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189 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cookbook You've Always Wanted!
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...
Published on April 8, 2000

versus
115 of 140 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unhelpful for beginners and experienced chefs alike.
I realize I'm going to be raked across the coals for daring to review this book negatively, because it seems like everybody else loved it. Well. I didn't, and I'll explain my opinion. This is only my opinion.

The book teaches you how to memorize basic cooking techniques by using cute, catchy mnemonic rhymes. For sauteing: "Add butter or oil, swirl it...
Published on September 27, 2009 by Jenni Kmiotek


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189 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cookbook You've Always Wanted!, April 8, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (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
5.0 out of 5 stars This book makes weeknight cooking a breeze!, May 1, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (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 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't have gone to cooking school if I'd read this, September 29, 2000
By 
jumpy1 (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (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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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The no flaw best !, June 24, 2003
By 
Richard W. Miller "rwmiller52" (Lafayette, Louisiana United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (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. Really good professional chefs can be fine at feeding one (a single order) or an army (buffets and banquets) and so are often lousy cookbook authors for families (2, 4. or 6). But this is precisely where the professional cook comes in and Pam Anderson is simply the best.
So what's in the book? Absolutely delicious quickly prepared dishes that take advantage of the best ingedients available today. I have tried most of the recipes in this book and every one was superb which has led me to revise many of my own tried and true recipes. There are delicious soups, frittatas, stir frys; pan grilled chicken supremes, beef steaks, pork tenderloin, fish and shellfish, and a huge variety of superb accompaning sauces, butters, and salsas, vegatables, salads, appetizers and more. While each dish is complete in itself, once a recipe is learned you can put the book aside; especially when cooking your own improvisations (eg. I use her basic frittata formula, since there's none better, to make cajun style crawfish, eggplant, or chicken liver flat omeletes in addition to using her great selection of frittata recipes).
Another nice thing about the book is that it is just as useful for the accomplished cook (because of the extensive compilation of tasty fare) as the beginner (very clear instructions).
I have often heard ethnic chefs refer to young American chefs as unrooted food "bastardizers".That is they often take a classic recipe (perhaps 500 years old) from a well rooted ethnic cuisine and arrogantly attempt to "improve" it by whim; often destroying the recipes' very essence. Cajun cuisine has been almost completely bastardized outside of Cajun Louisiana ( eg. Emeril may or may not be a good cook but he's not cajun and not qualified to represent cajun cooking but is a god exampl of; but the food channel knows best. I know many genuine cajun chefs, who perfected their art long before cajun was even recognized, and yet are competely passed over by the celebrity chef gestapo). Even when a perfectly good dish is created using an ethnic recipe it is often "bastardized" in name. Bouillabase with black beans and sweet corn may or may not be tasty, but it's no longer honest bouillabase. So why call it that? Is it because the young chef has used some of the classic techniques employed in good seafood soup making in order to create his dish? A smart but dishonest chef.
Ms. Anderson's recipes are very modern indeed but without any attempt to take simple yet tasty classic flavors and map them on to some contrived, forced and unnatural concoction. Any fusion in her recipes is simply an honest reflection of America's melting pot cuisine and are not vain attempts to "bastardize" by forcing conflicting flavors together. She doesn't call her delicious Pork Soup with Hominy and Peppers Pozole (her's has no hogs' head or feet). She doesn't need to. Ditto. her fabulous Gumbo Style Shrimp Soup (which doesn't have okra or dark roux) which she doesn't call Shrimp Gumbo. Her fast and tasty "Chinese" stir frys are named by ingredient not by the classic dishes they closely resemble. She doesn't need to, because her recipes are fast and fantastic American melting pot dishes that stand on their own, made with readily available ingredients with out having to find gumbo file powder and spend an hour making a dark roux or visiting the Oriental shop for obscure ingredients. If you do want to do these things (Saturday or Sunday perhaps) her recipes are perfectly adaptable.
Because of the time and effort that go into her cookbooks (and I highly recomend any of the three) they are few and far between. Please Ms. Anderson just one more. If it's only half as good as this one I'd still give it five stars.
I routinely give this remarkable cookbook as a gift and I have a spare.
Get this cookbook and place it very near to where you
cook and just see what a good or better cook you'll become.
When I see flowery praise of this type I often wonder whether its' not written by a best freind or a publisher. I can assure the reader that my adulaton for this cookbook is completely honest and sincere. I have never met Pam Anderson or corresponded with her and I don't need a job.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Useful Cookbook I've Ever Owned, March 13, 2002
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Hardcover)
I can't heap enough praise on this wonderful cookbook. It singlehandedly solved my personal cooking problems, and you can't ask for more than that.
I think I was already a decent cook in the sense that I could get good results from good recipes. But as Anderson describes, I was not able to assemble something from ingredients on hand on short notice -- except for standbys such as spaghetti, tacos, chili and so forth. Another trait of mine got in the way of falling back on these: I want lots of variety. In fact, I would love to cook and eat something new almost every night of the year.
I'm a freelance writer at the moment, but when I worked away from home I almost never cooked; I was too tired to grapple with these challenges. This book may be changing my life. Although I have plenty of time now, I don't want to spend every day combing through cookbooks AND going to the store for that one ingredient I don't have. I enjoy cooking outside of Anderson's formulas on weekends and some weeknights, but her book has provided me and my husband with easy ways to quickly make delicious meals with a relatively short list of staples that we now routinely shop for (most we already had on hand anyway). And variety is no longer an issue, as it's built in to this way of cooking.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's perfect for beginning and experienced cooks, and for people who do and don't love cooking -- in short, for almost everyone.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book possible for new family cooks, August 6, 2000
By 
"elloboloco" (Los Angeles, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Hardcover)
I am a well trained cook with many years of experience and cookbooks. The simplicity and technique is very profound. It incorporates many old or ancient cooking techniques in a new way. The results are astounding and the prep time is minimal for producing a great meal. I have given copies of this book to my children who are now young adults. I have given this book as a wedding gift. The pan sauces, in particular, are brilliant and a great launching pad for your own creativity. I only disagree with the use of spaghetti instead of Chinese noodles in the Lo Mein dishes. The steam/saute technique for vegetables is so easy. This book is a must in every kitchen because of its phiposophy. Following its philosophy you can be as sohpisticated as can be with any ingredients.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is Not An Oxymoron. Honest!, December 31, 2000
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Hardcover)
After I bought this cookbook, it sat on my shelf for a few months before I got around to looking through it. I was surprised to find out just how much information it contained and how appropriate it is for these busy times. Written in a friendly and conversational tone, Mrs. Anderson uses examples of her own life and cooking needs to show how she's created her techniques.
Her book is full of common sense and fun in the kitchen. Does "How to Cook Without a Book" accomplish what it set out to do? It does that and a lot more. I can't say that I remembered a single rhyme, but I did find myself shopping without a list and easily whipping up meals with what I had on hand.
To call this a cookbook is incorrect. Yes, it contains recipes but it's really much more than that. It's thought provoking. Eggs become a meal when turned into omelets and frittatas. Eggs for dinner? Why not? In the mood for something more than spaghetti but don't have a lot of time? "Quick Ravioli" and "Quick Lasagna" use wonton wrappers found in most grocery stores instead of pasta. Yes, it really works.
I found this a very useful book that I can see myself referring to often. The concepts are so easy that even a novice cook should feel comfortable. I plan on buying a few of these as presents. If you don't feel comfortable cooking without a recipe, this cookbook might change your mind.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lighting Strikes Twice, April 7, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Hardcover)
I became a fan of Ms Anderson's work(and her good taste) while she was an editor at Cook's Illustrated. Her good sense that she brought to that magazine was in full evidence throughout her last book,The Perfect Recipe. My family enjoyed many meals based on her recipes, which is more than I can say for many of the other cookbooks that I have purchased.Now comes her latest effort"How toCook...".
I have only had a few days to "play" with this book,but I am already pleased with the dishes that I have prepared.The Big Frittata with Sausage and Potatoes easily passed a difficult challenge-My four year old daughter. Seconds were requested. Better yet,the Sweet and Sour Pork With Peppers and Pineapple where eaten without complaint to the presence of hot red pepper flakes.There is hope!
Anderson's style is such that she makes wannabe cooks like me at ease.
This appears to be a book that will I will use time and again. If you are not familar with Ms. Anderson,it's time to get acquainted.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid method for getting dinner on the table, June 1, 2000
By 
Stephen Sykes (Rockville, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Hardcover)
"How to Cook Without a Book" is directed at a specific target audience -- the home chef who is charged with the task of getting dinner on the table every day...after working all day, every day. For this person a strategy is needed, and Pam Anderson's book offers that strategy. This is not a collection of fancy "30 Minute Gourmet" recipes; it is exactly the opposite. Anderson suggests that the home chef de cuisine learn a few core recipes that can be executed quickly and build off these with whatever ingredients happen to be on hand. It's an ambitious undertaking and one that requires the reader to have both good equipment and a solid base of culinary fundamentals. After all, if you don't know how to properly sauté, and don't have a good pan to do it in, you're not going to do real well with the sauté recipes. And if there's a weakness to the approach, that's it. Simplified core recipes put a lot of emphasis on both fundamental culinary technique and a well equipped and organized kitchen. Absent either of these, this method will not work for you. But if you really want to put the effort into moving away from someone else's recipes and unleash your own culinary creativity, this book is an excellent starting point.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, December 27, 2000
This review is from: How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Hardcover)
I love this book. Some reviewers lament this style of book because it preaches simplicity and because the author actually uses canned broth. That's the point of this book! I like to cook and when I have a chance to pore over the cookbooks and make something really special, I do it. But in the general course of life, I needed somone to point to the things she points to in this book. First, everyone should learn to cook with what they have, not the other way around. Too many people shop for the ingredients to match the recipe rather than what looks good. Second, too many people rely on 'prepared foods'(frozen dinners, etc.) every night of the week because they are busy - but how hard is it to fire up a pan and saute some chicken? Once you get that far, a pan sauce is pretty easy work (and she has a lot of great ideas in that area). Finally, this is good food. No, you will not see a recipe for rabbit livers simmered in cognac, but is that what you really want to make and eat every day? If so, go elsewhere. If you want a book to give you confidence and direction in becoming a good home cook (and I mean better than most people remember their moms to be) then buy this book. If you think you will not have any 'gourmet' flair with a simple book like this, I believe you may be surprised. I was talking to someone about a recipe I was making one time, and they commented that 'when you start talking about sauces, you start talking about gourmet food.' That is certainly a wild overstatement, but the confidence you will build with saucing your entrees will certainly raise the bar above what most people are eating in their houses these days.
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How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart
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