When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
- I never liked to cook, but Mark Bittman is “How to cook everything“is changing that.
- It is designed for new cooks and develops skills that make cooking fun rather than boring.
- You can find delicious recipes, advanced variations, and an ingredient index in your fridge.
When I think of cooking, I think of endless boredom. To me, it’s a purgatory of hashing, re-reading instructions, and googling “what’s a big boil?” while the world moves elsewhere.
But, as someone who loves delicious food, it’s in my best interests to learn how to prepare it (especially since cooking is cheaper than taking out). In addition, as I have often heard, cooking is a source of joy and creativity in everyday life for many people.
So I ordered the one from food journalist Mark Bittman “How to cook everything“- the bible of cooking for beginners. And although I’m not an avid chef, I’m happy to report that I’m closer to being knowledgeable. More importantly, I actually am. enjoy cook for the first time.
The book (in its third adaptation) is light, practical and ingeniously organized to allow spontaneity. As Bittman writes, flexibility – what makes us love or hate cooking – is “the most important aspect” of his culinary philosophy. He designed the cookbook to be “as much a reference as a collection of recipes”, and I highly recommend it.
Here’s why Mark Bittman’s Cookbook is great for anyone who wants to hate cooking less:
1. It starts with simple recipes before moving on to more advanced meals that build on those skills.
Each chapter begins with simple recipes that teach you an essential skill, such as poaching chicken or sautéing a vegetable, followed by recipes that build on this new knowledge. It’s a low barrier to entry, and if you read sequentially, you’ll develop the confidence and experience to cook more freely.
2. This is a comprehensive resource, including graphics, categories, and more.
As a millennial, I used to google all my questions, but underestimated how enjoyable a definitive offline resource is, especially from someone you have. trust.
“How to cook everything“contains visual instructions on tasks such as chopping, a conversion chart for measurements and even a simple chart for assembling sushi bowls. The book is usually detailed enough without you having to rely on any secondary resources.
3. You can go as little or as deep as you want in learning.
You can read this book like an instruction book or go for a three step pasta recipe on a Wednesday night. Your conversational introduction to electric mixers is on page 12; your simple waffle recipe on 742.
4. Bittman includes practical advice on how to thought about cooking rather than just recipes.
It drops general tips and advice throughout the book that make cooking more convenient and flexible. For example, how to reuse leftovers – including using extra space in the oven while you’re making dinner to also cook whatever is left in the fridge, or, if in doubt, adding leftovers to eggs because ” leftovers quickly come to life in the frittatas. “
5. You can cook by dish – or by leftover ingredients.
The index is one of the best parts of the book. It includes ingredients as well as dishes, so you can flip and search based on what you have in the fridge – like feta cheese – as easily as you can search for fajitas. It’s an ingenious way to emulate the freedom you would have if you had Mark Bittman’s dining experience.
6. All instructions and advice are accessible and complete.
Bittman doesn’t consider any detail too trivial and tackles topics such as organic and unpretentious seafood sustainability, focusing on a practical hierarchy of how to consider these items based on your budget, location. and your needs.
The bottom line
As an inexperienced cook (and target demographic for this book), this is the cookbook to buy for true beginners. It’s conversational, inventive, and perfectly free from snobbery. You can access the freedom and flexibility that turns cooking from a chore into, dare I say it, an engaging activity.
Bittman’s “How to cook everything“is a gift for people who don’t like to cook and would like to love it. I cannot recommend it highly enough.