HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Cookbook - R.R.?

I'm thinking of getting a newbie bride a cookbook for her birthday. Do you suggest Rachel Ray's 365? Let me know what you think is the most affordable, universal cookbook! Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How about Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything? It's understandable and easily supplants the new watered-down edition of The Joy Of Cooking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: themis

      I second Bittman. It's basic and advanced, exotic and mundane. It's also good reading. I use it all the time and certainly don't consider myself anything but very competent in the kitchen.

      It's a wonderful book.

    2. Call me crazy, but I'd go with "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home."

      The point being that for a newbie bride you want to inspire as well as instruct. The recipes are easy to understand with lots of beautiful and instructive pictures and, as a bonus, it clearly shows that there is no one way to cook. Cooking is an art with different interpretations on everything.

      From a simple roast chicken to a holiday meal, this is hard to beat.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jimctgc

        I love that book, and it does seem a little more "special" simply because it's J&J. For what it's worth, the recipes I've tried from it have worked beautifully, and the book is a nice combination of basic techniques and fancy sounding dishes.

      2. Rachael Ray? Ewwww. Only if she's a die-hard RR fan, but in that case, she probably already has the cookbook.

        How about The Best Recipe cookbook? There are actually three - the first one, a revised one, and a light version. They feature classic, traditional American cuisine (roast chicken, meatloaf, apple pie, etc.) with a few modern and ethnic additions. People who like to understand the science of cooking can read the lengthy descriptions of how the best version was perfected, and those who don't can simply skip to the recipe.


        1. For a good reference book, the OLD Joy of Cooking.

          For a great meal book, Zuni Cafe.

          1. Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook - Barber & Whiteford

            I'm not RR fan myself.

            1 Reply
            1. re: citizenconn

              I've bought this for a few friend's weddings. I really like their approach of learning about food together. Also, it is informative without being either too simple or condescending.

            2. I'd recommend the "New Basics Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins of Silver Palate fame. It's been around for many years and is a great first cookbook or base for a collection. About 800 pages of good relativly easy recipes and basic info, (tools, sauces, etc)It's particularly good for new or begining cooks. Unfortunaltey it only comes in paperback and doesnt have any nice photogaraphy so it may not be the most presentable gift but its very resonable at about 20.00

              1 Reply
              1. re: SteveInSoCal

                I'd second that. I use mine all the time! :)

              2. I like to give The Classics for big events like that, so if she doesn't already have it, I'd recommend Julia Child and Simone Beck's Mastering the Art of French Cooking: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0375.... I just saw this book again in my husband's grandmother's pantry and it must have been one of the original copies. I hope I get to inherit it!

                Oh, if you know where they're going on honeymoon, you may also want to consider giving them one of the William Sonoma city books (and accompanying CDs) for the city that they're going to. My best friend gave me the Barcelona one for my birthday, as I was going there about a month later, and after we came back we were able to reminisce about our vacation with recipes and beautiful photos of places we'd been.

                1 Reply
                1. re: coolbean98

                  Grandmother! Now you really ruined my day, I have the very tattered original two volumes in my bookcase, and still refer to it often, although I don't cook from it that much anymore. My sister does occasional catering and when someone asked for Boeuf Bourgunion we went immediately to Mastering. It was and still is a popular dish with her clients.

                2. Need more info: she's a new bride, but is she an inexperienced cook? When I got married, I was way past the RR level.

                  1. No, she's not very experienced, but knows how to cook several decent dishes.

                    Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I'm scribbling them down and taking it to the store.

                    1. Another idea would be a book about ingredients. Different cuts of meat, types of shellfish, etc. It would make a good reference.

                      1. MM's top ten books for novice home cooks

                        1. The New Best Recipe-America's Test Kitchen
                        2. The Joy Of Cooking- Irma S. Rombauer (look for one at a thrift store-you want an old edition)
                        3. How to Cook Everything-Mark Bittman
                        4. Fannie Farmer Cookbook-compiled/edited by Marion Cunningham
                        5. Mastering the Art of French Cooking-Julia Child and Simone Beck
                        6. The Silver Spoon-(English translation) Phaidon Press
                        7. Les Halled cookbook-Anthony Bourdain
                        8. Food Lover's Companion
                        9. On Food and Cooking-Harold McGee
                        10. Larousse Gastronomique

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: MaspethMaven

                          Ooh, if you give her the Les Halles cookbook, throw in Kitchen Confidential or Cook's Tour for juicy honeymoon beach reading. :)

                          1. re: coolbean98

                            Cook's Tour wins. Although I just finished The Nasty Bits, and found I was trying to delay finishing it, just so I could keep going. I can read Bourdain all day. The special they did on Bourdain in Beirut (he was there to tape an episode of "no reservations" for the Travel Channel when the war broke out) was really interesting, and very sad.

                        2. That book is fine as long as you don't want the new bride to achieve anything above pedestrian cooking, which will alienate her husband and then lead to a messy divorce where she will be exposed as a ne'er-do-well cook. All because of RR.

                          My recs:
                          - The Joy of Cooking (there is no substitute)
                          - The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
                          - Two year subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. It's very well organized with LOTS of picures. Ideal for a newbie cook.

                          1. Hi there,

                            I'd recommend anything by Nigel Slater -- I gave a copy of Appetite to a good friend of mine who got married last year and she loved it! She was a novice cook (but an advanced eater) at the time and really enjoyed both the recipes and Slater's style.


                            1. This new bride may already have many of the basics. This may not be true in case of Larousse Gastronomique. A good choice. I'd go a bit beyond the basics and suggest:
                              The Splendid Table - recipes from Emilia Romagna - L R Kasper
                              The Book of Jewish Food - C Roden

                              1. I own the RR 365 book, and it is not all bad. That said, it does not teach technique or any sort of exotic tastes...it does have a few ideas good for cooks who struggle to cook dinner for a family each night and aren't especially creative...diff ways to cook the same ingredients, etc.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                  Mastering the Art of French Cooking (at least my edition) is a bit hard to interpret, though the results are well worth it. When I first started using it a lot of the instructions were unclear or misleading and it took a couple of tries to get things right.

                                2. I ended buying Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. The birthday girl loves it! Thanks, Chowhounds.