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a really good cookbook to cook my way through

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  • cocoagirl Sep 15, 2005 08:41 AM

Repost form Not about food board: I am looking for a really good cookbook to cook my way through ala Julia & Julia style when she cooks her way through Julia Child. However, at the request of my SO I am looking for a cookbook with the emphasis on healthy, gourmet cooking- Meditarean (sp.), vegetarian maybe- any ideas- it should be fun creative recipes so this is fun and challenging for me TIA

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  1. I guess it depends on how long you have. My number one favorite cookbook is "New Joy of Cooking." Cooking your way through that is a little like trying to get through all of Disneyworld. . . it is huge! But I have never had a recipe in there not work and some of them are standby favorites now, particularly the Ceasar Salad.

    1. Julia Child "The Way to Cook" would be a great one but there is lots of meat, butter etc so I am sure at least 1/2 would not be what you would consider "healthy".

      My sister swears by any the Moosewood series by Mollie Katzen. I have had a number of delicious successes from her books but have never been inspired to cook my way thru eat since both me and my DH are avid carnivores!!

      You can check them out at Amazon or take a look at her website (linked below)http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/...

      Link: http://www.molliekatzen.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodiex2

        Definitely do *not* agree with the moosewood recs. Generally too bland and when ethnic, kinda watered down.

        I would recommend that before buying any books you see if you can check them out of your local library. I've avoided some real duds that way.

        Smokey

      2. Jacques Pépin's "Fast Food My Way" is one that I'm enjoying with ongoing [stunning] successes.

        2 Replies
        1. re: The Ranger

          This is a good choice. His dishes are very home cooking friendly, not vegetarian, come right together, good family style presentation, very tastey and very french home kitchen. I recommend it too. Enjoy.

          1. re: Robert

            I've requested his book for my b-day. I'm glad to hear that home cooks have found it useful. I'm a fan of his show, and have scribbled recipes everywhere. Thanks!

        2. "Biba's Taste of Italy : Recipes from the Homes, Trattorie and Restaurants of Emilia-Romagna" by Biba Caggiano is one I'm making my way through for great Italian eating - there's meat involved, but it's not excessive -- good, simple, authentic, lots of variety. I just saw there's used copies of the hardback on Amazon . . .

          I'm not so sure about Moosewood as another posted suggested for vegetarian -- it's soooo college dreary to me (as much as I love it, I haven't used it for over a decade.)

          Instead?
          "The Greens" restaurant cookbook (the first one is best IMHO) and "The Angelica Home Kitchen: Recipes and Rabble Rousings from an Organic Vegan Restaurant" by Leslie McEachern, because I love sea ceasar salad. I'm not the least bit interested in Vegan as a dietary discipline, but I like the food in this book.

          1. I would choose one of three cookbooks purchased in the last year. The Zuni book, which is packed with goodies; Paul Bertoli's Oliveto cookbook; or the Buchon cookbook.

            1. I am going to recommend something retro but more interesting than the usual cookbook.

              The Victory Garden Cookbook. A tried and true classic. Morash ran a well-regarded restaurant on Nantucket back in the day, and her advice and recipes are spot on. It is my first reference for vegetables, over and above my many other references for vegetables and vegetarian cooking. It has more splatters than almost any other cookbook except James Beard's American Cookery. It's also manageable in size and scope.

              Cook with vegetables according to their season: makes a great year-long enterprise. It's not vegetarian, but vegetables are the clear star. You will learn how to choose, handle, store and cook vegetables in all sorts of ways.

              For bonus points, try to grow many of the vegetables yourself, for the most local produce imaginable! She gives tips on that, too.

              Oh, if only WGBH would rerun the great original Victory Garden series, with Jim Crockett, and the next series with his worthy successor. I hate what a lifestyle show it has become. It used to be about how normal folk could garden and enjoy the fruit of their handiwork, real simple.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Karl S.

                Good cookbook, great idea.

                1. re: Karl S.

                  I second this recommendation. Some of my favorite dishes (for company especially) are from this book. Highly recommend the "Maltese scampi" and the "Quick carrot and chicken fricasee". She does make suggestions on how to lower the fat in some of the recipes (e.g. on the fricassee, you can either use cream or chicken broth for the finishing.)

                  My other old standby was the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, but there really is no emphasis on healthy, and no real ethnic options. Surprisingly, some of the diabetic cookbooks have some great recipes. I've made most of the chicken soups and entrees in the Good Housekeeping Diabetic cookbook and loved them.

                2. Marcella Hazan "Essentials of Italian Cooking" or Paula Wolfert Mediterranean Cooking (there are a couple titles) or Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking (again a couple of titles).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: summertime

                    Agree with Hazan's "essentials" rec. Hubby and I just started to do that ourselves, beginning with Ricotta and Anchovy Canapes,

                    Hazan can be a authoritative, bordering on pedantic, but she knows what she's talking about so I don't mind listening to her :-)

                  2. Okay, I can't really speak to the "healthy" (except to the degree that I believe a broad variety good homemade food with lots of vegetables is always healthy) and definitely not to the vegetarian, but there are a few cookbooks I would recommend. My criteria for choosing a "cook-through" cookbook is that the food have a distinctive style, but not be too repetitious, so no Joy of Cooking, but no 365 Ways to Cook Chicken either. I love Paul Prudhomme's Lousiiana Kitchen, but eating from it regularly would be too much heavy food, and seriously lacking in vegetables. I want to engage with an author who really speaks through both the food and the text. The book can't be overwhelming large (like Lord Krishna's Cuisine). And I want the food to taste great.

                    Here are my choices. The first two I have cooked from extensively; the third I started to cook through before the summer made serious cooking unappealing. I intend to get back to it as soon as possible.

                    Chris Schlesinger, Big Flavors of the Hot Sun

                    Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, Anya Von Bremzen

                    The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food, Lynne Rossetto Kasper

                    Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: curiousbaker

                      Any favorites from The Russian Cookbook that you'd like to share? I've enjoyed reading my copy immensely; unfortunately, I haven't made a single thing yet.

                      1. re: emily

                        the Moldovan recipe for baked Italian frying peppers is delicious and simple (It's one of the first couple of recipes in the book).

                        Especially easy because I have never found the need to peel the peppers after baking them. Although interestingly, the last batch I made did have the skin peeling off a bit. Maybe as the summer goes on, more of a skin develops on the pepper?

                        1. re: emily

                          I've loved almost everything I've made from that book, but the marinated mushrooms, pork and prune stew, and the goose stuffed with sauerkraut, cabbage and fruit really stand out as winners (I've also made the later with chicken). Oh, and my boyfriend loved a simple carrot dish, can't remember quite what it was, with caraway maybe?

                          Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

                      2. Oh, this is making me feel guilty for getting off track from my cookbook project. Months back, I was planning on diligently cooking through Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless, but now the summer's come and gone...blame it on ice cream obsession...Mexican Kitchen doesn't completely fit your criteria, but it's a great book and Bayless is a wonderful teacher and translator of regional Mexican cuisine. The few recipes I made really enlightened me about ingredients and method.

                        Matching more closely to your request, I cannot recommend the Zuni Cafe cookbook more highly!!! While it's not billed as "healthy" and doesn't skimp on flavor and fat (namely olive oil), the dishes in there are so diverse and incorporate lots of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts. When fat, sugar, etc. is called for, it never feels or tastes excessive, like some restaurant books can be. When I've used recipes from Zuni for a dinner party or weeknight meal, a) I never feel stressed making the meal and b) I never feel weighed down after the meal. For me, this cookbook feeds me on a physical and mental level...

                        BTW, am looking forward to finally making the shortribs braised in Chimay ale this fall/winter!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          thanks carb lover- I think this is the one. Healthy is relative- and this sounds about right, a balance is all we are looking for. Is the Chimay recipe in the Zuni cookbook- I have a bottle in the fridge now.

                          1. re: cocoagirl

                            Yep, it's in the book and I happened to find the recipe online (see link). If you test it out, let us know what you think! I'm dying to make it now that I discovered that I really like Chimay, as I'm generally not a beer fan.

                            Note: recipe suggests pre-salting 1-2 days in advance, which I highly recommend. There are different cuts of short ribs out there. Get the kind that are cut across the bones w/ 3-4 ribs each. Recipe suggests serving w/ spatzle or mashed potatoes. Can also use this w/ Muscovy duck legs or goose legs.

                            Oh, I need to make this soon!

                            Link: http://www.miseblog.com/2003_01_19_mi...

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              Now this is a bit off tangent but regarding Chimay, I HATE beer/ale and anything disguised as such and had a friend recently trying to help me develop a taste. He gave me two different types of Chimay and I hated to tell him that I couldn't drink it despite the abject look on his face. Believe it or not, I felt the same way, I am the woman who back in my early 20's "taught" myself to drink Dewars by sitting in a warm tub one night with a pint of it and drank sip after sip (believe it or not, not to the point of inebriation). I haven't had scotch in many years until recently and found that indeed, I still like it! Beer on the other hand...cannot drink it and I keep wondering what is wrong with me? I like EVERYTHING even 100 year old eggs!!

                        2. Frank Stitt's Southern Table is a prime candidate if you are someone who loves southern cooking, maybe even if you are not. Read the reviews at Amazon. This is one fantastic cookbook with fabulous recipes that work. Yes it is coffee table sized like Bouchon but so what? everything is good and don't mess with the recipes. Make them as written!

                          1. Ada Boni's "Italian Regional Cooking".

                            1. Jack Bishop's Italian Vegetarian Cooking, if you're not watching your carbs.

                              Susan Hermann Loomis' French Farmhouse Cooking-- wonderful, tasty, homey food. Lots of great chicken recipes, esp. the Chicken and Walnuts. I make dinner party food from this cookbook all the time, and always end up writing out recipes before guests go home.

                              Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking and Italian Cooking books-- Penguin sells paperback copies. Not super healthy, but it's a foundation for all things Zuni Cafe, and worth reading just for her opinionated writing style (i.e., prosciutto should be eaten with "a nugget of the best butter").

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: emdb

                                Although I'm not sure I would have suggested it for a 'cook my way through' cookbook, I do really like Jack Bishop's Italian Vegetarian. The recipes tend to be fairly simple (with some advance prep, I can often make them on a weeknight), rely on fresh ingredients and combined in tasty ways. I've rarely made a dog out of it, and most of the recipes I've tried have gone in the repeat column.

                                Smokey

                              2. After making Georgeanne Brennan's Beef and Basil Daube with Flageolets and Haricots Verts the other night from her book Potager, it occurs to me that Potager would be a wonderful book to cook your way through. Not a ton of recipes, not vegetarian but fits the Mediterranean theme somewhat (she lives in Provence), arranged by season so it would take an easy year, and every recipe I have tried has been absolultely lovely.