Your favorite cookbook...
In the same vein as "What New Cookbook Do You Want For Holidays?" ... What is your favorite cookbook? Why? What are some of the best recipes in it?
I am pulling together a wishlist for the Holidays and I would love to benefit from your experience.
That's such a hard question. But here goes:
For general reference: The Best Recipe (Cooks Ill.) and Fannie Farmer
For salads: Lettuce in Your Kitchen (Schlesinger)
For jams, preserves, pickles and so forth: Helen Witty's Fancy Pantry and Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures
For Italian: The Splendid Table
For French: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, of course
Favorite single cuisine cookbook overall: Please to the Table (Russian)
For vegetarian and also quick lunches and so on: Quick Vegetarian Pleasures
For baking: Nick Malgieri's big book, can't remember the name
For knock-em dead desserts: Marcel DeSaulniers' Desserts to Die For and Death by Chocolate
For pies: Little Pie Company of the Big Apple Pies and Other Dessert Favorites
For "old-fashioned" recipes: The Wooden Spoon Dessert Cookbook
For food essays with recipes worth making: Anything by John Thorne
For meaty pleasures: Chris Schlesinger's Big Flavors of the Hot Sun
For Cajun/Creole: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
The most stained and used of these are probably Prudhomme, Fancy Pantry, the Best Recipe, Please to the Table, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Lettuce in Your Kitchen. I also very much like the information in James Peterson's books, though I rarely use his recipes. For ideas about presentation, Martha can't be beat, though I don't use her recipes much either. And there are a few books I cherish for one or two recipes: Maury Rubin's tart shell recipe from his book on tarts (also visually fantastic), for example, or the Silver Palate's peach cobbler. I cook more than I bake, but I'm more dependent on baking books, because complete improv is more difficult with cakes and such.
I love Lidia's Italian American Kitchen by Lidia Bastianich. The best recipes I've tried from it are the Chicken Scarpariello, the Chicken Valdostana, and the manicotti.
I love New Basics because number one, it has everything in it, and number two, it's (mostly) all good. Plus it's such a catch-all great reference for instructions,preparation, charts of pairings, etc. Love it. Their carrot cake is especially perfect.
Gosh I have about 400 cookbooks which is my favorite? I guess it would depend on for what? If I had to get rid of most of them I would have a hard time deciding which are absolutely essential to keep but off the top of my head I can say I would never be without a copy od Marion Brown's Southern Cookbook, NY Times Heritage Cookbook, James Beards American Cookery, Corinne Trang's Essentials of Asian Cookery, Irene Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking. Dianne Rossen Worthington's California Cook, Waldy Malouf's Hudson River Cook Book, my books by Madhur Jaffery and I would have a hard time parting with my Saveur cookbooks and all of my Gourmet Annual cookbooks. Gosh, then there are the Bayless books and Diana Kennedy's I guess they are all pretty much favorites. I did do a purge a year or so ago and donated a bunch to our local Red Cross Book Fair and some to a thrift shop so I guess all of the others are keepers for now.