We constantly receive beautiful cookbooks here at BookTrib, all of them filled with practical tips, luscious recipes and interesting anecdotes, their covers splashed with a Technicolor smorgasbord of dishes of every kind. But it’s not very often that we come across one that’s so highly coveted that we have to sign a joint-custody agreement. This is the case with Mark Bittman’s latest Kitchen Matrix: More Than 700 Simple Recipes and Techniques to Mix and Match for Endless Possibilities (Pam Krauss Books; October 27, 2015). I’ve had this book in my possession for four days now and I’m waiting for the moment when my colleagues start begging to borrow it.
For now though, I’m locked away with this culinary crowd pleaser in my kitchen, perfecting quick and easy soup stocks (nine ways!) for the impending winter season. I’ve been known to get really enthusiastic over a hearty soup stock. A few favorites of mine include the coconut soup stock (Coconut Curry Chicken Soup anyone?) and the prosciutto parmesan stock as a classic base for a white bean or Tortellini en Brodo Soup. Bittman provides time-saving tips and numerous ways to maximize the flavors in stock by using flavors that will pack a punch such as miso, anchovies, chipotles, Parmesan rinds, and even certain leftovers.
Bittman turns out all of his simple ingredients in multiple ways. For example, he creates recipe generators for such items as grape leaves or finger foods by giving you the basics then adding the components that you can mix and match to create multiple recipes. Likewise, he presents components for The Stress-Free Dinner Party where you can choose the variation that works best for you and your guests. And, like his tasty stocks, sections include asparagus 12 ways, Pasta Primavera eight ways, salmon 12 ways, chicken parts 12 ways and on and on. You’ll never be caught without an idea for a meal again.
If you loved Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, you’ll be burying your new copy under the floor board of your kitchen floor before your editor comes knocking for her turn at Thanksgiving leftovers 20+ ways. This uncomplicated approach on how to master basic recipes and use them several different ways will have you improvising and priming yourself for a lifetime of great cooking.