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Jun 13, 2007 01:14 PM

ISO Cookbook - simple & delicious recipies

Can someone recommend a cookbook with simple but delicious recipies? A friend is looking to give a cookbook to someone going to college, so the food has to be pretty down to earth. The best I could come up with was one of Rachel Ray's (I know, I know), but he is looking for one without the RR 'stigma' :)

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  1. A good basic cookbook is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. The recipes aren't complicated, and it covers, well, pretty much everything.

    Here's a link to a recent thread on the book:

    1. I like Rachael Ray's cookbooks, or at least the one I have -- 30 Minute Meals 2, I think. The recipes fit your requirements of simple, delicious, and down to earth. And they're not intimidating at all to someone who is new to cooking or who doesn't have a whole lot of exotic ingredients at hand.

      For simple recipes featuring fairly common ingredients, I really like the latest Weight Watcher cookbooks, Pure Comfort and From Pantry to Plate. I also found the Frugal Gourmet books very useful in my learning-to-cook days, but I suppose they're pretty dated now!

      1. I have been cooking for so many years, it's hard to know if books I find simple and straightforward really are anymore. But the two Ina Garten books I have are simple and straightforward to me. The Barefoot Contessa and The Barefoot Contessa Entertains. Some of the recipes have long lists of ingredients...sauce for her chicken satay, for example...but are easy to actually make. Plus, every recipe I've tried works as advertised. And taste really, really good. I've relaxed a lot in the kitchen in middle-age, and if I don't have the time to pull off a production, I'll happily serve Ina's quick and easy Indonesian Chicken to guests...and they'll happily devour it.

        Don't have Bittman's "How To Cook Everything," but I've heard only good things about it. That would be a good choice too.

        1. The very best all-around cookbook, which not only provides recipes but teaches a novice how to cook and provides all the useful information he or she might want at that stage of his or her cooking life, is The Joy of Cooking -- in my view, the 1973 edition, in paperback, is perfect for a college student and not in the least expensive. It's in print, and available through Amazon ( and I'm sure many other sources. I've been cooking for many, many years and almost never use cookbooks any more, but when I need to know solid, basic information -- what temperature do you cook that at? How do you prep this? -- I turn first to Joy of Cooking. Rachel Ray is a lightweight; Mrs. Rombauer is a COOK.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ozhead

            I agree. The JOC is a great cookbook to start with and one you will keep forever and refer to over and over again.
            The Bittman book sounds good, and my first cookbook was The Best Recipe from Cooks Illustrated, but JOC is still my standby.

            1. re: ozhead

              Yep, I learned from the Joy of Cooking - the 1973 version. My first recipes out of that cookbook were chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles (still a standby for me), and lemon bars (although my mother cut the sugar in the former two recipes in half, because she deemed them too sweet for me), when I was around 9 or so. I also just loved reading the cookbook for all the knowledge contained within. The newest version, the 2006 version, is good as well.

            2. It's not a cookbook but Cooks Illustrated has a new companion magazine that focuses on simpler homestyle cooking and weeknight suppers. As expected, the recipes are developed using C.I.'s tasting and revising process. It's called Cook's Country and I find it at all the places that carry C.I.