So many cooks, both professional, like me, and non-professional alike, started their cooking journey with Mark Bittman and his award-winning book How to Cook Everything. It was the ultimate, modern cooking reference that guided us through our first kitchens, first holiday meals, first family dinners (way before YouTube, thank you very much). And it still does. Because no matter how far afield we go, some Saturdays, you want the easiest pancakes that are also the best pancakes, for example — and it’s always Bittman’s recipes that deliver.
For those of you too young to think of How to Cook Everything as your kitchen bible, well, you’re surely familiar with Mark Bittman’s work in some form. After all, the man has brought us 14 cookbooks, helped bring the conversation about plant-based foods into the mainstream, and has published a staggering volume of articles, blog posts, videos, and other media on easy, fresh home cooking.
You know Mark Bittman even if you don’t know that you do. Because he’s one of the most influential food journalists of our time and he cares most about home cooks. So, yea, we love him, which is why we couldn’t let today — the 10th anniversary of his book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian — go by without note.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is as relevant today as it ever was. With mounting research that shows the positive health and environmental impacts of a plant-based diet, this cookbook is the ultimate handbook for making easy, family-friendly meatless meals. In large part, this is because of Mark’s style. The recipes are plentiful and flexible — there are more than 2,000 recipes and variations — and, of course, rigorously tested with home cooks in mind. (So you can also count on tons of tips, tricks, and easy techniques that will help you cook better and faster, even with children tugging at your apron strings.) But also, the book is not meant just for vegetarians or vegans.
This is the cookbook you want to pick up if you love meat, but would like to incorporate more meatless meals.
The recipes in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian are for everyone, yes, including children. Mark is truly a professional home cook and cooked for his own kids as a busy, working parent. We also have the inside scoop that Mark’s grandson, a beginner eater himself, is a fan. And how could he not be with popular recipes like Egg Drop Soup, Many Ways, Panfried Cheese (the best snack ever!), and Cold Sesame Noodles.
There are also simple recipes that are totally kid-friendly that may push you to experiment, like BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches. I love that as much as I love Mark’s non-judgemental tone. He’s just as happy for you to try jackfruit as he is to help you doctor store-bought ramen to make it healthier. (Yes, he actually gives directions for Vasty Improved Store-Bought Ramen, which can help you pull together dinner in minutes.)
Of course, if you are a long-time or very experienced vegetarian or vegan cook, this book will still come in handy, just as How to Cook Everything does for me. I’ve written my own cookbook and both of Bittman’s tomes are never beyond an arm’s reach when I’m in the kitchen.
Do yourself a favor: Celebrate the 10th anniversary of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian with us by buying yourself a copy if you don’t already own one. It’ll change how you think about cooking without meat for your family — or at least make it easier and more delicious.
Now excuse me while I prep a batch of Panfried Cheese for an after-school snack. If it lasts that long.
From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Panfried cheese is universally popular, with the technique remaining much the same and the cheese changing. The Spanish version, made with paprika and sheep’s milk cheese, is my favorite. But Gouda, provolone, mozzarella, kasseri, and feta all work nicely. Softer cheeses hold their shape better during cooking if they’re well chilled to begin with, so coat and refrigerate if possible.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
8 ounces mild soft sheep’s milk or other cheese, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
1. Mix the flour and paprika together. Dredge the cheese slices in the flour, then the beaten egg and, finally the bread crumbs. If time allows, put the cheese on wax paper and refrigerate for an hour or longer.
2. Put at least 1/8 inch oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot—it will shimmer—fry the cheese slices until golden brown, about 30 seconds, the turn and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and serve as soon as possible.
Get your copy of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian at our affiliate Amazon or your local indie bookstore. You can also hop on over to Mark Bittman’s site to find out more about the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app for iPhone, iPad, and Windows.