I'm a self-taught cook and have never really familiarized myself with common techniques, but Mark Bittmann has made it incredibly easy with this latest in the "How to Cook Everything" series. I own three of the books and consider him a cooking god. Everyone who wants to make themselves simply, good food and not order out every meal should buy this. Would be a great graduation, wedding, birthday, holiday, any-occasion gift to cooks of any level.
I was not sure what to expect when I order the book. But, it turned out it was a great find. It is a hardback, easy to read, easy to follow, great pictures, great illustrations, and it totally focuses on what the reader/cook needs to know while preparing the dish. For me the recipes revealed a lot of questions I had about cooking. Example: How do restaurants get their chicken and potatoes to come out crispy and brown like that. Well, this book reveals that secret. :) I especially like how it helps identify all the different types of meats, mushrooms, potatoes, etc. It even shows pictures and names of all the different types of pots, pans, utensils, etc. I can go on and on, but I will just say this book is awesome!!