Darren's Reviews > How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
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's review
Jun 05, 2012

it was amazing

This is another mammoth of a cookbook that seeks to be a complete reference source, featuring 2000 recipes and a wealth of information about cooking in practice.

Consideration has been given to everything it seems, even the differences between cooking at high and low altitudes and how this can affect the boiling point of water. That is, believe it or not, the very first piece of information that appears in this book (if you disregard the cover!).

This is not the first version of this book, which has previously been critically-acclaimed, but it has undergone a total, major revision in the process. With a book of this size that must be no mean feat. Despite being such a comprehensive book the overall style is a mixture of friendly/informative. The description given for the first chapter "Kitchen Basics" probably says it all. "What do you need to know - and own - to make great meals? Not much." After 20 pages of condensed, important information that gives you an intense primer about equipment, knives, ovenware, cutting meat and other knife skills and 11 essential cooking techniques you get to the recipes.

Even here you are not just thrown into the deep as you get to the chapters: sauces, condiments, herbs and spices; appetisers; soups; sandwiches and pizza; salads; vegetables and fruits; beans; grains; pasta, noodles and dumplings; fish and shellfish; poultry; meat; eggs, breakfast and dairy; bread and desserts. Each chapter is structured and features a lot of associated information to inform and educate as you go along.

The recipes appear simple to follow and are structured in a very pleasing manner. First you get a typical serving size, an approximation of time (prep and cook, hurrah!), a little overview, ingredients list, very detailed instructions and then even various customisation tips and suggestions as relevant.

The author even finds space to give suggested menus, a list of the author's 102 essential recipes, 100 top fast recipes, 100 top make-ahead recipes, 100 top vegetarian recipes, various further reading resources and an index that is bursting at the seems with its information. Probably all but the kitchen sink, or that is how it feels.

This is not one of those low cost, tightly-printed, 1000 recipes for five dollar-type books. It is a bulky, considerable resource that will probably last you a lifetime. You may consider it one of the foundation pillars of your kitchen or library. Whilst you could survive with just one cookbook (of this kind) it will probably inspire you to cook more and more, explore different ingredients and cuisine genres... and invariably buy more books along the way.

How to Cook Everything: 2000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, written by Mark Bittman and published by John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780764578656, 1044 pages. Typical price: Varies. YYYYY

This is a RETROspective review of a previously-published book that, whilst not new on the market, is still available and the review has been made of the book as it stands today.

// This review appeared in YUM.fi and is reproduced here in full with permission of YUM.fi. YUM.fi celebrates the worldwide diversity of food and drink, as presented through the humble book. Whether you call it a cookery book, cook book, recipe book or something else (in the language of your choice) YUM will provide you with news and reviews of the latest books on the marketplace. //

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