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The Best Recipes in the World Hardcover – October 11, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

When Mark Bittman is cooking--in every sense of the word--he gets results without fuss. Author of the almost subversively approachable How to Cook Everything, Bittman takes on big assignments and then delivers the goods. In The Best Recipes in the World, a collection of more than 1,000 international recipes, with winners like Chinese Black Bean and Garlic Spareribs; Pan-Seared Swordfish with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers; and Stewed Lamb Shanks with Mushrooms and Pasilla Chile Sauce, he's done it again. The selection, which covers cooking from Europe and Asia equally, is all can-do and instantly appealing--readers will want to "cook through" the whole chicken section, for example. But Bittman, a master distiller, also knows when more is more, with one caveat: "I don't mind spending a long time cooking a single dish as long as I don't have to pay too much attention to what's going on," he writes. Thus, even fuller-dress recipes like the Indian Red Fish Stew, Fast and Spicy, and Tea-Smoked Duck or Chicken can work for time-deprived cooks. A dessert section that includes the tempting likes of Orange Custard, Walnut Tart, and Caramelized Pars Poached in Red Wine, caps this incisive collection.

Included also are brief but enlightening notes on ingredients and techniques such as "On Pureeing Soups," which compares all approaches thoughtfully. Symbols indicate a recipe's potential to be made ahead or in less than 30 minutes (true of most), among other variables. With a beverage chapter and menu suggestions that are actually useful, the book will appeal to a wide audience, not only for its recipes but as a source of relaxed instruction. It's an exploration of culinary essentials from a true essentialist. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Mark Bittman thinks big, as we saw in his Great Wall of Recipes, How to Cook Everything. That doorstop of a title sold big, too; there are now more than 1.7 million copies in print. This volume, in the same I-can't-believe-I-wrote-the-whole-thing vein, collects recipes from 44 countries. Bittman successfully avoids the usual suspects, drawing as heavily from places like North Africa (home of Harira, a satisfying soup traditionally used to end Ramadan fasting) and India (Marinated Lamb "Popsicles" with Fenugreek Cream) as he does from easy targets like Italy and France. The recipes are terrific in both their variety and execution. Bittman, who writes the New York Times's "Minimalist" column, has a steady authorial voice and a knack for offering clear instructions, and he smoothly makes the exotic seem easy, or at least familiar (e.g., he compares Moroccan Chicken B'stilla to chicken pot pie). The everything-in-one-place format works differently here than it did in his earlier book, which was, ultimately, about technique, not individual recipes, so while there are more than 1,000 recipes here, the reader doesn't acquire quite the same "take-away." Still, for one-stop-shopping on the world's cuisine, it'd be tough to find a better book.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767906721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767906722
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 2.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Bittman is one of the country's best-known, most widely respected food writers. His How to Cook Everything books, with one million copies in print, are a mainstay of the modern kitchen. Bittman writes for the Opinion section of the New York Times on food policy and cooking and is a columnist for the New York Times magazine. He is regularly featured on the Today Show in How To Cook Everything Today cooking segments. For 13 years he wrote "The Minimalist" column and now a "Minimalist" cooking show is featured on the Cooking Channel. The How to Cook Everything series is highly respected: the first edition of the flagship book How to Cook Everything won both the IACP and James Beard Awards, and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian won the 2008 IACP award. He is also the author of Food Matters, Food Matters Cookbook, Fish, and Leafy Greens.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

197 of 198 people found the following review helpful By Ann Ilton on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Years ago I stopped collecting cookbooks and gave most of them away. Except for Mark Bittman.

This book is AWESOME. This man got is all right. The book is uniquely creative, wonderfully conceived, and easily approachable. There is no food snobbery here. The joy of this book, as with Mr. Bittmans columns and his great book "How To Cook Everything" is that it is specifically designed for the home chef. It is for we who really enjoy producing first rate food without being bent out of shape by finding totally esoteric and hard to find ingredients. By the standards set forth in this book it is okay if you want a first rate kitchen and do not own a truffle shaver. Or a caviar chiller. Or a personal killer wine cellar. Or the budget of the former Shah of Iran. But you do have the will to create and experience great food.

There are so many things to commend this book: The description that precedes each recipe is invaluable. The recipes themselves are absolutely wonderful. The well thought out and carefully constructed list of basic and more unusual ingredients for the shelf of the home cook is perfectly constructed with sense and with an organization that gives the cook a real understanding of ingredients used in the recipes. From garam masala to Thai Fish Sauce to fresh and dried herbs and spices, all is explained and de-mystified. And the organization of recipes is unusual and well thought out since they are placed within a category according to the method of cooking (IE Braising, roasting, grilling, et al.
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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Eric W. Dumbaugh on June 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book about two months ago because I was bored with my normal cooking routine and wanted to play around with some new recipes. I could not be more pleased with the outcome.

What makes this cookbook great is its approach - it is aimed at making international cuisine practical for those of us who have a day job but still want to eat well on a weeknight. It does this by: (1) outlining the core spices you'll want to add to your spice rack to be able to readily cook various cuisines, and; (2) skipping unnecessary steps in recipes that prolong the time and effort needed to cook well.

The net result is that you can eat fantastic international cuisine any night of the week using the ingredients you have available in your kitchen, and for about the same effort as cooking dull staples.

Purists may complain about the "veracity" of some of these recipes, and that is fine and appropriate. That is not the point of this book. The point is that you can make a Thai or Indian dish for about the same effort it would take to make a lackluster tuna casserole, and it will be better than what you can get at a restaurant (indeed, I cannot sing the priases of the Red-Braised Chicken recipe enough - this is the best north Indian dish I have ever had, and it is incredibly easy).

Also: you will also never, ever, go back to canned pasta sauce again. Once you play around with a few recipes, you will be readily able to concoct heavenly sauce from fresh ingredients in the time it takes to boil pasta.

My only complaint with this book (and this is very, very minor), is that you need to keep an eye on the calories of some of these recipes - they can add up quickly.
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368 of 407 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
`The Best Recipes in the World' by New York Times columnist and leading cookbook author, Mark Bittman promises to be a really great cookbook, and it comes very, very close to fulfilling that promise.

First, one very important thing to do is to say what this book is not, as, like many of Bittman's other books, his titles have a way of inflating one's expectations. For starters, the book is much more than those two excellent `best recipe' cookbooks, `The Greatest Dishes' by Anya von Bremzen and `The Cook's Canon' by New York Times alum, Raymond Sokolov. The former gives us only eighty recipes and the latter stops at 101. Both numbers are well within their ambitions of giving us recipes `every good cook should know'. Bittman's objective is to give us a much bigger book with over 1,000 recipes from around the world.

Second, this is not a scholarly book in the vein of Paula Wolfert's magnificent studies of various Mediterranean cuisines or even Clifford Wright's study of the whole Mediterranean. And, Bittman makes no pretensions to being scholarly. One drawback of this somewhat personal view of world cuisines is that Bittman does a lot of blurring culinary boundaries which specialists in various regions would prefer to make clear. For example, he highlights only nine (9) culinary regions of Japan and Korea; China; Southeast Asia; India; Greece, The Middle East, and North Africa; France (and Europe in General); Italy; Spain; Mexico and Latin America. I implore you to not take this as any kind of gospel on world culinary regions. I just finished reading Clifford Wright's new book on spicy foods (`Some Like It Hot') and he identifies eleven (11) spicy cuisines which don't even cover half the world.
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