How to Cook Everything The Basics All You Need to Make Great Food -- With 1,000 Photos

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The next best thing to having Mark Bittman in the kitchen with you Mark Bittman's highly acclaimed, bestselling book How to Cook Everything is an indispensable guide for any modern cook. With How to Cook Everything The Basics he reveals ...
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The next best thing to having Mark Bittman in the kitchen with you

Mark Bittman's highly acclaimed, bestselling book How to Cook Everything is an indispensable guide for any modern cook. With How to Cook Everything The Basics he reveals how truly easy it is to learn fundamental techniques and recipes. From dicing vegetables and roasting meat, to cooking building-block meals that include salads, soups, poultry, meats, fish, sides, and desserts, Bittman explains what every home cook, particularly novices, should know.

1,000 beautiful and instructive photographs throughout the book reveal key preparation details that make every dish inviting and accessible. With clear and straightforward directions, Bittman's practical tips and variation ideas, and visual cues that accompany each of the 185 recipes, cooking with How to Cook Everything The Basics is like having Bittman in the kitchen with you.

  • This is the essential teaching cookbook, with 1,000 photos illustrating every technique and recipe; the result is a comprehensive reference that’s both visually stunning and utterly practical.
  • Special Basics features scattered throughout simplify broad subjects with sections like “Think of Vegetables in Groups,” “How to Cook Any Grain,” and “5 Rules for Buying and Storing Seafood.”
  • 600 demonstration photos each build on a step from the recipe to teach a core lesson, like “Cracking an Egg,” “Using Pasta Water,” “Recognizing Doneness,” and “Crimping the Pie Shut.”
  • Detailed notes appear in blue type near selected images. Here Mark highlights what to look for during a particular step and offers handy advice and other helpful asides.
  • Tips and variations let cooks hone their skills and be creative.



Product Details

Hardcover: 496 pages

     
     
     

    Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com Review


    In How to Cook Everything The Basics, best-selling author Mark Bittman offers another essential collection of delicious recipes, from fried egg to steamed mussels. With clear and straightforward directions, practical tips and variation ideas, and helpful photos for each of the recipes, Bittman breaks down the basics to help all home cooks.

    Recipe Excerpts from How to Cook Everything The Basics




    Q&A with Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything The Basics


    Mark Bittman, Author
    It’s been ten years since How to Cook Everything came out. How has your approach to thinking about food and writing cookbooks changed since then?
    It's actually been almost 14 years since the first edition, which I can hardly believe myself. For me, there's a big difference between how I think about "food" and how I approach writing cookbooks. In fact, the way I write cookbooks has barely changed: I try to write simple, straightforward recipes that encourage people to cook rather than wow or intimidate them. These are cookbooks for people who cook or want to learn how to cook. In terms of thinking about food, see the next question.

    This year, you ended your "Minimalist" column for The New York Times and became a regular op-ed writer. Would you say that The Basics reflects this big change in your career, and how you can present your ideas?
    It's a huge change but I haven't left much behind; I'm still writing about cooking not only for the Times but for others. The Opinion writing gives me a chance to say what I think not only about cooking but about food, about eating. And what I think is that although cooking goes a long way to helping us eat better, there are many, many issues that cooking can't address, important issues to anyone who eats--which is everyone.

    It seems like a lot of cookbooks are more about lifestyle and the latest trends in restaurant food. Do you think that The Basics is almost an anti-trend cookbook?
    No. I think that the books about lifestyle and trends in restaurant food are not cookbooks. The Basics, modesty aside, is the epitome of a cookbook: It's a book that teaches how to cook. It'll be trendy for some people and not for others, like everything else.

    When you were learning the basics of cooking yourself, what kinds of cookbooks did you use?
    The basic books of the '60s and '70s, which were those by Jim Beard; Julia Child; Paula Peck; Craig Claiborne; and a few others. And of course Joy of Cooking.

     

    Review

    'A gem for the inexperienced and experienced...this is a most useful book to add to any cookery shelf.' (Yorkshire Gazette & Herald, 30th May 2012)

     

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
    How to Cook Everything: The Basics is a "cookbook" designed to teach new cooks the fundamentals to ingredients, cookware, and food preparation. It is a variation on Mark Bittman's original classic How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food (which I'll refer to as HtCE). I have not read Bittman's 2003 book of the same name, How to Cook Everything: The Basics, but as far as I can tell, this book is not an update to that one (which received a lot of criticism for not being original enough from HtCE). The publication date is 2012, and there is no reference to the 2003 book in the publication notes. While this does use a lot of information from HtCE, it seems to be a completely separate book.

    CONTENT
    Although it is filled with recipes, The Basics is not really a cookbook. It is presented in a very straightforward way that is designed to not only give you starter recipes, but to provide recipes that teach the fundamentals of cooking. For a "basics" cookbook, one thing I look for is whether it truly is targeted to teaching the basics. When I was first learning to cook, I would be thoroughly confused every time a recipe called for "onion," and went to the story only to discover four different types of onions. And what does "salt to taste" mean? Fortunately, Bittman's book takes these things into account and is very good at not making assumptions on the cooking level of the reader. For example, when discussing olive oil, Bittman states "every time I refer to olive oil in this book, I mean extra virgin." These tips are placed in the beginning and scattered throughout the book and are just the types of explanations I think should accompany a cookbook on the basics. Where the original HtCE just gives a list of essential ingredients you should have, The Basics provides more guidance, with tips such as "buy unsalted butter," and "use firm tofu packed in water," instead of just telling you what ingredients to buy. It is ordered in the traditional Breakfast, appetizers, salads, soups, pasta, entree, etc. formula, but the recipes are also ordered by technique - designed to teach the fundamentals early in the book and progressing to more difficult skills by the end. You don't have to go in order however, and if there is a specific lesson you want to learn (eg, blanching), you can turn to the back and view a "Techniques" glossary which has a list of all the techniques presented in the book so you can go directly to what interests you. Each technique has a basic lesson, followed by several recipes that incorporate it and allow you to practice the technique. With most cookbooks you'll maybe see 2-3 recipes for every one picture. At over 1,000 photos and 185 recipes, you can see that in addition to the main dish, the recipes each have several smaller pictures showing different stages of the food production to give you a better idea of what you should be doing. The very first recipe is how to boil water, only it's not called that, it's a recipe for oatmeal. But the purpose is to show new cooks how water temperature affects food consistency and give them experience with the different levels of water heat.

    DIFFERENCES VERSUS ORIGINAL HtCE
    The original How to Cook Everything is the first cookbook I bought and one of the best primers for anyone interested in learning to cook. At over 1000 pages, it truly does tell you "how to cook everything," from slicing an onion to making your own sauces, to rolling sushi. It is one of the best "beginner" resources I have in my kitchen, but at times can be a bit overwhelming due to the amount of information. The Basics takes the same premise of HtCE, simplifies it a bit more, and adds pictures. There are some small noticeable differences in theory between the two books. HtCE has a list of 12 "Must-Have Kitchen Tools," 14 "Tools You'll Probably Want," and 8 "Nice-to-Have" tools. The Basics has a lit of 16 "Absolute-Minimum" tools, followed by 17 "Other Handy" tools. A salad spinner is on HtCE's "must-have" list, but on The Basics' "Other" list. Which of these lists is "correct?" It's hard to say. I definitely agree with HtCE that you must have a timer (even if it's your microwave). The Basics lists it as "other." How is a beginner cook going to learn without a timer? If you are trying to decide between which book to get, I would say that if you have absolutely no idea which end of a spatula is the business end, you should start with "The Basics." If you can cook a decent plate of eggs and know what a "simmer" looks like, you will get much more for your money with the Original "How to Cook Everything." The Basics won't have ten different way to make braised potatoes or a diagram showing you how to prepare lemongrass, but it will give you a recipe for mashed potatoes and show you a few different variations to it. HtCE is designed to give you as much information as possible about everything. The Basics is designed to give you as much information as needed to do everything right.

    RECIPES
    I have completely read through about half of the recipes in this book, and tested about two dozen of them. As mentioned, none of these recipes are going to be featured on your favorite cooking shows anytime soon. They use minimal common ingredients. You won't have to ask someone where the star anise is or worry about finding sherry vinegar in a store near you. The recipes are not bland, but they're not difficult or fancy either. Even though they're basic recipes, they seem very tasteful and I think they will appeal to a large audience. The "Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon" is only made up of olive oil, bacon, shallot/onion, spinach, vinegar, and mustard, yet it is a very respectable salad. You'd probably be disappointed in it if you ordered it at a restaurant, but served alongside a simple steak and potatoes meal it can go a long way to a nice dinner. I can easily see a beginning cook getting excited producing a lot of the foods in the book.

    CONCLUSION
    In additional to the original HtCE, the other "basic cooking" books I've read are Betty Crocker Cooking Basics: Recipes and Tips to Cook with Confidence (Betty Crocker Books)Cooking Basics For Dummies, and How to Boil Water. This book currently ranks well at the top of my list for complete beginners, with "How to Boil" coming in second. Unless you have been cooking for a year or two, I think "How to Cook Everything: The Basics" will be an invaluable resource for the new cook. It is very well put together with a lot of thought put into it. The full color photographs go a long way to expressing ideas in the book moreso than the drawings in the original version, and just about every major technique is covered. You won't be creating blue-cheese infused butter with it, but by the time you're done, you should have a very respectable grasp of making the perfect Sunday dinner to share with some family and friends.

    UPDATE April 2013: I've been using The Basics for a year now and I've now cooked about 75% of the recipes in the book. I still come back to it often and get tips from it. Definitely worth the price.
    8 Comments  Was this review helpful to you?  YesNo
    79 of 83 people found the following review helpfulBy Raele on March 22, 2012
    Format: Hardcover
    (This is both a review, and a response to a negative review preceding mine.)

    Mark Bittman is an excellent chef, who breaks things down, keeps it simple, and keeps me cooking. Whether or not he chooses to currently eat much meat does not impact his ability to instruct others in how to properly prepare it, after many years of having successfully done so himself. In fact, the meat prep techniques are flawlessly presented.
    To JimBob: We are not being invited to write a "character review". It is to be a COOKBOOK review.
    That means you would be expected to include things such as:

    Does the food TASTE good?
    Do the recipes WORK?
    Are there perhaps helpful ILLUSTRATIONS?
    Do the STEPS make sense?
    Is it easy to locate a particular RECIPE?
    Given the title, does it SIMPLIFY my cooking time?

    This books wins on all counts. While I will continue to use How To Cook Everything for less-often used recipes, this new volume will be my go-to guide most of the time. I plan to help my teen daughter expand her repertoire using this book, as the photos will simplify everything and keep her 21st century mind engaged. Perfect for teaching oneself or one's child. A remarkable and crystal clear tutorial, often featuring one full recipe per spread; how perfect and easy on the eyes! It ought to be a gift for every housewarming party or wedding shower. In fact, I used to use How To Cook Everything (the more extensive work), along with a hand sewn apron or oven mitts, for just that purpose. Now I will use this one. You will just want to eat The Basics cookbook up!

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