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Bittmans How to cook everything!

I just started a post about the best recipes in the world- I also got this book and I would love to know your tried and trues from this one! :)

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  1. I cook out of this book all the time! The cream scones are to die for. I make plain ones and use them for strawberry shortcake. Seriously, people swoon.

    The lamb curry is a great basic curry dish that has a lot of flavor but isn't too spicy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lulubelle

      Seconding the cream scones!
      I love this book for sheer reference -- more of a "holy cow, how do I prepare this ingredient? How do I make a..." type book than an inspiring recipe type book.

    2. I haven't made a lot out of this book, but really loved his chocolate ice cream. Lots of egg yolks.

      1. I have been following his column in the NYTimes for years and can always depend on his recipes. I have tried recipes from his previous cookbooks and they are consistently easy to make and very tasty.

        1 Reply
        1. re: darsha3

          ohhh i just got some nice lamb yesterday.... Im thinking lam curry...! :)

        2. I've had this book for a while. To tell you the truth, I haven't made anything yet. Nothing sounds too interesting, especially when I have a zillion other cookbooks. I'm really interested to see what others recommend in terms of your tried and trues.

          1. I tend to use it a lot for vegetables. If I buy a vegetable at the store and am not sure what to do with it, MB always has good suggestions (as well as basic instructions about how to clean, prepare, and store). One of my favorites is the sauteed cucumber with lemon. He also has a terrific ratatouille recipe. Other recipes I really like are:

            Chilled cucumber soup
            Orzo risotto
            Penne Arrabiatta
            Cheese Souffle
            Sunday morning eggs (my favorite egg prep ever)

            I tend not to use the cookbook much for meats, but followed his instructions for a prime rib roast a few years ago on NYE and it was fabulous. He also has this Scandinavian mustard sauce (not sure what it is called) that I always make to serve with cold pached salmon.

            One of the best things about the book are his suggested menus at the end, and his really extensive list of cookbooks (how many cookbook authors will refer you to somebody else's books?).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Megiac

              Thank you so much- That is exactly what i was looking for- I look forward to trying these out- :)

            2. The overnight waffles are TO DIE for. I made them a few times, thought they were great, but never realized just how good they are until recently.

              I made them for Mother's Day, and the next day I wanted waffles so badly I made the 10 minute buttermilk version from the book. Such a disappointment! I'd always thought the buttermilk recipe was fine, but eating them a day after the overnight ones really made the overnight ones shine. Amazing. They make the whole house smell like someone is baking biscuits or something else decadently buttery.

              In general, this book is good for simple recipes, or as a springboard for developing recipes of your own. He gives you good basics, but a lot of the recipes are too simple to be interesting. But it's a great starting point if you're the kind of person who can make something new, decide it needs more of this or that, and then end up with an unconventional but delicious dish.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pei

                I agree on the yeast waffles - they are terrific. The hands-on prep time is the same as regular waffles, you just leave them overnight to rise.

                The bluefish with the Japanese-style sauce is also very good. Maybe I'll think of some others later too.

              2. I like this book for basic recipes to build on--so his ice cream, pizza dough and bread dough are total simple go-tos for me. Also stuff like roast chicken--solid.

                He's got this great recipe for a stuffed bell pepper, a little complex but always nice for festive events where you want to have an interesting main course for the vegetarians.

                1. I like the book not for any specific recipe but because the recipes are so basic that I can improvise off of them. My copy is on CD-ROM however which I do not recommend. The music is truly awful and the indexing is useless.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: inuksuk

                    i tried the caesar dressing and chocolate chip cookies recently and both were absolutely AWFUL....very apprehensive to try anything else...................

                    1. re: junglekitte

                      Wow! I love the Caesar Salad recipe. Can you tell me what was awful about it? Not enough lemon juice? I guess I always add if it tastes bland.

                      Also, why did you hate the choc chip cookies? I would fault the recipe because it doesn't add nuts, but that's my preference.

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        the caesar was watery and just not to my liking. i ended up adding a bunch of things to try and spice it up. if i served it "as is" i would have been fired! lol

                        and the choc chip cookies? i've had wayyy better (one particular recipe i got from chowhound a while ago) they were wayyy less than average imho. nuts or not. (i like both)

                  2. I had never mades barley, so tried the barley pilaf(p184) and it was very tasty.

                    The soy sesame dipping sauce had great success ( p776) and the slow cooked green beans ( p577) are now part of my repertoire.

                    The other recepies I tried are basics: pancake , waffles, basic beans. They were all succesfull.

                    The lemon curd (p635) is very good.

                    The baked macaronni and cheese was just all right (p153) , and so was the sweet pork with spicy soy sauce ( p470)

                    1. He has some nice variations on sauteed boneless chicken breasts for when you need inspiration.

                      1. I find this to be the best "basic" reference cookbook -- I use it when I'm trying to figure out how to prepare something.

                        A couple of things I've made that were revelatory include:

                        His method for steak is to die for! So simple, yet produces a perfect steak either on the grill on in a pan. See pages 425-426.

                        The recipe for roasted root vegetables is fool-proof and delicious. Page 615.

                        The "classic beef stew" recipe is very solid as well. See page 435.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DanaB

                          Love this book for ideas when I have a veg or piece of meat/fish and I am not sure where to start.

                          And there's a cold mustard sauce in the How to Cook Everything book that is to die for on udon noodles with greens (chicken, tofu, or shrimp optional) and topped with toasted sesame seeds. (I coddle the egg first.)

                        2. The grilled pork tenderloin with dijon mustard and curry rub is different and delicious!

                          1. Roast chicken parts with olive oil and fresh herbs.

                            Rice pilaf and risotto--I was afraid to try either of these till I had this cookbook with simple, commonsense instructions.

                            His recipe for pesto takes all the mystique out of that, too, and I use it all the time (that page wears some lovely green stains now, which makes it real easy to find).

                            The one "miss" I ran into was one where he said to cook a salmon fillet, skin on, in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. It was an absolute, horrible, stinky mess and it took forever for my skillet to recover from it. (The fish actually tasted really good, but it wasn't worth it, I didn't think.)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: revsharkie

                              *bumping this up since the revised edition has come out*

                              The sesame crusted fish with soy and butter has become one of my weeknight dinner staples.

                            2. I think of it as a how to think about it (i.e. thick white fish steaks, pork loin) kind of reference. I almost listed it as my most worn out recipe book in my profile, because I probably look in it every day, yet I can't think of an actual recipe I've tried. I will try the scones and waffles NOW though!

                              1. the muffin and pancake recipes weren't good. they were strangely lowfat, and tasted like it.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: pigtails

                                  Oh. I was going to try the pancake recipe, since I have to reveal to roxlet that my go-to pancake is Krusteaz (with water, not even milk, and oil, no egg) with TJ mini p/b cups or white chocolate peppermint bar.

                                  I did buy the cream to make his cream scones, though, I hope they're good?

                                  1. re: pigtails

                                    The pancake recipes worked for me, even without stirring in the melted, cooled butter.

                                  2. The tomato tart in the app section is really, really good. It uses the pesto & pie crust recipes from later in the book to make a delicious thing to bring to a party. Always impresses (even if you use winter hot house tomatoes!). Olive tapenade is excellent, too. Fish chowder yummy, chicken dishes really good.

                                    I find some of the recipes haven't been that well tested though. The quiche needs much more time to cook (as in triple the time at the temp he says) and the simple almond cake was a complete bust. The pancakes are ok, but I prefer ones with more heft in them (I really like Joy of Cooking's 4 grain flap jacks). After reading the comments below, I will try the waffles & scones recipes this weekend. Though I love Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible's recipes for those!

                                    Overall, a good basic cookbook. I like how the recipes are open to adaptation with suggestions listed. A good reference manual, too.