How to Cook Everything

Best basic cookbook

In our household, this is the book that has replaced Joy of Cooking as the first cookbook we reach for. It educates the ignorant, rewards the expert, and gratifies the harried with steady and sure knowledge about how to cook everything. By everything it means: wholesome everyday food. Its 2,000 recipes are unpretentious, yet diverse.

-- KK 01/20/05


Each year, I experiment less and less with complex dishes, and try to master the simple staples both of our widely divergent culture, and of other cultures from around the world. I look for good ingredients, and handle them minimally. I am usually satisfied with the food I prepare, but I am the first to admit that it is very rarely on the same level as that served in the world's best restaurants. (It's better, however, than that served in the vast majority of restaurants.)

Striving for brilliance in everyday cooking is a recipe for frustration. Rather, everyday cooking is about preparing good, wholesome, tasty, varied meals for the ones you love. This is a simple, satisfying pleasure. Your results need not be perfect to give you this gift, to which all humans are entitled.


Spiced Melon Balls
Makes 10-15 servings

Time: 20 minutes

Melon balls are melon balls, until you do something to them. This converts them to an exotic Asian-style dish, easily eaten with toothpicks.

1 ripe cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon
1 ripe honeydew or other green-fleshed melon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 tablespoon very finely minced cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Sugar to taste (optional)

1. Use a melon baller to remove all the flesh from the melons. Combine the balls in a bowl with the salt, coriander, cayenne, cilantro, and lime juice.

2. Taste and adjust seasoning; you may add more of anything. If the melon is not sufficiently sweet, add a bit of sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 hours.


Making potstickers
(Step 1) Place a teaspoon of filling on one half of the dough. (Step 2) Brush circumference of the circle with a little water or beaten egg. (Steps 3-4) Fold over and pinch tightly to seal.

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