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Best Cookbook You Own?

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What are your favorite cookbooks -- The ones you always go back to?

Mine is All About Braising by Molly Stevens. Every recipe blows my mind and takes the individual ingrediants to new levels -- especially the short ribs with a maple rosemary glaze! The whole book is well written, easy to follow, and people can never refuse seconds and thirds when I cook from it.

Curious to know what the rest of you think of as the cookbook you could never live without...

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  1. The Professional Chef from The CIA's Greystone campus. I just can't find a more comprehensive resource for the identification, preparation, and presentation of food than this book. It is the one reference that's a must for me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Infomaniac

      That is my fav too.

      1. re: Infomaniac

        why Greystone? The 8th edition has just been released.

      2. This is so mundane considering how many cookbooks I own, but the one I actually use and keep going back to is The Joy of Cooking. Yep, boring but it really does cover just about everything, and I find that I can easily take a recipe and tweak it a bit and make them my own if necessary.

        4 Replies
        1. re: sivyaleah

          It's a hard question to answer, but of the many shelves of cookbooks, the book I often turn to is JC's "The Way to Cook".

          1. re: sivyaleah

            thats not a good thing...you must move on!

            1. re: tastelessfruit

              Oh I do more on - I use others, and a lot of magazines since I subscribe to nearly all of them and tend to cook new recipes based on what is seasonal but if I'm looking for a specific type of recipe I usually know that JOC will have it -if I don't think their version is suitable, then I go wandering elsewhere.

              1. re: sivyaleah

                That's exactly how I use my JOC. :)

          2. I would have to agree that it is "The Joy of Cooking" mostly because I can figure out how to cook or do anything I want to do by reading it. I don't cook by following recipes. With enough time, I tend to read a few different ways to cook the same thing ahead of time. Then when it comes to cooking it, I follow none of them. I prefer to do something different, although it may be very similar.

            If I had to list my next in lines, they would be, in no particualr order: one of Marcella Hazan's books on Classical Italian cooking; Charmaine Solomon's on Asian cooking (amazing in its breadth); Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child; The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz; and The Complete Book of Carribean Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz. Armed with these, I think I can cook most things that I think I want to cook. Although, I would like a really good one on barbequeing in the variety of American styles and also on how to fake those styles best when all you have is an oven.

            1. That is tooo braod a question. Best cookbook for what?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Candy

                Her last sentence says "a cookbook you could never live without"

                1. re: Infomaniac

                  No, I mean it. Best book for Chinese, Italian, Southern, Mexican, Spanish, French etc. I can name something in each category but best of the best has to be what you want to make and eat right now. Your best go to source for whatever. I have too many to pick one I could never live without. A better question would be if you could only keep one book in each of the cook book categories you collect and the rest would have to go what would you keep? And, that is even really hard and would take a lot of thought.

                  1. re: Candy

                    It's sort of like my worst fear....someone telling me this will be your last meal, what would you like?
                    I wouldn't be able to give them an answer...well, maybe an all you can eat buffet, of all my favorites.

              2. Aside from the classics mentioned above:

                Think Like a Chef was great

                1. The Silver Spoon. I feel like it never leaves my kitchen. There is a recipe for almost eveything in it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jordana

                    I was just given the Silver Spoon yesterday. I'm looking forward to cooking with it!

                  2. I second Julia Child's "The Way To Cook". There's a bit of everything in it.

                    1. My all-time fave is Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking." Everything that I make from that book is so delicious. And I think that reading and rereading it and making the recipes made me a better cook. Yay Julie Sahni!

                      1. The Silver Palate series.
                        And "Ginger east to west."

                        1. It would have to be Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World. I use it at least twice a week and couldn't live without it. Second would be Joy of Cooking.

                          1. I just got the Gourmet cookbook, whose stated goal is to provide a recipe for everything you would ever want to make. It's a great resource. I also love Marcella Hazan's books (I have them all). For reading pleasure, I like Saveur magazine's cookbooks, and the Alford/ Duguid cookbooks on Asian cooking (they are beautiful and the recipes are excellent). Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz is another favorite, as is (of course) The Way to Cook by JC (mostly for learning about classical techniques.) I also like books by Jasper White for New England cookery and Chez Panisse and Zuni books for cool left coast cookery.

                            1. I love my copies of Joy of Cooking - the new version and the late 1960s edition both. I am very crazy about Bittman's How To Cook Everything - I have two copies, one to read and one to keep in the kitchen and get messy - and also the Cooks Illustrated series.

                              But Mastering the Art of French Cooking is my touchstone and lodestar - it changed the way I thought about food when I was very young and newly married and tentatively exploring how I wanted my home life to be - and when preparing for a holiday or major cooking event, I still turn to Julia first.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: sheiladeedee

                                Despite the fact I'm an English major and you'd think I'd pick something like Ulysses by J. Joyce for my "desert island disk," nay, for readibility and overall containing something I can learn from, I'd say only Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia and friends, which, if not THE best cookbook I've ever cooked from, is certainly the most formative, and the book I learned the most from. Getting out of a burning house, I would grab my photos, my journals, my jewelry, and my Julia, for sure.

                                1. re: sheiladeedee

                                  I only own about 10 cookbooks (I am under a self-imposed moratorium of buying anymore b/c I have no room), but if the house was on fire, I'd grab Bittman's book first. His recipes are great for elegant weeknight cooking and I always learn something new.

                                2. My favorite cookbook is "The Best Recipe" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Norm Man

                                    That is a good one, everything you need and you know the recipes will be wonderful since they so exhaustively research them! I have three of the CI 'Best' cookbooks.

                                    1. re: Norm Man

                                      I find that cookbook well, annoying. As if you coook w/ any other technique it's wrong

                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        I'm glad to hear that someone else feels this way! With regard to both the cookbooks and the magazine, I find that Cooks Illustrated's content is informative but the style strikes me as self-righteous (in a kind of sweetly earnest way); and to a lazy person like me, the recipes often seem needlessly involved and require way too much advance planning. If you've brought home a piece of meat or poultry that you would normally just take out of its wrapper and saute, roast, or grill for tonight's dinner, you open the book to discover that you need to to brine it for 24 hours, then sear it in a perfectly preheated pan on the stove, then roast it in a preheated oven, then finish it on the grill (which is not permitted in your NYC apartment). You also need 3 significant ingredients that aren't even hinted at in the recipe's title. In my opinion, the book should be called "The Most Complicated Recipe."

                                        1. re: Miss Priss

                                          I agree ... cookbooks, magazine, and most esp. the TV show.

                                      2. re: Norm Man

                                        I would, too. Anything I've ever made from it has turned out well. The index drives me crazy, though. I can't tell what's the main subject in each column. I hope they've changed it for later editions.

                                        1. re: Norm Man

                                          my favorite as well.

                                        2. I gotta say Bittman. I know much of what's in it already, but I find myself going back to it and getting ideas to embelish or change in some way. Also his World's Best Recipes. Steak with Roquefort Sauce and the potato pancakes with kimchee....whoo doggies!

                                          1. No one mentioned Shirley O. Corriher's book. Is it "CookWise"? Not so many actual recipes (tho I've enjoyed the ones I've tried) but lots of great information about why some things work and how to approach things to get the effect you want. What I learned from her about how ingredients effect the finished cookies alone was worth the price of the book!

                                            After that, I agree with all the suggestions previously listed.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rainey

                                              I own CookWise too. There were several recipes I would screw up over and over and her book explained the problem and help me stop making the same mistakes. She's a great find!

                                            2. That's a tough one to answer. Best overall? Not sure. But if I had to say which cookbook has given me the most consistently good results, it would be the Daily Soup Cookbook. Strange but true. Every single time I've used a recipe from that book, the result has been excellent. I've worked my way through most of the soups, and have made lots of them more than once. The other day I made the cold borscht for the first time and it was delicious. I must also admit that I rarely follow a recipe exactly, and these recipes are very forgiving!

                                              I also have to mention The Joy of Cooking--my most used reference. And Nigella Lawson's How to Eat, because I find that her writing about food inspires me to cook and reassures me that there's no such thing as "perfection."

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Kagey

                                                Just made the white gazpacho from Daily Soup the other day - love it!

                                              2. Skipping over the usual obvious basic books, one book I dearly love is something I found in the sale bin maybe 30 years ago: The New York Times Large Type cookbook. It has a well-selected limited number of recipes which are sensible, useful, and possess panache. It's a pleasure to read and has provided mealtime inspiration over the years.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Sharuf

                                                  I found a copy of this in someone's trash the other day and haven't looked all the way through it yet. Glad to read it's a keeper.

                                                2. Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home, which we refer to as "Fast Moosewood". I like all the Moosewoods that I own but use that one and the low fat Moosewood cookbook the most.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hoagy294

                                                    Yea Moosewood! My Moosewood Cooks at Home is falling apart. Italian rocks.

                                                  2. Joy of Cooking wins for its reliability -- it's encylopedic, which is an essential thing in a kitchen. However, there are two cookbooks I use regularly that have always served me well. First is Surreal Gourmet by Bob Blumer. Every recipe has been good. I ignore a lot of the party tips and other nonsense in there, but the recipes should not be ignored. Second is Bobby Flay's second grilling cookbook. It's a very good cookbook to turn to when you're entertaining a large group during the summer.

                                                    1. You're a very high brow crowd, and I use many of the books mentioned, too, but the book that has the most spots on it, from many years of use, is San Francisco Firehouse Favorites. The very best Macaroni and Cheese (and most sophisticated by a long distance), the very best Pesto with pasta and for a quick guest dinner main course, a superb roast requiring nothing:"Ask your meatman to bone a loin of pork, replace the bone with Italian anise sausages in casings, roll and tie. Roast...a 3 lb. roast for 2 1/2 hrs at 325. Allow to stand 15 min...carve" Called 'A Remarkable Roast.' Oh, also the very best Crab Cioppino recipe I've come across and I'm just getting started.

                                                      1. I've got reference books for everything, especially different regional cookbooks. The Way To Cook, Supercookery, and The Best Recipe usually all come out when comparing one to another. Julia usually always wins.

                                                        Other authors I really enjoy are Bayless, Bourdain, Stewart and Raichlin.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: personalcheffie

                                                          Second the recc for Bayless. Authentic Mexican was my original bible for mexican food. Great regional recipes.

                                                          Classic Italian by Marcella Hazan (mentioned by someone up above) is in the same category.

                                                        2. For reference: JOC; for certain dishes (clafouti and pastry) as well as just reading: Mastering the Art, as others have said.
                                                          For sheer enjoyment, I love my "mediterranean: food of the sun" by Clark and Farrow that my son gave me and which has wonderful pictures and great recipes.
                                                          Others, of course, but if I had to save only three (don't ask me to only save one), it would be these.

                                                          1. It is so hard to choose. If I have to choose one, it's going to have to be an "all-purpose" cookbook. Lately I have been using the Gourmet cookbook the most. For desserts, my favorites are by Rose Levy Beranbaum and Emily Luchetti.

                                                            I also like "Back to Square One" by Joyce Goldstein, "Fields of Greens" by Annie Sommerville (especially her salad recipes), "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison, and the Barefoot Contessa books (even though I can't stand her TV show, and I don't think she actually created any of those recipes herself - but she knows how to compile a solid collection).

                                                            Honestly, I wouldn't want to live without any of those cookbooks!

                                                            1. My single favorite is Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian cooking, just great recipes from all over the world. I use this more than any other book, and I have quite a few. The others I use most often are Patricia Well's Bostro Cooking, and Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking. I read a wide variety but these are the ones with recipes I'll use.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: steinpilz

                                                                Oh yes, I forgot the Patricia Wells books - I would want those too!

                                                              2. I tend to use books for ideas more than actual recipes (except for baking). At the moment, I'm really into cookbooks organized by season, which are great for inspiration based on the produce at its peak at the moment. I love Peter Berley's Fresh Food Fast, and Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. Any others I should be on the lookout for?

                                                                1. I use Dean & Deluca Cookbook edited by David Rosengarten as a great all around cookbook.
                                                                  Also a big fan of the Delia Smith cookbooks.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Mila

                                                                    After some initial suspicion, I too have found the Dean & Deluca cookbook indispensable.

                                                                  2. I won't belabor the points that have already been made, but if favorite is defined as most used then hands down "The Joy of Cooking". My ex-wife got away with my copy, and in rebuilding my library it was the first one back in. I reference it for something almost every week.

                                                                    1. We use lots and lots of cookbooks, but the MOST stained cookbooks on our shelves are Jane Brody's "Good Food Cook Book" and "New Recipies from Moosewood Restaurant"

                                                                      1. I have a ton, including Joy of Cooking, but the one I use the most is my grandmother's copy of her local Garden Club's cookbook! It is all the best recipes from some of the best Mississippi cooks you will ever find!

                                                                        1. looking on the shelf gives the answer. my Joy of Cooking (circa 1972) is as beat as possible plus has all my notes. then Silver Palate's Basic book, also pretty beat up. italian i go with Hazan and buglialli.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            If you define "best cookbook" as the one you reach for *first* when you're actually planning on cooking, then I would agree with those two -- JOC because it's got all the basics and will, as other people have said, give you foundation techniques you can then tweak; and "Silver Palate" because the recipes are simple, reliable and delicious. I also like my "San Francisco a la Carte" (Junior League) cookbook and my old Betty Crocker (for baking).

                                                                            More and more these days I go to the internet first. I like searching online because I can quickly read and compare several different recipes for the same thing or using the same ingredient(s) and then pick the best elements of each (the prep technique from one, the proportions from another, the seasoning from a third, etc.).

                                                                            Cookbooks for reading are another matter entirely. My favorite cookbook to read is "The Cuisine of Normandy" by Princess Marie-Blanch de Broglie, which is full of charming little stories about the food-life of a French noblewoman. "The Cuisine of Hungary" by George Lang is another great read -- really more of a cultural history than a cookbook. If you can get your hands on a copy of "Herbs for the Kitchen" by Irma Goodrich Mazza, the introduction is incredibly entertaining (and realize how times have changed), and the book itself has lots of good info about growing and using fresh herbs.

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              I also really like "San Francisco a la Carte", as well as my mother's old (and extremely quirky) "Golden Gate Gourmet".

                                                                          2. I learned to cook from the Marion Cunningham version of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It's got a lot of good, basic information about different food groups, plus reliable recipes. I turn to it over and over again.

                                                                            1. I use many cookbooks, and would be hard-put to name a favorite. However, the last one that anyone could pry from my cold and dying hand would be my mother's old JOC.

                                                                              1. Cocina de Mi Familia - you want authentic Mexican, along with great stories on the inspirations for the recipes, this is it.

                                                                                And of course, Joy of Cooking. I love that I can find information on brunch and party menus, along with the recipes.

                                                                                1. La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio and Sicilian Home Cooking, both by the Tornabenes and Michele Evans.

                                                                                  The best Italian cookbooks ever. I highly recommend these if you like Italian food.

                                                                                  1. I have about 200 cookbooks, mostly vegetarian, and my favorite by far is Verdura: Vegetables Italian-Style by Viana La Place. I'm sure I've made at least 50 recipes from that book. My current favorite new cookbook is A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop.

                                                                                    1. The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuna Devi. I've been using it for almost twenty years, practically weekly, and it never, ever disappoints.

                                                                                      1. 'How to Cook Without a Book' by Pam Anderson (not of BayWatch).

                                                                                        1. I love All About Braising too, but if i had to pick one cookbook, I'd pick the new Gourmet cookbook for the combo of quality and breadth of recipes.

                                                                                          1. Either the Joy of Cooking or the CIA's Professional Chef. However, when i need a recipe for an obscure item I always go to Joy of Cooking first. When i recently bought a pheasant out of curiosity it provided me with a much more appealing suggestion than Brillat-Savarin's tips (which is to hang the bird and not cook it until the first maggot falls off). As i recall anyway.

                                                                                            Weber’s Big Book of Grilling is also a nice general guide to grilling outside. I have cooked many things out of it and have almost always found their rather spartan preparations to be delicious.

                                                                                            1. I now use Bittman more than the 1972 JOC; I just can't do fussy cooking as much as I used to, although the '72 JOC is often brought out for the Pepsi Challenge with Bittman, leading to a hybrid recipe. I hardly ever read the new JOC, and now that I have Bittman's Best Recipes in the World, I use it even less. (All those grain and veggie dishes-- his method is much easier). Other best references is D. Madison's Veg. Cooking for Everyone.

                                                                                              For inspiration, anything by Elizabeth David-- still looking for Spices, salts and aromatics. Anyone want to sell me a copy? : ) While I love Judy Rodgers, Mrs. David did it first.

                                                                                              For sure crowd pleasers, All About Braising, or any of Molly's recipes from Fine Cooking. That woman can write a recipe. And last, but not least, any of Susan Hermann Loomis' Farmhouse cookbooks-- we just finished off a big batch of her pulled pork, yum!

                                                                                              1. I agree with everyone that mentioned Bittman's How To Cook Everything. I refer to it not only for recipes, but also to get general information for food as well. I tried more than a few recipes and all worked perfectly fine.

                                                                                                1. Yes,I agree JOC and Mastering the Art - my treasured copy is held together by scotch tape and it really was my bible and inspiration 20+ years ago and there are still many recipes I use. But I must add in recent years I refer at least once a week to Chez Panisse Vegetables and Fields of Greens. I have to add that I was given The French Laundry cook book as a gift - makes a great book stop!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                  1. I'm going to rephrase the question as something more along the lines of -- if you were going off somewhere for a month or a year (without internet access), and you could only take one cookbook, what would it be? Because I agree with the PP who said best for what? For baking? For hometown favorites? For information?

                                                                                                    For the question I asked, I would agree with the posters who said the Gourmet cookbook. Not too basic, good information, and a lot of my favorite recipes from Gourmet through the years. Pretty comprehensive, too.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                                                      If I were marooned somewhere (most likely in northwestern PA - motto: Nothing Chowish Here - where my elderly folks live) I would take my older edition of Joy of Cooking because be able to find most of the available food (truly wonderful produce and fish) in recipes they would eat in that book.

                                                                                                      If I were to be stranded in another part of the country or in Europe I would take Bittman because it would be possible to find more adventurous ingredients. If I knew for sure I would be stranded in France then Julia would go with me.

                                                                                                    2. My favorite cookbook is a series that is still going strong. The books are called "The Best American Recipes". Edited by Fran McCullough with Molly Stevens. They have been putting together a cookbook every year since 1999. So far they have produced only winning recipes. They search high and low for interesting recipes, from the internet, other cookbooks, restaurants and other sources. They then compile them into one cookbook. Each recipe has an interesting story to go along with it. I look forward to every December when it comes out, and promptly buy one for me and my sister.

                                                                                                      1. I really like the cookbooks put out by Cook's Illustrated. I'm currently making things out of the New Best Recipe and the Best Light Recipe.

                                                                                                        I also got a cookbook called the "Multicultural Cookbook for Student" by Carol Albyn(?). It has tons of easy to make international recipes, including a recipe for injera (Ethiopian bread) that doesn't use teff.

                                                                                                        1. My mom once told me that a cookbook is worth its price if you've found a single recipe you like and will use. I extend that theory to "useful piece of advice." I have many cookbooks and love to read them all but I don't follow recipes from most of them.

                                                                                                          1. I'm fickle... I have flings where I'll do a lot of cooking from a particular book, then my eye is caught by another saucy glance and I'm off. But one oldie that I cherish for some basics (buttercream, hazelnut torte, and a terrific way of folding egg whites using a bare hand) is Paula Peck's "Art of Fine Baking."

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: rootlesscosmo

                                                                                                              Yes, I love this one too. And also an odd book called Victorian Cakes... wonderful for the atmosphere and stories more than the recipes.

                                                                                                            2. I also refer to JOC now and again, but I could give that up as long as Mom's around :) I also like Cookwise, but just for interest rather than actual cooking ... and I refer to a church cookbook I worked on years ago every so often. What I'd really want to hang onto is the complete works of Maida Heatter. As others have mentioned, baking is where you really need cookbooks, and Maida is the queen of baking.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                PS For reading pleasure, Laurie Colwin or a 1940s (?) cookbook called Christmas Cookies, whose author takes the same pleasure in holiday baking traditions that I do. Also Ruth Reichl, who so perfectly captures the intense pleasure of wonderful food.

                                                                                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                  Laurie Colwin was a real treasure. She could write cookbooks better than novels, IMHO. Casual, light, fun reading and good recipes!

                                                                                                              2. "The Best Recipe", by 'Cook's Illustrated'. And for a subject not covered, by the aforementioned, game: "Wild About Game", by Janie Hibler.

                                                                                                                1. The original two-volume Marcella Hazan, "The Classic Italian Cook Book" andd "More Classic Italian Cooking." No contest.

                                                                                                                  However, the consolidated single-volume edition "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" is horrible. The editors arbitrarily reduced the quantities of butter and oil, didn't test, and some of the resulting recipes simply don't work. Plus they left out some of the best recipes.

                                                                                                                  2000 more words on the subject here:

                                                                                                                  http://lauriston.com/food-clips/class...

                                                                                                                  1. After reading some of these posts I went to my shelves and looked again for books which had changed the way I think about food. And one I'd like to put forward is "Cucina Simpatica" by the owners of Al Forno restaurant in Providence. I know that the restaurant is no longer the beacon it once was, but it changed the way a lot of people ate and cooked, and the simplicity, the juxtaposition of flavors, the emphasis on excellent ingredients, and the use of wood grilling were amazingly novel when I first discovered the place.. The first time I ate there it was corn season, and there was lovely fresh corn on the pizza - and then my boss, who knew George and Johanne from their RISD days, gave me the cookbook with a nice note from them for Christmas that year. Seeing how that wonderful pizza was made, trying it myself, psyching myself into trying wood grilling meats, baked pastas, roasted vegetable plates... it changed the way I cooked.

                                                                                                                    It is interesting reading this thread - we all seem to have books we go to for information, and then there's the books that inspire us, make us want to go apply fire to something.

                                                                                                                    1. Well, I have one that probably no one else is going to have... The Gluten-Free Gormet Cooks Fast and Healthy, by Bette Hagman.

                                                                                                                      It's my favorite to cook from, because, well, I don't have to convert the recipes from normal to gluten-free. However, the books I sit and read, for fun, are the Cooking Light compliations I picked up at a thrift store. (I'm a college student; 40-50 for a cookbook is a lot right now, but 5? I can swing that.) They're so full of recipes! When I feel like a challenge, I make stuff from the Cooking Light -- I feel like I'm making headway on getting my food the right texture, but I'm not quite there. Ah well. Learning.

                                                                                                                      1. Although I'm not vegetarian, my current favorite cookbook is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Lots of inspiration for simple, flavorful ways to use veggies. Almost every recipe I've followed has been excellent, and she gives you lots of techniques and ideas to take off from -- right now, it's the only cookbook consistently "off the shelf" in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: alaughingdog

                                                                                                                          Deborah Madison is the bomb. That book rocks.

                                                                                                                        2. After this thread and not having heard of Bittman before reading it, I checked out his "The Best Recipes in the World" from the library. This may be my new favorite. I promptly ordered it from B&N or Amazon, can't remember which. Last night I made the chicken with chickpeas tagine and it was superb. Whereas Julia tells me how to make my chicken "chickeny," Bittman tells me how to throw in stuff to make unusual but delectably flavored dishes. Now I have 4 cookbooks to have to save if there's a fire. Actually, make that 5, as I would probably pull Julia Vol II out of the bookcase, also. My burden is getting a little heavy in the arms.

                                                                                                                          1. The "cookbook" I use the most is my huge expandable file of recipes gleaned from many sources. I have most of the cookbooks cited above, but they're mostly bedtime reading. When I cook these days, it's usually off-the-cuff. If I want inspiration, I usually go on-line. If I want to be challenged, I'll dip into "Bouchon" or similar. I find that my cooking style evolves over time, so that while I still love Julia and all she has taught me over the years, I don't think that I'll ever make her blanquette de veau again -- it's just not the way I cook these days.

                                                                                                                            1. Right now I'm liking John Ash's "Cooking One on One". For fun check out James Lileks' "The Gallery of Regrettable Food". Hillarious!

                                                                                                                              1. Vegetarian Cooking for Eveyone by Deborah Madison. I'm not a vegetarian, but I treasure many of the chapters, including the desserts, sauces and soups. Flavorful and great at teaching techniques and variations. It's what got me cooking in the first place, and while I don't use it all the time anymore, It's what I would grab if I could only keep 1.

                                                                                                                                1. Mine is a sentimental choice-- the cookbook a friend gave me which first sparked my interest in cooking. Called "Cooking with The New American Chefs" by Ellen Brown and published in 1985, it's half cookbook, half profiles of cooks who by now are famous: Wolfgang Puck, Paul Prudhomme, Barbara Tropp, Jasper White, to name a few. Each chef only has a few recipes, but some of those have evolved into standards in my house, such as Paul Prudhomme's Red Beans and Rice, Barbara Tropp's Spicy Spareribs with Garlic, and Anne Greer's Warm Chicken and Papaya Salad. When I first started cooking, I had no idea who these cooks were, but the recipes proved so reliable that it encouraged me to cook more and more. Now, of course, I own other complete cookbooks by some of these chefs. This is the only cookbook I've worn out and had to replace. A couple of years ago I ordered a few copies for friends and found it ridiculously inexpensive-- I think it's two bucks on alibris. Not a great work, like a lot of other cookbooks listed here, but if I could only take one with me, this is what I'd bring along.

                                                                                                                                  1. New Basics, from the Silver Palate authors. I go to this with a question before I'll reach for Joy of Cooking, or anything else. Baking with Julia is another favorite.

                                                                                                                                    1. Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynne Alley. When we know we will both get home late and hungry, a half hour of chopping and browning in the morning saves the day. I am so glad I learned how 8 hours at 180 degrees melds and preserves flavors that are destroyed by a few minutes simmering or boiling.
                                                                                                                                      JOC however would be the one if I could only have one cookbook. I never follow the recipes in there, but while I am winging it, I check it to see if I am forgetting something.

                                                                                                                                      1. I think that if I had to pare my 300 or so cookbooks down to one, it would be Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook. It has five hundred recipes, mostly simple and straighforward. Many ethnicities are represented, as are restaurants, celebrities, and all kinds of other folks. It's available in paperback at Amazon for $12.21. I given several as gifts. Everyone enjoys it.

                                                                                                                                        1. My long-time favorite is White Dog Cafe cookbook. The recipes are restaurant-quality geared to the home cook (that is: the cook w/ stock and demi glace available!) It taught me much about appreciating flavor and sauces. I've made many, many meals from that book and indeed they were restaurant quality -- well-flavored. I also like the owner/author's politics about sustainable agriculture, giving back to the community, etc.

                                                                                                                                          1. Joy of Cooking is must have for any cook,

                                                                                                                                            I have to purchase a new one, my current one has been worn out, the binding is gone from overuse...

                                                                                                                                            1. Two that I really go to often are The "New" New York Times cookbook by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey ('79). Franey was a noteworthy french chef and Claiborne for you guys too young to know about him was the Rest Critic/Food writer for the Times from the 60's through the '80's. THey knew many chefs and noteworthy people and collected a slew of authentic recipes from various cuisines of the world. They knew something good when they tasted it. A recipe for Pasta with Carrots and Vermouth sounds strange as anything but it is really excellent.
                                                                                                                                              The second is Leone's Italian Kitchen, written in '61 or thereabouts by the then 80 something year old son of Mama Leone of old New York restaurant fame. The recipes are what "Mama" brought from the old country in the early 1900's and what was served at the restaurant. Back then there was not much concern for fat, sugar consumption etc. Butter is added in a number of them. Pancetta was nearly non-existant here at that time. Knowing this he wrote many recipes using salt pork which is an acceptably close substitute. Certainly better than using bacon. I have never made a bad recipe from the book and will say that while I never went to the restaurant, (I'm not that old :) I can easily understand why it had the reputation it did. I make his Calamari Stew on a cold winter night and Thank God he decided to write the book :)

                                                                                                                                              1. I always reach for Bistro Cooking at Home (Hamersley), Joy of Cooking or How to Cook Everythink
                                                                                                                                                Although I just got Silver Spoon as a gift and can see it getting dog-eared!

                                                                                                                                                1. Any Mark Bittman book and the Les Halles cookbook. Also Dads Own Cookbook by Bob Sl.oane

                                                                                                                                                  1. Appetite by Nigel Slater.

                                                                                                                                                    Matt

                                                                                                                                                    1. Leiths Cookery Bible. It's got all the basics and then some, including useful commentary.

                                                                                                                                                      http://www.leiths.com/images/books/Co...

                                                                                                                                                      By Prue Leith and Caroline ?Waldegrave.

                                                                                                                                                      TT

                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm a dessert girl, so my choice is a dessert cookbook. Between me, my mom, and my sister, we've made many creations in "Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book" and have ALWAYS been impressed with the outcomes.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I own many, and most of what I cook is Japanese food, but at the same time, the most informative and helpful book I have is The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky. Every recipe and the theory behind them are amazing to read.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Better Homes and Garden 1967. Anything newer will be missing some good recipes. I prefer cookbooks, that have a picture on one side and the recipe directly opposite. That is my preferred format. I have an 10 year old Land o' Lakes, that is pretty good, too.

                                                                                                                                                              1. I go back to the JOC (the old one) for ingredients I am not familiar with. And I love the original JC books for classic French that can't be beat. I have neen cooking a lot from Diana Kennedy's books too. But, the cookbooks I really love are the Provincial French and Italian books from the Time Life Books series from the 60s! I have made innumerable recipes from them, and a few others from that series, without a regret.