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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 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,448 ratings  ·  66 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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Mar 27, 2014 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014, food
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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.
Cara Stevens
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
Jennifer Heise
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
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.
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.
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
Best cook book I ever bought. It's the basis for everything. I've given this one as a gift many times. Great book.
I have used this cookbook over and over. Best frittata recipe with interesting and tasty combinations.
Ginny Pennekamp
Great for a very beginner. Everything in here I've pretty much got under control now, though.
Clifford Zang
Great cookbook for learning how to improvise while cooking.
Use it all the time
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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.
One of my favorite cookbooks. Simple, a good book for learning techniques and lots of good adaptations once you have the basics down. Plus the irony of the title isn't lost on me. A book for learning to cook without recipes... love it
This wasn't what I hoped it would be; it's a little to advanced for me (who loves the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks but also isn't afraid to mod a few Food Network recipes here and there). Probably more for advanced intermediate cooks.
Great housewarming or wedding gift for people just starting out, but it's also good for filling the gaps in any "seasoned" cook's repertoire (sorry for the pun). As an example, my sauces have improved tremendously since I got this book!
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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
More about Pam Anderson...
Perfect Recipes for Having People Over Cook without a Book: Meatless Meals: Recipes and Techniques for Part-Time and Full-Time Vegetarians Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great

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