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How to Cook Without a Book, Completely Updated and Revised: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart: A Cookbook

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,400 ratings  ·  94 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Pam Anderson updates her classic cookbook--which put "cooking by heart" on the map--to include modern flavors and new techniques that today's home cooks will love, with new and original full-color photographs.

It's been 17 years since the blockbuster How to Cook Without a Book was published, and Pam Anderson's method of mastering easy
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Clarkson Potter Publishers (first published April 4th 2000)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  2,400 ratings  ·  94 reviews


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Stephen
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cheryl
Jan 15, 2019 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference
2018 edition
Excellent for the right audience. My husband, despite being great with 'scrambled eggs with stuff in them' and despite my introduction to the book, did not understand it at all, couldn't understand the idea of templates, refused to consider looking in the fridge to see what kinds of combination to come up with... he's still the kind of recipe follower who can't substitute green onions for scallions.... :sigh:

My middle son, otoh, is avidly trying to learn how to free himself from
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Kerri
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Happyreader
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carol Bakker
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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J
Jan 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If the author's goal was to teach the reader how to cook without a book, it failed. Maybe the title of the book was a gimmick - 'click bait' is what I think young people would call it. This book has lists of pantry ingredients 'no cook should be without'; however, the book never truly teaches the reader how to actually cook without recipes.

Instead, this book contains recipes with measurements. Unless you memorize the measurements, or already know how to cook without recipes, you'll need this
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Michele
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Scot
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
The best ironically-named book I've ever read. As long as I've been cooking, I've never seemed comfortable just doing some ad hoc cooking. I mean cooking. Actual more-than-sandwiches cooking. This book helped a lot with some general techniques, rules, and ideas. I'm a happy guy.
Jessie
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5

I haven't read the original (though I think I do own it... somewhere), but this new version is wonderful. I believe this will appeal to all but the most seasoned cooks. Great cover-to-cover reading, too. Minus half a star for a couple shortcut suggestion that I just can't abide, like soaking pasta before cooking to save time come dinner. That will simply kill the texture. But the vast majority of the content is priceless. I plan on gifting copies.
Kim
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diy, read-again
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 ...more
Dorena
Jan 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Becca
If you cook regularly, this book probably won't be anything new. From the cover to the font choices, the book itself is really beautiful, but I finished this book just feeling meh. Considering that the whole theme is how to cook without a book, there's a disappointing lack of information on actual cooking techniques.
Ginny Pennekamp
Great for a very beginner. Everything in here I've pretty much got under control now, though.
Stephanie Pieck
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: braille
This book delivers exactly what it promises. It gives easy-to-follow instructions for basic techniques, then builds on those techniques in subsequent chapters to expand a novice cook's skill set. First a reader learns how to stock a pantry. Then that's followed by how-to's on salads, soups, omelettes, frittatas, stir-fries, right on through dessert. The "At a Glance" sections of each chapter are perfect for review or for learning something without having to read the whole chapter.
The book was
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Victoria
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been cooking this way for decades, yet there were great useable tips and insight gems. (Ah-ha moment: grill or bake your untopped pizza dough first, then add toppings and never have soggy pizza slices!)
A well stocked pantry is key to meal preparation. Basic technique and formula recipes are the key. Creative meals are the outcome. Filled with beautiful photos, detailed staples guides, and delicious combination suggestions, How to Cook Without a Book will show you how easy it is to create
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Elise Rogers
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This cookbook is the best I've ever bought. This cookbook author has written the best cookbooks I own. This book taught me how to cook chicken and veggies, and I hoped for a low calorie one. Surprise! I was walking through the bookstore one day and there it was! I was hoping for a vegetarian one and low and behold she wrote that, too. I still consult them regularly and can't recommend this book highly enough.
Laura
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes you through basic recipes, then try to do it on your own using their formulas and helpful tips and techniques. The recipes are sound, but I could’ve used more pictures. Everything in here is family friendly and it’s a book for everyday cooking. I think I just had problems with the concept - it’s more a class than a cookbook. And her tone is a little formal for an everyday book.

Worth checking out if you have questions on a technique.

Anna Catherman
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Far from being a freeing, technique based book like the title promises, How to Cook Without a Book is extremely formulaic and recipe-driven. Could be useful for someone who's never set foot in a kitchen, but just isn't that useful for anyone else. It does have some good-looking recipes, and there's a few interesting segments, but overall I just found this book extremely frustrating.
Elizabeth Brown
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot of great recipe shorthand - paths to make certain types of dishes with variants.
For me the variations on stir-fry sauces and chicken salad are things I rarely see in other cookbooks. This can be hard to find by searching through recipes online and in blog entries.
Erica
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect blend of simple and comprehensive

Have read cover to cover, but I definitely had my a-ha moment early on: this is the kind of book you need to read too prepare to go on Chopped.
Amber
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must have!

This is a must have for your cookbook collection. I’m so happy I purchased this. Pam Anderson makes me want to go in the kitchen right now and start cooking...simple things!
Flossmoor Public Library (IL)
4 stars

- Ms. Jenn
Susan Frost
Everyone should own this book

I read a lot of cook books and this is one that I trust. The recipes are easy and tasty and also make sense in today's busy world.
Sheryl
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good ideas.
Liz
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some great ideas in this one, some even applicable to my single-life cooking.
Evie
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is perfectly serviceable, though without any distinguishing characteristics. It's like those MFA bores all are.
Jackson Matthews
Very nice ideas for releasing oneself from the slavery of a recipe.
Gillian
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This cookbook is the best I've ever bought. This cookbook author has written the best cookbooks I own. This book taught me how to cook chicken and veggies, and I hoped for a low calorie one. Surprise! I was walking through the bookstore one day and there it was! I was hoping for a vegetarian one and low and behold she wrote that, too. I still consult them regularly and can't recommend this book highly enough.
Jennifer Heise
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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January
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my few “life-changer” books. This is the book that made me understand the formulas behind recipes. Because of this book I rarely use specific recipes anymore and “make-up” the majority of my meals, much to the chagrin of my recipe-collecting friends. While it is a bit ironic that the author is using a book to teach you how to cook without a book, take my word for it, you really will not need a book to cook anymore after truly understanding these formulas. The Flavor Bible is now the only ...more
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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) ...more