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Bittman's "How to cook everything" & "How to cook everything vegetarian" - opinions? favorite recipes?

So I was browsing B&N yesterday, and the Bittman book was in the bargain section for $20... just couldn't resist.

I like/d his minimalist column, and I've flipped through a few pages & like his writing style and approach. I like that he gives 5-10+ variations on the simplest sauces, for example.

My problem is that -- whenever I buy cookbooks, I hardly ever look at them again, b/c I almost never cook with actual recipes. I decide what I want to make for dinner, and I make it.

Are there recipes you were particularly fond of?

Tips on how to remember 'that book there on the shelf' for more than inspiration?

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  1. HTCE is a former COTM. You might find some of these threads helpful: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/698815

    ~TDQ

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Oh, awesome, DQ! Thanks for the hint. I probably should have done a search first.... my bad!

    2. I have the Everything book and have made precisely one thing from it, the shrimp with paprika and garlic. That was just because I happened to have the shrimp and wasn't otherwise inspired. Nothing grabbed me overmuch.

      2 Replies
      1. re: buttertart

        Yeah, it doesn't look like anything will blow your mind. More like a "Joy of Cooking" type o' book, not exciting new things...

        What can I say. I like a good bargain '-)

        1. re: linguafood

          Me too, too bad this isn't a real one!

      2. I have both of these books. I look upon these two books as I might have looked upon "Joy of Cooking" as my how to cook bible of the 50's.

        Here is a different way to cook from it: When you decide what you want to make for dinner, look in one or other of the two books and see if there is something that might fit the major ingredient you are working with.

        Example: last night I was cooking shrimp. I usually make it "on my own," but if I were in a different frame of mind, I would go and see if Bittman had any suggestions for 'saucing it up' a bit and making it into a totally different dish that I had in mind.

        I think they are fabulous reference books.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rella

          Yep, that's most likely how I will use them.

        2. I enjoy it for basics, but it's not gonna blow your socks off. Also, I've found that the timing is off on many of the recipes (I'm not the only person to comment on this--I recall a thread on a Usenet group about this very issue). I do find the recipes to be a bit bland, so naturally I doctor them up.

          1. there's a sauce/dressing with dark sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar that i make constantly--ordinary ingredients, but his version is perfectly balanced. i use it on shredded cabbage for a slaw that i take to potlucks and people rave. i forget the name of the recipe (it's in how to cook everything--not sure if it's also in the vegetarian book) but it's right above a recipe for marinated mushrooms, i remember. the recipe is not for the sauce alone--it's for a salad dressed with it.