Mark Bittman's Iconic Cookbook Reflects Sustainability, Flexibility 20 Years Later

If you’re a cook, you’re likely in possession of a broken-spined, batter-stained, dog-eared copy of Mark Bittman‘s (@bittman) cookbook, “How To Cook Everything.”

If you’re new to cooking (or are ready for a new copy), Bittman has released a 20th-anniversary edition of the iconic cookbook — updated with a focus on flexibility and sustainability.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks to Bittman about the book, food and how we eat.

Recipes From “How To Cook Everything”

By Mark Bittman

Beef Stroganoff with Mushrooms

I’m keeping this classic quick braise in this edition because it’s easy and people love it—when it’s good. It’s one time you don’t want to brown the meat before adding the liquid. Serve this over buttered egg noodles or white rice, or with soft, eggy bread like challah or brioche. Other meats you can use: boneless veal or pork shoulder; veal round.
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock (to make your own, see below)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Chopped fresh dill or parsley for garnish
  1. Put the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it foams, add the onions and mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for just a minute. Add the mustard and stock and adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily. Cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is just cooked through but still tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sour cream and stir until it heats through and forms a sauce, careful not to let it come to a boil. Taste, adjust the seasoning, garnish with dill, and serve.

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Quickest Chicken Stock


  • One 3-to 4-pound chicken
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped (don’t bother to peel)
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Several sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cut the chicken up, if you like; it will speed cooking. Put the chicken, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and parsley in a large pot, add 14 cups water, and turn the heat to high.
  2. Bring just to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid sends up a few bubbles at a time. Cook, skimming any foam that accumulates, until the chicken is cooked through, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken and whether it’s cut up or whole.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a bowl with a large fork. Cool the stock slightly, then strain, pressing on the solids to extract more liquid. Discard the remaining solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, remove the meat from the bones (discard the skin and bones), and store the meat to use in other recipes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and taste and adjust the seasoning. Skim off any fat and use the stock immediately. Or let cool, refrigerate, skim off any hardened fat from the surface, and use within 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Time: 40 to 60 minutes

Full-On Chicken, Turkey, or Duck Stock

Turkey or duck can be substituted for some or all of the chicken. And be aware that intensity of flavor can get expensive: Substitute 3 to 4 pounds chicken, turkey, or duck parts, preferably wings, thighs, and legs, for the whole chicken. Cook for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Strain out and discard all the solids after pressing down on them.

Beef, Pork, Lamb, or Veal Stock


  • 3 to 4 pounds meaty beef, pork, lamb, or veal bones, like shank, shin, tail, or short ribs
  • 2 onions, chopped (don’t bother to peel)
  • 2 carrots, copped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • At least 10 sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 10 peppercorns
  1. Rinse the bones well under cold running water, then put them in a large stockpot. Add the onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, parsley if you’re using it, cloves and peppercorns. Add about 16 cups water, enough to cover by a couple of inches.
  2. Bring just to a boil, then partially cover and adjust the heat so the mixture just barely bubbles. Cook, skimming off any foam that accumulates at the top, until the meat falls from the bones and the bones separate from one another, 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Skim off any fat and use the stock immediately. Or let cool, refrigerate, skim off any hardened fat from the surface, and use within 4 or 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Time: At least 3 hours, largely unattended

Rich Chocolate Torte

For those of you keen on molten cakes (I’m ambivalent, to be honest) try this simple alternative. Then either dust it with confectioner’s sugar, or gussy it up. Some of the best ways: Top with Whipped Cream (see below) or serve with raspberry purée (see below) and/or Vanilla Custard Sauce (see below) or Vanilla Custard Ice Cream (see below). Or drizzle with Chocolate Glaze (see below). To go truly decadent split the cake into two layers, then fill and frost with Chocolate Ganache or Glaze (see below).
  • Butter for greasing
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting the pan (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 to 7 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch layer cake pan. Cover the bottom with a circle of wax or parchment paper and butter the paper. Use a sieve to dust the pan with flour or cocoa powder, invert the pan over the sink, and tap to remove any excess.
  2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the chocolate with ½ cup water in a double boiler, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and vanilla until light. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, 30 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar if you like and serve small slices.

Time: About 1 ¼ hours, plus time to cool

Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte
Substitute ¼ cup finely ground hazelnuts for ¼ cup of the flour. Stir ½ cup lightly toasted chopped hazelnuts into the batter just before pouring into the pan.
Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Up to ¼ cup sugar
  • Flavoring (optional; see below)
  1. In a large bowl, use a whisk or electric mixer to beat the cream to soft or stiff peaks, as desired (see the illustrations). If you’re sweetening it, when soft peaks form, start sprinkling in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
  2. Fold in flavorings if you like and serve immediately. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. If it starts to separate, whisk it lightly until it comes together again.

Time: 5 minutes

8 Ways to Flavor Whipped Cream:

  1. Scrape the seeds from half a vanilla bean into the cream, or use 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract.
  2. Use honey instead of sugar.
  3. Sprinkle and fold in ground cardamom, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, or any finely ground sweet spice.
  4. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon, brandy, Kahlúa, Grand Marnier, framboise, amaretto, or other liqueur.
  5. Add about ½ teaspoon grated citrus zest.
  6. Add ½ teaspoon finely grated or very finely minced fresh ginger.
  7. Add a tablespoon or 2 sour cream, or crème fraiche or mascarpone, which will be tangier or thicker, respectively.
  8. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons rose water or orange blossom water.

Marinated Celery and Carrots, Chinese Style

An easy and ultra-savory, crunchy little nibble. Next time you make this recipe, you’ll want to double it. Or try substituting summer squash, daikon radish, or any other vegetables you like raw. See the first variation for more ideas.
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably rice or cider vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  1. Cut the celery and carrots into 2-inch lengths, then into rough matchsticks. Mix with the salt and let sit for at least 10 minutes and up to an hour while you whisk together the remaining ingredients.
  2. Rinse, drain, and pat the vegetables dry, then toss with the dressing. Serve or marinate in the refrigerator for up to a day and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Time: 10 minutes, plus time to marinate

Any Sturdy Vegetable, Chinese Style

Anything you don’t want to eat raw works too: Cut 1 pound vegetables like broccoli or snow peas into bite-sized pieces. Instead of salting the vegetables in Step 1, whisk the salt into the dressing. Parboil and shock the vegetables. Use the same dressing.

“Carpaccio”-Style Vegetables

Especially impressive fanned out on a large platter: Omit the sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar. Peel 1 pound sturdy vegetables like carrots, kohlrabi, turnip, cauliflower, summer squash, celery, and/or beets. Slice the vegetables crosswise as thin as possible (a mandoline or food processor slicing blade is perfect for this). Toss with the salt and let marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour. Scatter the vegetables in a thin layer, drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Excerpted from HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING—COMPLETELY REVISED TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY EDITION: SIMPLE RECIPES FOR GREAT FOOD © by Mark Bittman. Photography © 2019 by Aya Brackett. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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