What a good cookbook should do is make you run right into the kitchen and begin to cook. It should be full of recipes so wonderful that your family will be thrilled and you will be inspired to keep on cooking. It should introduce you to new cuisines and innovative techniques or make you rethink old ones. It should inspire you to share the recipes you love and to tell stories about the fabulous meals you made from it.
If I have any cooking skills at all it is because of Mark Bittman and his cook books, How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Every Vegetarian, and How to Cook Everything, the 10th anniversary edition. These aren’t the kind of cookbooks where I try one or two recipes then put the book on the shelf slowly to be forgotten. These cookbooks are the food spattered, pages stuck together work horses of my kitchen. I not only turn to these cookbooks for recipes, I turn to these cookbooks for information on how to fix recipes that have gone astray due to cook’s error or to other cookbooks poorly written recipes. So I am always excited when Mark Bittman comes out with a new cookbook.
On Saturday I finally picked up a copy of his most recent cookbook, A Kitchen Matrix. As I thumbed through it I noticed a few things. First of all, you can’t help but notice the absolutely mouth watering food photography. It makes you want to lick the pages. It’s a nice change from the black and white line drawings in his How To books. Secondly, there is a nice mixture of meat and meatless recipes, although it is a little heavy on the seafood recipes for my taste. However, there are enough non seafood recipes to get me itching to get into the kitchen to cook and bake. But then that isn’t surprising, Mark Bittman has inspired me in the kitchen for almost as long as I have been cooking for myself.
The only thing I didn’t like about this cookbook was that the recipes aren’t written in the traditional ingredients, directions, variations format. It might be confusing to inexperienced cooks or cooks not familiar with Mr. Bittman’s recipe style. However, that is a small price to pay for truly excellent recipes.