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How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food Paperback – March 20, 2006

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Editorial Reviews 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 to be a tasty and rewarding experience. --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

There's a millennial ring to the title of Bittman's massive opus of more than 1000 basic recipes and variations as the widely known food writer ("The Minimalist" is a weekly column in the New York Times) and author (Fish) contributes to the list of recently published authoritative, encyclopedic cookbooks. He concedes that most accomplished cooks will find little new here, and indeed the recipes can be as simple as how to pop corn. His voice is a comfortable one, however, so the tone is less tutorial than, say, that of the newly revised Joy of Cooking. While much of the ground covered is familiar, Bittman offers inventive fare (Kale Soup with Soy and Lime) and reclaims formerly abandoned territory?his Creamy Vinaigrette calls for heavy cream. Pastas range from Spaghetti and Meatballs to Pad Thai. Similarly, sandwiches include both old favorites and fresh combinations, e.g., Curried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich with Chutney and Arugula. Bittman's friends, he says, praise his Chicken Adobo as the best chicken dish in the world. He doesn't linger too long with beef because Americans are eating less of it; he remarks that a well-done hamburger is not worth eating. Vegetables are comprehensively addressed from Artichokes to Yuca, with attention paid to buying, storing and cooking methods well suited to each. Desserts are mostly homey, like Apple Brown Betty and Peaches with Fresh Blueberry Sauce, but there is also a Death-by-Chocolate Torte. The enormous breadth of recipes, the unusually modest price and Bittman's engaging, straightforward prose will appeal to many cooks looking for reliable help with?or reference to?kitchen fundamentals. Illustrations not seen by PW. 250,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; simultaneous CD-ROM; 15-city author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (March 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471789186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471789185
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,000 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,159 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

367 of 373 people found the following review helpful By Tim Himes on December 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"How to Cook Everything" is one of the more useful cookbooks I've owned. Each type of food has a "Basics" section that includes lots of preparation tips. The recipes themselves are detailed enough for beginners, and not so esoteric that you have to make a trip to a specialty grocery store every time you want to cook something. Especially helpful are the suggestions for expanding on each dish. For example, after the basic Chicken Kebab recipe, there are four modifications, including Chicken Kebabs in Yogurt-Cumin Sauce.

I'm relearning the way I prepare even the most basic things, like sandwiches and scrambled eggs. Who would have thought scrambled eggs could be so good? And the Pan-Grilled steak has weaned me from the backyard grill forever. No other cookbook would warn you that "clouds of smoke will instantly appear; do not turn down the heat." That bit of fear that your fire alarm will go off at any second just adds spice to the whole cooking experience.

The breadth of this book is amazing. Besides having nearly every type of Western cooking you can imagine, it also has recipes from Japan, India, Thailand, and... you get the idea.

There is one drawback -- this book has no photos, just a few hand-drawn illustrations. However, the book is so big that if it did have photos, it would cost much more.
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307 of 319 people found the following review helpful By Michael Friedberg on November 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I got my copy of the new edition of How to Cook Everything the other day and am beyond thrilled. I own the old yellow edition and have cooked from it far more than any other book, so I knew the new book had a lot to live up to. Well, it by far exceeded my expectations. While the book still feels familiar, it also feels new and improved. The essential recipe sections beginning each chapter are a great way to find the basics. But even the basics have changed. For example, Mark's roast chicken recipe, which I've used and liked in the past (though I still love Barbara Kafka's) has changed. He suggests you heat the pan before putting the chicken in and placing the chicken breast side up (instead of side down as he suggested in his old book). The heat of the pan helps cook the thighs faster so the breasts don't dry out. It worked perfectly the first time I tried it. Beyond the basics, there are just so many new recipes in here. The variations, lists, and charts that Mark is famous for seem even more plentiful than before, and there are tons of beautiful new illustrations. I'm so excited to cook with this new edition and foresee a day when it's pages will be stained with grease and flour just like the old edition. But I still can't get rid of the old one. It's like a good friend. I'll just put the new one on the shelf right next to it, red by yellow, and know that I can always count on them.
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339 of 364 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I had a tough time deciding on a simple "star" rating for Mark Bittman's giant yellow cookbook. On the one hand, I haven't been consistently impressed with every single recipe I've tried. I've certainly had better luck with Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook or even with Joy of Cooking when I really want something to knock my socks off. The recipes alone get three or three and a half stars. All are good, few are spectacular.
On the other hand, some of the recipes really are quite excellent, and even though I'm a more experienced cook than many twenty-going-on-thirty-somethings, I find that the depth of reference information in How to Cook Everything is really outstanding. There are pages and pages on such topics as whether or not to presoak beans, how to shop for fish, and at least one nice basic way to prepare just about every vegetable under the sun. For depth of background and reference, Bittman deserves five stars.
All in all, I would actually say this is a good addition to most kitchens, even for those with more experience than those at which the book is obviously aimed, and if you comb through all the recipes carefully you'll probably find plenty that is worth cooking.
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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I love cooking but after years of disappointment, I stopped buying cookbooks for several years. So many cookbooks nowadays are so "gourmet" oriented, their recipes may be fun for weekend cooking endeavors, but did not help an everyday cook like myself.
I read the recipe collections put together by church, realtors, and so on, but so many family recipes call for canned cream soups and mayonnaise ... they didn't turn me on either. One day, I went to a bookstore, just to see what is out there, and I fell in love with this cookbook. I cannot agree with the author more about today's misconception of cooking "from scratch" in this country. It can be much more easy and fun than many of us may think and this cookbook teaches us how in plain English. They are so simple, you may wonder why so much fuss was made in other cookbooks. I tried the recipes for "Clam Chowder", "Stir-fry Cabbage", "Brownie", "Apple Pie" and so on within a few days after purchase, they are all so easy and delicious, and my family loved them too. (Especially, I will never buy a box of brownie mix again!)
In short, this book brought "joy" back to my cooking and I am thankful for the author.
One more factor to mention: the fonts and layout of this book are excellent, it is very easy to read.
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