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How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart Hardcover – April 4, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (April 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902793
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Learn what makes a recipe tick, says How to Cook Without a Book author Pam Anderson, and you'll serve great food fast. Recognizing that most cooks feel challenged in the face of daily meal making, Anderson provides a game plan: prepare dishes based on available ingredients and simple cooking techniques you've mastered--not on recipes you've got to look up and ingredients you'll need to shop for--and you maximize the potential of kitchen ease. Cooks looking for a way to address the what-will-we-have-tonight quandary definitively, or those who feel they lack the energy or know-how to tackle cooking every night, should find the book essential. In chapters such as "Simple Stir-Frys" or "Weeknight Ravioli and Lasagna," Anderson presents a particular cooking procedure, provides a recipe that embodies it in its basic form (the protein-adaptable Weeknight Stir-Fry, for example), then offers simple variations (such as Stir-Fried Chicken with Asparagus and Mushrooms or Stir-Fried Shrimp with Pepper and Scallions). Chapters conclude with an at-a-glance review of key technique points. Following Anderson's tips and innovations, lasagna, for example, becomes a weeknight option (use egg-roll wrappers for the pasta, Anderson advises, and forgo the baking); she also shows how, once mastered, her Big Fat Omelet, which serves four, can become the basis for a wide range of lunch and dinner entrées. With a comprehensive pantry section and a dessert chapter that puts frozen puff pastry to work in imaginative ways, the book is a trove of information that cooks can use and depend on. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Former executive editor of Cook's magazine and author of The Perfect Recipe, Anderson wants to teach Americans a new way to cookAwithout relying on recipes. It's somewhat surprising, then, to discover that this book is full of recipes. However, readers may cotton to Anderson's method: each chapter consists of a simple technique, basic recipe, variations, key points and a little mnemonic device used to recall the technique. The techniques are, for the most part, terrific time-savers, such as cutting out the back before roasting a whole chicken or making one giant omelet to serve four people so that everyone can eat together. Variations are good, too, although many are so similar to one another that it seems a little repetitious to include a recipe for each (in turn, many of the recipes refer back to the original, resulting in a lot of page-flipping). A chapter on tomato sauces, for example, includes the basic Simple Tomato Sauce, as well as Tomato Sauce with Dried Porcini, Tomato Sauce with Sweet Onions and Thyme, Tomato Sauce with Shrimp and Red Pepper Flakes and many others. A chapter on pan sauces is a winner, encompassing Red Wine-Dijon Pan Sauce, Port Wine Pan Sauce with Dried Cranberries and Balsamic Pan Sauce with Pine Nuts and Raisins. In the end, this cookbook is a solid collection of simple, quick recipes, but with its sometimes scattered format, it is unlikely to free everyday cooks from the tyranny of recipes. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Pam Anderson considers herself Every Cook. A New York Times bestselling author, she has been cooking nearly everyday for over 30 years. With six published books and her seventh out this fall, she brings satisfying recipes and sage advice to both novice and veteran cooks. Whether you're on a quest for the perfect brownie, wanting to get dinner on the table effortlessly, hoping to entertain more simply, attempting to shed pounds permanently, or looking to eat delicious meatless, Pam can help. AARP's official food expert, she is a food columnist for USA Weekend and Runner's World magazines. Pam is former Executive Editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine. Her food articles have appeared in many food magazines. She teaches cooking classes across the country and appears frequently on TV and radio.

See what Pam's up to on her blog: www.threemanycooks.com

Customer Reviews

This book may be changing my life.
Blanche deBris
This book is wonderful for both novice and more experienced cooks, I cannot say enough good things about it I recommend it highly.
The Good Chef
After making meals for a while out of this book, you will become confident enough to just cook dinner without a recipe to follow.
C. Thomas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

189 of 191 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I already own a bookshelf of cookbooks, but Pam Anderson's is truly unlike any other out there. It explains, in a concise manner, the basis for the primary forms of cooking (from scratch!) that we all love, but never cook for lack of time: those hearty soups, salads, sauces to go with that ever-present chicken, and how to expand your menu way beyond chicken, and so much more. Unbelievable, she shows us that we *can* cook these on a weeknight (most within 30 minutes).
I love the concept behind this book because, while I enjoy cooking, I often don't have time for all of the recipes that are my family's favorites -- or at least I didn't think I did. This book teaches you that a soup, for example, is a few basic ingredients that you probably already have in your home, and that it can be prepared in 20 minutes! She shows you how this is true for a wide variety of meats, pasta dishes, appetizers, desserts, even stir-fry and pad thai dishes.
While there are also example recipes for every category of food in the book, after reading it, you will be inspired to create your own variations, even if you never thought you could. In addition, there are tips on how to make most of this food sophisticated enough for a dinner party, including example menus.
With the help of Pam Anderson's book, I now have the joy and the option of creating my own recipes, instead of constantly pulling a book from the shelf to find the answer to "What's for dinner?"
It's easy to read, thoroughly enjoyable and best of all, the ideas presented will help end the feeling that cooking the nightly dinner is such a chore!
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167 of 176 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"How to Cook without a Book" is the cookbook that I have been hoping to find. It teaches you the mindset and skills neccesary to quickly prepare a healthy meal with what you've got in your fridge and pantry. The weekends are great for trying new recipes and new ingredients, but what do you do on Wednesday night at 6pm when you're tired and hungry and haven't yet given a thought to what you'll cook and whether you have all the ingredients?
"How to Cook without a Recipe" teaches you a few simple techniques which can be used with a variety of ingredient combinations. For example, Ms. Anderson's saute techinique works for chicken, pork, fish, tofu, and more. So, if you have any of these on hand and a few seasonings, you've got your main dish.
So far I've read a few sections of the book, and it has already improved my cooking. What the book boils down to is this: learn a few techniques, stock your pantry, make a weekly trip to the grocery store to buy whatever's in season or on sale, and you'll be able to put a "real meal" on the table anytime.
Excellent for someone setting up a new house or apartment and for those who are tired of take-out and packaged instant meals. Would make a great gift for a college graduate or for a bride and/or groom-to-be.
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156 of 165 people found the following review helpful By jumpy1 on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The overall lesson about cooking in this book is THE BEST OUT THERE. She tells you the truth. I can't imagine anyone not knowing what to cook for dinner if they had this book. It breaks everything down, gives you the big picture, so you realize what those recipes you've been following blindly were trying to do. It's true she has you get pre-made sauces and chicken broth (some Asian sauces should be bought pre-made anyway) and if you actually have time to make them you'll have to open up another book for those things if you're a beginner (who has time these days anyway?). On the other hand, I am so sick of reading cookbooks where the cook writes as if they are performing on stage, which has no relevance whatsoever to what I'm doing in the kitchen. This book doesn't waste your time, gets right down to business.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Miller on June 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am a cajun and thus was raised within a strong cooking tradition that emphasizes cooking skills as much among men as women (my father and two brothers are professional chefs, another is a pastry chef and still another is a seafood merchant). Although I too began in professional kitchens I am now a college instructor but remain an avid home cook (a little catering on the side) and own over 1500 cookbooks Though this book does not have the homestyle long cooking black pot dishes cajuns are famous for; the details of seasoning and other ingredient proportions offered in this book are so accurately delicious that this information would be of value to any cuisine!
Even though I have an extensive cookbook library, I have never written a cookbook review. Why now? Because this is simply the best cookbook I've ever used! Within the stated limitations of the book (ie. quick , midweek night cooking for family; the kind all of us are forced to do.) this cookbook is without flaw. This is the only cookbook my wife and I keep on our kitchen prep table.
Because Ms. Anderson(a former "Cook's Illustrated" magazine editor} has taken the trouble to have each recipe taste tested by a panel before finalizing the selection of the best recipe version (The "Best Recipe" is the title of a previous volume by Ms. Anderson and is also fabulous} success is guranteed. This research is her secret to success and something that you or I or even professional chefs simply will never have access to.
I would call Ms. Anderson a professional cook rather than chef but this is to her advantage since she doesn't have to waste time on food presentation and plating technique.
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