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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could become the backbone of one's cooking library
Simpler and more user-friendly than the New Joy of Cooking, this book could become the backbone of one's cookbook library. For those of us who already know our way around the kitchen, but want a simple, quick reminder on, for example, carmelizing onions, mixed drinks, or making mustard from scratch, this is where to turn. Bittman's two dirty words are Convenience...
Published on 8 May 1999

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but disappointing in some basic ways.
While this is really an excellent basic book, it might better be titled "How to Cook Everything: At Least, Everything You Might Want To Eat if You're a WASP or Yuppie Who Lives in The Northeast US and Don't Eat Much Spicy or Ethnic Food but Italian.". I was really jazzed by the reviews of this book, but found no recipies for: Vindaloo, pretty much anything...
Published on 17 Mar. 1999


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could become the backbone of one's cooking library, 8 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
Simpler and more user-friendly than the New Joy of Cooking, this book could become the backbone of one's cookbook library. For those of us who already know our way around the kitchen, but want a simple, quick reminder on, for example, carmelizing onions, mixed drinks, or making mustard from scratch, this is where to turn. Bittman's two dirty words are Convenience and Gourmet. His credo - that there's no reason to buy a box of processed macaroni & cheese when you can have pasta with butter, parmesan and sage in the same amount of time; that we need not aim for perfection and be intimidated by the prospect of cooking real, fresh, homemade food for ourselves and our families every day, is a welcome one. Especially a time when more and more cookbooks aim to transate the lofty heights of four-star restaurant chefs' creations for the home cook, clearly a recipe for frustration in the work-a-day world of most of us. Bittman provides standard, template recipes for classic American food and popular ethnic fare. Obviously, this is not the book to open if you seek TRULY authentic Thai, Mexican, or other foreign fare. However, if you hanker for, say, Indian potato pakoras, and don't have all day to hunt for ingredients and follow a complex recipe with unfamiliar techniques, Bittman offers a do-able and perfectly edible alternative. I check his recipes as a template by which to compare quirkier versions of the same dish from other sources. He gives you the standard for your average pound cake; now you can ponder why your cooking magazine wants you to add twice as much liquid. Once you have tried your hand at these classics, though the results may not be extremely exciting, you will gain the confidence to explore a world of variations. And many of Bittman's own suggestions for variations, such as the onion and bacon in his basic quiche, are still simple and accessible, but also wonderful. It's quite a comprehensive achievement, as well. Get it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a cookbook for real life!, 26 Jan. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
I used to be much more intimidated by cooking, but Mark Bittman's straightforward, relaxed writing style really put me at ease and gave me the confidence to try new things - he obviously enjoys cooking and his enthusiasm is contagious (as well as entertaining). The recipes start out with a basic how-to overview and then move on to more specific variations, thereby giving you the information you need to create your own versions. It has taken the mystery out of making good food on a daily basis.
I have lots of other cookbooks but many of them either assume I know a lot of basic things I don't, or think I have access to a gourmet grocery store around the corner (or can regularly afford the elaborate ingredients they require). This is a user-friendly cookbook for daily life - it will give you a foundation of information at your fingertips that will encourage you to be more adventurous, and subsequently have more fun. My fancier cookbooks are gathering dust.
This is a must-have book if you are just getting into cooking, or need an all-purpose reference volume to fill in the gaps left by more specific cookbooks. I just wish I'd had this one in college!
(And if you are a seafood fan, you must get Mark Bittman's "Fish" - it is not just a cookbook, it is a dictionary and buying guide as well. A fabulous reference book!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You might want another cookbook, but you won't need it, 8 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
" 'Convenience' is one of the two dirty words of American cooking... the other is 'gourmet'. ... The gourmet phase, which peaked in the eighties, when food was seen as art, showed our ability to obsess about aspects of daily life that most other cultures take for granted. You might only cook once a week, but wow, what a meal." (from the introduction to the book)
This is an encyclopedic guide to cooking delicious food at home, from scratch. I got tired of spilling things on the library's copy of the book and finally bought my own. Everything I have made has turned out beautifully: an Asian-flavored green soup, puttanesca sauce, chicken adobo, gingered carrots, pears poached in red wine, and bread pudding, just to name a few.
The recipes use few convenience foods, but almost all the ingredients can be found in any supermarket. They are delicious, and most importantly, doable. Even the dishes that have only three or four ingredients, and there are lots of them, turn out to be more than the sum of their parts. Many basic recipes (e.g. grilled whole fish, stir-fried noodles, apple pie) are wonderful on their own but also feature variations for those who want to dress their food up. There are authoritative but not stuffy sections on equipment and technique, as well as some nice meal-planning suggestions ("Twenty fish dishes for fish haters," "Twenty-nine crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving side dishes you may not have thought of"). Look no further: there is enough great cooking and eating in this book to last a lifetime.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU BUY ONE COOKBOOK, THIS SHOULD BE IT, 6 Sept. 2005
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
The sheer diversity of recipes, all 1500 or so of them, Japanese, Thai, Indian, French, is probably reason enough to get this pronto. By Everything it most likely means "wholesome yet practical meals for the ones you love". Almost all recipes I have tried to date use simple readily-available ingredients for healthy yet finger-licking victuals. As a bonus the writing is chipper than most culinary tomes on the market. My idea of THE cookbook, and a great gift idea too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who needs other cookbooks when I can have "How To Cook...", 28 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
My wife did almost all of our cooking from the day we were married. Several years ago we were involved in a serious car accident and my wife was left quadriplegic. I was forced to take on the daunting task of cooking for five. Several months ago, my worries ended. How To Cook Everything has been a godsend with a very all-encompassing approach to the duties of the kitchen. Mr. Bittman's effort has resulted in a solid, easy to read (read: easy to follow) book that lets me be successful every time I fire up the stove. The kids, my wife and, I, especially, do not dread the terrors of the kitchen anymore. I highly recommend this work to any and all who have even the smallest need to cook.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity makes this cookbook a standout, 31 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
I was wondering whether this book would be a rehash of the All-New Joy of Cooking. While this book also serves as a great reference tome, the recipes are purposefully kept simple, and most do not require laundry lists of indredients and scavenger hunts to ethnic markets. This is a refreshing technique, as cookbooks today seem to be written by and for restaurant chefs. The illustrations are nice, and Bittman has a very direct, authoritative tone that you can trust. I especially like that he has given cooking and prep times for everything. I have only tried a few recipes so far, but I like the fact that nothing in here seems too daunting. A fresh approach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and wonderful, 18 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
I am surprised (maybe chagrined is a better word) at the huffy reviews from some West Coast foodies here saying that this book doesn't really tell you how to cook EVERYTHING. I think they are taking the title too seriously. This book does have a LITTLE of everything, so that you can find something to cook whether you crave something sweet, a bean dish, a fresh salad, etc. There are also quite a number of ethnic recipes here, which are authentic enough but avoid obsessive attention to detail. The author does have a bit of a bias against nouvelle cuisine, but that's a plus in my book. For me the book has demystified such formerly obscure tasks as baking chicken and making Asian noodle soups. Every recipe I have tried, with very few exceptions, is delicious and quite easy, and that's good enough for me.
Surely Mr. Bittman is not a xenophobe; more likely his recipe choices are limited out of respect for the limited budget and schedule of most home cooks. Yes, West Coast cooks are lucky to have ready access to more ethnic ingredients and a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than those of us in the rest of the country (although I really missed good Middle Eastern breads when I lived in Seattle - and try finding a decent bagel west of the Rockies!). If you have ample time and money to spend on cooking as a hobby, good for you. There are lots of cookbooks out there to keep you engaged. For the rest of us, though, Mr. Bittman's book is a godsend, a comprehensive guide to the good enough (which, in his own words, is overshadowed by the search for the best). It is a beacon of practicality in a sea of trendy food porn.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good surprises, 2 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
I like and get cookbooks but was calling a halt until I read these reviews and bought it. I think it might end up my favorite for the many options and variations it adds to a basic recipe, like chicken breasts, for instance, including ideas, sauces, spices, from many countries, for which one would have to buy many cookbooks. The style is homespun and humorous. Good layout, a nice book physically. How did he do it?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I expected., 14 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
This is one of the few books that describes exactly how to make a REAL bolognese sauce and the pasta to go with it. La Nonna (Italian Mother-in-law) was very impressed with the Italian recipes. What I like is the way the principles are defined, then no-nonsense instructions for a basic recipe, followed by the variations. Too often, books have the same recipe in the chicken, beef, lamb sections - basically wasting space and the readers' time. I especially liked the hints and tips about things that are never discussed in other books, like frying an egg or making a cup of chocolate - 'course, anyone can do that - NOT! The author has done a grand job of condensing almost all cooking recipes/techniques into one relatively handy volume - this is going to be a present to my daughter (it'll save me E-mailing all my recipes!). The only failing is a lack of illustrations, but then we can't have everything. As Dr Butch said; "The enemy of good is better".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great choice for cooks of all experience levels, 3 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Cook Everything (Hardcover)
Finally, I found someone who shares's my philosophy of cooking. You can create nutritious, tasty meals without resorting to "convenience foods" or ingredients not found in rural America's supermarkets. The recipes rely on fresh ingredients and mastering basic cooking techniques. His writing style is also interesting. This cookbook is quite comprehensive; however, even with 1500 recipes some regional favorites seem to be left out. This book is an excellent choice for the new home cook or as a reference for more experienced cooks. However, if you think the microwave is the most important invention of the 20th Century and home cooking is assembling canned and precooked foods, you are apt not to agree with Bittman's philosophy. I've been cooking for many years and have reviewed several all-purpose cookbooks before settling on this one.
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How to Cook Everything
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (Hardcover - 14 Aug. 1998)
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