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September 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Cast Your Votes Here


For those of you interested in participating in our chowhounds cooking together (see other thread), please cast your votes here for our September 2006 cookbook.

Since we're just getting started-- and a late start at that, this month-- I'd like to suggest that we begin with a "classic" cookbook, something that folks may already have in house. I think next month, October, would be a great month to focus on braising (several people have suggested all about braising), November a focus on more complex meals (maybe Sunday Suppers?), December on baking, etc. But this month I'd like to suggest we begin with something a little more tried and true, something folks may have cooked from a bit before.

I went to two farmer's markets this weekend, and in this part of the country (CA Bay Area), I'm seeing gorgeous tomatoes and corn, but also wonderful peppers, eggplants, squash, and herbs. The last of the peaches and plums are still in season, as well as a few figs. Apples are just beginning.

The two types of cooking that come to mind for me, given the fresh food plentiful now, are Italian and Mexican. So here are my votes for the next two-three weeks of cookbook exploration:

1. Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
2. Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time

Please list at one to three cookbooks you would like to cook from for this month. (My list next month might be totally different-- in fact, next month I think I'd vote for either All About Braising or Tom Valenti's one pot cooking book.)

Okay, hounds, what do you think?

    1. Not to be indecisive but . . . I could go for either of these. I have Marcella but have been wanting to buy Bayless. Both great chefs with great recipes. I'm in once we decide.


      1. I have Rick Bayless' and Marcella's books, so I think either of your suggestions are great for this month. I've already cooked a lot out of "Mexico", so might lean towards Marcella (but the Bayless recipes I've tried were delicious). I also like your ideas of "Braising" next month, "Suppers", and then baking for December..

        1. Good choices...but could we consider The Classic Book of Home Cooking by Marlena Spieler and Mary Berry? It is wonderful. It has 1,000 recipes with full color illustrations, it is well put together, easy to follow. It can be bought used on Amazon for 3.00 bucks.

          It has everything in it from Thai chicken Satays to all-american food recipes.

          I'd rather do that and have a choice of many cultures/recipes to choose from.

          1. Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is my vote.

            1. Marcella Hazan's has my vote for Sept. Also love the idea of All about braizing for next month---will be a perfect time of year for that!

              1. My vote is for Marcella! Very fortuitous that I just bought the book a couple of weeks ago since it was half off.

                I also am all for All About Braising next month since I happened to just buy that book too!

                Love your idea of a baking book in December for the holidays, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself...

                I'm open to whatever logistics you or others would like for choosing a recipe and reporting; I don't have any bright ideas right now.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Carb Lover

                  Where was it 1/2 off? Looking to make a purchase...

                  1. re: Ora

                    I bought it at a small cooking store right next to where I work. They had their annual summer clearance and boy was I happy to see Essentials amongst the pile. If people really want to buy a book instead of check out at their library, I'd look on ebay or Amazon for books from private sellers. Can usually get good deals. It looks like Marcella may be the book for this month, so I'm going to flip through it tonight!

                    Oh, I would also like to encourage participants to post photos when possible! If you have a digital camera, then you have no excuse... :-)

                2. I'd also vote for Marcella. Bittman's Best Recipes in the World is a very good book, but I think it's just too wide a span, we'd spend all our time choosing which recipe from which cuisine to cook.

                  1. I liked the idea of picking a book as a way to make a stretch to cook something new and . . . well, big. That's why I thought of Suzanne Goin (I've flipped through it but haven't taken the plunge). Marcella -- we're talking Essentials of Classic Italian Cuisine, no? -- I have been into big time already. But I am game if that's what others want. (I'll try something new!)

                    Marcella in Sept, and then Goin and braising in Nov. sounds good to me. I know you just asked about Sept, but I would hope Dec for baking won't be just about Xmas cookies. (Yes we're ALL going to have to bake that #@%#& clementine cake!!)

                    1. I could go with Marcella, Goin, Braising and ???. I don't own the braising book, but I have been wanting it, so now I have and excuse. Do we all chose our own recipe and post that or just cook it and report?
                      I am going to look through Essentials for something I have not cooked from there. Mostly, I make the osso buco and sugo bolognese (now quite changed). I'll be back.

                      1. I also would like to do Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for September and All About Braising for October. I have both, and can't really afford a new cookbook right now (since I just bought 3!).

                        I think this idea is fantastic. For whatever reason, I've lost interest in cooking lately, but I think this might be just the thing to get me back into it...

                        1. Another vote for Marcella Hazan this month and All About Braising next month!

                          I actually just made baked bluefish over roast potatoes (in the Genoese style) from Hazan last night, and it was fabulous. Unfortunately, I found out the next day that bluefish is a big no-no because of all the mercury, but I imagine it would be similar flavors with sardines.

                          1 Reply
                          1. Marcella is great, lots of good stuff to cook from there and I think there would be a lot of interesting discussion of techniques and results.

                            One suggestion- just decide on this month's book right now, and don't try to plan all the way through December. Vote each month a week or so beforehand, so new hounds can have their votes count, and the decisions aren't made by hounds who might vote now and then drift away and not participate later.

                            1. Got the book. I did an online search and found an available copy of Marcella’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking at the Library and went and picked it up just before closing today.

                              Quoting from the front cover: “Brought together at last in a single volume, the incomparable recipes that have made Marcella Hazan’s THE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOK BOOK and MORE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKIING the most important, acclaimed consulted and enjoyed cookbooks in their field."

                              Sounds like a good choice to me. And it was readily available at the Library. Also note that it seems that this is the “best of” volume so either of the other titles mentioned would suffice.

                              Happy cooking everyone. I can’t wait to read all the reports.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kitchensalli

                                That's very handy to know. I have "The Classic" but not "Essentials".

                              2. I think it would make more sense to extend AABs October time, then to fit another one into Septembers last two weeks. I am sure that we would generally be deciding on the next months cookbook about two weeks in advance anyway so everyone could track one down. This way it would work out the same way.

                                However, if we decide to squeeze one in, my vote is for Bayless.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Becca Porter

                                  I'd also prefer to let braising be an extra long month.

                                2. I may be getting ahead of myself, but are we all going to cook the same recipes from each cookbook, or are we all randomly going to pick recipes and report back randomly?

                                  1. I'd love to participate - Marcella sounds good - haven't explored her for a while.

                                    1. I'm voting for Marcella, too. I love the woman. And I'm al for Tom Valenti, too.

                                      Although at some point I'd be happy to buy a new cookbook. :)

                                      1. Concensus seems to be Marcella but I'd rather do a Bayless book. I went through the Marcella book at lunch time and did not see much I want to make at this time. It is just too warm and muggy though maybe I could get into making the sfinciuni, and if we get some cooler drier weather maybe her porcini risotto

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Candy

                                          Ah, see, I live in SF, where it's casseroles and stew weather all year. :)

                                          1. re: Candy

                                            Candy, are you sure you looked through the right Marcella book? I only ask because "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" is almost 700 pages long. For example, I think the pasta section alone has 75-85 recipes, and warm weather-wise, she gives menu ideas for "A Summer Dinner", "For the Charcoal Grill", A Fish Feast", "Cold Buffet Party", etc. I'd be surprised if you could only find two in that particular book that appealed to you.

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              Yes, the correct book and we rarely eat pasta and not much fish. The good stuff (fish) is not always available. We have a butcher shop who realy tries to get good fresh fish but so much of it is salmon which I just cannot stand. Most of the grilling stuff we have already done. I have had the book since publication and used it.

                                              1. re: Candy

                                                Ahh, I see. That's too bad. OTOH, I'm a fan of Bayless' books and hopefully we'll do one of his at another time, if not this month. There are lots of great recipes in "My Mexican Kitchen" too.

                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  All of his books have great recipes. Being born on the border in AZ., Mexican is my comfort food. I can eat that no matter what the weather is like.

                                          2. I agree with MMRuth - I've enjoyed this new one also. It contains over 50 new recipes along with recipes from the two previously mentioned books. Hazan herself says right in the introduction that she's 'freshened' the recipes up, cut down on the dependence on cooking fat, and even re-written old ones so that they are practically new. That being sad, as a fan of butter and lard ;) - I also love her older classics. I haven't found any recipes in this new compilation, however, that don't work.

                                            1. Hazan! Hazan!! I already have a dinner planned around it... :)


                                              1. Marcella is my top choice - what a fun idea. Be happy to buy the Braising book if that is the next favorite. ZoeZ

                                                1. It seems like Marcela's Essentials is in the lead, which is OK by me. Is it safe to buy it today?

                                                  1. I am awaiting the delivery of Bones, which won the Beard award. Maybe, we can look at it down the line. Also, I think we should try to mix the old and the new. At some point we should try something from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Barbara Kafka's book Roasting has some great recipes and she is a good writer.

                                                    Of course, we have to do some stuff from the Zuni Cook Book. Probably, not the chicken, which has certainly been discussed here, but it is a large book.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: faijay

                                                      Shocking..I actually have all the ones you mentioned, and was perusing Bones an hour ago...it seems really terrific!

                                                    2. So when do we begin, and how will this work, exactly?

                                                        1. Well, with Marcella, I've already tried her lasagne, bolognese, osso buco, and meatloaf braised in white wine. Of the four, they're all absolutely amazing, but the meatloaf braised in white wine was just spectacular, and I've never had meatloaf like it, anywhere. I HEARTILY recommend it!

                                                          1. Calling redwood2bay - perhaps you could finalize this discussion - seems like Marcella is the consensus - and then we could discuss, if needed, how to proceed - ie, do we do one thread to "report back", time frame involved, etc.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              From redwood2bay's post yesterday on the earlier thread:

                                                              Hello, fellow hounds,

                                                              I'm in discussion with the chowhound mods right now about how to implement this idea on the boards. So stay tuned! Hopefully we will be able to begin soon.

                                                              In the mean time, it's great to see all the excitement.

                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                Thanks - I wasn't following that thread! Looking forward to cooking.

                                                            2. Sorry for the delay, hounds...

                                                              I'm still waiting for a response from the chowhound mods. They emailed me Sunday night, and I sent a long response yesterday morning. I still haven't heard back from them, but in their original email they did ask me to refrain from starting any more threads on this topic until we figured things out first.

                                                              Assuming they let us begin soon, I'd say that yes, we would begin with Marcella in September. It doesn't matter to me whether you cook from Essentials or the original two volumes, though if you cook from the originals, please mention it in case there are differences in the recipes.

                                                              I was thinking that folks would be able to choose their own recipes... but that we'd also have a thread where people could discuss which recipes they were thinking of trying or might even like others to try (if you don't have time, can't get the ingredients, etc.). Since this is a purely voluntary effort, I don't feel right telling folks, OK, everyone make osso buco! Everyone make risotto!

                                                              Like you, I'm anxious to begin. So let's hope the mods reply soon with some good ideas! Thanks for your patience. I'll keep you informed as soon as I hear anything.


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: redwood2bay

                                                                Thanks For ORganizing all this. . . . I can't wait to hear the verdict. . . Awesome idea . . . . I am going to go buy the book asap. Thanks redwood2

                                                              2. Hi, everyone

                                                                redwood2bay, I like the idea of everyone picking their own recipes--I look forward to hearing the trials & successes of others on recipes I haven't tried yet. It seems that Marcella is the choice, and it's great that we can use Essentials, Classic, or More Classic--interesting to see the differences between 2 recipes (if any).

                                                                I look forward to hearing from the mods. re: a new thread. May I suggest (assuming this takes off) something like a new board called "What's Cooking" (OK, cheesy, I know!) and then we can have a month thread (so everyone cooking this month would post under 'September'? That way new CHs would be able to look back and see what was cooked in a certain month? I could imagine using this for inspiration/warnings when cooking new things.


                                                                1. If chowhound won't let us do it here..we can use the message board I have set up already.

                                                                  It sounds like a blast! I will get Marcella's book if that is the one we start with.

                                                                  I hope chowhound just starts a new board..."cooking club" or something like that.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: melly

                                                                    Im looking forward to this - since I love Marcella's classic pair and would love to have an incentive to dig in more.

                                                                  2. I could only find Essentials and More Classic Italian Cooking, but other than that, I'm good to go also! Hubby is going to love this... any excuse to make pasta! (And I'm going to a pasta making class tonight... how fitting is that?!)

                                                                    1. My vote's for Marcella; I have "The Classic Italian Cookbook", 1983 (the 14th printing since 1976!) and "Marcella's Italian Kitchen", 1987.

                                                                      1. One of my favorite Marcella Hazan recipes is the arugola and potato soup from "More."

                                                                        1. Looks like the choice for September 2006 is Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Thanks everyone for voting. Voting is now closed. Please see new thread for guidelines on how to participate.