How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart Hardcover – Apr 4 2000
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Learn what makes a recipe tick, says How to Cook Without a Book author Pam Anderson, and you'll serve great food fast. Recognizing that most cooks feel challenged in the face of daily meal making, Anderson provides a game plan: prepare dishes based on available ingredients and simple cooking techniques you've mastered--not on recipes you've got to look up and ingredients you'll need to shop for--and you maximize the potential of kitchen ease. Cooks looking for a way to address the what-will-we-have-tonight quandary definitively, or those who feel they lack the energy or know-how to tackle cooking every night, should find the book essential. In chapters such as "Simple Stir-Frys" or "Weeknight Ravioli and Lasagna," Anderson presents a particular cooking procedure, provides a recipe that embodies it in its basic form (the protein-adaptable Weeknight Stir-Fry, for example), then offers simple variations (such as Stir-Fried Chicken with Asparagus and Mushrooms or Stir-Fried Shrimp with Pepper and Scallions). Chapters conclude with an at-a-glance review of key technique points. Following Anderson's tips and innovations, lasagna, for example, becomes a weeknight option (use egg-roll wrappers for the pasta, Anderson advises, and forgo the baking); she also shows how, once mastered, her Big Fat Omelet, which serves four, can become the basis for a wide range of lunch and dinner entrées. With a comprehensive pantry section and a dessert chapter that puts frozen puff pastry to work in imaginative ways, the book is a trove of information that cooks can use and depend on. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Former executive editor of Cook's magazine and author of The Perfect Recipe, Anderson wants to teach Americans a new way to cookAwithout relying on recipes. It's somewhat surprising, then, to discover that this book is full of recipes. However, readers may cotton to Anderson's method: each chapter consists of a simple technique, basic recipe, variations, key points and a little mnemonic device used to recall the technique. The techniques are, for the most part, terrific time-savers, such as cutting out the back before roasting a whole chicken or making one giant omelet to serve four people so that everyone can eat together. Variations are good, too, although many are so similar to one another that it seems a little repetitious to include a recipe for each (in turn, many of the recipes refer back to the original, resulting in a lot of page-flipping). A chapter on tomato sauces, for example, includes the basic Simple Tomato Sauce, as well as Tomato Sauce with Dried Porcini, Tomato Sauce with Sweet Onions and Thyme, Tomato Sauce with Shrimp and Red Pepper Flakes and many others. A chapter on pan sauces is a winner, encompassing Red Wine-Dijon Pan Sauce, Port Wine Pan Sauce with Dried Cranberries and Balsamic Pan Sauce with Pine Nuts and Raisins. In the end, this cookbook is a solid collection of simple, quick recipes, but with its sometimes scattered format, it is unlikely to free everyday cooks from the tyranny of recipes. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous cook, but I'm also partial to quick recipes that don't require numerous or exotic ingredients. Pam provides a wonderful "theme and variations" style, and most of her recipe suggestions require only a handful of ingredients. She lays out the chapters based on techniques (saute, sear) rather than main ingredients (meat, fish, chicken), which will help me master the techniques more quickly and stop relying on recipes as much. I'd like to saute, but don't have pork or chicken on hand? Use fish! And I can vary the same meat with dozens of pan sauces and relishes - the combinations are endless. Last night we had a delectable Sauteed Tilapia with Mustard-Cream Sauce, along with a Crisp Potato Cake. Tonight perhaps we'll have Seared Marlin Steaks with Horseradish Pan Sauce and Orzo with Lemon and Parsley. I can't wait to try the Lo Mein, Stir Fry, Quick Ravioli, and Supper Soup techniques, as well as the Tossed Salads and Steam/Sauteed Vegetables. So many possibilities!
I'm done paging through cookbooks to find the one recipe for which I have all the ingredients. With this book on my shelf, I can buy any available fresh and seasonal ingredients and know that I'll be able to put together a fast, healthy, and nutritious meal without a problem. This cookbook is a must-have - perfect for you, your best friend, your mother, and any bride-to-be. Thanks for this newfound freedom and creativity, Pam!
While I have cooked for years, this book has renewed my confidence in experimenting myself, following her basic formulas. The truth is, most of us have a limited amount of time to cook during the week. This book is just for that - a quick way to use what you already have to serve delicious, healthy meals quickly. This is a sharp contrast to "quick-cook" books that either (1) have you use a jar of grape jelly and the microwave or are (2) quick only if you already have the heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil available.
I attended a class taught by Ms. Anderson where she demonstrated her techniques from this book and found that she seems to have used her wealth of experience as a test kitchen chef and editor to reduce a lot of information down to these simple formulas and techniques.
My meals from this book have turned out perfect every time - thank you Pam Anderson!
Overall, the book does what it says it will. I wish there were more recipes and a greater variety of techniques to work with, but it is a solid addition to a beginner or intermediate cook's library. I found that combining this book with more advanced books was great for getting inspirations about how to alter recipes. I was wavering between four stars and five, but given that I have gone back to it several times and will continue to do so, I think I can go with five stars for it.
Even though I have an extensive cookbook library, I have never written a cookbook review. Why now? Because this is simply the best cookbook I've ever used! Within the stated limitations of the book (ie. quick , midweek night cooking for family; the kind all of us are forced to do.) this cookbook is without flaw. This is the only cookbook my wife and I keep on our kitchen prep table.
Because Ms. Anderson(a former "Cook's Illustrated" magazine editor} has taken the trouble to have each recipe taste tested by a panel before finalizing the selection of the best recipe version (The "Best Recipe" is the title of a previous volume by Ms. Anderson and is also fabulous} success is guranteed. This research is her secret to success and something that you or I or even professional chefs simply will never have access to.
I would call Ms. Anderson a professional cook rather than chef but this is to her advantage since she doesn't have to waste time on food presentation and plating technique.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I would give this a perfect rating because I read through it and its very comprehensive. The only negative comment I have is that there are no pictures.. Read morePublished 14 months ago by b00kll0vr
Just what I needed. Wonderful concept of how to teach someone to cook. I made one soup and family and friends loved it. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Nels thompson
Although this had a few nuggets of great advice and techniques, I was disappointed with the failure to follow through on actually how to cook without a book - it would have been... Read morePublished on April 26 2012 by Bea's Girl
In my opinion this is a must have book for anyone who wants to learn to cook with out having to follow a recipe every single time. It's full of really useful tips and information.Published on Feb. 5 2010 by Amanda Slack
I have gotten a lot of ideas from this book. The recipes are simple and easy to make. I have so many cook books that I rarely use because the recipes are too long and complicated... Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2003
I gave two stars because I was looking for a book filled with food science and basics that can be embellished. I found less than half of what I wanted. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2003 by Nikola Tesla
I am a cajun and thus was raised within a strong cooking tradition that emphasizes cooking skills as much among men as women (my father and two brothers are professional chefs,... Read morePublished on June 24 2003 by Richard W. Miller