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How to Cook Everything - The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food -- With 1,000 Photos Hardcover – 9 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; Reprint edition (9 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470528060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470528068
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 3.6 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


‘A gem for the inexperienced and experienced…this is a most useful book to add to any cookery shelf.’  (Yorkshire Gazette & Herald, 30th May 2012)

From the Inside Flap

"Mark is an important voice in American home cooking, and this new book is essential for anyone wanting tasty, easy, fresh recipes." — Jamie Oliver , Celebrity Chef and Activist Photography by Romulo Yanes Since its publication in 1998, Mark Bittman′s award–winning How to Cook Everything has become an indispensable kitchen staple. This modern classic serves as both an endlessly inspiring recipe collection and comprehensive reference for cooks of all ages and abilities. Now, with How to Cook Everything The Basics , Bittman has provided a book for true beginners and perennial students, one that captures the pleasure and simplicity of everyday home cooking and makes it accessible to everyone, in full–color, step–by–step action. The Basics is the ultimate confidence–builder. Whether you′re just learning your way around a stove or are hungry for detailed guidance, Bittman′s sensible approach, along with instructive, realistic photography, offers just the encouragement you need. How to Cook Everything The Basics is a rare cookbook that teaches by example. Each of the 1,000 gorgeous photographs and 185 recipes has a story to tell and a lesson to share (you′ll find a list of them in the back of the book), all in a casual, unfussy way that makes meals as enjoyable to prepare as they are to eat. The Basics also provides commonsense advice on how to stock your kitchen with equipment and ingredients, while special features scattered throughout offer useful information on general techniques like cooking pasta, choosing and using seafood, making bread, and 26 other skills for identifying and preparing foods from vegetables and beans to meats, soups, and desserts. Along the way, Bittman′s practical tips and variations, descriptive visual cues, and straightforward explanations will help you recognize doneness, taste and adjust seasoning, and learn to trust your instincts. How to Cook Everything The Basics is the next best thing to having America′s favorite home cook right in the kitchen with you.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By I. Darren TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 Feb 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ordinarily the reader should exercise a great degree of scepticism when faced with a book that describes itself with superlatives. How to cook everything? All you need? Yet, this time, such caution might be a tad unnecessary.

This is a book that could be one of those truly great first cookbooks for a younger person, perhaps someone off to college or someone moving out from the hotel of mother and father. Yet probably nobody except top chefs should feel a embarrassed by this book as you might think you know everything but...

Nothing is taken for granted. The author starts with a great overview about setting up your pantry (store cupboard) and your kitchen with the necessary (rather than "desirable" or "faddy") tools. It was pleasing to see the tool list split between the "absolute minimum" and "other handy tools" - a good thing if you are on a tight budget. A further extensive list of items for baking and roasting is made for those who want to try their hand at that - if you don't, don't buy the stuff. Simple, huh?

Everything is taken one step at a time whilst the text is informative and concise in nature. The reader is not patronised - you have to read the text carefully to get the most out of the book rather than just look at the pretty pictures, but is that such a hard thing to do? Even, 'speaking' as a more experienced cook, the text seems to be friendly, approachable and informative and certainly some ageing memory cells have become refreshed in the process. It is surprising how much we can forget, take for granted or perhaps never learned - especially if one has not received formal culinary training.

All of the various preparation and cooking techniques are explained in surprisingly few words and pictures, yet one does not feel cheated.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pauli on 24 Aug 2012
Format: Hardcover
good book with lovely photos. i would recommend this book for anyone learning to cook as it is very instructive and well written.
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By Jane on 13 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D A J WHITTLE on 8 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
why if I do a review do I have to put 18 words when perfect will suffice, 3 still do
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 217 reviews
392 of 400 people found the following review helpful
Not just a re-packaging of the original, The Basics should be your first "cookbook" 6 Mar 2012
By Scott - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How to Cook Everything: The Basics is a "cookbook" designed to teach new cooks the fundamentals to ingredients, cookware, and food preparation. It is a variation on Mark Bittman's original classic How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food (which I'll refer to as HtCE). I have not read Bittman's 2003 book of the same name, How to Cook Everything: The Basics, but as far as I can tell, this book is not an update to that one (which received a lot of criticism for not being original enough from HtCE). The publication date is 2012, and there is no reference to the 2003 book in the publication notes. While this does use a lot of information from HtCE, it seems to be a completely separate book.

Although it is filled with recipes, The Basics is not really a cookbook. It is presented in a very straightforward way that is designed to not only give you starter recipes, but to provide recipes that teach the fundamentals of cooking. For a "basics" cookbook, one thing I look for is whether it truly is targeted to teaching the basics. When I was first learning to cook, I would be thoroughly confused every time a recipe called for "onion," and went to the story only to discover four different types of onions. And what does "salt to taste" mean? Fortunately, Bittman's book takes these things into account and is very good at not making assumptions on the cooking level of the reader. For example, when discussing olive oil, Bittman states "every time I refer to olive oil in this book, I mean extra virgin." These tips are placed in the beginning and scattered throughout the book and are just the types of explanations I think should accompany a cookbook on the basics. Where the original HtCE just gives a list of essential ingredients you should have, The Basics provides more guidance, with tips such as "buy unsalted butter," and "use firm tofu packed in water," instead of just telling you what ingredients to buy. It is ordered in the traditional Breakfast, appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, entree, etc. formula, but the recipes are also ordered by technique - designed to teach the fundamentals early in the book and progressing to more difficult skills by the end. You don't have to go in order however, and if there is a specific lesson you want to learn (eg, blanching), you can turn to the back and view a "Techniques" glossary which has a list of all the techniques presented in the book so you can go directly to what interests you. Each technique has a basic lesson, followed by several recipes that incorporate it and allow you to practice the technique. With most cookbooks you'll maybe see 2-3 recipes for every one picture. At over 1,000 photos and 185 recipes, you can see that in addition to the main dish, the recipes each have several smaller pictures showing different stages of the food production to give you a better idea of what you should be doing. The very first recipe is how to boil water, only it's not called that, it's a recipe for oatmeal. But the purpose is to show new cooks how water temperature affects food consistency and give them experience with the different levels of water heat.

The original How to Cook Everything is the first cookbook I bought and one of the best primers for anyone interested in learning to cook. At over 1000 pages, it truly does tell you "how to cook everything," from slicing an onion to making your own sauces, to rolling sushi. It is one of the best "beginner" resources I have in my kitchen, but at times can be a bit overwhelming due to the amount of information. The Basics takes the same premise of HtCE, simplifies it a bit more, and adds pictures. There are some small noticeable differences in theory between the two books. HtCE has a list of 12 "Must-Have Kitchen Tools," 14 "Tools You'll Probably Want," and 8 "Nice-to-Have" tools. The Basics has a lit of 16 "Absolute-Minimum" tools, followed by 17 "Other Handy" tools. A salad spinner is on HtCE's "must-have" list, but on The Basics' "Other" list. Which of these lists is "correct?" It's hard to say. I definitely agree with HtCE that you must have a timer (even if it's your microwave). The Basics lists it as "other." How is a beginner cook going to learn without a timer? If you are trying to decide between which book to get, I would say that if you have absolutely no idea which end of a spatula is the business end, you should start with "The Basics." If you can cook a decent plate of eggs and know what a "simmer" looks like, you will get much more for your money with the Original "How to Cook Everything." The Basics won't have ten different way to make braised potatoes or a diagram showing you how to prepare lemongrass, but it will give you a recipe for mashed potatoes and show you a few different variations to it. HtCE is designed to give you as much information as possible about everything. The Basics is designed to give you as much information as needed to do everything right.

I have completely read through about half of the recipes in this book, and tested about two dozen of them. As mentioned, none of these recipes are going to be featured on your favorite cooking shows anytime soon. They use minimal common ingredients. You won't have to ask someone where the star anise is or worry about finding sherry vinegar in a store near you. The recipes are not bland, but they're not difficult or fancy either. Even though they're basic recipes, they seem very tasteful and I think they will appeal to a large audience. The "Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon" is only made up of olive oil, bacon, shallot/onion, spinach, vinegar, and mustard, yet it is a very respectable salad. You'd probably be disappointed in it if you ordered it at a restaurant, but served alongside a simple steak and potatoes meal it can go a long way to a nice dinner. I can easily see a beginning cook getting excited producing a lot of the foods in the book.

In additional to the original HtCE, the other "basic cooking" books I've read are Betty Crocker Cooking Basics: Recipes and Tips to Cook with Confidence (Betty Crocker Books), Cooking Basics For Dummies, and How to Boil Water. This book currently ranks well at the top of my list for complete beginners, with "How to Boil" coming in second. Unless you have been cooking for a year or two, I think "How to Cook Everything: The Basics" will be an invaluable resource for the new cook. It is very well put together with a lot of thought put into it. The full color photographs go a long way to expressing ideas in the book moreso than the drawings in the original version, and just about every major technique is covered. You won't be creating blue-cheese infused butter with it, but by the time you're done, you should have a very respectable grasp of making the perfect Sunday dinner to share with some family and friends.

UPDATE April 2013: I've been using The Basics for a year now and I've now cooked about 75% of the recipes in the book. I still come back to it often and get tips from it. Definitely worth the price.
99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Simpler to use than his previous great works 22 Mar 2012
By Raele - Published on
Format: Hardcover
(This is both a review, and a response to a negative review preceding mine.)

Mark Bittman is an excellent chef, who breaks things down, keeps it simple, and keeps me cooking. Whether or not he chooses to currently eat much meat does not impact his ability to instruct others in how to properly prepare it, after many years of having successfully done so himself. In fact, the meat prep techniques are flawlessly presented.
To JimBob: We are not being invited to write a "character review". It is to be a COOKBOOK review.
That means you would be expected to include things such as:

Does the food TASTE good?
Do the recipes WORK?
Are there perhaps helpful ILLUSTRATIONS?
Do the STEPS make sense?
Is it easy to locate a particular RECIPE?
Given the title, does it SIMPLIFY my cooking time?

This books wins on all counts. While I will continue to use How To Cook Everything for less-often used recipes, this new volume will be my go-to guide most of the time. I plan to help my teen daughter expand her repertoire using this book, as the photos will simplify everything and keep her 21st century mind engaged. Perfect for teaching oneself or one's child. A remarkable and crystal clear tutorial, often featuring one full recipe per spread; how perfect and easy on the eyes! It ought to be a gift for every housewarming party or wedding shower. In fact, I used to use How To Cook Everything (the more extensive work), along with a hand sewn apron or oven mitts, for just that purpose. Now I will use this one. You will just want to eat The Basics cookbook up!
72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
An absolutely fantastic cookbook. 20 July 2012
By Patrick Rinker - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just turned 25, and my lack of cooking skills was beginning to be embarrassing and unhealthy, so I began searching for a cookbook to help me out. I usually got recipes online, but they tended to be either too complicated or too expensive for someone who's not that well off. I eventually settled on this book, after already having bought Bittman's other cookbook and finding it too difficult to wade through.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this book has turned my culinary life around. I cook pretty frequently now, and I basically exclusively cook out of this book. I'm going to list several things about this book that I like:

* TONS of great tutorials for things like cutting up veggies, how to boil pasta the right way, etc. Along with these great helpers, every recipe includes page numbers to the relevant stuff, so you can easily flip back and forth to figure out how to do all of the mechanical stuff.

* The recipes are arranged in each chapter from easiest to most difficult, so it's perfect for new cooks to build up their confidence.

* The recipes are simple, and simple generally means cheap. It does NOT, however, mean flavorless. Everything I've made out of this book has been fantastic, even the super-simple Chopped Salad and homemade dressing.

* The section on what tools/equipment needed in a kitchen has also helped me furnish my kitchen better.

I would say that if you are a beginner cook, this book is absolutely the one to buy. It's affordable, well written, and will help you make fantastic food. Seriously. Look no further.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Informative and Beautiful 24 Mar 2012
By bakerbronte - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I appreciate Mark Bittman's ability to educate the reader about food thoroughly while sharing simple, wholesome, home kitchen-friendly recipes that won't break the bank.
If you already own the original How to Cook Everything, you're really in for a visual feast now as The Basics version is filled with beautifully photographed pictures depicting various stages in each recipe. They are not step by step exactly, but his recipes are so well-written that they do not need to be in order to convey the cooking process.
Bittman has a friendly, confident tone that almost feels as though you have an old friend in the kitchen at your side, guiding you through caramelizing your first onions or braising your first chicken.
He even has a "Getting Started" section to walk you through stocking your pantry, equipping your kitchen simply but efficiently, and outlining basic cooking techniques in case you aren't familiar with them. I consider myself an experienced home cook and would not hesitate to purchase this as a shower gift for newlyweds or for an advanced cook. There is plenty in this new volume to entertain anyone interested in cooking.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to decide whether to try his Braised Beef with Red Wine or Mediterranean Style Braised Chicken for supper.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
What is salad? 18 Dec 2012
By Quyen V. Nguyen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I learned how to make a salad with this book.

No, no, don't think "it's so easy, who needs to learn!" No, no.

Before this, I make salad this way: go to the grocery, buy pre-boxed chopped vegetable, buy a bottle of dressing like sundried tomato and then a bag of garlic toast croutons.

Now, I make a salad this way: buy 4 different kind of fresh vegie, as fresh as I can get. Learned how to clean them, and store them (so important, did you know they last for days?). Make my own croutons, such act that I never knew possible, and easy like making toast (3 mins top, and last for days). Make my own dressing (olive oil, vinegar of some sort, salt and papper). Toss them up and a salad. Flavor is woefully light, vegetable so fresh it's, well, refreshing. Croutons seasoned and not soaked in oil like the ones in the bags. I make my own bread (also in this book, 10 active minute, the rest watching tv and waiting). Everything in this salad is made from the basic ingredients. This is a "made" salad, nothing was processed, nothing pre-packaged. Each component was made from its basic ingredients.

So I go around and tell people I learned how to make a salad proudly. They laughed, not understanding the delicate tastes of fresh ingredients and the simplicity of making it. They were a little shocked to taste my salad, so was I. It tastes so different! Well, which restaurant (or person for that matter) ever served us their salad with everything made from scratch (even the bread for the croutons)? None!

With this I have learned what kind of lettuce there are, how croutons are made, what dressing consist off (and how light they should be, and how little they should be on the salad). And the time it takes to make a refreshing salad is so little that it shocked me. Like that one time I saw they sell "pre-diced" onions... does it take that long? (I also learned how to dice onion from this book).

A true appreciation for food and cooking apparently is not from having tasted the best food, but the joy of how to make a delight meal with the slightest bit of effort, from the fundamentals. I ate my food right in the kitchen, because it felt like a chief seemingly threw something together at the end of his work day, so much different and simpler from what he make all day, and yet manage to blow my mind with it. When he's not trying to impress any guests with fancy techniques and exotic ingredients, his dish is the distillation of his arts.


I learned how to boil egg yesterday. And I shall be proud to share it to everyone I know.

Also, i bought the joy of cooking, found at good will for $5.

I learned how to set up a table from that book.
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