I checked Mark Bittman’s new book, How to Cook Everything: the Basics, out of the library to see if it would make a suitable gift for a recent college graduate. I was so impressed with this cookbook that I bought two copies: one for the graduate and one for me.
How to Cook Everything offers novice cooks basic techniques to make them feel more comfortable in the kitchen and increase their odds of success. The book is filled with over 1,000 great photographs. Bittman uses some of these photographs to illustrate proper cooking techniques. For example, the five photos on page 51 show the difference a minute makes when boiling eggs. All of the recipes have at least one large photo of the completed recipe and many have several smaller photos of the dish in various stages of preparation.
But this book is not just for beginners. I consider myself a fairly accomplished cook and I loved this book. The gorgeous photos and tips that accompany each recipe led me to read this book straight through like a novel. But I also plan to make many of the recipes starting with the recipe for no-knead crusty bread on pg. 408. Bittman gives variations on many of his recipes so you can substitute ingredients to suit your taste. For example, the stir-fried shrimp with celery on page 364 lists seven other vegetables that can be used instead of celery in the recipe.
Mark Bittman states that the goal of this book is “to make the case for the numerous and wonderful benefits of cooking” and to help both novices and experienced cooks enjoy their time in the kitchen. Check How to Cook Everything out of the library and let me know if you think Bittman succeeded.