A great gift book: Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix.
I ordered this book from Blogging for Books because I thought it would be an ideal gift for the holidays. Bittman was the food columnist for The New York Times and has developed a loyal following. The concept of the book is simple: learn a few techniques, add endless variations, cook forever. You’ll find chicken wings twelve ways, a slow cooker beans “recipe generator,” and stone fruit twelve ways. In this manner, the book provides over 700 variations, which may be dizzying for some readers.
Layout and design:
The book is organized into ten chapters: 1) appetizers and entertaining, 2) soups stews and sandwiches, 3) vegetables, 4) pasta grains and beans, 5) fish and seafood, 6) poultry and eggs, 7) meat, 8) condiments and seasonings, 9) fruit, and 10) desserts and baking. The design uses sans serif font throughout, which makes the body copy more difficult to read. The overall look is clean, with white backgrounds on all the food and punchy red accents. The effect overall is of a cheery cafeteria with hundreds of plates to choose from.
What I liked about the book:
This would be a fun present for a cook who needs a shot of inspiration and creativity, for people learning to cook (although I feel the recipes are sometimes written in a shorthand that isn’t for beginners), and for Bittman fans. Bittman’s food authority shines through when talking about ingredients. A stellar reference book.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Recipes were not coded for special diets; nutritional analysis is not provided, which would be helpful for low-sodium eaters. After a while, I found the number of options tiring. It would be hard to focus on what to try first.
cooks looking for inspiration, whole foods eaters, Bittman fans
Not recommended for:
Migraine, paleo, vegan, celiac, gluten-free, or low-sodium diets
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.
Required FTC disclosure: I received one copy of this book from Blogging for Books for the giveaway on December 17th, 2015.
Here’s the book if you want to see more: