckoning the reader to distant exotic lands. But the one that every househ

    There are many different types of cookbooks. The most basic type is a collection of recipes, presumably built around some theme. Another type is the picture book, filled with pages of pictures of beautiful gourmet dishes. Then there are the celebrity chefs, with books that promise something akin to what you can get from their restaurants, or results like their TV shows. I have one cookbook that is basically a travelogue, beckoning the reader to distant exotic lands. But the one that every household is supposed to have, is the big, basic cookbook. The one that has a general range and, more importantly, general instructions on cooking technique and everything that has to do with a kitchen, without assuming that the reader has learned everything at her grandmother's knee (especially the readers that are not a 'her'). This latter type includes classics like The Joy of Cooking and the Betty Crocker's Cookbook. And Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (HTCE): Simple Recipes for Great Food.

    Mark Bittman opens the book with a general statement of philosophy which identifies his audience. In this case, his audience are precisely those who are starting from nothing, new households of people who did not grow up learning from their mothers and grandmothers on how to cook. Second, it is aimed at those who desire to cook, not necessarily gourmet, but food that is good, and not complicated. And because his readers are assumed to be starting from no base, Bittman takes on the role of teacher, not just a publisher. And as a professor (lit. one who professes) he has opinions that he shares, based on his philosophy that cooking can be done, and there is no value in making things harder, more complicated, more fancy, then necessary. The assumption is that people who want something like this, will also know how to find it elsewhere. The first section is basically a tour through the kitchen, equipment, basic ingredients, and basic techniques. All this with advice on what was necessary, and what was optional. No doubt there is room for disagreement. But for someone starting from nothing, the opinions given are useful. And once people learn more and gain more skills, they can form their own opinions starting from what he gives.

    So, how are the recipes? There are many cookbooks that I avoid because their too complicated, many due to the shear number of ingredients required. HTCE does not have this problem. It does not go as far as a 5 ingredient list, but the ingredients are constrained to a number that someone without a full spice rack could conceivably have. Throughout the book, there are tips on how to work with various ingredients. In addition, there would be a small essay for major meat and vegetables.

    So far, I've probably done a couple dozen recipes over the past couple years. Some for myself, some just me and my fiancee, some for a group. I have found the recipes to be complex enough to be interesting and worthy of something nice, but easy enough so I can gauge difficulty and effort from reading alone, (I only have limited background in cooking). In contrast, I find most cookbooks on the market to be way to simple (and just a list of recipes) or overly complicated and impractical (especially for someone who lives alone and would end up throwing out most of the purchased ingredients as they spoiled.)

    I think HTCE a very good baseline cookbook. For the starter, Bittman teaches without intimidation, the recipes are complex enough to impress (if that is the goal), but basic enough to be achievable. The advice and options given are enough that the reader can understand how to adapt and experiment, and thus learn how to cook to a level that should satisfy anyone, and a jumping off point to learn in the future.

  • Martin Earl
    Nov 18, 2008

    This could go on my "reading" shelf because I'm ALWAYS reading it. It is my standard starting point for any recipe search that I do. It is true that I don't

    find everything I want (yes, we all know the title is hyperbole), but what I find is just great.

    This book is the "Joy of Cooking" for a new generation. It has supplanted that venerable old institution, and presents the world of cooking in a way that can both engage the neophyte and interest the adept. And the fact that the recipes an

    This could go on my "reading" shelf because I'm ALWAYS reading it. It is my standard starting point for any recipe search that I do. It is true that I don't

    find everything I want (yes, we all know the title is hyperbole), but what I find is just great.

    This book is the "Joy of Cooking" for a new generation. It has supplanted that venerable old institution, and presents the world of cooking in a way that can both engage the neophyte and interest the adept. And the fact that the recipes and ideas contained within it are simple food makes it all the better. As the Minimalist, Bittman has practice making good food simply. If you want to make it more extravagant, you can; but these recipes act as a guide on the route to culinary self sufficiency.

    Part of what I like so much is the pedagogic stance Bittman takes. Say I've avoided...oh, maybe...beans for years, but now want to cook them myself; he doesn't just throw a bunch of recipes at me, he talks about how to work with beans in general, noting specific exceptions and sticking points. He tells me about different types of beans and their flavors and "behaviors." This makes it an indispensable reference tool.

    Another part of what I like is what has driven many people away form this book: its lack of glossy color pictures. Well done, I say! Though I love my

    , with its close-up pictures of well presented delectibles, I find the photos can be distracting. So many cookbooks now are becoming photographic show ponies rather than culinary work horses. Where Bittman presents a technique that is hard to visualize, there are small, well drawn and useful illustrations. I think that's how it should be. If there are going to be photos, let them really show what's going on, like in Time-Life's

    series, or (if I remember correctly)the Culinary Institue of America's

    . Heck, even

    only uses one postage stamp size color picture for each dish.

    I guess what I mean to say is that I not only don't mind, but rather like the lack of pictures in this

    book.

    I love this book and will always keep it. Even though I am certainly no longer a novice in the kitchen, it still comes through for me all the time.

  • Jean
    Jan 19, 2009

    Simple breakdowns of classics with very interesting twists. We did the "Adult's Birthday Dinner." Here's the breakdown of the recipes I've eaten and the cookbook club cooks who cooked them.

    Molly - Spicy Lentil Soup: Definitely one to recreate on a chilly Sunday. I love hearty vegetarian fare.

    Molly - Sicilian Onion Pizza: Great crust, better than I expected toppings Surprisingly mellow considering the volume of onions involved.

    Sheela - Catfish with Brown Butter: (was supposed to be Skate but Sk

    Simple breakdowns of classics with very interesting twists. We did the "Adult's Birthday Dinner." Here's the breakdown of the recipes I've eaten and the cookbook club cooks who cooked them.

    Molly - Spicy Lentil Soup: Definitely one to recreate on a chilly Sunday. I love hearty vegetarian fare.

    Molly - Sicilian Onion Pizza: Great crust, better than I expected toppings Surprisingly mellow considering the volume of onions involved.

    Sheela - Catfish with Brown Butter: (was supposed to be Skate but Skate was not to be found in MN in February). Still a super delightful white fish main.

    Gretchen - Duxelles: I need to keep this in my fridge as a mushroom-lovers condiment extraordinaire.

    Me - Key Lime Pie: It was strange to put a merengue on a key lime pie rather than cream but it was a lovely dramatic finish. You really can't go wrong with lime desserts. Ever.

  • Steven Peterson
    Aug 25, 2009

    On page xi, Mark Bittman lays things out: "Anyone can cook, and most everyone should. It's a sorry sign that many people consider cooking 'from scratch' an unusual and even rare talent. In fact, cooking is a simple and rewarding craft, one that anyone can learn and even succeed at from the get-go."

    There are the usual features in this cookbook (and welcome for all that): ingredients that ought to be in your kitchen (page xiii),equipment, techniques (such as grilling, broiling, roasting, sauteing

    On page xi, Mark Bittman lays things out: "Anyone can cook, and most everyone should. It's a sorry sign that many people consider cooking 'from scratch' an unusual and even rare talent. In fact, cooking is a simple and rewarding craft, one that anyone can learn and even succeed at from the get-go."

    There are the usual features in this cookbook (and welcome for all that): ingredients that ought to be in your kitchen (page xiii),equipment, techniques (such as grilling, broiling, roasting, sauteing, etc.).

    Then, to the recipes. . . . The first section here focuses (as one might guess) on appetizers. One of these is stuffed mushrooms, which provides a recipe close to that of my wife's family. I can say that the end result is delicious (the key: making sure that it does not get too dry when being cooked). Next, soups. The section starts out nicely with a description of how to make stock. You use bouillon cubes? Bittman says (page 44): "As for bouillon cubes, forget it. You're better off with water and a few extra vegetables." Late on, he addresses meats.

    He begins by nicely identifying where the different cuts of beef and pork are, and the characteristics of each (with beef, from chuck to round, from brisket to loin). The recipes for beef are straightforward. This is not Emeril Lagasse or Martha Stewart (each of whom plays a useful role in providing information on cooking). The recipes are "everyday" stuff. For example, his "Grilled steak, American-style" could not be easier to make. Pork chops? On page 457 and after, he describes how to sautee pork chops eight different ways. With apples or with sherry and garlic or with dried fruit or. . . . He discusses stir frying and how to make it work.

    Vegetables? He describes the different ways of cooking them and then provides recipes. I have come to really enjoy veggies, after spending my first two decades resisting eating them. There are a series of nice recipes for, to illustrate, asparagus, which is one of my favorites.

    All in all, then, a nice cookbook for people who want to cook for themselves and may not be interested in more complicated recipes and cooking.

  • Jennifer
    Oct 31, 2009

    When I got this book, it was being billed as the new Joy of Cooking (maybe it still is), a basic cookbook that covers everything from how to cook to what to cook. And, for the most part, it is. The directions are simple, Bittman clearly explains everything from the type of pots and pans you should have to the basics of cooking meat. At the same time, I find that I rarely use this book, unless I'm looking for a simple recipe for vegetables or salad dressing or something else that is to serve as a

    When I got this book, it was being billed as the new Joy of Cooking (maybe it still is), a basic cookbook that covers everything from how to cook to what to cook. And, for the most part, it is. The directions are simple, Bittman clearly explains everything from the type of pots and pans you should have to the basics of cooking meat. At the same time, I find that I rarely use this book, unless I'm looking for a simple recipe for vegetables or salad dressing or something else that is to serve as a complement to the main course I'm making. There's a fine line between simple and bland and unfortunately, Bittman seems to have crossed over to bland for many recipes. The recipes I've tried all turn out just fine, but they're usually in need of much more flavor. I find it's best to use these recipes as a base and then to add to it, according to your taste.

    That said, I wouldn't want to do without this book. It's handy to have in the kitchen since it truly does seem to have a recipe for anything I've needed. Except tea sandwiches...

  • Caitlin
    Nov 27, 2011

    I am a person who gives books as presents. It's fortunate that my son loves reading as much as everyone else in my family because he's gotten many books as presents over the years. When he was here to see me this summer he expressed an interest in some cookbooks. He's living in a dorm that is set up like an apartment so cooking is a new necessity. I gave me the copy of The Joy of Cooking that my father gave me (this was probably the second or third copy - for awhile there I tended to walk away f

    I am a person who gives books as presents. It's fortunate that my son loves reading as much as everyone else in my family because he's gotten many books as presents over the years. When he was here to see me this summer he expressed an interest in some cookbooks. He's living in a dorm that is set up like an apartment so cooking is a new necessity. I gave me the copy of The Joy of Cooking that my father gave me (this was probably the second or third copy - for awhile there I tended to walk away from various kinds of things, books included). For his birthday, I got him a copy of How to Cook Everything - 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. I got myself a copy, too, since I'd heard a lot about it, but hadn't had it. Other than Joy of Cooking my family's idea of basic cookbooks was La Gastronomique and The Art of French Cooking - both wonderful and basic in their own ways, but not basic in their recipe writing.

    This is a really cool cookbook. I've been working my way through it while watching junk television this Thanksgiving weekend and I'm really impressed with how it puts everything together because, honestly, if you know the cooking techniques and you know the basics of sauces, you can make anything. Cooking is full of endless variations and I really like how he explicates this.

  • Joey Comeau
    Feb 18, 2012

    This book is exactly what it promises! It's a huge block of a book, and walks you through the very basics of almost everything. Which is exactly what I needed.

    I've eaten out almost every single meal since 2006 or so, and this book made a daunting task seem manageable. Not only was I starting to cook again, but I also had to buy dishes, pots, measuring cups. This book was very clear about what a person needed and what they could do without at first.

    There is also the "How to cook everything vegeta

    This book is exactly what it promises! It's a huge block of a book, and walks you through the very basics of almost everything. Which is exactly what I needed.

    I've eaten out almost every single meal since 2006 or so, and this book made a daunting task seem manageable. Not only was I starting to cook again, but I also had to buy dishes, pots, measuring cups. This book was very clear about what a person needed and what they could do without at first.

    There is also the "How to cook everything vegetarian" book, which I may have to pick up, as I've recently gone vegetarian. But this book has hundreds and hundreds of vegetarian recipes, so there's no rush.

    Well worth the money I think!

  • Jonathan Peto
    Jul 28, 2012

    I've had this for a few years (Thanks Santa) and have done more reading than cooking, my fault, probably a crime. I've renamed it How to Cook Nothing, but now that my wife is returning to work soon I'll be trying out many more recipes. I expect success. I already know the little food essays that dot the pages and open the chapters are excellent, because the writing is clear, learned, and vivid. Like familiar ingredients that combine to create something scrumptious or surprising, the simple chapt

    I've had this for a few years (Thanks Santa) and have done more reading than cooking, my fault, probably a crime. I've renamed it How to Cook Nothing, but now that my wife is returning to work soon I'll be trying out many more recipes. I expect success. I already know the little food essays that dot the pages and open the chapters are excellent, because the writing is clear, learned, and vivid. Like familiar ingredients that combine to create something scrumptious or surprising, the simple chapter titles, such as "Eggs, Breakfast and Dairy" and "Beans", suggest the possibilities without really revealing the full experience, which includes linking arms with ageless tradition, rebelling against our processed foods culture, and demonstrating love for others in a practical, daily ritual. I want to keep writing but the kids are hungry and I have to cook. Grill cheese sandwiches, page 166. Wish me luck.