How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Mark Bittman, Author, Alan Witschonke, Illustrator
Mark Bittman, Author, Alan Witschonke, Illustrator John Wiley & Sons $35 (960p) ISBN 978-0-02-861010-8
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 08/01/1998
There's a millennial ring to the title of Bittman's massive opus of more than 1000 basic recipes and variations as the widely known food writer (""The Minimalist"" is a weekly column in the New York Times) and author (Fish) contributes to the list of recently published authoritative, encyclopedic cookbooks. He concedes that most accomplished cooks will find little new here, and indeed the recipes can be as simple as how to pop corn. His voice is a comfortable one, however, so the tone is less tutorial than, say, that of the newly revised Joy of Cooking. While much of the ground covered is familiar, Bittman offers inventive fare (Kale Soup with Soy and Lime) and reclaims formerly abandoned territory--his Creamy Vinaigrette calls for heavy cream. Pastas range from Spaghetti and Meatballs to Pad Thai. Similarly, sandwiches include both old favorites and fresh combinations, e.g., Curried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich with Chutney and Arugula. Bittman's friends, he says, praise his Chicken Adobo as the best chicken dish in the world. He doesn't linger too long with beef because Americans are eating less of it; he remarks that a well-done hamburger is not worth eating. Vegetables are comprehensively addressed from Artichokes to Yuca, with attention paid to buying, storing and cooking methods well suited to each. Desserts are mostly homey, like Apple Brown Betty and Peaches with Fresh Blueberry Sauce, but there is also a Death-by-Chocolate Torte. The enormous breadth of recipes, the unusually modest price and Bittman's engaging, straightforward prose will appeal to many cooks looking for reliable help with--or reference to--kitchen fundamentals. Illustrations not seen by PW. 250,000 first printing; $250,000 ad/promo; simultaneous CD-ROM; 15-city author tour. (Sept.)
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