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September 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Your Feedback Here

Hello, hounds,

Well, October is only days away now, so I thought we should have a conversation about how the cookbook of the month experiment is going. Have you enjoyed it? Is it manageable with the limited thread format we have been using? Should we continue? Are you OK with my continuing to organize this?

** Also, I wanted to know if folks wanted to continue with Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for a few more weeks or if we were ready to select a new cookbook for October.

Whenever we select a new cookbook, these are my current plans for starting threads as long as we are on the Home Cooking board:
-- around five threads for extensive reviews of new recipes we are trying
-- one thread for discussion of recipe selection, so that groups of people can get together and you can get feedback before you try a recipe
-- (new) one thread for "past picks and pans" where people can post shorter reviews of recipes they may have done in the past
-- one overall thread for general discussion

I've asked the chowhound team for their opinions but haven't heard back yet. Now I'm asking for yours. Feel free to post specific or general comments on the cookbook of the month.

And thanks for your participation!

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  1. I think you are doing a fabulous job of organizing the discussion. I've really enjoyed reading and cooking with other people and it's been great having other cooks give their feedback as to what's worked and what hasn't.

    I do have a problem with finding the threads because of the business of the HC board. I did bookmark them, but I keep forgetting to check "My Chow." More my problem that the boards but I wish there were a way to keep the threads together.

    For October, my vote is to "All About Braising" by Molly Stevens. Mostly because when the idea was tossed about a couple of weeks ago, I immediately requested the book from the library. I've briefly glanced at the book and am very excited about the recipes. Furthermore, I am in Boston and the air is cool enough for braising weather. Lastly, I mentioned it to my husband and friends and they are excited to try the braises.

    My personal preference is that we choose a cookbook sooner rather than later. Maybe halfway through the current month? I am a library cookbook tester outer before I can commit to buying a cookbook. I usually need a couple of weeks for the book to come in.

    Overall, I love this project. But, then again, I am a food geek with a slight OCD, type A personality. Peanut gallery, feel no need to comment ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: beetlebug

      Ditto on the request to announce the next choice earlier than later, as I, too, request them from the library.

    2. I cooked on Sunday--where do I post. I could not find the thread. I am willing to keep with Essentials or move on to another. It would be good if the threads were pinned so we could find them easily. Keep up the good work. The only thing I think I would ask is a little detail on not only the taste but the methodology, clarity of the recipe etc. if applicable.

      1 Reply
      1. re: faijay

        Okay, I found it. Now I see how to get to the threads. You have to write down the ids.

      2. First of all, thank you for doing all this work setting this up. But I am desperately jealous of all of the cooks who have been cooking up a storm. My copy is still in the mail from an online bookstore.

        I am keeping up on the posts and will hopefully get some last minute cooking in this weekend and then join in. So, my only request is that we choose a cookbook well in advance so I can join the fun if I don't have it on my shelf already.

        Thanks again and looking forward to next month.

        1. I don't have All About Braising and don't plan to get it. I would prefer to cook something new and unfamiliar, the only recipes I tried during the Marcella month were gnocchi and the carrots because I've made so many of the others.

          Can I suggest one (or more) of Bayliss' books? I have Mexico Everyday, haven't made anything except a salsa from it yet. It's a cuisine I'd like to know more about.

          I've also barely skimmed the Zuni cookbook and would like to try more of Rodgers recipes. I think many members of this board have this book already.

          For really hardcore foodies, there's Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France which I love even if I don't have the time to attempt many of her complicated recipes.

          My personal current favorite is Ana Sortun's Spice which is her creative take on Turkish/Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. I've cooked through a fair number of the recipes and enjoyed it thoroughly. I'm not sure if many members have the book, know her restaurant Oleana or have access to ingredients, so this many remain a personal exploration.

          5 Replies
          1. re: cheryl_h

            I'd go for a Bayless book. I have 3 and have cooked from them but not extensively, I tend to go back to my family's S. Az. recipes. Braising is something I tend to do all winter and have no need of a book on it.

            1. re: Candy

              Ditto on braising. The technique is really simple and I'm not going to get a book just to read different combinations of ingredients.

              1. re: cheryl_h

                Not trying to disagree with you, but I'm sure that not everyone is going to like every cookbook, so just because it's not new and unfamiliar to you, doesn't mean that it's not new and unfamiliar to someone else.

                1. re: Katie Nell

                  Of course, but I was posting my suggestions as the OP asked and giving the reasoning behind those suggestions.

              2. I think the organization of the threads so far has been great, but reiterate that it would be nice if we could keep the threads together. Perhaps if the project continues to enjoy success, there could be a board dedicated to the "cookbook of the month project" or the like.

                As to cookbook selection, I think it would be helpful if in the future we could pre-select the book for the following month about two weeks before the month starts, so that people who want to get it from the library or order it on-line have some lead-time to get the book.

                My preference for the next book would be to go with Bayless or Zuni Cafe Cookbook, since I already have those. But I'm open!

                1. would also love to do babbo book or chez panisse "menu" cookbook. have had both of those for awhile without really using them (hard to believe, i know...)

                  1. If you look at the thread on Claudia Fleming's Last Course, desserts maybe we should be doing things from it with holiday entertaining coming up. It would be kind of nice to know what is tried and true. The thread had me getting my book out to investigate that white chocolate espresso tart. I wish I could give it a try this weekend but am hosting a party for about 24, rather unexpectedly on Sat. PM and am surrying to get the house ready, so I don't have the time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Candy

                      Ooh, yeah, I would love to do a dessert cookbook!!

                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        I have spent much of the afternoon going through The Last Course. I do not open that book often enough. God, there is good stuff in there. I just wish I could dive in now. I guess I am in the mood to create pastry and dessert. Leaving for London the next week so I am going to be a frustrated pastry cook until after 10/20.

                      2. re: Candy

                        I like this idea as I just found her Oatmeal Stout Gingerbread recipe and it looks really interesting and delish.

                        I cast another vote for Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France. Lots of the recipes are not that complicated and I've used it many times.

                      3. I'm open to any cookbook and will try it - with the caveats that I'm probably less inclined towards that braising cookbook but would cook along, and I think that I wouldn't do too much with a dessert cookbook given my constant (losing) weight battle (losing the weight battle, not the weight). I also think, that if it were possible, a separate board would be great, but I don't know if the current volume warrants it. I would be up for continuing Marcella through October and starting with a new one in November.

                        Oh - and I have enjoyed it - tried out several new recipes in the meat section which I don't usually frequent.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I just wanted to throw my vote in for Bayless. I, too, have a couple and have never made many of them. The ones I made were awesome, and the margarita recipe in the back is the Best margarita EVER!!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            MMRuth,

                            I had a bit of trouble finding this thread. Any possibility that the CH Team could create a special board for this project, especially if it evolves over time. I'd beat participation would be grand. A separate board could also be broken down into specific discussions that arise from each month.

                            I would like to recommend that once a specific style of food prep is chosen that you/or participants take turns locating an online recipe we can all link to and not be tied to buying books or working from cookbooks that may limit participation. Perhaps this changes the original "literal" intent of "cookbook..of the month" BUT this is an online community and internet recipes abound, are fast to research and FREE.
                            Most of all, thank YOU for creating this fun opportunity, I admire your organizational skills!

                            1. re: HillJ

                              First - the credit all goes to redwood2bay for coming up with and implementing the idea. I agree about the separate board, but that is for the moderators to decide. While I understand your reasoning, I do think that using a cookbook has its advantages in terms of browsing through and figuring out what one is interested in cooking. And there's always the library.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                My apologies, redwood2bay...keeping track of the thread is challenging. My library has limited cookbooks and most are donated copies that are ancient. Thanks for responding. If I can join in any given month, I certainly will. I hope the CH Team takes a positive look at the ideas potential.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  I don't have a lot of cookbooks either, and I suspect none that are likely to be chosen for this project. But I was able to find many Hazan recipes online and I posted the links all over. Also a couple of people did kindly paraphrase for me. Basically although time has allowed me only one very simple recipe I feel as though I've been involved and been exposed to some ideas and recipes I wouldn't have looked at otherwise, all without ever seeing a Hazan cookbook.

                                  1. re: julesrules

                                    julesrules, thanks for the encouragement to join this thread. It's always nice to feel welcomed.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                IMO, if there is enough draw for a dessert-only cookbook, it should be run separately and concurrently but not preempt another more inclusive book. Personally, I never do dessert (rarely will do it out, but never at home), so I would have to sit that month out. I suspect that many of the dessert cooks might feel the same way about the savory book and concurrent could be the solution-- then people can choose either or both... or just be flies on the wall.

                            2. I have really enjoyed getting involved in the MH cookbook posts, more than any other threads on this board, I think. Thank you for taking the time to organize this redwood2bay!
                              I think a few more weeks with this book could still be warranted, and it would give everyone a chance to get the new one, once it's decided upon.
                              My vote is for the Zuni cookbook. It's one I've had and read through, but only cooked out of minimally, and I think it is one of the more reliable restaurant cookbooks out there, meaning the recipes actually work, from what I hear.
                              That said, I feel Claudia Flemings dessert book is also very reliable, I've cooked A LOT from it, and love it as a source of inspiration. Maybe we could do it in November though, so as not to lose any enthusiasm from savory cooks who are just getting on board to this great new "book club".

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: rabaja

                                Maybe for Oct. we could continue with MH and do Flemings - since MH isn't too strong in (or interested in) desserts.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  That sounds like a possibility, if others felt MH would hold their interest for another whole month.
                                  Then we could start the beginning of the next month with a new book, say, Zuni, for instance :}

                                  1. re: rabaja

                                    I like this idea too! Although I still want to do All About Braising nex time :)

                              2. Thank you for putting this all together and continuing with getting the project going. I've really enjoyed cooking from the book this month and reading all the others who have responded. I love the idea of the all about braising book, since it is Oct. and a good time for many of us to do some fall -like cooking. I know many feel they know enough about braising, but I've ordered and gotten this book from my library and find many recipes in it that are new to me. We aren't all experienced cooks and anything new we can learn from both books and each other is wonderful. I, too, will be getting the books from my library and will need some time to order and have them come in, so knowing a few weeks in advance would be great. We can't all agree on each book, so I think the previous way of voting worked great. What a terrific project!

                                1. I just got Suppers from Lucques and would love to try some stuff from it. I do not have any Bayless Cook Books and have never cooked Mexican, so maybe it would be a new challenge if that's what people decide. Also, I think we at some time should do something from Mastering the Art of French Cooking for our own memorial homage to Julia. It is probably a 2 month thing.

                                  1. I love this project! Tried new Marcella recipes and enjoyed reading what others were cooking. thanks so much for the great idea and initiative!

                                    I say let's move on to a new book in October. My choice would be All about braising, Zuni or sunday suppers (in that order). Braising seems like a natural with deep fall coming. We should keep everyone's suggestions in mind for coming months.
                                    How about selecting oh, 4 finalists for October and we vote in the next couple days (on the honor system of those committed to cooking this project!)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                      "on the honor system of those committed to cooking this project!"- Ouch! That hurts! ;-) Good intentions, always good intentions!

                                    2. IMVHO, I'm thinking maybe each book discussion should have a two month scope. First, as mentioned before access to the cookbooks might be difficult. Second, people who aren't originally enthused with the choice might become enticed by all the wonderful discussion and pictures. Lastly, we all don't have the same access to the same ingredients. Locating special produce or waiting for a mail order delivery may be time consuming. With this in mind, it might be worth it to overlap two cookbooks as a regular practice.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                        I see what you're saying, although I think it's possible for those who want to continue exploring Essentials to keep adding on to the existing threads and use them for inspiration. So for those who haven't received the book yet, they can still crack it open and cook away.

                                        Now that the site allows for "bumping up", they shouldn't feel behind or like no one is listening. I'm imagining the process to be more fluid, as I plan to continue cooking out of Essentials and tacking reports onto this wonderful database we're creating...

                                        That said, I'm ready to pick another cookbook for Oct. I'm open to pretty much anything the group decides because I want to be exposed to a cookbook that I wouldn't think to choose myself.

                                        To redwood2bay: I remember you saying that you're not the organizing type, but you're doing a fabulous job!! I've really enjoyed the process and the method in which we're reporting/sharing. I was worried that the threads would overtake general cooking topics, but clearly not. Very nice balance. Keep up what you're doing, and let us know if you need help at any point. Happy cooking all!

                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                          I was browsing my cookbook collection--there are many I have read and not cooked from or just done a few recipes--not because they aren't good, mostly because I buy a new cookbook and then get enthusiatic about that one. I love the cook books of Joyce Goldstein, expecially Sephardic Cooking and I think Nigel Slater is a great writer with terrific recipes and things to teach us, so I know we will not run out of source material. I am waiting for Bones to be remaindered as it looks like a facinating cook book. Of course, judging by my past, I won't hold out and that book will join the others soon.

                                          1. re: faijay

                                            I know very little about Sephardic cooking, so that would be really interesting for me. I'm not sure if it's THE Joyce Goldstein, but I've seen a poster here by that name who posts on occasion. Wouldn't it be cool if the actual author participated?! Of course, some might find it hard to be completely honest or critical.

                                            I've heard so many great things about Slater and would like to read his autobiography as well as checking out his cookbooks.

                                      2. To Redwood:

                                        I know I've already posted on this thread. But I'd like to throw an idea out there. Why not let Marcella Hazan run for October while we get ready for November. During the first two weeks of October, have a nomination thread for new books for the next month (or in the first week have nominations, then in the second week have voting on the favorites), and then in the middle of October, announce the winning book for November, so that people who want to buy it or get it from the library have time to get ready for the month.

                                        Just a suggestion, but I think it would put it all in a workable context that everyone could get on board with.

                                        xoxo and great job!

                                        DanaB

                                        1. I've really enjoyed the project and deeply appreciate your organizational skills for putting this together! I do think it would be great if the project had its very own board but understand that is really up to the moderators.

                                          I can certainly keep cooking from MH (I still haven't tried the sardinian bottarga or reported on my eggplant parmigiana)but considering the cool weather I would love to start on Braising. I realize it is a technique many already know but the book seems to have a lot of fabulous dishes.

                                          Moving forward I'd love to try Zuni (but not during the busy holiday season), Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Bayliss books sound interesting and its a cuisine I haven't dabbled in.

                                          I rather like the idea of doing a book for just one month - that way if you don't love the book or cuisine you won't be left out for long.

                                          1. Ack, September's already over? I loved the idea of cooking together all over the world, but the barrage of posts was a bit overwhelming, maybe because Hazan's book is so huge. I was hoping for a more focused discussion, the kinds of threads that often arise naturally on this board on certain dishes, like the Zuni roast chicken or Hazan's milk-braised pork, but stemming fron a single book with unifying principles. Marcella has some strong opinions on using certain techniques, and I was hoping to get some ayes and nays on these techniques, but for me, it was hard to get a sense of her style among all the posts. Would it be possible for posters to start a thread on a single dish they'd like to try? And then others who have tried it can respond, others who want to try it also can join in, and there can be more focused discussion of the recipe and its instructions. I'm just imagining how great it would be if prior posts on various Zuni/Hazan/etc. recipes were grouped together, and if this is something we could start from scratch now. This might not work since it could clog up the boards, but I feel like it would be easier to follow and end up with more robust testing of recipes.
                                            With regards to the cookbook, I don't have a strong preference, but I do think it would be more interesting to pick a book with a smaller set of recipes and a strong unifying theme.

                                            1. I haven't gotten around yet to doing the Hazan recipe I wanted to try, but have no qualms about adding to the Hazan discussion when I do get around to it. (When is the end of the month? Might just fit it in yet.)

                                              I really like the idea of choosing an author as opposed to a particular cookbook (although I'd love to be encouraged to try something new in Zuni). It makes it so much easier for those who might not have a particular title and there's also a better chance of finding recipes online. Both Wolfert and Bayless are terrific suggestions. Batali would be fun sometime in the future when we're ready to get back to Italian. What about Patricia Wells? James Peterson? Madeleine Kamman? Julie Sahni? Paul Prudhomme? Michael Field? (Sorry. Getting a bit carried away here. But you get the idea.)

                                              Afraid I'm not big on holiday baking and I really don't need another dessert cookbook, but if that's the choice I'll just continue with Hazan.

                                              And I really like the idea of choosing the book well before the month starts to give us time to get our ducks in a row (pun intended). My library has a rather slim selection and it can take quite a while for a special order to come in.

                                              1. Redwood2bay - Great idea, great job, great organization. As evident, I'm a huge fan of this project and thank-you, thank-you for such a great idea!

                                                I think one of the main benefits I've found in focusing on cooking from one cookbook this month is how much you learn. Sure, I've cooked from Hazan's books and learned some techniques before, but you really remember and get comfortable with her ideas when you spend this much time on one cookbook. I've loved trying recipes I wouldn't have otherwise tested out. I had never made a recipe in her books using porcinis, but that is definitely something I will now keep as a pantry essential. And it's been fun "getting to know" the Hounds on the Home Cooking board a little better!

                                                I vote for the next book to be "All About Braising" also, for various reasons. I know more than a few Chowhounds already have it or have ordered it, it's a wonderful cookbook, and braising is great for the cool weather. I've done a lot of braising also, but this book is full of information and unique recipes. There's a reason it's a James Beard award winner. For example, the first 30 pages extensively cover braising technique, cuts of meat, types of pots, tips for browning, braising liquid, aromatics, etc. It's a great book for beginners and experienced cooks alike. Lots of nice pictures and illustrations. Additionally, besides poultry and meat recipes, there are many braising recipes for vegetables (almost 100), seafood, and game. I also like that she covers the globe with recipes like "Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives and Preserved Lemons", "Vietnamese Braised Scallops", "Mediterranean Squid", "Cochinita Pibil", and "Red-Cooked Pork Belly with Bok Choy". Lastly, all the recipes I've tried have been excellent (three favorites are the "World's Best Cabbage", "Braised Halibut Steaks with Creamy Leeks", and "Pork Chops Braised with Hot Cherry Peppers").

                                                For future months, I also agree with the ideas for the Zuni book, "Sunday Suppers at Lucques", and a Bayless book.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  Based on the recipes Rubee listed, I vote for All About Braising -- they all sound great! And I feel as though I'd learn some new "standards" that might help me through the busy holiday months. Books like Zuni and Sundays might be better left for January and later when there seems to be a bit more time. Just my 2 cents.

                                                  I add my thanks for all redwood2bay's work organizing this project and also add another vote (to the moderators) for a separate board for this project.

                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                    Based on these recipes alone, I'd love to try All about Braising.

                                                    Zuni is much better for after the holidays, in the slow weeks of winter when you want to spend 3 days on a cooking project. Among other recipes, I made the mock porcetta which was divine but took a little forethought as you have to season it 2-3 days ahead.

                                                    Bayless would be on my list too. Everything I've made from Mexico, One plate at a Time, has been great.

                                                  2. ive just come upon this cook book of the month thread! what a fabulous idea. i look forward to reading the other threads and see how you guys are coming along.

                                                    i look forward to hear what's next for october so i can join in!

                                                    1. I would like to do All About Braising for October. I think Carb Lover made a good point that people don't have to stop cooking from Hazan's books just because September is over.

                                                      I would also love to do Zuni in January, since I'll be off from school and would have time for more involved recipes then...

                                                      1. So do we never get to a dessert cookbook then?!? (Said in my most childish whiny voice!!) Guess you guys don't know that I'm known as the Dessert Queen on the Kansas City (Midwest) board! ;-)

                                                        1. For November, perhaps we can do something suitable for Thanksgiving holidays?

                                                          1. If a dessert author ever gets a shot, I'd like to suggest David Lebovitz
                                                            I've made a few things out of Room For Dessert and there's a good variety in there -- an almost savory ginger cake, fruit things, etc

                                                            I've been totally enjoying the Marcella threads. I'm looking at these as a reference for down the road, since that's not what I'm cooking right now. THX FOLKS! I don't expect those threads to expire when Oct is done.

                                                            My vote for the fall is Zuni. Lots of people here have the book (myself included) and the chicken recipe has been really worked over in a helpful way. But there's also Onion Panade, and Mock Porchetta . . . . and who knows what else 'cause those are all I've made. The technique part of that book is really rich for me.

                                                            Ditto Bayless, and I wouldn't mind it being all his books at once. We all have different ones...

                                                            How about something Vietnamese or Japanese? That has obviously has less traction at the moment, so I'll save my short list for a later date.

                                                            Interested in the Goin book, don't have it yet except the short rib recipe bookmarked.

                                                            Not so interested in Braising -- as some else noted, it IS one technique applied with different ingredients. I couldn't justify the purchase.

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: pitu

                                                              Yes, yes, David Lebovitz when we get around to desserts! Room for Dessert is a great book and then he has that other one focused on fruit desserts. His desserts are so genuine and all around delicious. For those who don't want to buy or check out the book, he also has recipes on his website: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/

                                                              I'm also interested in the latest Martha Stewart baking book that some people have raved about...

                                                              (Don't worry Katie Nell, you'll get your desserts!

                                                              )

                                                              Another thought that I had is that perhaps one month we could choose to cook from a website instead of a cookbook. Talk about universal access! For instance, I drool over all the compiled recipes on Leite's Culinaria but don't have the time to make them all. There are a few other websites that I can think of, although I can see the downside being that it's too diffuse and not focused on one particular author or cuisine.

                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                Carb Lover, I agree with you. Earlier I tried suggesting the use of web-published recipes instead of printed cookbooks but the one reply on thread appeared to prefer hard copy cookbooks as the OP suggested. Should the cookbook of the month thread really take off, I'd be more inclined to spend $$ on ingredients; not more books. Just my 2 cents. :)

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  I think universal access is a great idea... but I do worry about the "too diffuse" aspect of it. One reason I like exploring particular cookbooks is that I like seeing a particular cook's approach to a cuisine, in terms of technique, ingredients, everything. Even what the cook chooses to exclude in a recipe is often telling.

                                                                  That said, I'd be open to the idea of one month having a website instead of a cookbook as the source, if we can identify a website that would be a good choice. And if the website does not mind all the hounds congregating over there! So please suggest websites that might be suitable for our purposes.

                                                                  1. re: redwood2bay

                                                                    If we do a website choice, I agree with CarbLover - I've always been intrigued by the wonderful-sounding recipes on Leite's Culinaria.

                                                                    http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      I agree as well... lots of fun desserts to try on that one!

                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                        Thanks, Rubee. I'll spend some time looking at this website once the October threads are up and running. Maybe early next spring we could think about a website cookbook of the month. If anyone knows of other potential sites, please post on one of these discussion or feedback threads.

                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                      I agree about not having to spend too much on books. I'm the kind of cooking hound that doesn't really like to have lots of books to own, but I check out lots from my library or buy when I see a deal that is unbeatable.

                                                                      There are lots of recipes online now either at food sites or blogs, so I think everyone should still be able to participate. I do think it should be a rule (or at least a common courtesy) that if anyone is the first to post about a recipe they should paraphrase or find a close version online, so that others who don't have the book can join in. Of course, google is your friend, so those who are bookless should take initiative in finding recipes online if they're truly interested in participating. Online recipes can be sketchy or inaccurate, so one can always ask for confirmation here before starting.

                                                                2. Thanks, everyone, for your replies and for your votes of confidence. There are a lot of good and different ideas floating around-- I apologize if I can't accommodate them all right now.

                                                                  Here's what I'm thinking:
                                                                  As a couple of people have pointed out, just because we choose a cookbook for October, it doesn't mean that hounds have to stop cooking from Marcella. So I'm going to start a thread on votes for October, but if you'd rather continue to cook from Essentials, that's fine.

                                                                  I'm glad to see the interest in Rick Bayless' work, and we'll definitely do a cookbook of his in the future, but for October, I would like to keep the focus on braising. Look for a voting thread soon!

                                                                  One thing's for sure: I'm going to set up the cookbook selection threads earlier in the month so that people can find the selected volumes in their local libraries if possible. I'll try to post the thread by the 10th of each month. So, around October 10th, look for a voting thread for November's cookbook of the month!

                                                                  I was thinking originally of having the November cookbook be a restaurant cookbook such as Zuni or Sunday Suppers. I thought that this might fold well into the more formal meals some people are planning. But others have raised the point that November might be a busy month, giving them less time for cooking. What do you say for November, hounds? Should we choose from the two restaurant cookbooks listed above or save them for January and do some other type of cookbook? (We could choose Bayless for November, for example.)

                                                                  December is reserved for baking-- let me know your suggestions for a baking cookbook. There have been a few mentioned in this thread already that I'm keeping note of. I try to winnow down our choices to two or three cookbooks so that we don't all get overwhelmed. Please remember we are also looking for cookbooks (at least for some of the months! not all of them) that have recipes which are possible for people who don't have a lot of time or experience in the kitchen. We'd like to have this experiment be open to as many folks as possible.

                                                                  So here's the summary:
                                                                  October -- braising or "one pot cooking"
                                                                  November -- restaurant cookbook?
                                                                  December -- baking

                                                                  BTW, I was thinking of organizing this for 9 months, maybe a year at the most, and then handing it off to some other hound. Unless the chowhound mods step in or I manage to enrage everyone, that is.

                                                                  Thanks for your support and participation. It's been great seeing all the posts.

                                                                  1. redwoood2bay, since I do not own the braising cookbook I will spend some time web-searching for a few examples of online recipes that the club may consider and post back.

                                                                    I'm also planning to visit our larger county library to see what they may be able to order for me. My concern is that turnaround time on popular titles might prohibit my timely involvement in club. I'll see.

                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      Here is a recipe from AAB that has been talked about it in the past and sounds delicious. I will be making this one.

                                                                      http://www.marga.org/food/blog/archiv...

                                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                                        That recipe sounds delicious! I'm ready for October, thanks julesrules :)

                                                                        1. re: julesrules

                                                                          definetly have to make this one this weekend. sounds fabulous!

                                                                          1. re: ceeceee

                                                                            Howds, Maybe we should ask the beer board for suggestions on the porter ale ingredient?

                                                                          2. re: julesrules

                                                                            question---porter ale...could i use guinness?

                                                                            1. re: ceeceee

                                                                              You know I have no idea. I was trying to figure out what porter is myself, it seems to be an illdefined or often misused term, but I did read somewhere that it is halfway to being a stout (like guiness).

                                                                              I am worried about the beer selection myself because I find whenever I improvise with beer in cooking it turns out bitter. The local porter I would choose is a Coffee-flavoured porter so I'm not sure about that.

                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                hmmm...maybe ill go for a dark ale and see how that turns out?

                                                                                1. re: ceeceee

                                                                                  I'm not a beer drinker so can't add much info, but if this helps:

                                                                                  In the book she says she uses a Vermont porter that's not too strong or bitter (and not to use stout), smooth and robust, and to look for an ale with "some body and a smoky taste".

                                                                                2. re: julesrules

                                                                                  i posted the question on the beer board to see what they come up with.

                                                                                  1. re: ceeceee

                                                                                    Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
                                                                                    here are the suggestions:
                                                                                    Anchor Porter
                                                                                    Stone Smoked Porter
                                                                                    Fuller's London Porter

                                                                                    or samuel adams black...

                                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                                Found a couple more recipes on the author's website. Not that I am trying to influence the vote or anything

                                                                                http://www.mollystevenscooks.com/reci...

                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                  Jules rules! Loved these additions too!

                                                                              3. Actually, maybe next time we can have a dedicated thread for posting links to recipes from the chosen cookbook?

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                  Julesrules-- thanks for posting the links so that people without the paper cookbook can still participate. I've no desire to increase everyone's cookbook budgets (I'm fortunate to have a fairly large library system to borrow from). What do you think of folding in the links with the recipe discussion thread? So that it'd be Cookbook of the Month: Recipe Selection and Links? I'm still trying to keep the number of threads low, and think that most months there may not be that many links available, since we're dealing with copyrighted material.

                                                                                  1. re: redwood2bay

                                                                                    We can post links wherever seems appropriate without starting a new thread (that's what I did last time). It just seemed like some people missed out on the links last time. But I agree, yet another thread does not necessarily help with that.

                                                                                2. Okay. I just ordered All About Braising from Amazon. Is this project going to include a 12-step program for cookbook buyers?

                                                                                  I also checked out Sunday Dinners, which I'm gonna buy the minute I pay off this month's bill. And I took a look at Mexican Everyday as well.

                                                                                  At the risk of being seriously flamed, I was sadly disappointed in the new Bayless book. First of all, it seemed disproportionately heavy on grilling. I live in a city apartment, so that makes a lot of it impractical for me.

                                                                                  Second, it seemed to me to be more "how to cook with Mexican flavors" than a book about Mexican cooking. Anyone remember Paul Prudhomme's book A Fork in the Road? Of course you don't. It was Prudhomme "light." Everything he'd published before, but the "healthy" version. I only spent a half an hour on the floor of Barnes & Noble looking over Everyday, but it reminded me of the Prudhomme. Easy, low-fat cooking with Mexican flavors.

                                                                                  I'm not knocking low-fat, low-carb. We all need to do it at least some of the time. But if we have to choose only a single title rather than an author's body of work, I for one would far prefer we explore the seminal work, which in Bayless's case would be Authentic Mexican.

                                                                                  Off soapbox.

                                                                                  Redwood2bay, CNet owes you a commission.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    That's too bad... I was really interested in Mexican Everyday, but it sounds like it might not be that great. Were people saying we should just do Mexican Everyday... I thought most people were saying all Bayless?

                                                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                      There seems to be an ongoing although very subtle conversation about whether it should be a single book or a single author. This was just my vote for author rather than book. But, hey. I'm only one vote. You might like Mexican Everyday better than I. And frankly, much as I adore the commeraderie here, if everyone else wants Mexican Everyday to be the next book, I'll have no qualms whatsoever about just doing something from Auththentic Mexican all on my lonesome. LOL.

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        I think keeping it to one book is most likely the easiest and most organized way. However, I totally agree with you about the new Bayless book, maybe because we've cooked frequently from the others? I do have it though, and would never turn down a chance to cook from a new book! Looks like there are some great recipes in his new one either way. Much like some people may have cooked a couple of recipes they prefer from "Classics" as opposed to "Essentials" for Marcella, I'd probably do the same with Bayless. Focus on "Mexican Everyday", and here and there add on some of his great recipes from "Mexican Kitchen", "Authentic Mexican", and "One Plate at a Time".

                                                                                  2. I know there's been alot of interest in Bayless. I too have tried him (well, I've checked out a few of his cookbooks from the library) and been unenthused about tearing into any recipes.
                                                                                    If there's an interest in classic and comprehensive, I'd like to suggest we consider the woman who launched the recognition of Mexican cuisine to anglos -- Diana Kennedy.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                      I've not been too much a fan of his shows, but I always assumed it was his presentation.

                                                                                      I'm just all about the Mexican since my Sunday Afternoon go-to sit-down mexican place closed. I figure I'll continue to have the Mexican food itch and time on my hands to explore!

                                                                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                        Any Diana Kennedy cookbook would be a pleasure to cook from, I just love her. A good nomination for future months.

                                                                                      2. I'd like to throw in the vote for Tom Valenti's One-Pot Cooking. it's not just braising, involves several techniques, and a wide variety of ingredients and cuisines.

                                                                                        But I'd be game for anything.

                                                                                        1. I'd like to hear more thoughts about the one book vs. one author idea from the hounds. My own thoughts are that if we choose one or maybe two at the most volumes from one writer, we are more likely to attempt some of the same recipes. Not sure if there is an inherent worth in different people trying the same recipe, but some folks had expressed interest in trying to cook "together" as much as possible.

                                                                                          That said, it is often difficult to choose one book from some writers. The Bayless discussion is a good example. And there are a few cookbook writers out there who have many titles to their credit-- in that case, I think we'd definitely need to narrow it down a little.

                                                                                          Other thoughts?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: redwood2bay

                                                                                            My excitement about the cookbook of the month project was that it presents the opportunity for some of us to in effect cook together. I liked the idea of looking through the selected cookbook -- that perhaps we had cooked from in the past -- discussing potential projects, looking for companions, cooking and reporting back on success, changes made, etc. Keeping within one book for one month seems to allow for that best.

                                                                                            Bear in mind though that this does not preclude anyone from cooking from the author's other cookbooks, or for that matter, cooking something else entirely! But the project IMO should be one book. I don't want to get into alot of quibbling about this -- others may want to change this in the future -- but my vote is for sticking with the original concept, which I think worked well for Sept!, for at least a few more months. We can then assess feedback and see if folks feel the need to change it. My two cents. And thanks!

                                                                                            1. re: redwood2bay

                                                                                              I'm content to use the cookbook selected if I have it, find the recipe online, benefit from the discussison created by others who participated or just lurk for tips and ideas that result! As others have stated, we could get bogged down by ALL the choices...when what we all want to do is COOK!

                                                                                              Irregardless of the thoughts I put out there on this thread, I would not want to stand in the way of enjoying the experiment or getting down to the FUN, yummy part!

                                                                                              So, let's cook!