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Wednesday · June 29 2005

I have a new friend in the kitchen.

I read a recommendation of this book on Slate a few weeks ago and added it to my Amazon Wishlist. Kristin sent it to me for Father's Day, and I started cooking tastier, homemade food right away. The author's philosophy is that we've brought so much pre-prepared and preserved food into our kitchens in the name of convenience, yet making the same dish from fresh ingredients is often simpler than we think, similarly priced, and always tastier. Of course, the bonus is the look of amazement from your mom and wife when you make banana pancakes without store-bought mix.

In the last week, I've made:
* Banana Pancakes
* Herbed Pork Roast with Potatoes
* Breaded Chicken Tenders (a fraction of the salt and fat you'd get with frozen chicken fingers)
* Bread Pudding

The bread pudding I made last night came out 10 times better than I was expecting. It even looked like the real deal.

The best thing about this book is that it gives you a basic recipe for something, and then lists several variations. This not only keeps more recipes in play because you're not missing one or two ingredients, but teaches you how to improvise and mix it up, so that your boneless chicken breast isn't the same boneless chicken breast everytime. How to Cook Everything teaches staple American dishes and how to add variety with fresh, easy to find ingredients. It's the best cookbook I've found for the novice cook.

Archived: Eats » June 2005
What you had to say:
June 29 2005

that bread pudding looks awsome- and i don't even like bread pudding.

June 29 2005

I normally don't either when I've had it in restaurants. Don't even ask me why I decided to make it. However, you would like this stuff. It really was the tastiest thing I've ever made.

June 29 2005

Looks great! So do I have to become a mom to get one for mother's day? he he- maybe my bday will come alot sooner than me becoming a mom!

June 29 2005

This is one of my favorite cookbooks! The Shrimp "My Way" are amazing, both the way he prepares them and marinated and grilled. The lamb shank recipe with white beans is fool-proof (Jason, I think you might have had that at my house once), and there's a recipe called "salmon roasted in butter" that's not as heavy as it sounds.

A friend of mind (actually, an ex-girlfriend - how did I fuck this up???) is now a professional food writer and recipe developer in California, and says that most cookbooks never test their recipes (unlike newspaper and magazine recipes, which are carefully tested). Bittman, who's a writer for the New York Times, tests his recipes - so everything I've ever cooked from this book works great.

You might also like his cookbook called The Minimalist. Everything only has three or four ingredients.

June 29 2005

My copy of How To Cook Everything has a broken spine and is spattered with food--the ultimate sign of a heavily used cookbook.

Another Bittman book I recommend is Simple To Spectacular, cowritten with Jean-Georges Vongerichten. For each recipe, it presents four versions, starting from a straightforward weeknight meal and ending with a, well, spectacular version suitable for a very special occasion. You get Bittman's clear prose and the culinary refinement of Jean-Georges. It's a great way to gradually add a bit of haute to your cuisine.

© 2005 Jason Keglovitz