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How to Cook Everything

How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

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Great Food Made Simple

Here's the breakthrough one-stop cooking reference for today's generation of cooks! Nationally known cooking authority Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare great food for all occasions using simple techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic kitchen equipment. Just as important, How to Cook Everything takes a relaxed, straightforward approach to cooking, so you can enjoy yourself in the kitchen and still achieve outstanding results.

960 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1998

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Alan Witschonke

18 books2 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 776 reviews
Profile Image for Missy.
316 reviews15 followers
November 17, 2022
Okay, so, October is National Book Month, and there's a meme going around: what book do you want everyone to read, fiction and non-fiction. And why. So, this was my non-fiction book.

Why I want you to read this:

I know so many people who tell me they can't cook, they don't know how, it's too hard, and it's not. If I could teach all the people I know and love how easy it is to have real, good, actual food, I'd be a very happy woman. Since I can't come into your kitchens and show you how few steps it takes to make something that tastes fifteen times better than takeout and is so much better for you and costs half as much, I'll point you to Mark Bittman, who wrote the Minimalist column for the New York Times.

One of the good things about Bittman is that he doesn't cook the way your mother cooked. (If your mother *did* cook this way? Contact me immediately; I'm not too old for adoption.) He's clear and easy to read and he explains things and he generally makes me way less crazy than the Joy of Cooking (I own four copies of three different editions of that one, because people keep buying it for me, and I never use it. I don't even pick it up and read it. Yes. I read cookbooks for fun, but that's an entirely different post.)

Pick something that sounds too delicious, just one thing, and make it. And then pick something else. Put a post-it note on the ones that actually do turn out to be yummy. Write in the margins. Leave yourself notes that you really can't stand capers but everything else in this recipe rocked. Don't worry if the butter splatters on the page or the tomatoes drip. Brush it off, let it dry and see how many more pages you can get dirty.

Do I still eat take-out? Oh, hell, yes. But it's usually something I love but that the rest of the family is ambivalent about--curry or sushi or pesto (THERE'S GREEN STUFF ON YOUR SPAGHETTI, MOM, WOW THAT'S NASTY.) And most of the time, when I'm dead-tired from work, it's still faster to make soup and muffins than it is to call out for delivery, or stop somewhere and get something.

And yeah, I subscribe to the Food Is Love way of life, but not in that psychotic, OMG, if you don't eat 5 helpings of everything she's slaved in the kitchen to make, you hate your mother/grandmother/crazy Aunt Sally way. It's love in the way that you're important and valuable enough to deserve something that tastes fabulous and nourishes you.

Profile Image for Martin Earl.
77 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2019
This could go on my "reading" shelf because I'm ALWAYS reading it. It is my standard starting point for any recipe search that I do. It is true that I don't always find everything I want (yes, we all know the title is hyperbole), but what I find is just great.

This book is the "Joy of Cooking" for a new generation. It has supplanted that venerable old institution, and presents the world of cooking in a way that can both engage the neophyte and interest the adept. And the fact that the recipes and ideas contained within it are simple food makes it all the better. As the Minimalist, Bittman has practice making good food simply. If you want to make it more extravagant, you can; but these recipes act as a guide on the route to culinary self sufficiency.

Part of what I like so much is the pedagogic stance Bittman takes. Say I've avoided...oh, maybe...beans for years, but now want to cook them myself; he doesn't just throw a bunch of recipes at me, he talks about how to work with beans in general, noting specific exceptions and sticking points. He tells me about different types of beans and their flavors and "behaviors." This makes it an indispensable reference tool.

Another part of what I like is what has driven many people away from this book: its lack of glossy color pictures. Well done, I say! Though I love my Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking, with its close-up pictures of well presented delectibles, I find the photos can be distracting. So many cookbooks now are becoming photographic show ponies rather than culinary work horses. Where Bittman presents a technique that is hard to visualize, there are small, well drawn and useful illustrations. I think that's how it should be. If there are going to be photos, let them really show what's going on, like in Time-Life's The Good Cook series, or (if I remember correctly)the Culinary Institue of America's Garde Manger . Heck, even Cook's Illustrated only uses one postage stamp size color picture for each dish.
I guess what I mean to say is that I not only don't mind, but rather like the lack of pictures in this cookbook.

I love this book and will always keep it. Even though I am certainly no longer a novice in the kitchen, it still comes through for me all the time.
Profile Image for Louis.
219 reviews26 followers
April 2, 2008
There are many different types of cookbooks. The most basic type is a collection of recipes, presumably built around some theme. Another type is the picture book, filled with pages of pictures of beautiful gourmet dishes. Then there are the celebrity chefs, with books that promise something akin to what you can get from their restaurants, or results like their TV shows. I have one cookbook that is basically a travelogue, beckoning the reader to distant exotic lands. But the one that every household is supposed to have, is the big, basic cookbook. The one that has a general range and, more importantly, general instructions on cooking technique and everything that has to do with a kitchen, without assuming that the reader has learned everything at her grandmother's knee (especially the readers that are not a 'her'). This latter type includes classics like The Joy of Cooking and the Betty Crocker's Cookbook. And Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (HTCE): Simple Recipes for Great Food.

Mark Bittman opens the book with a general statement of philosophy which identifies his audience. In this case, his audience are precisely those who are starting from nothing, new households of people who did not grow up learning from their mothers and grandmothers on how to cook. Second, it is aimed at those who desire to cook, not necessarily gourmet, but food that is good, and not complicated. And because his readers are assumed to be starting from no base, Bittman takes on the role of teacher, not just a publisher. And as a professor (lit. one who professes) he has opinions that he shares, based on his philosophy that cooking can be done, and there is no value in making things harder, more complicated, more fancy, then necessary. The assumption is that people who want something like this, will also know how to find it elsewhere. The first section is basically a tour through the kitchen, equipment, basic ingredients, and basic techniques. All this with advice on what was necessary, and what was optional. No doubt there is room for disagreement. But for someone starting from nothing, the opinions given are useful. And once people learn more and gain more skills, they can form their own opinions starting from what he gives.

So, how are the recipes? There are many cookbooks that I avoid because their too complicated, many due to the shear number of ingredients required. HTCE does not have this problem. It does not go as far as a 5 ingredient list, but the ingredients are constrained to a number that someone without a full spice rack could conceivably have. Throughout the book, there are tips on how to work with various ingredients. In addition, there would be a small essay for major meat and vegetables.

So far, I've probably done a couple dozen recipes over the past couple years. Some for myself, some just me and my fiancee, some for a group. I have found the recipes to be complex enough to be interesting and worthy of something nice, but easy enough so I can gauge difficulty and effort from reading alone, (I only have limited background in cooking). In contrast, I find most cookbooks on the market to be way to simple (and just a list of recipes) or overly complicated and impractical (especially for someone who lives alone and would end up throwing out most of the purchased ingredients as they spoiled.)

I think HTCE a very good baseline cookbook. For the starter, Bittman teaches without intimidation, the recipes are complex enough to impress (if that is the goal), but basic enough to be achievable. The advice and options given are enough that the reader can understand how to adapt and experiment, and thus learn how to cook to a level that should satisfy anyone, and a jumping off point to learn in the future.
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
November 30, 2016
I absolutely love this book. It's never let me down. We keep it on our kitchen cookbook shelf and that's where it's staying! Highly recommend, especially for the younger ones just starting out...
Profile Image for Leslie.
34 reviews8 followers
July 10, 2007
I first saw this cookbook in the kitchen of one of my favorite families, the Gambells, in New Haven, and the pages were falling out of the binding from extensive use - a pretty good recommendation. The reviews that say, "hm, these recipes are simple... almost minimalist" are funny... what did they expect from the author of "The Minimalist" column in the New York Times? Many friends of mine have complained about this, that the book doesn't go far enough beyond three-ingredient recipes. But from my time as a kid in my parents' house forward, I've always had some kind of super-basics cookbook in my kitchen, and although the copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I inherited from them has an awesome 70's kitsch factor (bound as loose leaves in a red-and-white checked ring-binder and full of recipes for cocktail wieners and jello-mix cake), I had to get updated at some point. So I asked for this one for Christmas, and was not sorry. Not only was the book useful, but it inspired my mom to get me another giant cookbook of the same color and shape ( The Gourmet Cookbook: More Than 1000 Recipes). Bittman does have a few problems - his prose can get repetitive (by the end of the book, you feel like he's declared everything from fish heads to green tomatoes to be "a revelation"). And as some have said, he does lead you astray once in awhile with slightly off proportions, and encourages overdoses of butter regularly, but if you love butter like I do, you'll forgive him.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
46 reviews26 followers
October 31, 2009
When I got this book, it was being billed as the new Joy of Cooking (maybe it still is), a basic cookbook that covers everything from how to cook to what to cook. And, for the most part, it is. The directions are simple, Bittman clearly explains everything from the type of pots and pans you should have to the basics of cooking meat. At the same time, I find that I rarely use this book, unless I'm looking for a simple recipe for vegetables or salad dressing or something else that is to serve as a complement to the main course I'm making. There's a fine line between simple and bland and unfortunately, Bittman seems to have crossed over to bland for many recipes. The recipes I've tried all turn out just fine, but they're usually in need of much more flavor. I find it's best to use these recipes as a base and then to add to it, according to your taste.
That said, I wouldn't want to do without this book. It's handy to have in the kitchen since it truly does seem to have a recipe for anything I've needed. Except tea sandwiches...
Profile Image for Jonathan Peto.
252 reviews46 followers
April 2, 2013
I've had this for a few years (Thanks Santa) and have done more reading than cooking, my fault, probably a crime. I've renamed it How to Cook Nothing, but now that my wife is returning to work soon I'll be trying out many more recipes. I expect success. I already know the little food essays that dot the pages and open the chapters are excellent, because the writing is clear, learned, and vivid. Like familiar ingredients that combine to create something scrumptious or surprising, the simple chapter titles, such as "Eggs, Breakfast and Dairy" and "Beans", suggest the possibilities without really revealing the full experience, which includes linking arms with ageless tradition, rebelling against our processed foods culture, and demonstrating love for others in a practical, daily ritual. I want to keep writing but the kids are hungry and I have to cook. Grill cheese sandwiches, page 166. Wish me luck.
Profile Image for Steven Peterson.
Author 21 books269 followers
August 25, 2009
On page xi, Mark Bittman lays things out: "Anyone can cook, and most everyone should. It's a sorry sign that many people consider cooking 'from scratch' an unusual and even rare talent. In fact, cooking is a simple and rewarding craft, one that anyone can learn and even succeed at from the get-go."

There are the usual features in this cookbook (and welcome for all that): ingredients that ought to be in your kitchen (page xiii),equipment, techniques (such as grilling, broiling, roasting, sauteing, etc.).

Then, to the recipes. . . . The first section here focuses (as one might guess) on appetizers. One of these is stuffed mushrooms, which provides a recipe close to that of my wife's family. I can say that the end result is delicious (the key: making sure that it does not get too dry when being cooked). Next, soups. The section starts out nicely with a description of how to make stock. You use bouillon cubes? Bittman says (page 44): "As for bouillon cubes, forget it. You're better off with water and a few extra vegetables." Late on, he addresses meats.

He begins by nicely identifying where the different cuts of beef and pork are, and the characteristics of each (with beef, from chuck to round, from brisket to loin). The recipes for beef are straightforward. This is not Emeril Lagasse or Martha Stewart (each of whom plays a useful role in providing information on cooking). The recipes are "everyday" stuff. For example, his "Grilled steak, American-style" could not be easier to make. Pork chops? On page 457 and after, he describes how to sautee pork chops eight different ways. With apples or with sherry and garlic or with dried fruit or. . . . He discusses stir frying and how to make it work.

Vegetables? He describes the different ways of cooking them and then provides recipes. I have come to really enjoy veggies, after spending my first two decades resisting eating them. There are a series of nice recipes for, to illustrate, asparagus, which is one of my favorites.

All in all, then, a nice cookbook for people who want to cook for themselves and may not be interested in more complicated recipes and cooking.
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,861 reviews192 followers
November 17, 2018
The title is no hyperbole: author and cooking expert Mark Bittman has included 2,000 recipes covering everything you would ever possibly want to cook, from the mundane to the exotic. Whether it’s everyday coleslaw, deviled eggs, fritters, chocolate cake and roasted chicken to recipes or the more exotic recipes using plantains, lychees, fresh sardines, chickpea flour, chayote, miso, lemongrass, sweetbreads, daikon, queso fresco, jícama, persimmons, quince and more.

For the truly adventurous (not me), Bittman includes recipes for making your own ketchup, mayonnaise, grainy mustard, chapatis, flavored oils, vinegars, chili and curry powders, garam masala and chile pastes. Serious foodies can make their own pasta, ravioli, tortellini, gnocchi and other convenience food from scratch. And Bittman recreates a lot restaurant favorites, some accessible to novice cooks, others recommended only for the experienced. Newbies will benefit from Bittman’s step-by-step directions for all of the basics, while advanced cooks will find plenty to love, as well. Highly recommended for all cooks.
Profile Image for Mykle.
Author 13 books272 followers
March 24, 2008
This is an omnibus in the Joy of Cooking tradition; you'll notice it's the same size and thinckness as the Joy, sells for about as much, and is clearly targeted at the same market segment. Both books purport to briefly cover every kind of food that Americans used to cook, cook now or ought to cook.

However, while the sizes of the two books are the same, the type in Bittman's book is much larger. His recipies are actually quite good, but HTCE simply lacks the depth of the Joy ... and who needs two omnibuses? (Well, maybe we do; my wife prefers Bittman.)

In the place of three generations of Rombauers' experience, Bittman gives us a you-can-do-it boosterism and a careful accounting of the 'quickness' of various dishes for today's busy people. I'm sure this is great stuff for somebody, but I already know how to cook and I find the tone slightly condescending. And if I was in that kind of hurry, I'd eat out.

Apart from the type size, the other notable difference between these two books is the binding -- our copy of Bittman's book fell apart after a few years of kitchen use, while the Joy keeps on punching. Shame on Wiley for cutting corners -- a working cookbook needs a good binding.
Profile Image for Jude Watson.
70 reviews23 followers
February 9, 2017
This book has a purpose: to introduce home cooks to the most basic cooking techniques for a wide variety of ingredients through simple recipes. It accomplishes this goal handily. The cooking techniques in this book are well explained and largely foolproof, and give a great starting point for situations like the one I'm finding myself in today, a classic case of "WTF do I do with these sunchokes I impulse-bought at the farmer's market?!"

However, the recipes in this book are almost totally uninspiring to me as someone with above-average cooking skill and interest. In my kitchen, this book functions as a reference textbook. Let's stick with sunchokes as an example. Today, I looked them up in How to Cook Everything and, lo and behold, there's an entry for them. Bittman recommends scrubbing instead of peeling for better yield, and suggests sauteeing or braising as cooking techniques. Great info! However, the recipe suggested is simply sauteeing them with salt, pepper and garlic or onion. GOOD GOD SO BORING TASTEBUDS DYING. No interesting pairings with other ingredients, no suggestions for herbs/spices, basically just an explanation of how to sautee anything with "sunchoke" copy-pasted in to replace "[insert vegetable here]". Yikes.

So my next step is to go to the New York Times Cooking website or Epicurious and find a recipe that's actually inspiring. Today's winner is Sunchoke Soup with Pumpkin Seeds (thanks Epicurious!). Now there's a pairing I wouldn't necessarily of thought of myself - still a simple recipe, but with so much more interest! However, the soup recipe instructs me to peel the sunchokes, something that I now know that I can skip thanks to Bittman's instructions in HTCE.

This is the crux of HTCE's usefulness. Generally, the recipes are not so much recipes as basic cooking techniques. This is useful too! But it's not what inspires me to get my ass off the internet and turn on my stove. I think this book is a fantastic starting point for basic ingredient information, but for food that will actually move you, take the information Bittman offers and then apply it to recipes from other sources.
Profile Image for Arlette.
30 reviews9 followers
July 11, 2012
I can Thomas Keller the hell out when I feel like it, but when I'm trying to figure out what to do with a jar of egg whites, a pint of homemade mayo, some leeks and the whole fish I bought at the market on impulse; or when I'm brain-dead after work or in one of those odd depressive fits that occasionally move through my brainscape like a storm front, when just remembering to feed myself feels like a small victory; this reminds me how to turn stuff into food, reliably and with minimal fuss. Since I'm pretty experienced with cooking, I use it more as a reference for cooking times and techniques than anything else, but this book could take you from nuking dinner to dinner party over just a couple months. Now my cookbook collection has been streamlined down to this, a couple books on ethnic cuisines, a bunch of M.F.K. Fisher I keep around because I like the words more than the recipes, and some wonderfully, cantankerously aspirational/inspirational/biographical books like Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant.

Also, I sort of love the obstinate chapter on seafood, which basically says "No way am I giving you detailed instructions that vary according to fish species. This stuff is easy and you shouldn't be scared of it because really, fish is fish, and you're smart enough to figure out how to handle it, so stop freaking out."

I have the iPad app, not the regular book, but the contents are the same, with plenty of great perks. It has a built-in timer I never use! And a shopping list function I don't bother with! And you can fave stuff! Even though they're great features, I like my old stove timer and scraps of paper with illegible scrawls on them. I do love having it for the iPad, though: It lies flat, it's searchable and If I get food all over it, I can wipe it down with a damp cloth.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
688 reviews71 followers
November 27, 2011
I am a person who gives books as presents. It's fortunate that my son loves reading as much as everyone else in my family because he's gotten many books as presents over the years. When he was here to see me this summer he expressed an interest in some cookbooks. He's living in a dorm that is set up like an apartment so cooking is a new necessity. I gave me the copy of The Joy of Cooking that my father gave me (this was probably the second or third copy - for awhile there I tended to walk away from various kinds of things, books included). For his birthday, I got him a copy of How to Cook Everything - 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. I got myself a copy, too, since I'd heard a lot about it, but hadn't had it. Other than Joy of Cooking my family's idea of basic cookbooks was La Gastronomique and The Art of French Cooking - both wonderful and basic in their own ways, but not basic in their recipe writing.

This is a really cool cookbook. I've been working my way through it while watching junk television this Thanksgiving weekend and I'm really impressed with how it puts everything together because, honestly, if you know the cooking techniques and you know the basics of sauces, you can make anything. Cooking is full of endless variations and I really like how he explicates this.
Profile Image for Jean.
76 reviews
January 20, 2009
Simple breakdowns of classics with very interesting twists. We did the "Adult's Birthday Dinner." Here's the breakdown of the recipes I've eaten and the cookbook club cooks who cooked them.

Molly - Spicy Lentil Soup: Definitely one to recreate on a chilly Sunday. I love hearty vegetarian fare.

Molly - Sicilian Onion Pizza: Great crust, better than I expected toppings Surprisingly mellow considering the volume of onions involved.

Sheela - Catfish with Brown Butter: (was supposed to be Skate but Skate was not to be found in MN in February). Still a super delightful white fish main.

Gretchen - Duxelles: I need to keep this in my fridge as a mushroom-lovers condiment extraordinaire.

Me - Key Lime Pie: It was strange to put a merengue on a key lime pie rather than cream but it was a lovely dramatic finish. You really can't go wrong with lime desserts. Ever.
Profile Image for Joey Comeau.
Author 53 books639 followers
February 18, 2012
This book is exactly what it promises! It's a huge block of a book, and walks you through the very basics of almost everything. Which is exactly what I needed.

I've eaten out almost every single meal since 2006 or so, and this book made a daunting task seem manageable. Not only was I starting to cook again, but I also had to buy dishes, pots, measuring cups. This book was very clear about what a person needed and what they could do without at first.

There is also the "How to cook everything vegetarian" book, which I may have to pick up, as I've recently gone vegetarian. But this book has hundreds and hundreds of vegetarian recipes, so there's no rush.

Well worth the money I think!
Profile Image for Katelyn Jenkins.
204 reviews6 followers
October 1, 2018
Great book for beginners to intermediate chefs. It is an essential guide to working a kitchen, grill, wok, stove, rotisserie, dutch oven, an oven, you name it! Leads you through all the ingredients you can imagine and what you should imagine as kitchen staples.
A must have, read, keep and pass on. :)
Profile Image for Chase DuBois.
28 reviews43 followers
September 4, 2013
When you don't know how to cook, you are especially dependent on recipes, and many recipes are intimidating/daunting because they're complex --they have many ingredients and/or many steps. Because you're a newbie, you don't know which ingredients are crucial, which means you may think you have to go to the store when you didn't really need to, which means you may abandon cooking for the night when you didn't really need to.

Bittman's column in the New York Times is called "The Minimalist," and it's an apt moniker; his versions of recipes are invariably the simplest, and they often do the best job of letting good ingredients (if you have them) shine. In this book, most sections and groups of recipes are prefaced with what a basic chef would need to know but might not know if all they had was a recipe: how to cut a certain kind of meat, or how different kinds of heat work differently.

And if you want fancy versions of recipes, those are here too, but they're listed as variations below the minimal base recipe; he'll typically say something like "try it with ingredient X instead of Y." I found this enormously helpful because it makes me think more like a chef working with flavor combinations instead of a culinary technician slavishly adhering to procedure. This also reduces the likelihood that I'll feel the need for a special trip to the store for an ingredient, which makes me more likely to fire up my stove.
Profile Image for Kristie.
832 reviews361 followers
October 18, 2013
This is a great cookbook for anyone that is just starting out. The recipes are fairly simple and use ingredients that are generally readily available. There are many explanations as to how to do things - eg. how to shape a pizza or fillet a fish. Many of these explanations are not necessary, since you will probably buy your fish already filleted, etc. However, it is good to have instructions available for anyone that wants to try something new. For the most part, I thought the recipes were foods that people would actually eat. They are not super fancy or overly difficult with ingredients that you've never heard of. This makes the cookbook much more useful. Also, there are variations of the recipes included. So, if you want to make a version that is slightly different from the original, there are suggestions for that.

Overall, I thought this cookbook was great for anyone just starting out and would make a great gift for someone that is just moving out on their own or just learning to cook.

Profile Image for Cynthia.
41 reviews1 follower
December 5, 2012
Mark Bittman's are the first and only cookbooks I have had where I felt like I was learning how to cook and not just follow a recipe. I love how he gives the basic recipe and then variations, e.g. here's chicken soup, now change a couple of ingredients and it's Asian chicken soup, or substitute this for that and it's Mexican chicken soup. So you start to understand what the fundamental elements of a dish are, and what can you play with. As someone who needs structure and is somewhat fearful of experimentation in the kitchen, that understanding helped my confidence. And I love that the recipes are simple. He doesn't overwhelm you with a long ingredients list, and he doesn't need to. You can make something delicious with five ingredients.
Profile Image for Amanda.
65 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2007
This book was useful back when I really didn't know how to cook anything. I bought it based on the recipe for alfredo sauce.

Now that I know how to cook (and enjoy food), I've upgraded to the Best Recipes books and find myself being offended by what Mark Bittman thinks of some of my favorite foods. (Pasta and cheese don't go together? Muffins shouldn't be sweet? Brownies shouldn't be too fudgey?)

I donated this one to the library after 8 years of oftentimes frustrating reference.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
17 reviews4 followers
July 16, 2008
Best all around cookbook ever! This is my go to book when I need information and a recipe for a new ingredient, or a recipe for an old classic, or to find something to make with what I have on hand. This would be the perfect gift for someone just setting up their own place. Bittman's clear, concise writing and simple approach to good food make it easy for the novice cook to read and use.
Profile Image for Jennifer Kim.
Author 3 books6 followers
March 18, 2011
Before I had kids, I used to say - if it takes me more than 10 minutes to make, it's not worth it. Also, I was so horrible and clueless about cooking (baking and anything else to do with food included) that when my husband ran to the kitchen because the cookies were burning, I calmly told him - "it's OK. Don't worry. Just flip them over!" I was completely ignorant about how cookies baked in the oven. And making a garden salad brought me to tears. This was my baseline.

Now, after two kids and seeing what horrible choices kids had when we ate out (it really didn't matter which restaurant and of course, we didn't have to order it from the kids menu, but why should it be that way?), I decided that I must learn to cook for our kids sake (my husband jokes that my love for him didn't induce me to cook, but my love my kids did. To that which I've answered, you can cook something for yourself. They can't). I was trying to stick to my old 10 minute rule, but with two young kids, it might take me 10 minutes to take the eggs out from the refrigerator let alone crack it and beat it. So, when I came across this book, I was intrigued by the title. How to cook EVERYTHING?

Well, even though I've bought about a dozen of cookbooks in the last ten years or so(remember, I don't like cooking), this is the cookbook I keep going back to. It's got great recipes for pancakes and waffles (no more mixes for us) as well as all kinds of soups. I also need to venture out more. This cookbook has whole menus for special days. I started photocopying my favorite recipes from other books and pasting it on to this book (because I might get rid of all the others, but I KNOW this is the one I'm going to keep). So, as a person who really doesn't like cooking and who is easily intimidated by cooking (I'm still very intimidated by yeast. I love baking breads, but all un-yeasted breads. For some reason, yeast, water temp, rising, etc. really intimidate the fledgeling cook within me), I love this book because it makes me feel like I can cook.
Profile Image for Dianna.
307 reviews20 followers
December 28, 2008
Truly simple recipes. Julia turned me on to this guy, and this book is full of the kind of recipes you can read once and remember without having to keep referring back. I have a shelf full of cookbooks (really the only type of book I still buy), but in two weeks I've cooked more things out of this one book than all the rest combined.

I cooked brussel sprouts for the first time in my life: loved them! Bittman suggests that brussel sprouts were made for bacon... I have to agree. He gives a chart (a chart! be still my beating heart!) to show how simple and good the right 2-3 ingredient gratin can be with each type of veggie. My favorite cheese (gruyere) was paired with green beans and breadcrumbs... the result: mmmm.....

I may have to buy this giant behemoth of a book.
Profile Image for carissa.
29 reviews
September 13, 2010
this is my cookbook. as in, i only have one, and this is it. after cooking for several years, i know that there are other more exciting, more avant-garde, more skilled cooks, but it was MB who really taught me what i know about preparing delicious food every day.
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,388 reviews1,055 followers
March 29, 2015
There is about everything under the sun in this book. It's thick and filled with a wide variety of foods and their offspring in almost every category. Some of it is a bit fancy and complicated but if it were all kept super-simple, it'd become super-boring pretty quickly.
Profile Image for lisa jung.
3,986 reviews37 followers
January 1, 2019
I actually bought the hard back copy of this and used it many times.
Profile Image for Alice.
7 reviews
June 6, 2021
this book is a scam 😡😡😡
after reading this i Still cannot cook everything.
don't trust the title 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡
the recipes are not simple at all 😡😡
Gordon Ramsey would not approve 😡😡😡😡😡
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45 reviews2 followers
October 6, 2011
This book is amazing. I borrowed it from the library, and after having it in my home for less than a week I decided we needed to own it.

Nearly everything I can think of to cook I can find here. Everything. And every recipe is simple and teaches basic concepts of cooking and variations that you can take and run with. Some of my favorites so far are fried rice with pork and shrimp, biscuits made with yogurt (better than our old family recipe), gazpacho and olive oil salt bread (so fast!). He does have a conspicuous lack of good Mexican recipes (the fajita recipe is just plain wrong!), but he more than makes up for it in a bounty of great Asian and Mediterranean recipes, breads, bean and salad recipes. He even tells you how to cook a duck simply!

When I got married 12 years ago, my husband brought "The Joy of Cooking" to the marriage and referred to it often. We recently got rid of that book because everything in it was so stuffy and complicated, so useless for a busy family. This book provides what we hoped "The Joy of Cooking" would provide us, showing us how joyful cooking can be when you keep it simple.

I think his mantra he writes about in the NY Times and elsewhere—the idea that our culture has gotten away from cooking simply because we complicate it—is spot on. In this book he practices what he preaches, giving every person the know-how to make pretty much everything they can think of, simply.

My favorite quotes from the introduction:

"Everyday cooking is not about striving for brilliance but about preparing good, wholesome, tasty, varied meals for the ones you love. This is a fundamentally satisfying pleasure. Your results need not be perfect to give you this gift, to which all humans are entitled."

"Convenience foods supposedly attest to how busy we are: 'I don't have time to cook.' My job, my quest, is to demonstrate the opposite: that you DO have time to cook and that the rewards are so great that you'll never regret the time spent doing it. Though we may gain marginal amounts of time by buying and eating prepared and take-out foods, we lose the delights of working in the kitchen, the wonders of creating, the pleasures of time spent in the honest pursuit of tradition and the nourishment of our bodies and those of our family."

Well done, Mr. Bittman. Here's to hoping your book will change our world.
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