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08.14.2000

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copyright ©1999-2000
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cookbook corner: 
How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman
hardcover, 832 pages, list price: $29.99
Every kitchen needs a good basic cookbook, and in mine, itís Mark Bittmanís How to Cook Everything. In the grand tradition of such American cookbook classics as The Joy of Cooking, this behemoth of a big yellow book is intended as an all-purpose, all-encompassing cookbook thatís as useful to the kitchen novice as it is to the seasoned home chef. With recipes ranging from the quotidian (basic tomato sauce, grilled chicken, minestrone soup) to the more exotic ( Pad Thai, Hanoi Noodle Soup, Sushi, Shrimp with Cumin and Mint), this is the perfect foundation cookbook for those of us whose culinary tastes extend beyond the classic American home-cooked staples of spaghetti with meatballs and macaroni and cheese.  The ethnic food recipes have, for the most part, been pared down from their more complex, authentic incarnations, in such a way that the primary flavors of the original dish have been captured, using only ingredients that can be commonly found in any supermarket.  Purists might sniff their noses, but these are practical recipes that will let you produce good food, and quickly. With its handy glossary, illustrated technique how-toís, and instructions for such simple tasks as making a hard-boiled egg, cooking rice, and baking a potato, this book is also the place to go for any of those rudimentary cooking questions that youíve been too embarrassed to ask. Comprehensiveness | 
Ĺ/5 This sucker boasts over 1500 recipes, ranging from good olí 50s Mom foods to easy Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Mexican-inspired fare. That sound comprehensive enough to you? 

Ease-of-use |  
/5 

Amazingly easy-to-follow recipes, and sensibly organized by meal and primary ingredient. The veggie section is particularly fabulous, as it offers handy buying, storing, and preparation tips.

Tastiness | /5 
These recipes arenít particularly fancy or inspired, but they do produce reliably good, everyday food.

Pretty factor | /5
Itís not ugly so much as utilitarian.  You wonít find glossy four-color close-ups of architecturally-sculpted food, but the layout is clean and spare, and the pencil-sketch step-by-step how-to diagrams are a nice touch. One annoying thing: cheap binding means that the book WILL fall apart on you.

 

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