How to Cook Everything: The Basics

With How to Cook Everything: The Basics I’ve tried to demonstrate how easy it is to make delicious everyday food from common supermarket ingredients. And since this is an unprecedented How to Cook Everything book—with 1,000 beautiful photographs by Romulo Yanes to illustrate every recipe and technique—the cookbook serves as a comprehensive reference that’s both visually stunning and utterly practical.

Among the 185 recipes in How to Cook Everything: The Basics are instructions for all the basic techniques, ingredients, and variations that new—and even not-so-new—cooks need to gain confidence in the kitchen. I emphasize essential lessons through the processes of cooking: Lentil Soup teaches rinsing and sorting through beans and softening vegetables; Fried Chicken shows how to coat meat in flour and test the temperature of oil; and Banana Bread demonstrates greasing a pan and creaming butter.  Cooks can work through the lessons dish by dish, or cherry pick, using the “Learn More” feature at the end of each recipe and the “List of Lessons” at the back of the book to quickly locate specific skills and instructions.

Here are some of the teaching tools in How to Cook Everything: The Basics:

  • A Getting Started chapter helps readers set up the pantry, use seasonings, and identify equipment, while providing a visual guide to all of the basic preparation and cooking techniques.
  • Twenty nine Basics Features are scattered throughout to simplify broad subjects with sections like “Think of Vegetables in Groups,” “How to Cook Any Grain,” and “5 Rules for Buying and Storing Seafood.”
  • The [600] demonstration photos each build on a step from the recipe to teach a core lesson, like “Cracking an Egg,” “Using Pasta Water,” “Recognizing Doneness,” and “Crimping the Pie Shut.”
  • Detailed notes appear in blue type near selected images. Here Mark highlights what to look for during a particular step and offers handy advice and other helpful asides.
  • “Is It Done Yet” depicts the subtle difference a minute can make when cooking foods like eggs or pasta; other images capture the moment a sauce thickens, water simmers steadily, or rice becomes tender.

My hope is that this book teaches cooking in a casual, unfussy way that makes meals as enjoyable to prepare as they are to eat.