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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Guests Monica and Bram Meehan: Cookbook Corner

Mark Bittman

Bittman's How To Cook Everything is an almost 1000-page, indispensable, one-stop reference for how to cook, well, everything. It covers appetizers to dessert and everything in between, from various ethnic traditions, in an easy-to-understand style. Bittman offers variations on most recipes, suggested menus, and useful groupings of similar recipes. This may not be the book when you're just looking for ideas, but if you ever want to know how to cook ______, it'll be here (except for, somewhat inexplicably, Spanish Rice).

The Minimalist Cooks At Home is based on Bittman's New York Times column, and is a smaller collection of recipes that aim to give "more flavor from fewer ingredients in less time." There are some real terrific ideas here for regular weeknight meals.

We just learned about How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, so haven't had a chance to check it out. But based on his previous work, it promises to be another must-have.

Bob Blumer

has produced several cookbooks with one more on the way. He's got a great style, a sense of humor, and a real love for food (and experimenting with food) that give his books a fun, approachable feel. Blumer's recipes are a little bit exotic, often modern interpretations or improvisations of classics, and he makes sure that they aren't intimidating, giving background info and tips on how to ensure their success.

The Surreal Gourmet presents a range of courses and some basics, plenty of which we still rely on after 10+ years. Off The Eaten Path offers some complete menus, theme dinners, and some experimental cooking methods. Both are great for simple, inventive meals that are also good for entertaining.