The New York Times’s weekly Dining Out section would not be the same without Mark Bittman’s “The Minimalist” column. The weekly recipes are something to look forward to, never too complicated but always interesting. While Bittman has published many books, I just love “How To Cook Everything: The Basics.” I love challenges, but I firmly believe that you always have to start with a strong foundation, so I never tire of basics cookbooks. One of the best features of Bittman’s cookbook is its photography: 1000 photos to walk you through every step of the process. The book is like a dictionary; you can look up how to fry, poach, boil or scramble eggs, or the basics of how to prepare for a home party, or comfort foods like oven-seared lamb chops and chili from scratch. It’s a cookbook I know I will always come back to. Here’s a sample recipe of lamb curry.