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What cookbooks can't you do without?

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  1. I ahve many and use them all but I do love The New Profesional Chef from the Culinary Institute.

    1. *This post has been re-phrased.* FG

      I can't do without my baking books, for the simple reason that baking requires such precision, and recipes are generally required.

      I would be more devastated to have to give up the great collection of cooking books that I've amassed over the years. It is these non-baking books that I cherish the most and refer to most often.

      Emotionally, I need them all. I take great pleasure in reading cookbooks, especially those that provide insight into other cultures and lands, and the foods that are native to these regions. Although I don't often follow written recipes exactly, reading them inspires me considerably, and keeps my culinary imagination going.

      2 Replies
      1. re: FlavoursGal

        I agree. I am a baking freak. I love my cookbooks, but my baking ones are my prized possesions. What are your top 5?

        1. re: chocolate chick

          I, too, consider my baking books among my prized possessions. I'm really proud of the collection I've put together over the years. (I'm surprised that my DH hasn't complained over the years about how many I buy, but then again, he and my son are the recipients of all the stuff I make out of them.)

      2. My top five right now are:

        The New Making of a Cook by Madeleine Kamman
        Whole Grain Baking by King Arthur Flour
        Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
        Gourmet Cookbook
        The New Best Recipe Cookbook by ATK

        1. I agree FlavoursGal the baking books are the most relied upon but I enjoy reading just about any I can find. However I always return to Marcella Hazan, I love her writing style, her recipes are always right on but more importantly they continue to inspire.

          3 Replies
          1. re: zenright

            Actually, my baking books are my LEAST prized cookbooks. I need them only because baking requires such precision with regard to ingredients, measurements, chemical reactions, etc.

            I much prefer to play with my food, adjust seasonings and ingredients, and concoct variations and new recipes along the way.

            So my prized possessions are the dozens and dozens of cooking books in my collection. I own only about nine or ten books dedicated to baking alone, my favourite of which is probably "Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World" by the late Richard Sax.

            1. re: FlavoursGal

              I love that book, "Classic Home Desserts"--I've only tried six or seven of the recipes...pies and custards most recently...but it really is terrific.

              Other than that..."New York Cookbook" compiled by Molly O'Neill, "Classic Italian" by Marcella Hazan, "Modern Greek" compiled by Andy Harris...and anything by Jacques or Julia.

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                This is in response to FlavGal's post a few mzz above.

                Was wondering when this would be caught. I noticed it right away and thought I was probably mis-reading or overreacting...both quite familiar to me. ;+)

            2. Oh I forgot about The Gourmet Cookbook. Thats a goodie too.

              1. My go to cookbook is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Others that I love to read and/or cook from on a semi-regular basis:

                The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (Yamuna Devi)
                The Complete Italian Vegetarian (Jack Bishop)
                Fresh Food Fast (Peter Berley)
                Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
                Unplugged Kitchen (Viana La Place)

                Recently, I've been trying to develoip my bakign skills. And so, I've been spending a lot of time with:
                Baking from My Home to Yours
                Bread Alone
                Crust and Crumb
                King Arthur Whole Grain Baking

                All that said, I think I should go to the kitchen bookshelf, pull of a book that's been neglected for a while, and dig in for weekend menu planning.

                1 Reply
                1. re: debbiel

                  I wholy second the Deborah Madison (Vegetarian Cooking) and Jack Bishop -- these are the two that come with me whenever I move to another country! I'll have to take a look at the others you mention

                2. I also have an extensive cookbook collection and in that collection i have a few subset collections of single topic books that I particularly like. (I love single topic books...) For instance I have a really nice little collection of books on pickles and preserves, a collection of books on appetizers (tapas, meze etc.), pizza, bread, candy & confections, etc.

                  1. 5 cookbooks i would save when the house falls down (assuming i'm running through the kitchen on the way out the door..)
                    Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Took me years to open this book - now i can't stop reading it (and cooking from it!)
                    King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook. excellent information and recipes
                    Victory Garden Cookbook by Marion Morash. more recipes for more vegetables than I've ever seen, cultivated, or eaten
                    Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. recipes just like my family traditions
                    Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi. just plain great food..
                    and, of course, I'd grab all my own recipes from over the years!

                    1. Sentimentally or functionally?? :)

                      I have around 300 cookbooks. It might be approaching 400 now; I haven't counted for several years! I love to read them (this was discussed on another post, so I won't bore re-readers here).

                      I like to use cookbooks as inspirational guides more than strict instructions. It's also hard to pick favorites because they seem to change with my age, mood, etc. I also pick my favorite recipes from various books, and I put them in MasterCook and print them for my cooking binders. I guess my cooking binders are my favorite cookbooks!! :)

                      But a few books off the top of my head that I like:

                      Hellenic Cuisine & The Grecian Plate

                      America's Test Kitchen's Family Cookbook (picked it up on a whim at Sam's and have found numerous recipes we have really enjoyed) http://www.cooksillustrated.com/books...

                      I just bought Maida Heatter's Cookies cookbook and have baked a couple scrumptious recipes already.

                      I have a bunch of old (about 1910 or 20s & up) cookbooks that are really fun!

                      A couple Bon Appetit and Southern Living cookbooks have some good recipes. I like my mini collection of old Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks. Those are a real marker of the decades. And my 1980s Pillsbury cookbook served me well for many years as a young newlywed. There are still a few recipes in there that we enjoy a lot.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: luv2bake

                        I have ATK's Family Cookbook, but have yet to cook out of it (usually go to the New Best Recipe, and American Classics) - any recipes you'd recommend?

                        1. re: Rubee

                          Yes, we've tried several that we really like.

                          p.336/338 - we use this one VERY often. We love it. (I especially love it because my husband makes it! haha) We have the pan-seared chicken breasts p. 336 with the Hearty Brown Ale Sauce on p. 338. He's tried it with several dark ales. It is wonderful. Our nieces said he needed to be a master chef. lol

                          I liked the Oatmeal Scones on p. 580. I added 1 c. of toasted chopped pecans and sprinkled the scones with some brown sugar.

                          Flipping thru the book quickly, here are a few others we tried & liked:

                          Corn Chowder p. 121 w/fresh or frozen kernels; I still tend to use my original corn chowder recipe, but this one was good.

                          Beef Burgundy p. 130

                          Spaghetti & Meatballs p. 204 - My husband makes great meatballs, but we decided to try this recipe. It was good. The meat needed a little more seasoning. We modified the recipe a little bit, doubled the meatballs, and froze meatballs in vacuum-packed for fast future meals. It was good for meatball sandwiches, too. :)

                          Shrimp Fra Diavolo p. 232 - used plenty of red pepper flakes. My husband & son really loved it.

                        2. re: luv2bake

                          The Maida Heatter book has a delicious cardamom cookie recipe.

                        3. Does anyone have recommendations for cookbooks for beginner/would be/noob cooks? It's just me, so I usually just cook for one. I am looking for recommendations where recipes are uncomplicated in cooking method, flavorful, basic ingredients, and healthy!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: n00b

                            I would really recommend How to Cook Everything. The recipes are straight forward and it also explains the how and why of cooking certain foods certain ways.

                            1. re: n00b

                              Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis has become my standard recommendation for beginners looking for a basic cookbook. It also has suggestions for using leftovers which sounds like would be especially useful since you're cooking for one.


                            2. Solo Suppers and Going Solo in the Kitchen are both good books that are nicely scaled for one or two servings. It helps in the creativity department because you don't end up eating the same dish all week. Further, the recipes generally go pretty quickly (no 30 minute meal claims, but under an hour for most of them I'd say).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ccbweb

                                sounds like a great start, I will definitely check those out, thank you!

                              2. "How to Cook Without a Book" by Pam Anderson
                                "The Italian Baker" by Carol Field
                                "American Pie, My Search for the Perfect Pizza" by Peter Rinehart
                                "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Rinehart
                                "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee

                                1. The complete works of Julia Child, Gaston Lenotre, Paul Prudhomme, Diana Kennedy, Madhur Jaffrey, Thomas Keller, Nancy Silverton, Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Fuchsia Dunlop (my current favorite cookbook author) plus The New MAKING of a COOK, The ZUNI Cafe Cookbook and TARTINE would be my short list!

                                  1. At different times in my life I have cooked my way through various cookbooks. I first taught myself to cook with Craig Claiborne's NY Times Cookbook, NY Times Menu Cookbook and International Cookbook, though I currently only use each of them for a few recipes. Then I taught my self to cook Italian with Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cookbook and her second cookbook. I taught myself to bake with Maida Haetter's Book of Great Desserts and Cookie Book and I still use those recipes alot. Then I began to cook my way through The New Basics Cookbook and lately I have been trying recipes from Bittman. Of course I have another 20 cookbooks that I love to read or use. Most recently, I have been enjoying using Sheryl Julian's recipes from the Sunday Boston Globe and looking on-line at the recipes in the Washington Post on Wednesday.

                                    1. G Bugialli's on Pasta
                                      The Art of French Coking Volume 1, J Childs ( it is a signed copy also)
                                      James Beard's, American Cookery
                                      Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
                                      G bugialli Fine art of Italian Cooking
                                      J Pepin's Complete Techniques
                                      Silver Spoon

                                      1. Peter' Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" Affectionately called the BBA on the baking board I'm on.

                                        Stephen Schmidt's "Master Recipes" -- an amazingly obscure amazingly good book. He gives clear concise technique recipes for for a wide variety of foods, followed by a specific master recipe with ingredients/quanties, followed by variations on ingredients/quantity and suggest technique variations. His chapter on soups alone is worth the cost of the whole book.

                                        Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Cake Bible" - don't bake a cake without it!

                                        The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. -- I have worn my way through three paperback editions of this book. It has good basic recipes for almost everything.

                                        Mark Bittmans "How to Cook Everything". -- Good basic recipes for everything else. ;)

                                        "Soups; A Way of Life" by Barbara Kafka. I love soup, and this is the best soup cookbook I've ever seen.

                                        1. LaRousse Gastronomique
                                          All the Julia & Jacques books
                                          Edward Giobbi - Eat Right, Eat Well the Italian Way
                                          Chef Paul ( I have 3 autographed first editions!)
                                          Deborah Madison....

                                          I have a modest cookbook collection with some books from the 60's & 70's that I refer to every once in a while.... for one a House and Garden book that is a compendium of their magazine published recipes that is a joy to read for their dated popular presentations of the day.

                                          1 Reply