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Bittman's "The Best Recipes in the World"

So, I just got my 30% off Border's coupon and I'm thinking about getting this cookbook.

I used to have "How to Cook Everything" but wasn't inspired to cook out of it so much. However, since I have a love for "global" foods, I figured I might give this one a go.

For those of you who have cooked from this cookbook, what do you think about it?

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  1. I have the book and often use it. I particuly like the sauce and condiment section for fast idea to "perk-up " a meal. I will look at what i cooked from it and come back ...

    1. We have both and I am very enthusiastic about Best Recipes in the World. Bittman does a great job of translating international flavors and techniques to the timeframes, supplies and equipment of the ordinary American kitchen. We've made salmon croquettes (with curry, Japanese style), refried beans, palak paneer, kibbe and kabobs with very satisfactory results. How to Cook Everything is a good reference, but it was a less inspiring than BRitW.

      I'd say BRitW is a current favorite, but my alltime favorite, Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian is still #1. (I love how it's organized by ingredient, which matches my style "I have these red lentils, what can I make?")

      1. I'm enthusiastic about HTCE as a basics book. I got BRITW as a gift and I'm not that impressed so far. I hate to say it, but I think you can use your 30% off better on a more focused "global" book. I've only cooked a few things from it, but nothing knocked my socks off.
        I love the Bittman NYTimes column...o WELL!

        But pls post about anything you find that's great in it, if you get it!

        1. The response I posted here was TOTALLY in the wrong thread. Woops!

          2 Replies
          1. re: ArikaDawn

            Thank you so much!!!! As it turns out im also the lucky new owner of "how to cook everything"- so please keep the responses coming on both these books!!!

            1. re: gastronomy

              you might want to read old thread about HTCE - it's been mentioned QUITE alot the past few years

          2. I have this book also but it is one of my few books I regret buying. I think it is unimpressive and uninspiring.

            1. I have cooked quite a few things out of it, and I've had some really great successes. I'd definitely recommend it.

              1. I dfid the peanut sauce on page 586 , and it is now my peanut sauce. Very rich , and does not tate of melted peanut butter. I made it with the lemongrass first , but switched to lime zest and juice , because it is more practical.

                The avocado mayonnaise (p616) was fun also: a very smooth guacamole.

                The carrot , spinach and rice stew ( p107) was a waste of time.

                The pad thai (p536) was easy and very good.

                Singapore noodles (p538) also a winner for us.

                The aspargus salad with soy-mustard dressing (p190) was surprising , fresh , but would have been better with a better dry mustard than the one I had on hand.

                The Korean bean sprout salad will be one of my summer salad (p182) It is fresh , crunchy and cheap ! I would maybe had a bit of chili sauce , to make it a bit more livelly !

                The clafouti ( p621) is soo simple, and I've made it with pears , raspberry , plums... It is a nice recepie to have on hand !!!

                1. Did you ever buy this book? If so, what do you think about it. Thanks.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tinker

                    I just got the BRitW. and I started a thread about it bec I made the mussels and it wasn't great. I was wondering which recipes will be great?!?!? Also, should I invest in the other book, HTCE?

                    1. re: lilmomma

                      I like BRitW a lot. Its strong point is in the simplicity of the recipes--Bittman never met a short-cut he didn't like, and I respect him for that. I find it great for everyday cooking--I think the recipes featured are more like international home cooking than dining in an ethnic restaurant, which is just fine by me.

                  2. I've been thinking about picking up a copy of this book. I"m so so so short on time lately, but, as I described in this thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863756 I'm afraid of become a meat and potatoes, mac and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets kind of family. For those of you who've cooked from BRiTW, do you think it would be the book for me? That is, a book that would enable me to pull off some more interesting meals using ingredients that are available at a regular grocery and quickly? Are the recipes in this book consistently reliable and delicious? I'm okay if they aren't 100% "authentic"... I know I'd have to accept that as a compromise...

                    Thank you!


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Dairy Queen, if it helps to know, each recipe has a time estimate right under the dish name and number of servings. Opened at random, I see a page for
                      "Lamb Stew with Dill -- Scandanavia
                      1 to 1 1/2 hours, largely unattended."
                      "Lamb Chops with Sherry -- Spain
                      30 minutes

                      The most unusual ingredients in these two are sherry and shallots, no "imaginary" items!

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I think it's worthwhile, especially as an introduction to recipes from around the world. None of the recipes in the book might be the "best" or "most authentic" recipe you could find for that dish, but they're a great change of pace, without a lot of strange ingredients or complicated techniques. (And if you start finding a particular country's or region's cooking to be especially interesting, you could always look into more specialized cookbooks that focus on that area.)

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          No. I think you are too knowledgable a cook to invest in this book. I have a copy and have never cooked from it but if there was no internet it would be godsend. There is a recipe for everything but whenever I refer to it I find them too pedestrian for my taste. I admit I haven't really perused it, just opened it for things I haven't got my own recipe for and moved on to the web.

                          1. re: Berheenia

                            Yeah, that's what I was afraid of...


                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            I think it's a good book to have because it gives lots of ideas with common ingredients. easy to mix up your every day dish with some other flavors. I admit I have used the appetizers and small bits sections the most. Inspiration and then some recipes I follow, some I tweak. the index is great, plus sorted by region, etc. you can also see how similarly made dishes from across the world are.

                          3. I have this cookbook, it's okay. Today with the internet it's really not as useful as it once would have been. I bought mine through Amazon, used, for about $10 including shipping. It looked like it had never been opened.