Book Review: Kitchen Matrix

Check out one of Mark Bittman’s latest cookbooks, Kitchen Matrix. It’s a great visual cookbook that fans of Bittman will enjoy.

Check out one of Mark Bittman's latest cookbooks, Kitchen Matrix. It's a great visual cookbook that fans of Bittman will enjoy.

A description of the book from the publisher:

Bestselling author Mark Bittman anthologizes his popular Matrix series in a boldly graphic new cookbook that emphasizes creativity, improvisation, and simplicity as the keys to varied cooking.

For years, Mark Bittman has shared his formulas, recipes, and kitchen improvisations in his popular New York Times Eat column, in which an ingredient or essential technique is presented in different variations in a bold matrix. Accompanied by striking photographs and brief, straightforward instructions, these thematic matrices show how simple changes in preparation and ingredient swaps in a master recipe can yield dishes that are each completely different from the original, and equally delicious. In Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix, Mark’s matrices come together to create a collection of over 400 flexible recipes covering vegetables, fruits, meats and chicken, and even desserts. Whether you’re cooking up soup (creamy, brothy, earthy, or hearty), freezing ice pops (in fruity, savory, creamy, or boozy varieties), or preparing asparagus (steamed, roasted, stir-fried, or grilled), following Mark’s approach to culinary improvisation will deliver stand-out results.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I have been a fan of Mark Bittman for awhile. I enjoyed his column in The New York Times, and of course his How to Cook Everything series is great. His views [along with Michael Pollan’s] on the American diet, processed food, and cooking have shaped my food philosophy quite a bit over the past seven years. I like Bittman’s approachable style, and the flexibility he gives to home cooks. For those of you not familiar with his cookbooks, they are recipes that contain lots of suggestions [i.e. for this rice dish, use these ingredients to make it Asian style, these to make it Italian, etc.]. I know newer cooks [or those who don’t like to be told what to do] really benefit from that approach. Kitchen Matrix is no different.
  • Kitchen Matrix is only about 300 pages long, but it has over 700 simple recipes in it that everyone, no matter their food style [paleo, omnivore, vegetarian, etc.] will love. Wow! The size, like all his cookbooks, is a little overwhelming but he breaks down the categories of recipes well–appetizers, vegetables, meat, fruit, etc. In many ways, this could be a replacement “bridal shower” cookbook for creative types instead of the typical Betty Crocker title.
  • This cookbook is by far the prettiest of any of his books. It looks more like a blog than a cookbook, with tons of full color illustrations, recipes, and commentary. It is so fun to just look at, even if you don’t plan to cook anything! You also can learn quite a bit about flavor pairings, ingredients, and basic cooking skills within this book as well. Bittman generally provides flavor profiles beyond just the “American” palate, including profile options for Mediterranean, East Asian, South Asian, and Latin American cuisine.
  • The layout of Kitchen Matrix does take some getting used to. Pages are oriented both ways [left to right and top to bottom]. Some recipes aren’t given in typical recipe format, but rather in paragraphs. But neither of these elements are deal breakers for me!
  • Overall, this is a great cookbook. I pull it out when I want to get creative in the kitchen, or when I have basic ingredients on hand and don’t know what I should make for dinner or for a side dish. For me, it’s not the best cookbook to go to when I don’t have any inspiration at all because it definitely is a bit open ended, but it’s a fun cookbook to have on hand.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to for the chance to read this great book!


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