Book Jacket - Mark Bittman’s How to Cook EverythingReview by Bridget O’Donnell

What’s Cooking highlights Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Written to be as much “reference as recipe collection”[1] this series can be fun and accessible for any skill-level or food lover. Flip through chapters of recipes systematically organized to progress from the easiest and most fundamental cooking skills to the most challenging.[2] Expect “cross-references to information…that’s relevant to what you’re cooking.” Browse best-practices for cooking with select ingredients and get inspiration from variations on “Master” recipes in every chapter.[3] Like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” (aka “Secret Path”) book customize every meal by personalizing dishes to suit your creativity, schedule and the amount of energy you have. Following Bittman’s instruction accommodate any dietary restriction, preference or seasonal ingredient by learning (or relearning) techniques that allow you to cook with flexibility.

Photo of Minestrone soupMartha Farrell modified Bittman’s basic Minestrone recipe. Her review, and very practical variation, was so convincing I checked out the Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition (2019) and defrosted a container of vegetable scrap broth. With our busy schedules we like to make a pot of homemade soup every 2-3 weeks, it saves time and compliments any size appetite, bowl, (cup) or spoon. In addition to a grocery list of benefits, it can also be substantial enough as a stand-alone meal or accompanied by – anything. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the recipes Bittman considers “F” so if you have limited time and don’t need a pot of soup – yesterday(!! like we did), consider following the M-variation (found on page 147).

“F-fast, M-made ahead, either in full or to a certain point and stored for finishing or serving later, and V-vegetarian, (no meat/chicken/fish – though there may be some variations that add non-vegetarian ingredients).”[4]

Borrowing ingredients and techniques from a few of the suggested variations I added sausage and gluten free chickpea noodles. The noodles almost completely dissolved but (I convinced myself it added additional protein and) didn’t affect the texture too much. Next time I’ll try to remember to cook/store the noodles separately then add them to individual bowls before serving. And finally, a small piece of Parmesan rind was also lost in the pot; someone definitely ate it but we’re both feeling okay, in case you were wondering.

Thank you for your submission Martha!

Review submitted by Martha Farrell:

What prompted you to check out this cookbook?
I was looking for a basic cookbook and I knew this was well regarded

What did you like about this cookbook?
It has attractive photos but the photos aren’t the main focus of the book as they are in some cookbooks. The recipes are easy to follow and straight forward. Most of the recipes are things that I would consider making.

Favorite recipe (that you tried from the cookbook):

Did you alter the recipe or make any substitutions? If so, what were they?
I followed the basic recipe exactly but also followed the “Variations” suggestions and added small pasta. I used very small pesto stuffed tortellini

Would you recommend this cookbook?