The Only Cookbook You Will Ever Need
September 16, 2010
OK, that's a bit of an overstatement. You can never have too many cookbooks. I like to cook, mainly because I love to eat well. My kitchen contains a sprawling array of cookbooks. However, most of my cookbooks are quite dusty now.
This cookbook is not one of those cookbooks full of beautiful, color photos of nouvelle cuisine that you'll never actually cook for yourself. This cookbook is not one of those cookbooks written by a celebrity chef from Food Network.
Bittman is not a chef. He is a journalist turned food writer, and his recipes reflect his experiences as a home cook (albeit one who has cooked with some of the world's most famous chefs). Bittman also champions the idea of “lessmeatarianism” as a way to eat with your health and the environment in mind, while still enjoying satisfying meals.
This book is what it says it is: simple recipes for cooking simple but great dishes based on just about any common ingredient. The book starts with a chapter on kitchen basics (equipment and techniques) and then moves on to the recipes. Each section covers the basics (how to make “the Best Scrambled Eggs”) and then moves on to recipes with the featured ingredient (omelets, soufflés, frittatas, and quiches). None of the recipes are overly complex or "fancy". This is simple, home-style food for real people. Most of the recipes take less than an hour, so we can’t use the excuse that we don’t have the time to cook.
I now buy (and grow) things I never would have considered before, just so I can try out the recipes in this book. I'm currently growing mustard greens, turnip greens, and kohlrabi just for this reason. I may even revisit my least favorite vegetable after reading his recipe for Beet Rösti with Rosemary. And I’m just dying to get my hands on a fresh (not frozen) duck so I can try out Steamed and Roasted Duck.
For more materials by Mark Bittman at Mid-Continent Public Library, click here.