The Everything Cookbook, Faith Jaycox, Sarah Jaycox and Karen Lawson
392 pages; black and white sketches, $14.95 US
Adams Media Corporation, 2000
Reviewed by Chef John Vyhnanek for Good Cooking
November, 2000

Professional chefs and cooks often take their training and skills for granted. When asked "how to" they often sneer at the asker, then proceed to give terse directions and recipes which assume a level of knowledge that the person may or may not have. I'm now aware that this type of direction is alright with a well seasoned cook but a nightmare for a beginner.

The Everything Cookbook is one in a series of Everything Books, sort-of a Dummies style, basic instruction handbook. You will find "how to" measure flour, "how to" cut butter, "how to" dice, "how to" mince and "how to" do just about everything when cooking. Cooking newcomers will find this book helpful-especially the measurement and conversions section. I'm not sure "how to" break eggs is something that needs to be included, that is unless you don't know how to boil water too! None the less the sketched instructions on "how to" bone a chicken breast will be very helpful for the novice or insecure cook. So will the "Pie Dough Tips", often a frustrating procedure for the beginner. The instructions will make the task easier, however practice will make pie making a snap.

Recipes range from "how to" scramble eggs, to making chicken stock from scratch. I would leave the cloves out of the recipe, making it more neutral in flavor for a variety of uses. Turkey Schnitzel was crisp, tender and lean. The Oven Baked Spareribs were succulent and finger licking and the Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake a real treat.

The bottom line is that if you know how to cook you will still find useful information that may help you get even better at it. If you are a beginner, high school or college student or newlywed, this book is for you. Also to benefit will be everyone who never paid attention to Mom when she was cooking and now find themselves lost being on their own. Professionals and seasoned cooks might find it boring. The Everything Cookbook is a great starter book for your library. It will get a lot of use when you try to cook everything!

Good Cooking likes the many specific diagrams like this one in the book on deveining shrimp. The are helpful for the beginning cook and can be a reminder for others.

Shrimp Linguine

Servings: 6
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
8 ounces linguine, cooked according to package directions and drained
Parmesan cheese

Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, mushrooms, and green onion. saute until tender. Add shrimp and heat through. Stir in parsley. Serve over hot cooked linguine and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.