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Nov 23, 2010 05:23 AM

How To Cook Everything vs. BHG The New Cookbook

What's best for the absolute beginner? I can only get one cookbook, which one? Decisions...decisions....decisions....

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  1. Many people here who have the Bittman book don't use it very much, so I'd give that a pass. And I'm not familiar with the BHG book so can't comment on that. What I can tell you is that if you want a big, all-inclusive, cookbook, one that can work for a beginner but will still be a building block in their cookbook library as their skill progress, I would recommend "Gourment Today" edited by Ruth Reichl. It's a terrific book and a much better choice than the Bittman.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      I respectfully disagree. I gave my abject beginner son (21) the Bittman and he has learned to cook. He really appreciates ( as do I) the plethora of substitutions , additions and variations Bittman always supplies.

      1. re: magiesmom


        HTCE was exactly what I needed to start in the kitchen. And I *had* a BHG (though, I don't know if the recent revisions has improved it). I wasn't someone looking to improve, but learn from scratch. I tend to think of BHG as the cookbook one can turn to for your midwestern mom's pound cake, or chicken and dumplings.

        Bittman made it all look very easy, to me, someone who was surrounded by cooks who grudgingly approached cooking as a chore. Bittman also provided a nice glossary. The book was a little light on technique, but this is a very good book for a beginner.

        There was also another thread on this topic over the summer (the title escapes me), but you might want to search for it.

    2. I haven't read the Bittman book, but I know that the Better Homes & Gardens book (the one with the plaid cover) is still my go to cookbook when I need to know how to cook something. You can use the recipes to make a great meal, or if you need to know how long to bake a potato or microwave bacon, its all in there.