zensters mexican food thread inspired me to start this thread. i have about 100 cookbooks, and i use em. a lot. but my bestest and most favoritest are classic italian cooking, and more classic italian cooking, by marcella hazan. i learned so much about cooking, and food, and eating, and ingredients, and most importantly, less is more when it comes to the number of ingredients in a dish, and all that good stuff from her and these books. they make me so happy. marcella makes me so happy. she’s the most beautiful eighty year old ive ever seen, too. how bout it, dopers? tell me the cookbook(s) that changed your culinary life, please.
Not a cookbook per se, but one that will change forever the way you look at food is:
[li]On Food and Cooking[/li][sup]HAROLD MAGEE[/sup]
This is more of a treatise on the biochemistry of food preparation and many cooking myths are disspelled with deft stokes of the author’s pen.
As to real cookbooks:
[li]The Fannie Merritt Farmer Bosston Cooking School Cookbook[/li][sup]FANNIE FARMER[/sup]
Long before the famous Fannie Farmer cookbook came this little gem. Dating back to the early nineteen hundreds, it is a trove of scratch recipes.
[li]The Everyday American Cookbook[/li][sup]AGNES MURPHY[/sup]
A solid directory of American comfort food. Dating from the fifties, it is difficult to find but worth the search.
[li]The Joy of Cooking[/li][sup]IRMA S. ROMBAUER[/sup]
This classic belongs in every kitchen. Good for the beginner and seasoned (as it were) veteran alike it will instruct you in how to make a coffee cake or skin a squirrel.
Although I have over one thousand cookbooks I rarely use them as anything more than a quick look-up for the basic ingredients. Quite often I will compare several different versions of the same recipe, identify the common components and use those as a starting point for my preparation. That way I feel I have managed to weed out the regional variations and instead return to the basics of the dish. Most of the time my recipes are off of the top of my head and merely use whatever looked really good in the market that day.
My rules of thumb for selecting a cookbook are that no mention of microwave ovens are made and that the recipes outweigh the pictures by at least three to one. I rarely pay more than $5.[sup]00[/sup] each for them in the thrift shops and used book stores that I haunt. The old spiral bound Time Life companions to their big picture book series are pretty useful and with their limited use of exotic ingredients, they remain applicable to many regions where you cannot get strange and hard to find foods.
I also have Magee’s book and it was an eye-opener for what happens in the kitchen. Another non-recipe book that is a favorite of mine is Waverley Root’s Food. It is a wonderful exploration of what we eat.
My favorite recipe book is The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas. It is chock full of the kind of dishes I grew up on, my comfort food.
My fave cookbook is From Old Nova Scotia Kitchens It has all sorts of recipes from different ethnics in it and was gathered from around the Martimes. Some recipes in there they also have just for fun like a whole section on cures (though some you probably could do now but others would be impossible because of how they are wrote) It also gives some history of the region and most of the recipes are really yummy.
I’m rather fond of “To Serve Man” - presented for your inspection by Rod Serling. Author of the cookbook, unknown. But not from around here.
i agree with zenster about the joy of cooking, but with one caveat. the original edition is MUCH better than the new edition.
Which is why I have four or five copies spanning from the prohibition era to modern times.
Another interesting book is:
[li]The History of Food[/li][sup]Reah Tannehill[/sup]
This book covers an ammitedly Eurocentric record of food stuffs and preparation from prehistoric times to now. It is very enlightening to finally find out what was in the ancient Roman condiment Liquamin.
I own the Joy of Cooking, but I’m not really fond of it. I have a tough time conceptualizing what I’ll be cooking without seeing a picture of it. But maybe that’s just me. Out of the whole book, the only regular thing I make from it is pancakes if you can believe that.
I really like Martin Yan’s Feast (by Martin Yan), Indian Cooking (by Madhur Jaffrey) and The Ultimate Barbeque Cookbook (unknown author)
Joy Of Cooking…I have a much-loved 1966 edition. I have learned a lot over the years from this book! If I could only have one cookbook, this would be it.
Madhur Jaffrey’s “A Taste Of India.” (Fabulous photos, too.)
“Diet For A Small Planet.” A hippie basic, and some of the ingredients take a little hunting around for, but I have yet to make a bad dish from this book.
Claudia Roden’s “Middle Eastern Food.” I got it in the UK, and it is a huge book, with a lot of interesting little historical food factoids sprinkled throughout. (Highest per capita onion consumption? Turkey.)
I have about thirty cookbooks, but these are really the only
ones I ever use.
Single best cookbook: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. This book has supplanted my 1966 Joy of Cooking as my basic resource. I like to give it to beginning cooks as a gift.
My other favorite is (believe it or not) Dom DeLuise’s Eat This, It’ll Make You Feel Better. It’s a great, basic, homestyle Italian cookbook. It has the best recipes I’ve used for meatballs, gnocchi, etc. Not elegant, but easy and very yummy.
Ditto on Hazan, Jaffrey, Tannahill, etc. I also love to read James Beard.
Traditional Indian cookery — Mr Singh is precise in his description of technique.
Taste of the Sea
OK, so he’s a ‘celebrity chef’. He’s also a damn good cook, with a passion for fresh fish. This book explains how to prepare and cook different kinds of fish.
I am from the New Orleans area, so cooking is something I know about. Some of my personal favorites are anything by Southern Living. It is a magazine that also has annual recipe books and holiday recipe books. Also Emeril Lagasse has a couple of books out. They are awesome. It does depend on what type of food you are looking for, these books are perfect for me, however many recipes are things I grew up on. So, you may not be as fond of red beans, anything with seafood, and pralines as I am. Try these books, I am sure there will be a few of your favorites.
Another vote for The Joy Of Cooking.
I also like Better Homes & Gardens and the Betty Crocker cookbooks.
I have a couple of The Frugal Gourmet’s books and like those as well. I like Immigrant Ancestors and Three Ancient Cuisines best.
But my favorites are the fund-raiser type cookbooks, sold by women’s groups, churches, and other groups to raise money. The recipes are submitted by the members, and are usually tried-and-true favorites. They are usually variations of recipes from “regular” books.
I love getting them at yard sales for a quarter or less.
Two of my all-time favorite cookbooks are The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, both by Mollie Katzen.
Not only do these have some of the best-tasting dishes I’ve ever tried (especially the soups…I love soup!), but the cookbooks themselves are an absolute pleasure to read. The books aren’t actually typeset, they’re all reproduced in Mollie’s handwriting, with her original artwork decorating every page. She also gives good, comprehensive descriptions of a huge range of natural products and how to use/prepare them.
I highly recommend checking them out.
New York Times Cookbook
Enola Prudhomme’s Cajun Cafe (which I picked up at the restaurant itself in the middle of BFNowhere, Louisiana)
Sushi & Sashimi which is more of a heavy pamphlet than a book, really. But it goes over everything and diagrams show proper preparation. All the basics, no fluff, and it’s the thinnest, best cookbook I have.
I’ve got a couple that I seem to use more frequently than others:
Like Grandma Used to Make: a Reader’s Digest cookbook with just your average, traditional recipes in it, but I’ve yet to make something that wasn’t really good.
The Around The World Cookbook: a “bargain book” at my local book store (I’m guessing because the editing was poor or something - different fonts and measurements in a section of the book). Has a chapter for each different country (about 12 of them) and starts with appetizers, soups, main dishes, desserts. Nice pictures and everything I’ve made has been VERY good. Big, jumbo book too! Made some spring rolls with this dark dipping sauce that had the most interesting flavor. You deep fry the onions till they are dark (almost burnt) and then let them sit in this soy sauce mix for 30 minutes then serve. Had almost a coffee aftertaste to it. Interesting.
One book that I bought, thinking I’d use it a lot but don’t, is The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. It has a ton of recipes and lots of good information BUT (and its a big ‘but’ for me), the author makes almost everything low-fat or reduced whatever! Ack! I hate that. We do not watch our weight/cholesterol/sugar intake/whatever because we don’t have to and I just wanted a good book with good vegetarian cuisine, not some “make it healthy” type thing. I do have Sundays at Moosewood, which I enjoy - got to get that thing out more.
Just for the titles alone, two gems from the 1930s and '40s:
“Be Bold with Bananas” and “How To Turn a Trick a Day with Bisquik”
Jadis - I used to eat at The “Moosewood” in Ithaca (great place, though the cookbook recipies seem to a wee bit bland compared to the restaurant).
I do not cook well (my “Silver Dollar Pancakes” turn out as “Small Change”), but my favorite cookbook in the house is Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge [ISBN: 0965327507] Wonderful recipies (many of which even I can’t screw up!), with something like 15 different chapters on honey, asparagus and chocolate and other ingredients, and some interesting photos to boot.
One of these days I’ll get the nerve to make the “Pasta with Strawberry Sauce”. I’ve had it - it’s better than it sounds.
yikes, eve! talk about playing with your food (insert lasciviously winking emoticon here). i have to mention bistro cooking by patricia wells. ill bet ive made 75 percent of the recipes in this wonderful book.
The Complete Middle East Cookbook, by Tess Malos, and Greek Cooking for the Gods by Eva Zane. Oh, and Joy of Cooking, of course.