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How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart
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How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,647 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Pam Anderson grew up watching her parents and grandparents make dinner every night by simply taking the ingredients on hand and cooking them with the techniques they knew.

Times have changed. Today we have an overwhelming array of ingredients and a fraction of the cooking time, but Anderson believes the secret to getting dinner on the table lies in the past. After a long d
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 4th 2000 by Clarkson Potter
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Jul 26, 2013 Stephen rated it it was ok
Perhaps my disappointment in this book arose from my unrealistically high expectations for it. The title suggested that Anderson would reveal the inner secrets of the temple occupied by those who see some ingredients and just toss them together in creative, delicious and surprising ways. When Larry Benfield heard that I was reading this book, he warned me that the title is an oxymoron. I am a bigger moron for setting my hopes for it too high. Michael Ruhlman sets the inventive chef up to succeed ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, 2014
We all have recipes in our head. Scrambled eggs, pasta, salad, spaghetti, perhaps salad dressing: the stuff you whip together without thinking about it.

Pam Anderson's book takes this idea and expands it for "weekday cooking." The idea is that the weekend, when, theoretically, you have more leisure, is the time to make the two-page recipes that require multiple steps and careful attention.

But the weekdays are for cooking without a book. The recipes and techniques to give you confidence to get a
Sep 24, 2008 Kerri rated it really liked it
This book was helpful to me. It basically lets you make up your own recipes as you go along. I was already doing that, so it didn't change my life, but I got a lot of really great ideas!

The best part of the book, I thought, was the recipe for stir fry and sauces. I make stir fry about once a week, and it is never boring because it comes out different every time.
Jan 10, 2009 Michele rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: beginner home cooks
I stumbled across this cookbook when I was first trying to learn to cook by instinct rather than by recipe. Anderson's innovative approach in this cookbook provides the reader with techniques (how to make a pureed vegetable soup, for example), rather than recipes per se. The techniques are easy (in this example, begin with aromatice vegetables like onion, add stock or broth, then the featured vegetable for the soup, some seasoning, cook and puree), and following the base instructions, she provid ...more
Sep 05, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: read-again, diy
There was a lot of scoffing done at my house, at the title of the book. So I patiently explained that the book would teach you techniques that would allow you to cook without a cookbook in the future. For example, to make a tomato sauce, the author advises always using the same pan, and noticing how the measured oil looks in it. Then add some other simple ingredients, and cook. After you know the basics she explains how you can make many variations based on a formula (fat, aromatic, extra ingred ...more
Mar 16, 2008 Happyreader rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-and-drink
This is a good cookbook for beginners -- and non-beginners -- who don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and who want to learn how to pull together basic meals.
Dec 09, 2015 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book. It is perfect for people like me, who don't have that natural talent (or desire) to cook, who still actually really need to learn to cook.
The author's motive is to teach you to cook without a book of recipes, teaching simple and quick meals with variations on sauces and such and formulas for how and why they work. (Secret: It does have some recipes to get your started!) At the beginning of each chapter is a cute little poem created to help you remember the formula for that coo
Cara Stevens
Feb 26, 2014 Cara Stevens rated it it was amazing
Filled with tips, techniques and suggestions, this book is a great reference when you're experimenting with new recipes and ingredients. Whether you're a by-the-book recipe follower or a make-it-up-as-you-go-along home cook like me, the recipes work well whether you're coloring inside the lines or freestyling it. I refer to the book for shellfish, pasta sauce or chicken techniques at least once a week and it has made me a better cook -- and much better at improvising.
I'd love to have a book lik
Jan 26, 2016 Mizloo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
Clear simple easy-to-remember directions for a limited number of basic meals. Lots of tips: useful implements, shortcuts, substitutions.

I learned to cook from my mom 60+ years ago, did Julia 50 years ago, had an extensive cookbook collection (about 250) that I culled down to about 20 when I started collecting Social Security. How to Cook without a Book earns a place on that single bookshelf; it's the first addition since the culling. I read them and pass them on. Not this one.

I wish I had found
Jennifer Heise
Feb 08, 2014 Jennifer Heise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking
The concept of this book intrigued, and the author's background with Cook's magazine seemed a good recommendation. I've been doing this kind of cooking my whole life, so I wondered what I would learn. I learned a lot, actually.

I liked the author's writing style and her emphasis on methods that bring together a good, classic meal in less than an hour (though I think my all-gas stove may have different temperature ranges and some of the time/temp notes were off-- pork chops cut from the loin as sh
Barbara Vantine
Jun 06, 2014 Barbara Vantine rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite cookbooks. You can tell because the jacket is torn and the pages are stained. It's not a coffee table book. There are no beautiful "food porn" pictures. Just simple, modular recipes you'll use over and over again.
Jul 15, 2014 Tammy rated it really liked it
Good basic cook book. Simple techniques to get dinner on the table quickly with the ingredients you have on hand. It will take some practice to cook the recipes without the book, though.
Jul 30, 2009 Hope rated it really liked it
I first received this book when I moved from the States to New Zealand to marry my husband. Not only did I gain a husband but I gained the majority of the responsibility for making dinner in a foreign country with foreign food & products. I had avoided 'making dinner' as a single person. I mostly used cheese, crackers and salad as my main ingredients for 'dinner'. Although I already knew how to cook I didn't know how to cook without using 10 bowls and at least 20 spoons. This book has been a ...more
Angela Forister
Apr 08, 2015 Angela Forister rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cook-books
Best cook book I ever bought. It's the basis for everything. I've given this one as a gift many times. Great book.
May 25, 2014 Kimberly rated it really liked it
I have used this cookbook over and over. Best frittata recipe with interesting and tasty combinations.
Ginny Pennekamp
Dec 10, 2014 Ginny Pennekamp rated it it was ok
Great for a very beginner. Everything in here I've pretty much got under control now, though.
Jan 19, 2016 Reginald rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
The published title, says it all. I personally appreciated the author's reminder(s) for those of us who both love to cook, share, tweak, etc., especially when it comes to traditional family recipes that were passed down (many without the use of a book) that truly exemplifies that old expression, "cooking from the heart"..... I also appreciated the 'common-sense' approach displayed in this informative reminder for those who know their way around the kitchen.
Clifford Zang
May 25, 2015 Clifford Zang rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
Great cookbook for learning how to improvise while cooking.
Dec 24, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it
Use it all the time
Mar 05, 2011 kmc rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
I came across a recipe years (and I mean years) ago in this book by Pam Anderson book(check out Pam's blog by the way, Three Many Cooks) for cooking cutlets (pork, chicken, whatever) and making a quick pan sauce to go with them that I've used over and over and over throughout the years...definitely worth the price of the book just for that recipe. This book is handy for making suppers from whatever you have on the shelves/in the fridge/in the freezer already and want to find a use for before it' ...more
Jordan McCollum
Dec 25, 2011 Jordan McCollum rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, food
I enjoy cooking and do it most nights, often with memorized recipes and eyeing measurements. I'm not afraid of experimenting in the kitchen, and every chapter of this book (okay, except the sections on foods I don't like) made me excited to cook. I'm definitely going to try to learn several of these methods. I love the idea of cooking without a book even more now than when I first heard of this book two years ago!
Jan 02, 2011 Mallory rated it it was amazing
I love everything about this book. I've never met a recipe that I don't think I can do better. This book teaches you how to be a better cook. Not by adding recipes to your box, but by adding knowledge, skill, and technique to your brain. If you truly love to learn then this is the book for you. Even when I use another cookbook or recipe I have this one open to use for reference.
Jan 14, 2013 Dorena rated it did not like it
I felt robbed with the book title and what was actually in the book. I thought I would learn why certain ingredients effect other ingredients, how to look at items in stock and make a meal. These recipes that don't require a book are no brainers: potatoes, rice, salads, seasoning meat and cooking eggs. People need a recipe to cook eggs? Don't waste your time.
Mar 07, 2011 Kaylee rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I found some tips to try out--like boiling firm veggies for pasta sauce with the pasta. And I figured out why that one sauted chicken recipe that I make all the time is so awesome. But it kinda failed to get me excited about cooking. And while I now want to know how to butterfly a chicken, I'm gonna hafta look it up, in a different book.
Apr 06, 2009 Gwendolynpatrick rated it really liked it
My friend, Scott, who is an excellent cook, recommended this book to me. I confess that I have not read it lately. Read it once or twice and LEARN to make really good food. For me, it was the advice on making soup that clinched it. I now make soup at least once a week and it's very good!
Shanade Collins
Apr 06, 2008 Shanade Collins rated it really liked it
Excellent book! This book really does make it simple to just throw dinner together with whatever you have in the kitchen. I love the simple concept. Since I read this book I've been really looking at what I have in the fridge and pantry and getting creative at dinnertime.
Mallory Hall
Sep 19, 2009 Mallory Hall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, food
There are plenty of good cookbooks with good recipes, but this book teaches readers to cook a wide range of meals without having to use a cookbook. The things I learned from this book have become staples in my menus and have made meal planning so much easier!
Jan 19, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone & everyone
Recommended to Karen by: My mom
This is easily my favorite cookbook! I use it all the time - it's by far my messiest one. From little things (this amazing vinigarette to jazz up avocado & asparagus) to grander scale projects (I love the lo mein) it's a very well rounded cookbook.
Jan 28, 2010 Thursday rated it it was amazing
Saw a recommendation for this cookbook on The Pioneer Woman's site. This cookbook is a great resource for anyone who cooks a little but wants to step up their game.

It's rapidly become my eighteen-year-old sister's favorite cookbook, as well.
Oct 25, 2009 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This is a great cookbook that gives you a basic recipe, and then lists all these different variations for that recipe based on your own tastes. Although I still feel like I have to reference it, I think it has made me more confident in the kitchen.
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PAM ANDERSON is the author of the best-selling The Perfect Recipe, Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, and the New York Times bestseller The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great. She has been the food columnist for USA Weekend for the last eight years, is a contributing chef to Fine Cooking and Runners World, and writes a weekly blog for the Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Time ...more
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