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cookbooks: hidden gems?

I'm wondering if folks have favorite cookbooks that *aren't* the most popular, most talked about cookbooks? I own and love the usual suspects (Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything) but lately I have been returning regularly to The Big Book of Casseroles by Maryana Vollstedt (Chronicle Books) that I picked up at a library sale for a few dollars. The recipes are wonderful, and given the "casserole" premise, surprisingly fresh and creative. So my question is: what other unsung cookbooks do you enjoy?

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  1. McCullough & Witt's "Great American Foods Without Fuss". The notes at the bottom of the pages giving sources for good ingredients, favorite brands, adaptations to the recipes, are an education in themselves, and I've never made anything from it that wasn't topflight.

    F. McCullough's "Low Carb Cooking" hass the BEST low carb recipes I've ever seen.

    There was an earlier book by the same authors, "Great Foods Without Fuss", that I keep meaning to find a copy of.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PhoebeB

      McCullough and Witt also wrote "Great Feasts Without Fuss." You're absolutely right--all three books are treasures.

    2. my favorite cookbook that nobody except me seems to talk about is a baking book:

      baking in america, by greg patent.

      10 Replies
      1. re: soupkitten

        That's interesting. I don't think the recipes are well tested in the Patent book. What do you make?

        1. re: janeer

          all of the old-fashioned pound cakes performed really well for me.

          1. re: janeer

            I have the book-everything's worked out fantastically for me. Are you giving the proper beating time when making the cakes? If the recipe calls for beating the batter for five minutes between eggs, do it.

            Greg Patent's cake recipes are even better than Carole Walter's cakes.

          2. re: soupkitten

            I really like this book too. We have made several cakes without leavening which tasted great -- no lingering taste of baking powder or soda. We've also made a coconut tea bread and a few other things.

            1. re: TerriL

              This book is one of my favorites as well. Last year I made my daughter's birthday cake from this book -- The Malted Milk Chocolate Cake. I have also made the Banana Split Layer Cake w/ Chocolate Frosting, which is seriously yummy.

              1. re: Cuoca

                Thank you all; I will have to give this another try. In return, I offer my all-time favorite traditional baking book: Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book. If you can find it, grab it.

                1. re: janeer

                  on the subject of (overlooked) traditional baking books, now that you've got me thinking about them: anything by beatrice ojakangas is stellar esp the holiday baking book and the scandinavian baking book-- hard to find on the coasts i hear-- but the internet is amazing :)

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    I have her scandinavian baking book and haven't tried anything yet. You just inspired me to pull it off the shelf and give it a workout.

                  2. re: janeer

                    Im very fond of this book too. It even has some recipes that my Midwestern mother makes which is indicative of good things. Coffee cakes, cookies etc all good.
                    Also some scandinavian recipes which look wonderful and Ive made a note to try.

              2. re: soupkitten

                My husband got me that for Christmas a few years ago, we gave each other rather ironic books. I got him Beranbaum's Bread Bible. After they had been ordered our MD suggested that we cut out a lot of carbs so the Parent book went on the baking book shelf. I forgot I had it until I was looking for somethign else this summer. I've not yet baked from it but I may start looking at more carefully. This was a response to the comment on the Parent book. I don't know why it is down here where it is out of context

              3. "Threadgills - The Cookbook" http://www.threadgills.com/store.cfm

                Threadgills is an incredible Southern food resto in Austin, TX. (Two restaurants, actually.) It's so popular it's practically a church in terms of people's devotion to it. All the food is home-made and is good enough to make you kick your grandma.

                Large, crispy chicken-fried steaks smothered in perfectly-seasoned cream gravy. A broccoli-rice casserole so good it will convert the staunchest vegophobe to the green cause.

                The cookbook is excellent. Directions are clear and easy to follow, and the book details not only recipes, but the history of the restaurant and a window into the beginings of the Austin live music phenomenon.

                The only possible downside is, these are large quantity recipes (usually 8 pr 12 servings, IIRC)--not much of this "Serves 4" routine. These are dishes designed for family-style dining, not tete-a-tetes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KenWritez

                  That sounds like my kind of cookbook! I've heard of Threadgills for years, might have eaten there in my youth. And I have never learned, after having to cook for a family of 7 and asst. friends, how to do the "Serves 4" recipes. Might as well do plenty while you're at it; someone will eat it or you can almost always freeze it.

                2. Mutterer - could you share which recipes you like from the Vollstedt book? I was given it as a gift and have yet to try anything.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: bananie

                    Two recipes we've made over and over are (1) shrimp, tomatoes, rice and feta cheese, and (2) chicken paprika (which seems to be a variation on paprikash). We've also made the "famous spinach-rice casserole" a couple of times and enjoyed it. Those are the 3 that come to mind, though I know I've made others. I'm making the shrimp and feta one again tonight!

                    1. re: mutterer

                      wow, those recipes sound great, especially the shrimp with feta. any chance of your paraphrasing them (or at least the shrimp one) here for us? or is there a website that might have them?

                      Is the book still in print? I could try to track it down.

                      1. re: missmasala

                        The book is still in print.
                        Here's a quick and dirty version of the recipe: Saute shrimp with some garlic, add white wine, fresh parsley, chopped tomatoes, and simmer. In a small casserole dish, toss the shrimp mixture with cooked rice, sprinkle generous amount of feta on top, bake in oven till bubbly and browned.

                        1. re: missmasala

                          I just ordered a copy in "very good" condition for $2.70 from an Amazon seller. I've heard good things about this book for years and am glad Mutterer reminded me of it. The Amazon customer reviews are glowing.

                          I'm a great fan of casseroles, esp. since the invention of the microwave that allows you to so easily warm up a single serving. They generally get more & more flavorful for several days in the fridg and I always have something (besides PB sandwiches) to feed hungry grandkids who stop in at all hours several times a week looking for food.

                          1. re: PhoebeB

                            I love casseroles because it's usually hard for me to cook right before dinner time (I'm a working mom and I have 3 year old twin boys). I can make the casseroles ahead of time, and they make a great lunch the next day too!

                    2. All of my cookbooks are here:


                      But a special book is Recipe of Memory. It's a very intimate Mexican cookbook with family memories.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                        That is some collection! I scrolled through it and realized that we have an almost identical baking cookbook collection. And here I thought that I was the only somewhat crazy person that owned hundreds of books about baking.

                        1. re: flourgirl

                          Wow! I just looked at SilverlakeGirl's collection and it certainly put mine to shame...and I have so many that people gasp in admiration...or is it horry or maybe pity? when they see them.

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            You know, it's a funny thing, but I've noticed very few people comment on my personal library. And I have 3 big bookcases stuffed with books in my living room. (Not to mention the two in my office and the piles in our bedroom...) The bulk of my collection is about food, but I have an extensive collection of books about glass, pottery, fiber art, and a lot of sci-fi books. And I am particularly proud of my cookbook/baking book collection. I obviously don't know a lot of cookbook lovers, which actually makes me a little sad. I'm always waiting for the one person who will walk in, see my cookbook collection and start to salivate.

                          2. re: flourgirl

                            It would have been larger had I not weeded out over the years. In the last 10 years or so I realize it's almost sick ... I've figured out ways to buy the books at the absolute cheapest price.

                            My regular book collection was getting almost as bad. One spare bedroom in the house has been set aside as a library but books are stacked everywhere as there is no room. So I no longer buy regular books, only cookbooks. I go to the library a couple of times a week.

                            Sometimes it's embarrassing. :)

                            1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                              Yep, same here. Most of the books I buy are cookbooks. And because of space limitations I have to be really selective about what I buy. I've weeded out my collection over the years too. I've sold a few hundred dollars worth of books on Amazon!

                              And I do worry sometimes about my apparent inability to resist the compulsion to keep adding to my stash. But then I just figure that there are worse addictions...

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                I have a collection of what I thought was large. Obviously I am wrong. The next time my dh complains when I bring home another cookbook, I know where I'm pointing him.
                                SLG I look forward to browsing through your library. Sigh....

                                I havn't anyone local that shares the same passion about cooking food either, so I do appreciate CH a whole bunch.

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  I know these posts are a couple of years old now but I thought it would be fun to post my library thing catalog anyway. I love cookbooks!!!


                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    Me too flourgirl! A new cookbook is always SUCH a treat and whenever I visit someone's home I make a beeline to the cookbooks (especially handy at family gatherings when/if the conversation gets stiff -- "Oh, what are your favorites from this book?")

                        2. The Mediterranean Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein. Clear instructions, no bombs so far and we have been using this for years.

                          1. I've mentioned this before, but one of my favorite cookbooks is Nikki and David Goldbeck's old "American Wholefoods Cuisine." I checked it out from the library years ago and was going to purchase my own copy, but before I did, Mike said I had to cook a bunch of stuff so I would know it would be a good investment (we were very short of funds at the time). So I cooked out of it every meal for two weeks straight.

                            The kitchen in our apartment at the time was extremely small, and so things would get set on the stove because there was an extreme lack of counter space. (Can you see where this is going?) I had the cookbook sitting on one burner, and turned the fire on to cook something, but in my absentmindedness I turned on the wrong burner and burned up the back cover of the cookbook. I bought a new copy and presented it to the library to replace the one I just burned up. (I still have it; covered the back with a file folder and lots of tape, but it still has a nice burner-shaped hole in it.)

                            It is still one of my favorite go-to cookbooks. Tortilla pyramids, tamale peppers, whole-wheat pasta, chick-pea salad (to replace tuna salad), an abundance of wonderful soups.

                            1. I love, love love White Dog Cafe cookbook. You might think as a restaurant cookbook it wouldn't be workable for the home cook, but not so. And the owner's politics are interjected but it doesn't detract. She insists on stock and demi gtlace for sauces. If you can take those dictates, it's a fabulous cookbook. I use it all the time and have given several as gifts.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                I've chimed in on this one before - I strongly second the White Dog Cafe cookbook. Bought it on a whim and have used it to the point of pages falling out. I own 200+ cookbooks and it's in my top 5.

                                1. re: jvozoff

                                  this is the one I thought of immediately, and scrolled down to make sure someone hadn't mentioned it :) This is a terrific book.

                                  1. re: jvozoff

                                    I remembered this mention of White Dog Cafe cookbook from this threat long ago. Today I found the book in the Friends of the Library store. What recipes do you recommend?

                                  2. re: NYchowcook

                                    The White Dog granola recipe is highly recommended.

                                  3. 2, but I am not even sure they are even in Print:

                                    1. The Mist Mill cookbook. A now closed Restaurant in VT. Everything in it works.

                                    2. Gold & Fizdale. Great for entertaining. Definitely froma different era, but a nice change of pace. It seemed intimidating when I got it. Much less so with time and use.

                                    1. I love the Jamie Oliver cookbooks, which don't seem to get a lot of play here on chowhound. everything I've made has turned out really well, and the recipes are relatively simple. I just got Jamie's Italy and the photography is outstanding, too.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Sophia.

                                        Ditto on Jamie Oliver. He has some wonderful recipes and I have all of his books and use them all of the time. Oliver's books are not undiscovered, but as Sophia says, are underrepped here on Chowhound.

                                        I also love Ken Hom's East Meets West (I've posted about this before and I don't know it it's even still in print - mine is falling apart.) one of the first fusion cookbooks - 1987.

                                        Ismail Merchant's Passionate Meals (from the partner of Ivory of movie classic fame), 1994.

                                        Bert Greene's Kitchen Bouquet - divided into chapters by spice, etc. - lemon, clove, almond, coffee, pepper, etc. A truly great book.- this one's even older, 1979! I made his peach and almond upside down cake for work the other night. A huge success.

                                        Also love his Greens and Grains (2 sep books) cookbooks.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          Hey!!! I have Passionate meals as well. Nice because they are obviously by and for home cooks. Nice variety of flavors also.

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            I'll throw in another recommendation for Greene on Greens. Very readable, and terrific recipes. The cold carrots vichy is one of my favorites: Shredded carrots in a dressing including mayo, sour cream, and duck sauce.

                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                              Me too: love the Greene Greens and Grains books; still use them. I've never seen Kitchen Bouquet, but I'll be on the lookout.

                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                There's a tuna/peppers dish in Greens that's my Go To dish for quick, healthy meals. It takes just moments to make, and is delicious! I usually serve it with polenta and everyone loves it.

                                            2. re: Sophia.

                                              Love the Jamie Oliver cookbooks -- that book introduced me to the whole concept of "dinner in a bag" along with some other lovely stuff.

                                            3. The Frog Commissary Cookbook, I think a now-closed Philadelphia restaurant. There are some incredible recipes there. I love, love the carrot cake...an old standby...but, it's the best I've found in any book. Sachertorte, just as good, too. So-o-o-o-ooo easy! That one I've made at least a hundred times. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. The Vanilla Walnuts...just a simple recipe in the front of the book. I can't even count the number of times I get asked for that recipe. It's just a fun book to have. Some many recipes...so little time...

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: sonofoodie

                                                I second the vote for the Frog/Commissary cookbook. Best carrotcake ever!

                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    That's the one. Falling apart, so many great meals, so many wonderful parties. It all worked!

                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      I bought it recently kinda as a sentimental momento from my years in Phila and that carrot cake!
                                                      What else do you like in the book?

                                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                                        If you were here in Philadelphia then you know the Classic Chicken Salad with grapes and juniper berries. Really good, and I never see it anywhere else. Also the Oriental style wings in black bean sauce. Also really good.

                                                    2. re: Difromphilly

                                                      Very big ditto on the cookbook and the carrot cake! I made this cake a gadzillion times for a restaurant in NJ and as, yes, wedding cakes. I could put some fancy-pants dessert on the menu, as most items were, and they all ordered the carrot cake.
                                                      This is the best recipe ever, except that I cut the powdered sugar in the frosting to, like, one-quarter.

                                                    3. re: sonofoodie

                                                      Hello. I just pulled out my Frog cookbook to prepare to make the Chocalate Sachertorte and those pages are missing! Can you, or anyone, send me the recipe? Thanks a bunch and Happy Holidays to All!

                                                      1. re: bweingar

                                                        Did anyone send this recipe to you yet? I can scan it in and send to you.

                                                      2. re: sonofoodie

                                                        Another for FC Cookbook, which I bought after falling in love w/my SIL's copy (which she got when it was being discarded by her library).
                                                        Then a friend who'd lived in Philly saw it on my shelf one day and began rhapsodizing about the (defunct) restaurant.
                                                        It has a lot of good recipes. I used to use it whenever I had a party or brunch. In fact, this has inspired me to go pull it off the shelf right now.

                                                      3. The Victory Garden Cookbook--Great vegetable and accompanying recipes.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Ora

                                                          A cookbook that makes me hungry every time I open it is Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson. Her series is running (along with Nigella Feasts) on the Food Network this summer, and her recipes and her style of cooking are easy and HUGE with flavor.

                                                        2. Marion Cunnigham's Lost Recipes is a wonderful "best of" for things I grew up with such as spoonbread and some really tasty but healthy casseroles.

                                                          Any of the Pink Adobe/Rosalea Murphy cookbooks from the restaurant of the same name in Santa Fe. Some New Mexican cooking and some French influenced. Particularly good for party food and appetizers.

                                                          I also love Maria Helm Sinskey's The Vineyard Kitchen which is presented as seasonal menus. (She was the original chef at the Plumpjack Cafe who married the vintner Robert Sinskey).

                                                          The Blue Ginger cookbook by Ming Tsai is great.

                                                          And, any cookbook by Jean Georges Vongerichten is beyond wonderful. Simple to Spectacular is my favorite - it takes an ingredient and presents it in four recipes starting with something fairly simple and moving on to more complex prep and more involved ingredient lists, but the foods are amazing. He does chicken in foil packets (the one with mushrooms and asparagus in a favorite), butternut squash soup, etc. I swear by all of the JGV cookbooks and not just for "chowish" cooking. You can't lose with JGV.

                                                          12 Replies
                                                          1. re: dalaimama

                                                            The pasta with shrimp, arugula and lemon in Jamie Oliver's Italian cookbook is fantastic. Just add more lemon than the recipe calls for Yum

                                                            1. re: dalaimama

                                                              I love Marion Cunningham. She's devoid of food-snobbery. Her little "Supper" and "Breakfast" books I dearly love.

                                                              And the Pink Adobe recipes are wonderful. Traitorious tho it might be for a Texan to say so, NM-Mex food might be my favorite.

                                                              1. re: PhoebeB

                                                                I love Marion Cunningham, too. Her Supper Book is in regular use. I also love that she's not snobbish and admits to liking iceburg lettuce!

                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                  YES! That iceburg lettuce would "smile" if it could? That her dog wouldn't touch arugula?

                                                                  And that green beans cooked the Southern way "have a depth of flavor " that the tender-crisp ones don't have. Those two things endeared her to me forever.

                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                    I had that book, and in a moment of food-snobbery a few yeas back, traded it in at a used bookstore. What was I thinking?

                                                                    1. re: Westy

                                                                      Westy, go quick to Amazon. There's a HB copy in "very good" condition for $4. The only other HB available is $34.95 plus shipping.

                                                                  2. re: PhoebeB

                                                                    Her breakfast book is the most tattered book in our kitchen. It's a great read aside from the recipes.

                                                                  3. re: dalaimama

                                                                    Agreed. These recipes ( STS) are very approachable. The whiskey glazed roast chicken is always a hit. The cooking at home with a 4 star chef is great (try the steak with carrot reduction sauce), but many of the recipes are way too involved.

                                                                    1. re: dalaimama

                                                                      I am curious what you have liked from Blue Ginger. From his PBS show, it seems like Ming is a nice guy and I like his bamboo cutting boards that are now available at our local grocery store, but I have noticed some mistakes in Blue GInger (like crazy amounts of salt and missing steps) that make me dislike this cookbook. It is one of those chef-driven books that seems like it was rushed to press without someone editing very well. If you have had better luck, I'd love to hear about it.

                                                                      1. re: LizATL

                                                                        i've used the blue ginger book but i always find myself tweaking and adapting recipes. so i find it very useful but not a bible by any means. :)

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          If you like this one, try "Occidental Tourist." Very similar: Updated Asian cuisine. Really good. Surprised it has not been mentioned more often.


                                                                        2. re: LizATL

                                                                          Well, I rarely follow recipes exactly, especially in terms of salt - most of them use waaay too much for my tastebuds. And apparently my brain automatically provides missing steps because I've heard that complaint about other cookbooks I use and I never noticed. There is a great scallop dish with a carrot-anise oil that we really like. I actually made the accompanying sweet potato risotto once, but stuck to mashed sweet potatoes thereafter. No real difference.

                                                                          I've tried a large number of recipes and have found them pretty tasty but everyone is different.

                                                                      2. A cookbook that I turn to time and again for delicious and foolproof recipes is Rosemary Barron's "Flavors of Greece." While the theme is Greek food, it's great for just about anything with mediterranean flavors. Especially good are the grilled meat and fish dishes, the vegetable dishes (it's got amazing recipes for fava beans and green lentils), and an excellent stifado recipe. I think of it as equivalent to Marcella Hazan's Italian books or Julia Child's french books -- Barron really is a master of Greek cooking.

                                                                        1. My favorite baking cookbook is "Fealess Baking" by Elinor Klivans. Everything I have made from it has been very good to awesome, but I have not seen this one in stores in several years (although her other book Big Fat Cookies is also good, but obviously less diverse).

                                                                          1. I'm going to step outside the box a little bit on this one. Since we have a dedicated kitchen computer, I've got to say MasterCook Deluxe 9.0 for us. We just import all the recipes that we like from cookbooks we buy or borrow, and then we've got them at our fingertips permanently rather than trying to remember which of the hundred or so books it's in. We can also "attach" variants to the original, as sub categories.

                                                                            It also scales, converts, substitutes, computes nutritional value, prints (and emails, and palms, and webmails) ingredient lists, etc. It'll even print shopping lists and a price list, and where in which store you can find the items (once you've entered that data once). All in all, a great program which we are squeezing for all it's worth. The only thing it won't do is stop you from grabbing the confectioner's sugar instead of the flour if you're nose deep in an interesting post here at Chow.

                                                                            Edit: Forgot to mention, for those with limited resources that can't justify purchasing a new computer for the kitchen, it *will* run on some very old systems. The box says down to pentium 200 with 32 mb of ram. So you can probably pick up an older model laptop *very* cheaply these days (ebay, local computer store that does consignment, tigerdirect, newegg, et al) that will do the trick quite nicely. I recommend a laptop over a desktop, because of space, mobility and storage issues. They're much better for a laptop than a desk model that will swiftly eat up your counterspace and outlet plugs.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: parkco

                                                                              The program sounds great, and I find myself using the computer more and more (even outside of Chowhound if you can believe that!), but I still love to page through recipe books looking for inspiration. If I have the time, I really like starting out with no idea of what to make for a dinner party and getting ideas as I go along. Of course, one needs extra time for that, but it's worth setting aside time.

                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                I use MacGourmet which is a Mac product. It is fabulous, it allows you to do quick web clippings which is such a great feature since you can grab a recipe you mean to try then "search" for it later. If anyone else uses it I would be game for some recipe exchanges!


                                                                              2. re: parkco

                                                                                I have a question. You say: "We just import all the recipes that we like from cookbooks we buy or borrow." So, how that work for a book? I.e., how do you "import" from a non-computerized source? Do you have to type in the recipe to your software? Thanks!

                                                                                1. re: mutterer

                                                                                  Sadly, yes you do. I tend to do it as I go - I make a recipe and if I like it I add it in. I know Macgourmet has a free trial, try it out :)


                                                                                  1. re: daily_unadventures

                                                                                    For other Mac recipe organizers, there's also Yum! from www.nixanz.com (I have nothing to do with them, and it's freeware anyway - just a very happy customer!) It's both fabulous and free.

                                                                                    I hand-type in book recipes but primarily use it to copy/paste from here, epicurious, and my favorite food blogs. I have something like 5000 recipes in mine now. (You can also make different "libraries" of recipes, so I have one for "to try" recipes, one for "tried and true, make again" recipes, etc.)

                                                                                    1. re: marigolds

                                                                                      Not that it matters, but I am not affiliated with Macgourmet either. I haven't tried Yum! though.

                                                                              3. This one is certainly not a "hidden gem" in my area, but might be in other locations- "Southern Living Cookbook" is one that we received as a wedding present nearly 20 years ago, and we still use it all the time. Nothing too fancy or complicated, but for anything from fried chicken to shrimp scampi, and darn near anything that you would ever want from a diner somewhere, this book covers it and covers it well. It also uses a lot of photographs to illustrate the trickier stuff...

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                  I don't think I've ever had a bad recipe from Southern Living. They test them well and state them clearly.

                                                                                2. I like "Cooking for Friends", "Country Weekends", and "Good Parties" all 3 by Lee Bailey.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                    I just picked up "Country Weekends" and "Good Parties" along with "City Food" at a library book sale and they do look great. I appreciate his featuring sample menus.

                                                                                  2. One of my favorite books: "From Bangkok to Bali in 30 Minutes" might seems like one of those obvious books but it has turned to be amazing. I chose it over any of my other southeast asian cookbooks. Great easy and fast recipes that turn out fab every single time!!

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: mirilara

                                                                                      I bought this off a clearance table years ago and have never made anything, for fear it was going to be full of flavor-sacrificing shortcuts. Can you recommend some recipes? I'm so excited that you love this book. I'm going to start looking at it in earnest again tonight.

                                                                                      1. re: jvozoff

                                                                                        I've made so many recipes from this book:
                                                                                        -- I love the Braised Pork Tenderloin with Star Anise, Sweet Soy, and Balsamic (page. 178), deep flavors, sweet, tangy, and just amazing.

                                                                                        --Vietnamese-Style Lemon Grass Chicken with Rice Vermicelli (page 169) this was a fun, and fairly easy meal that really packed a bunch of flavors.

                                                                                        -- the saté (pages 71-73), they were super fun, easy and i thought the proportions for the marinade were great.

                                                                                        -- all the sauces were superb.

                                                                                        Since I live in a small town in mexico, i don´t have access to a lot of the ingredients needed for asian cooking. However, I brought quite a few ingredients from the states. I only get cellophane noodles.. hehehe so i haven´t tried any other noodle recipe.

                                                                                        But having traveled throughout East Asia, I think this cookbook really delivers what it says it will. The recipes are well planned, easier (that the "traditional" way) and really great!

                                                                                        Good luck!!

                                                                                        1. re: mirilara

                                                                                          I fourth this recommendation. Yesterday I made the Vietnamese Coleslaw with Shredded Chicken and Peanuts (p. 137) to bring to a SE Asian potluck and it was a big hit, packing refreshing flavors and a nice mix of textures (I used packaged coleslaw mix, a shortcut the authors suggest, so prep was a breeze and no one was any the wiser, and I subbed thinly sliced scallions for the onions).

                                                                                          Doubling the recipe turned out to be too much for the number of diners so we dressed and served only half of it and I took the non-dressed remainder home. Today it served as an exemplary filling in summer rolls, accompanied by a spicy peanut dipping sauce. Really delicious -- I look forward to trying more from this book.

                                                                                    2. I have very few recent cookbooks. Those that I return to time after time to try new recipes are "Vegetarain Epicure" (1&2) cookbooks by Anna Thomas and "Tassajara Bread Book" by Edward Espe Brown. All are from the 70's. From the 80's, "Pacific Flavors" by Hugh Carpenter. The classic Asian sauce recipes are worth the price alone.

                                                                                      More recent cookbooks that I use for inspiration are the Susan Herrmann Loomis "Farmhouse" series.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                        The Veg. Epicure recipes are marvelous, and not just for vegetarians. Her Corn & Cheddar Cheese Chowder is one of the most memorable soups I've ever eaten.

                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                          I, too, love the Vegetarian Epicure - we grew up with this cookbook and my mom recently gave me her very well loved (and full of comments) copy. Even though I'm not vegetarian, this is one that I pull out a lot.

                                                                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                            I had the Tassajara, too! It just reminded me...the Mollie Katzen cookbooks...The Moosewood had a great Vegetarian Moussaka recipe. Made it all the time. And all the handwritten notes and drawings throughout the books...so cute. Enchanted Broccoli Forest was so good, too. These have been around for awhile, but stand by recipes.

                                                                                            1. re: sonofoodie

                                                                                              Moosewood and Tassjara are both great books.

                                                                                          2. I really like the Gangivecchio cookbooks - a sicilian mother and daughter and an american publisher describe the recipes they use at their small village restaurant. they are my go to cookbooks, now they have one on just pasta that i've recently ordered. best italian cookbook ever.

                                                                                            1. One of the first PBS cooking shows, The Romagnolis' Table, resulted in a fine cookbook by the same name written by the hosts, Margaret and Franco Romagnoli. Published in 1974 by Little-Brown, I got my copy in a used book store in the early 80's. I've made their Gnocchi Verdi recipe many times and my guests are always pleased in that they are a nice change of pace from the run-of-the-mill variety that uses potatoes. All the recipes serve 6. Not sure how readily the book is now but, if you run across a copy, grab it .

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: grampart

                                                                                                I have that one too! The pages are starting to crumble it's so old. They taught me how to make pasta. Also, there is a fantastic beef in wine braise. So good.

                                                                                              2. I love the little Australian Women's Weekly anthologies. They are great and definitely underrated for the few dollars they cost.


                                                                                                1. The Harry's Bar Cookbook by Harry Cipriani is one of my favorites. It contains the quintessential minestrone recipe.

                                                                                                  Diane Seed's Top 100 Pasta Sauces is a go-to as well. Been using her pesto recipe every weekend with basil in season. She also has a Top 100 Rice Dishes which is great. It's the one cookbook with no photos that I actually embrace!

                                                                                                  I too love Jamie Oliver's books - his latest is Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making you a Better Cook - only available on amazon.co.uk right now. Jamie's Italy is a treasure as are his previous books.

                                                                                                  Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa books (all of them) are fantastic. The most compliments and the best baby/wedding shower menus have come from her recipes and I just met her in Paris and she is a wonderful person too.

                                                                                                  I also love the River Cafe cookbooks, and just having eaten at the restaurant in London again I would say it rivals Chez Panisse in quality, creativity, and service. And easy!

                                                                                                  Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

                                                                                                  Simple to Spectacular by Jean Georges Vongerichten - great building block recipes

                                                                                                  The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz - just went to his book signing at Ici in Oakland and have already made some of the recipes that are to die for! You will be popular if you make ice cream from this book.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: sassygirl

                                                                                                    I second the River Cafe cookbooks. Seriously fantastic food.

                                                                                                  2. 2 of my favorite hidden gems are "The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Book" and "The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook" by Crescent Dragonwagon. Her salad technique (in both books) is my go-to... as is her basic "the soup" recipe, and cornbread.... Plus her writing is great -- lots of little stories.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mimilulu

                                                                                                      great hidden gems books-- i'd been so put off by her goofy name and the cover of one of her books (i know, i know)-- that i refused to buy them. i broke down when my bro gave me a gift certificate and i looked thru the recipes in the store, since it wasn't my $.

                                                                                                      i gotta say i've changed my tune about ms. dragonwagon. solid books, interesting recipes, good sensibilities from a small resto/innkeeper. her stories are great sometimes and sometimes make me *groan* but i do work from the books & agree that they are good stuff. also her "passionate vegetarian" book or whatever-- the really big one.

                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                        She's a children's book author (hence the goofy name)... I gave my mom the vegetarian book and have been coveting it ever since!

                                                                                                        1. re: mimilulu

                                                                                                          made more sense after i started reading her stuff. wished i had gotten over it earlier and bought her books years ago! :)

                                                                                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                          I have the "passionate vegetarian" book and there's a nice recipe for falafel in there, a little simpler than any of the others I had, although I think I had to turn back to the Goldbecks for a good sauce--or maybe it was the other way around. I unfortunately found most of the recipes in there awfully complicated, and also full of ingredients i can't really get here in the Middle of Nowhere, Iowa. Maybe I'll take a look at it again sometime and see if it grows on me.

                                                                                                          Interestingly, I have an old friend who has lived in Eureka Springs off and on since high school and worked at CD's place there at one point.

                                                                                                      2. Maryana Vollstedt is from my city - Eugene, Oregon and I too enjoy her cookbooks, they are classics. She does a bi-weekly column for the local paper if you're interested in her online recipes...I think there is a link on her website. Her book on Soups and Stews is a winner too...also Pacific Fresh is wonderful. Others I always seem to refer to are the Silver Palate by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukens and Martha's Favorite Comfort Foods, plus the Best American Recipe collection with the year's top picks from different sources.

                                                                                                        1. My favorite is The Greek Cook by Rena Salaman. It's fairly slim, but I've probably made 15-20 recipes from it and everything is awesome: fresh, simple, full of flavor, and gorgeous to boot.

                                                                                                          1. One I use frequently is a small, hardbound cookbook, now out of print: Carol Bowen's "Cajun & Creole cooking (Step-by-step)." It covers all the basics of creole and cajun cooking: Etouffe, jamabalaya, gumbo, maque choux, creme freche, et many al. Appetizers, entrees, veg, desserts. It is indeed step-by-step, clear pictures illustrating each step. Currently it's available used via amazon for as little as $1.60.

                                                                                                            1. American Home Cooking, by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison.

                                                                                                              Farmhouse Cooking, Susan Herrman Loomis (been mentioned, but worth repeating!)

                                                                                                              And the Marion Cunningham-edited Fannie Farmer.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: marigolds

                                                                                                                Oh, and I forgot these! And I don't know how to edit posts! So I will just post again!

                                                                                                                Savannah Seasons, by Elizabeth Terry (YUM!! Everything is amazing and really well tested in this book - it's modern Southern cooking.)
                                                                                                                Foster's Market Cookbook, by Sarah Foster

                                                                                                              2. One of the best sources for "unsung" cookbooks are churches and other organizations, which put together cookbooks as fund-raisers. I have several from various sources. Even have one from a little scenic steam railroad outfit down on the Colorado/New Mexico border called "SOOT: It's What's for Dinner." AND we have one we picked up at the local antique store that was published by a church youth group in the 1920s. There's a wonderful recipe in there for salmon croquettes, and one for mincemeat I haven't had the guts to try yet because I can't figure out what they had in mind when they wrote a recipe that calls for a "large bowl" of this and a "small bowl" of that.

                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                  I have several of this genre but my favorite is,"Vermont Kitchens Revisited; A Collection of Recipes Compiled by the Women of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Burlington" VT, 1990. Black and white drawings by Margaret Parlour.
                                                                                                                  Not only is it visually lovely, but the recipes within are easy, tasty and evocative of an earlier time in rural America. My copy is well-worn and well-loved.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    What are a couple of your favorites from that book, Gio? I know this is a years-old thread, but I am really getting into simpler preparations for weekday meals. So "easy, tasty and evocative of an earlier time" sounds great to me.

                                                                                                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                                      Good Morning Foxy Fairy.... I was surprised to see this thread reappear.
                                                                                                                      One recipe I have made many times over the years is Hopped-Up Chicken A very simple way to cook either chicken breasts or boneless thighs. Basically it's chicken pieces cooked in a skillet with a bunch of herbs (rosemary, marjoram, oregano...I add tarragon and thyme) and butter - or oil, lemon juice, white wine, S & P. The chicken is sprinkled liberally with the herbs and browned on all sides.
                                                                                                                      The liquids are added, mixed with the pan juices, pan is covered and the chicken cooks till tender. Baste and turn a few times. Really, Really tasty.

                                                                                                                      Baked Fish Creole is another:
                                                                                                                      Firm white fish fillets in a foil lined baking dish, smothered with chopped onion, bell pepper, celery and a pint of canned tomatoes, S & P... I add minced garlic, oregano and hot chilies. Buttered bread crumbs or crushed Ritz crackers may be added over top if one wishes. I don't. The foil is sealed and the dish is baked in a 400F oven till the fish flakes - maybe about 25-ish minutes.

                                                                                                                      There are several veggie dishes I like - Green Beans, Red Peppers and Baby Onions, for one. The book contains all the usual categories from soups to sweets and every so often there's a sweet intro note which will either tell you where the recipe came from or variations on the theme. There's a particularly inspiring soup called Peanut Soup from the Silent Kitchen. It's a tradition of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont and a group of friends get together to cook for periodic silent retreats held at the headquarters. I was initially intrigued by Washday Soup. A toss everything in the pot kind of one dish meal made after a very busy day.

                                                                                                                      The drawings are lovely and really capture the beauty of Vermont. It has a soft but durable cover with a white spiral binding. I don't know if it's still available but there's an address on the back cover:

                                                                                                                      Vermont Kitchen Publications
                                                                                                                      Cathedral Church of St. Paul
                                                                                                                      2 Cherry St
                                                                                                                      Burlington VT 05401

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                        thanks for this, Gio. i will totally try the recipes. i have been wanting to do a fish dish this week.

                                                                                                                        i like the idea of making soup silently, with a group. i know that's not exactly what you meant but i like the idea of enjoying the meditative nature of cooking in silent communion. i believe you meant a group cooks *for* those on silent retreat, but it made me think that it could be interesting to try cooking silently. :)

                                                                                                                        thanks so much.

                                                                                                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                                          Yes - the group doing the cooking is silent during the time they are cooking - and - they are cooking for those attending a Silent Retreat. Makes such sense....

                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                There ya go, again. More book shelves!!

                                                                                                                                Say, Gio, did you see the little 2 or 3 page article about Ed Giobbi in the May Saveur? Those little kids are all growed up!

                                                                                                                2. My favorite is "A New Way to Cook" by Sally Schneider. She writes the way I cook - looking at ingredients and giving options for how to use them.

                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: catzen

                                                                                                                    That is one of my favorite books too! She is so good at encouraging the reader to improvise -- and that's a skill I really need to work on. Not to mention, the book is beautiful, but without being beautiful in that too-pretty-to-cook-from way.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mutterer

                                                                                                                      The actor, Vincent Price, and his wife were really into cooking. His cookbook, A Treasury of Cooking, is a real treasure. It is out of print, but I was able to get a copy at Amazon.com.

                                                                                                                      1. re: howefortunate

                                                                                                                        This book has come up several times in recent months at Chowhounds. I found my copy at the Strand, which is around the corner from my apartment here in Manhattan. I think I paid $5. It's worth ten times that! Beautifully done, marvelous recipes, many from bygone eras.

                                                                                                                        1. re: howefortunate

                                                                                                                          I'm glad to see this recommended...The were wonderful gourmets....
                                                                                                                          thanks! In return, I'll recommend JANE GRIGSONS "GOOD THINGS"... Its a wonderful book with lovely essays and sometimes almost a memoir with recipes and of course, her beautiful writing and research really flesh out your appreciation...it is unique and has great recipes...I love love love the description of the french people out after a rain with their pierced tin pails to carry to snails home in and then the process of purifying the penned up snails...esoteric and uncommon now... a recipe for "Boudoir Biscuits"...what a charming name, conjuring up ruffles of delicate, perfumed associations...I COULD go on and on...every page is a treasure...WHICH LEADS TO LAURIE COLWIN...laurie repeats a recipe JANE also supplies for a very, very unique beef dish that is sumptous and quite UNCOMMON...LAURIE wrote wonderful rood essays for Gourmet magazine and published 2 cookbooks before her untimely death (car accident0, They are personal and interesting as a Jane Austen novel...it to is almost a memoir with recipes...Diana Kennedy, an English lass who later settled in Mexico and wrote best-selling cookbooks still current on the bookshelves has a fascinating memoir with recipes---"Nothing Fancy" , a tour de force of beloved recipes from her english childhood to the current day.... I COULD go on.....

                                                                                                                          1. re: dantescave

                                                                                                                            Laurie Colwin died of a heart attack (see NY Times obit), certainly prematurely. A wonderful writer, a great appreciator and enthusiast of food and life. A tremendous loss. I reread her two cookbooks regularly with immense pleasure every time.

                                                                                                                    2. There are 2 that I use religiously; Jasper White's Lobster at Home and On Top of Spaghetti by the chef/owners of Al Forno in Providence, RI. Heavenly asparagus lasagna!

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Cheffrank

                                                                                                                        Ooooh, I have the Lobster book but have never made anything out of it - can you please share which recipes you've enjoyed from it? Thanks!

                                                                                                                        1. re: KeriT

                                                                                                                          I would be interested in the same. I have heard both great and not-so-great reviews of both the cookbook and the restaurant. Interested in hearing a fan.

                                                                                                                      2. Can't believe I didn't include this one as my first post here. "Calico Cooks!" a cookbook produced by the national fabric store Calico Corners. All profits from the book are given to charity--breast cancer research, IIRC.


                                                                                                                        My sister was one of the editors of the cookbook and she included several of our family's best-loved recipes in it.

                                                                                                                        Nepotism aside, Calico Cooks! is an excellent cookbook and every recipe I've made from it has come out well. The design is clear and colorful, photographs are sharp, and the recipes offer a broader range of updated American cooking. My copy is already bent, stained and creased more than most any other cookbook I own.

                                                                                                                        ""Has anyone else used this cookbook?" he asked, not expecting a reply but hoping for one anyway, just like that sultry day in Marrakesh with Janet."

                                                                                                                        1. No matter where I travel I love to pick up a regional cookbook - and I've never been disappointed. My favorite is Charleston Receipts by the Junior League - it just makes me want to sit on the veranda and sip a mint julep while I read it....
                                                                                                                          Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams(Indiana - it's a Clarkson Potter book, so the photos are beautiful)
                                                                                                                          The Des Moines Register cookbook is another good one and I have a lovely little 50 page no-name cookbook that I picked up in a pub in Cornwall that I love to use in the winter months.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Spoonula

                                                                                                                            Yeah, I love those recipe collections put together by groups. One of my favorites, purchased from a fellow teacher years and years ago, is Arabic Cooking by Women Concerned About The Middle East from Berkeley, CA. It was originally published in 1961!!, and revised in 1968.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Spoonula

                                                                                                                              Fun to see this thread resurrected. I liked regional cookbooks, too. But for a good basic cookbook of family favorites and church supper stars, the National Grange Cookbook is great. It was so popular that they published two more variations but the first one is the one that is falling apart from use. It was probably published in the 70s or 80s.

                                                                                                                            2. I have the ultimate answer to this question. I haven't even read the other responses yet but I'm positive my response isn't already here.

                                                                                                                              There is a book that you simple must track down. It's called Clementine in the Kitchen. The author is Samuel Chamberlain. It's actually not a cookbook but contains some really amazing recipes. Watch out for the escargot recipe in the beginning of the book. It will not only teach an amazing method for cooking snails, but will have you in stitches of laughter.

                                                                                                                              It's a cookbook that reads like a novel. This is a true story of an American family during the WWII era and their charming French housekeeper Clementine.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: mrspvr

                                                                                                                                I love that book - but have not tried any of the recipes. Any particular ones that you like? BTW - I believe that I've read some where that it wasn't quite true, perhaps.

                                                                                                                                Edit - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31390... - I think I was called out on that rumor though!

                                                                                                                                1. re: mrspvr

                                                                                                                                  i have that book and also Paris is a Nice Dish ca1952 by Stearns. It is about recipes and restaurants.

                                                                                                                                  A very obscure cookbook which was quite sophisticated for it's time was Sheila Hibben's American Regional Food. It was published in 1947 and could hold its own against many current books.

                                                                                                                                2. "California Rancho Cooking" by Jacqueline Higuera McMahan. The food is blended with a rich historical context of early California life. The 19th and 20th century descendants of Spanish settlers on Spanish Ranchos, that is. Their simple food combines Spanish and other European with native Mexican ingredients and flavors. The vignettes of family traditions that serve as recipe introductions still make me smile 20 years after I bought the first edition.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Craterellus

                                                                                                                                    Hi, I am looking for a cookbook in Spanish for a child. Does anyone have a suggestion? Thanks

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Craterellus

                                                                                                                                      This IS truly a hidden gem of a book. I loved reading about the history and everything I have made from this incredible book has turned out phenomenal!
                                                                                                                                      Love, love,love this book!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Craterellus

                                                                                                                                        I also like her Mexican Breakfasts book.

                                                                                                                                      2. I was once told that a spy (WW2) had written a book about French cooking. I think "Paris" was in the title. I've long since lost the author's name and the rest of the title. Too bad, because it would have been a really cool read, I bet.

                                                                                                                                        1. Never previously mentioned here to my knowledge, Leslie Land's books The Modern Country Cook and Reading Between the Recipes - seasonally arranged, sound recipes, using ingredients readily available anywhere (I used them during a stint in way-upstate NY), engaging style.
                                                                                                                                          One occasionally mentioned, Ronald Johnson's The American Table (out-of-this-world mashed potato souffle), Simple Fare and Company Fare (pork tenderloin with fennel) - again for the same reasons (he was a poet and his prose style in thes books is warm and intimate, confiding, somehow).
                                                                                                                                          All of the above are well worth reading as well as using.

                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: ariellasdaddy

                                                                                                                                              Oh, I agree! I've never found anyone before who knew of this book. I took a class with Schmidt years ago (probably around the time the book came out) at the now defunct Hayday Market in CT and found him to be a superb instructor in person too.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              I've had a copy of Ronald Johnson's book for years, used it many times, it's a real treasure, if only for the lovely little "stories" he tells. I recently lost my hard cover in a house fire and promptly bought a new, albiet paperback, copy. He has since passed on.
                                                                                                                                              Yeah, that mashed potato souffle!
                                                                                                                                              His red beans and rice are excellent, too.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                I'm so glad someone else knows and loves him. The books are great (including the reminiscences, family stories, etc) and the recipes work. Reminds me I should get them for my sister-in-law, who's replenishing her collection lost in ahouse fire last Christmas.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                  Hi, love your recomment...see my earlier post for:
                                                                                                                                                  I'm glad to see this recommended...The were wonderful gourmets....
                                                                                                                                                  thanks! In return, I'll recommend JANE GRIGSONS "GOOD THINGS"... Its a wonderful book with lovely essays and sometimes almost a memoir with recipes and of course, her beautiful writing and research really flesh out your appreciation...it is unique and has great recipes...I love love love the description of the french people out after a rain with their pierced tin pails to carry to snails home in and then the process of purifying the penned up snails...esoteric and uncommon now... a recipe for "Boudoir Biscuits"...what a charming name, conjuring up ruffles of delicate, perfumed associations...I COULD go on and on...every page is a treasure...WHICH LEADS TO LAURIE COLWIN...laurie repeats a recipe JANE also supplies for a very, very unique beef dish that is sumptous and quite UNCOMMON...LAURIE wrote wonderful rood essays for Gourmet magazine and published 2 cookbooks before her untimely death (car accident0, They are personal and interesting as a Jane Austen novel...it to is almost a memoir with recipes...Diana Kennedy, an English lass who later settled in Mexico and wrote best-selling cookbooks still current on the bookshelves has a fascinating memoir with recipes---"Nothing Fancy" , a tour de force of beloved recipes from her english childhood to the current day.... I COULD go on.....

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dantescave

                                                                                                                                                    Ditto on the Colwin - what a shame she died, so young, sorely missed - and that Kennedy memoir, wonderful books to read and cook from. Grigson is my culinary heroine (I have a very nice photo of her on my fridge!).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                      I just cooked a partridge with celery sauce from her book about English cooking. And, yes, Colwin is wonderful - was just re-reading her first book.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                        The Grigson Fruit and Vegetable books and The Mushroom Feast should be right up your alley too.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                          Yes, I have the fruit one - was actually just consulting it to for ideas for some quince that I bought. Don't have the other two (yet).

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                            I think it's the cherry chapter in the fruit one that has a fantastic crumble topping (used on a tart).

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                              I've been eyeing the Grigson recipe for Quince Vodka for a while. Must get a move on and buy some quinces before they disappear for another year.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                            I lent my copy of Home Cooking to a friend and never got it back. Grr. Must get another one.

                                                                                                                                                2. The New England Yankee Cookbook

                                                                                                                                                  It was the first cookbook I ever received when I moved out on my own. The traditional recipes and additional information provided has stood the test of time. Every dish that I've made from this book has been delicious. More importantly, it provided an excellent resource and encouraged me to try dishes that I was not familiar with or had never tasted. No pictures are included, yet and still I remained undaunted.

                                                                                                                                                  1. New York Times Heritage Cookbook, edited by Jean Hewitt, Putnam 1972

                                                                                                                                                    Divided into regions, 764 pages of recipes (2-4 per page) from deer liver pate to ham dressing. Each region boasts recipes in sections – appetizers and soups; fish and shellfish; meat, poultry, game and other main dishes; breads; pies, cakes, desserts and cookies and miscellaneous – pickles, relishes, preserves, sauces, beverages, candies, dressings and dumplings.

                                                                                                                                                    Because so many immigrant populations have settled in different regions, this is more of an international cookbook than homogeneous American cuisine. Many recipes using little known ingredients too.

                                                                                                                                                    Deborah Madison's Local Flavors is also great for regional and seasonal dishes.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Columba

                                                                                                                                                      Just reading the remaining posts here after so much time has gone by. What fun!

                                                                                                                                                      I wonder if that New England Yankee Cookbook was published by Yankee Magazine????/
                                                                                                                                                      The NYT Heritage book has been in my collection since it was first published and I have cooked many recipes. I love the regionality of the selections.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I've seen that casseroles book. May even have it tucked away in storage. What do you like in it and what looks good?

                                                                                                                                                      1. "The Shaker Kitchen" is by the chef at The Shaker Table, which is the restaurant at the Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH. Some of the recipes are original Shaker, others are tweaked, updated versions. The Shakers were the first Americans to make extensive use of herbs and spices in their cooking, as well as originating the business of packaging and selling fruit/vegetable seeds. Almost any Shaker cookbook will have good recipes.

                                                                                                                                                        The Maple Syrup Cookbook, by Ken Haedrich.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Believe it or not, "365 Ways to Cook Pasta" is a really good cookbook. The recipes are fresh and simple, and I've never made anything bad out of there, although I occasionally have to adjust ingredients a bit like add more salt. (Also, I sometimes double the amount of sauce for the amount of pasta listed.) I love pasta, so I probably use this cookbook more than any other.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sunny Days

                                                                                                                                                            I agree. I was given this book as a Christmas gift quite a few years ago by my SIL. I was a little sceptical about a book (any book) that started with the words "365 ways to..." and I wasn't even quite the avid cook then (or cookbook collector) that I am now, but the book surprised me and I still use it.

                                                                                                                                                          2. The poorly named Appetizer Atlas by Meyer.

                                                                                                                                                            This is really a survey cookbook of cusine of the world. The author breaks down each continent into regions and presents the 5-6 local specialities. These are more about small plates than appetizers or full meals. It's a wonderful book to see flavor and spice combinations of each area - this book makes little (or no) adjustment for the locally found ingredients. It also does not belabor cooking techniques noting them only when they differ from a classical method - this is not a beginners book.

                                                                                                                                                            Great reading and great recipes to riff. Wish they had a few more pictures.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                              I have this book and agree that it is a great book to spend quality time with. (I agree about the title too.) I haven't actually cooked out of it much (yet, anyway, sometimes it takes me time to work my way through the crowd because I have a LOT of cookbooks.)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                Time to pull it out! I've made quite a few dishes from it with success. And it gives me so many other ideas for tweaking other recipes.

                                                                                                                                                            2. This book is a recent discovery of mine that I made while in Montreal:

                                                                                                                                                              It is very different from anything typically available in US bookstores. Here's my recent post on the subject: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610352

                                                                                                                                                              1. Three by Miriam Ungerer -- "Good Cheap Food", "Country Food" and "Summertime Food". Simple, eclectic and generally homey recipes, written in a forthright, no-nonsense style, covering regional American and international dishes with a smart, distinctive voice and an emphasis on freshness, simplicity and seasonality.

                                                                                                                                                                Leafing through "Summertime Food" given the season, I'm reminded of the charm threaded throughout the book -- "small, shiny, pale beige" new potatoes are called "gleaners"; a yolk-less dessert is "Chocolate Chinchilla Mousse" ("chinchilla" explained as having used to mean a dessert made with whipped egg whites) -- along with admonitions that may seem obvious but merit repeating ("It's a mistake to think that the dip will take the curse off carelessly-chosen or ill-prepared vegetables"; "the charm of grilled chicken is in its freshness and juiciness -- both of which fade within minutes off the grill"; and "one ritual of no value at all is the anointing of the salad bowl with a sliver of garlic ... some garlic-hater must have thought up that effete practice."). The recipes here reflect summer pleasures sometimes forgotten: cold trout with green mayonnaise, deep-fried soft clams, peach shortcake, and homemade blueberry ice cream...

                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JP_nyc

                                                                                                                                                                  Hurray! someone finally mentioned Miriam Ungerer. "Good Cheap Food" is especially fun and a propos given the current economic climate. I've been making dishes from that book since it came out in the early 70's.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                    What do you like in the book? Favorite recipes?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                      Particularly the black beans and rice. Delicious and feeds an army.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                      "Good Cheap Food" is also one of my favorite cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: JP_nyc

                                                                                                                                                                      I just requested Good Cheap Food from the library. I am excited to check it out -- in both senses, LOL

                                                                                                                                                                    4. "Get Saucy" is a really clear guide to making all kinds of sauces and explains mother sauces well...

                                                                                                                                                                      I also like the Hayday Country Market Cookbook - that line of boutiquey markets in the N.E. always had the best food.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Yesterday I came across mention of an interesting newly published book (12 May 2009) with the hefty title: "The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food--Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal."
                                                                                                                                                                        by: Kurlansky, Mark

                                                                                                                                                                        To quote from the review at Jessica's Biscuit, "Award-winning New York Times–bestselling author Mark Kurlansky takes us back to the food and eating habits of a younger America: Before the national highway system brought the country closer together; before chain restaurants imposed uniformity and low quality; and before the Frigidaire meant frozen food in mass quantities, the nation’s food was seasonal, regional, and traditional. It helped form the distinct character, attitudes, and customs of those who ate it." This is something I'm going to have to investigate!

                                                                                                                                                                        Here's an article about Kurlansky and the book:

                                                                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                          boy does that book look right up my alley. i'll pick up a copy for sure. thanks Gio!

                                                                                                                                                                          here's a really great hmong cookbook i just got:

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                            Goodness, SK ! The herbs alone make the recipes in this book seem very exotic...
                                                                                                                                                                            tshuaj rog leaves
                                                                                                                                                                            stalks pawj qaib
                                                                                                                                                                            hmab ntsa leaves
                                                                                                                                                                            ntiv leaves
                                                                                                                                                                            qhaus root
                                                                                                                                                                            koj ntsuab ... are they readily available? Or do I know them as their American equivalents?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio


                                                                                                                                                                              there is a great section in the book that lists commonly used hmong herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients by their american and hmong names, translations of the hmong names, and descriptions of the ingredients and their use in hmong cooking. for example the hmong names for sweet potatoes and yams translate literally to: "the orange ones," and "the dark red ones"--i really got a kick out of that for some reason. personally, i think this info will serve me very well, as there are many hmong farmer's market vendors in my area! i think most of the ingredients are commonly available at farmer's markets (in season) or in asian groceries, but some of them might be more obscure. hmong medicinal herbs are also listed, & there are many informative vignettes on hmong culture, traditions, and traditional meals in the book.

                                                                                                                                                                              my neighbor has the book right now-- i'll get it back and see if i can get the translations of the herbs you listed, i bet you can get many/most of them near you, though. :)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                tshuaj rog (fat medicine): medicinal herb used in weight-gain diet

                                                                                                                                                                                pawj qaib: sweet flag/japanese rush: licorice scented, used to promote appetite and digestion, always included in chicken soup for new mothers

                                                                                                                                                                                hmab ntsa: slippery vegetable: seasonal vegetable used in soup

                                                                                                                                                                                ntiv: sweet fern: used in chicken soup

                                                                                                                                                                                qhaus: cardamom: hmong cooks use the base of the stem and top of the root

                                                                                                                                                                                koj ntsuab: an herb: again, a common ingredient in soup for new mothers.

                                                                                                                                                                                all of the above are herbs & are considered medicinal. here are some hmong names for common ingredients:

                                                                                                                                                                                mint: pum hub
                                                                                                                                                                                cilantro: zaub txhwb
                                                                                                                                                                                green onions: dos ntsuab
                                                                                                                                                                                basil: zaub txwg liab
                                                                                                                                                                                bamboo shoots: ntsuag
                                                                                                                                                                                taro: qos tsw ha
                                                                                                                                                                                daikon: zaub ntug dawb
                                                                                                                                                                                cucumber: dib
                                                                                                                                                                                bitter melon: dib iab
                                                                                                                                                                                watercress: zaub dej
                                                                                                                                                                                amaranth: zaub qiag

                                                                                                                                                                                (sorry for the recital, i am trying to learn and repetition helps)--sk

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                              Referring to the Kurlansky book above: I immediately upon seeing this requested the book on the Brooklyn Public Library website. I have the 23rd of 23 holds on it (this is a record number for anything I have requested so far so things look good for the book's popularity). Sometimes this means I'll have a book within a couple of weeks, sometimes much more. If it goes too long, I will have to break down and buy it!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                Well---- I broke down today and ordered the book from Jessica's Biscuit. I could not resist. It's a hard cover edition which I prefer and all the other discount book sellers only had paperbacks. It just sounded so intriguing. I was a very little ( read young) child in the mid forties, but I do remember some of the things that my mother and her family did to make meals nutritious and tasty. I have a feeling this is going to be a trip down Memory Lane.....

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                  Before you buy, you might want to check out the reader reviews on Amazon. Not positive.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                    "The Food of a Younger Land will appeal to anybody who is interested in culinary history, regional cooking, or traditional American dishes." From a review at Amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm looking forward to reading this book because it will give me, a very young child at the time, a different perspective... an adult's perspective of what occurred during those times when rationing of certain necessities was mandated. . It will also give me an idea about how inventive my parents and their friends and families were and how they coped during that era. I'm particularly pleased that it's eastern centric... that makes it all the more appealing. Many thanks for the caveat though, Pikawicca. I appreciate it!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm more than half way through this book and it is is absolutely as fascinating as I expected. The states are divided as to region, i.e. Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, West, Northwest. Kurlansky has taken the aborted Works Project Administration (WPA) sponsored Federal Works Project for writers called America Eats and virtually finished the project himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                      There are recipes, but with caveats because as you would expect, the oral or even written receipts, as they were called, leave a lot to the imagination. It's a history of food in the USA from Indian times to 1939 - 42 when the project was abandoned due to the war. The war between the chowders and jonny cakes, the different BBQ origins, the Real Mint Julip.... what a wonderful read all this is. So it's not a cookbook per se, but an enlightening peek into how folks survived and made good use of the land they lived on.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Finally some of the writers who were hard pressed to make a living during those trying times are now the famous authors we read and admire to ths day: Eudora Welty, Nelson Algren, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.... and many more.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                        There was a not so shining review in the NYT from Jonathan Miles in which he points out that much of this is blog quality writing, as Kurlansky is being an editor of the accumulated WPA project writings of the time - and only a few are by established writers, such as those you mentioned. But I would think that's fascinating in its own right, as I sometimes find blogs of today interesting even if they're not written to the highest literary standards.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Still - the very first food book that got me into all this was an old copy of MFK Fisher's How To Cook a Wolf that I found in our basement when young. And while I've learned to not make her the yardstick for food writing, (I could never, ever read anything else), I have to admit that I'm still ambivalent about getting this book. Sad to say, I haven't read any of Kuransky's other books either (Salt, Cod, The Big Oyster).

                                                                                                                                                                                        But your review is swinging me over. Thanks for writing it and the update. I think I'll order it and see for myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                          applehome... I will say that there are some repetitive moments in that Kurlansky, in the beginning of each chapter, capsulizes what's to come within, and then we read from the original manuscript. Not in all chapters, but in a few. Overall it's a captivating history of food in the various sections of the country when the country was fairly new. Also, there are some humerous anecdotes- did you know that Geoduck is pronounced "gooey duck"?? I didn't. The attempts to describe it are hilarious.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh .... and Kurlansky did the woodcut illustrations to accompany some of the chapters. I have never read anything about him or any of his writings either but I would not classify his writing as "blog writing" whatever that means. Many blogers are damn fine writers..

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                            I think applehome was likening the WPA writers' writing to blog writing, not Kurlansky's (he is a fine writer). And I think applehome's point was probably that the WPA hired people to write with a wide range of writing talent - which is what you find in today's blogs. Some were great writers, some were simply people who could write something; after all, it was chiefly about employment.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Classics to change the way you think about food and cooking that haven't been suggested so far:
                                                                                                                                                                                Anything by Elizabeth David, the doyenne of English cookery and the first of the lineage that then runs to M.F.K. Fisher and thence to Julia Child.
                                                                                                                                                                                The quirky idiosyncratic and highly opinionated Edouard de Pomiane, who was Elizabeth David's inspiration.
                                                                                                                                                                                Two cookbooks by Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, before her much-mourned untimely death. You will find a friend here as well as a recipe book and fantastic musings on food.
                                                                                                                                                                                Arthur Schwartz's, What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat: I wouldn't be without that one; long out of print but you can find it online if you search.
                                                                                                                                                                                These are all books by strong personalities with strong opinions about food. Some of their recipes have been my staples for decades. They are indeed my treasures, and I suspect are treasures for many people.

                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                                                                                                                                  Totally agree on de Pomiane - his 10 minute cookbook is actually very, very user friendly. Good stuff and it holds up many years after it was first published.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Another good book - Mist Grill. A now defunct (I think) restaurant in VT. Great food and very approachable.


                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Westy

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes - I discovered de Pomiane through Elizabeth David and have thoroughly enjoyed them. In addition to the 10 minute one, I also have read Cooking with Pomiane and The Jews of Poland: Recollections and Recipes, which is fascinating.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                                                                                                                                    A couple of things about your post, BerkshireTsarina:

                                                                                                                                                                                    I completely agree about Elizabeth David. She was a wonderful writer and food scholar and I have all her books.

                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not fair, though, to MFK Fisher to say that Elizabeth David was there first. Fisher first published (Serve It Forth) nearly 15 years before Elizabeth David's first book came out. In fact, MFK Fisher had published 8 books by the time Mediterranean Food came out in 1950. It is surprising to me, though, that they'd never met. I can't imagine they'd have gotten on all that well, though. They both had huge personalities.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Also this: Elizabeth David HATED being refered to as a "doyenne", according to Artemis Cooper, her biographer. But, then, she also apparently hated the idea of a biography so maybe none of that matters.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Pomiane, who was a great food writer, was only one of Elizabeth David's influences. I'd also point you toward Hilda Leyel, if you haven't already found her. She was an eccentric genius to say the least and deserves a lot more attention than she has received.

                                                                                                                                                                                    And, finally, I'd add that I never really think of Julia Child as being a food writer in the same sense that Elizabeth David and MFK Fisher were, but perhaps I've missed out. I haven't yet read, for instance, Ms. Child's book about living in France.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Get the feeling I'm an Elizabeth David fan? I am. Fanatic is perhaps the right word. The Elizabeth David equivalent of a Trekker. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcglothlen

                                                                                                                                                                                      I've been wanting to read Hilda Leyel. I've also enjoyed collecting books by others (in addition to Pomaine) who inspired E. David, including Wyvern and "Countess" Morphy. Oh - and Florence White, as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                      As an aside, I seem to recall that E. David and MFK Fisher, though they never met, didn't particulary have a high opinion of one another. Not sure where I read that though.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Have you read the other biography of E. David by Lisa Chaney? I have not (yet). And I know what you mean about being a fanatic - I've become one as of late.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                        You might enjoy perusing this thread by the way:


                                                                                                                                                                                        Several of David's books were the "cookbook of the month" last month.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                          I did read the Lisa Chaney biography. It's pretty good. I liked the Artemis Cooper one a shade better. I also have read a novel using E. David and Norman Douglas as characters called "Lunch with Elizabeth David".

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcglothlen

                                                                                                                                                                                            I enjoyed the Cooper one - have heard that the Chaney one is rather controversial, or, perhaps, just considered so by David's family. I have a copy of "Lunch with Elizabeth David", but haven't gotten to far into it yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                            (Welcome to Chowhound, by the way.)

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My current favorite "hidden gem" from my collection is one from 1913 called "Dishes and Beverages From the Old South" by Martha McCulloch-Willams. I've read it a couple times. I recently found it, too, at Feeding America (http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/c...) an online American Cookery archive. I won't have to hurt my copy by reading it anymore because it's right HERE: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/c...

                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't recommend the book or the site strongly enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcglothlen

                                                                                                                                                                                        Love that book. Love Love Love it. A terrific and interesting authorial voice.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcglothlen

                                                                                                                                                                                          The Feeding America site is a great resource. The Beecher (yes, Harriet and Catherine)sister's book "The American Woman's Home..." was a pioneering work in it's time for kitchen design and science. Much of the book is still applicable and trendy today ("Americans eat too much meat.") "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking" by Abby Fisher, is a marvel of book.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I look forward to perusing the archives. Thanks for posting this link.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I recently found on my SOs mothers book shelf The Grand Book of French Cuisine
                                                                                                                                                                                          by Henri Pellaprat published in the 30s and this is a first edition. I had never seen this before and I cant put it down, I take it to bed, read it on the couch, read it while I eat. I would take it work if I could. The pictures alone are amazing. I am not old enough to remember this type of cuisine being popular and am fascinated by it. There is one picture where he has carved a horse out of butter. Has anyone else gotten sucked in by this book?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I will be in the minority here. I love looking through them and inherited many from my Mom and grandmother. I use hardly any. I rarely follow a recipe and just do my own thing. I could count maybe only 20 recipes I actually follow as written. I like the small books that are written and a collection of every day cooks from local towns or cities across the country. To me, that is good cooking. I do have an Emeril book, because I am not familiar with LA style of cooking and recipes so I have used part of his recipes, and Ina book that was a gift, same with a PD book again a gift. I haven't bought one in probably 20 years and have no desire to. I love to look more online or in magazines. I do have a few which has interesting info which every know and then I may refer to but not very often.

                                                                                                                                                                                            But local town collections of recipes I enjoy because they are all unique, usually handed down and usually just down home flavors. It is my favorite type of recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I do respect all the great chefs and their books but I just don't read them

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm currently writing a review of chef Daniel Orr's "FARMfood." It's a remarkable, and I think, seminal, book on food.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. southern cookbook lovers, i have this "cotton country collection" and highly recommend it. i just came across some good prices through amazon's affiliated booksellers: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listin...

                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                  What's particularly good in it apart from your cake, dearie?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                    sweet tea, honey, here ya go!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    from another thread, here is my commentary:
                                                                                                                                                                                                    >>>""The Cotton Country Collection" from the Junior Charity League of Monroe, Louisiana. First printing 1972.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    chock-a-block full of tasty home cookin' recipes -- many of which foods i grew up with in florida. i have so many sticky note tabs on this copy right here, it looks as if it is sprouting chunky orange hair! at random, here are a few recipes i have tagged to make: mustard pickle relish, baked deviled eggs for brunch, artichoke fritters, green rice, spinach souffle mold, stuffed squash, sweet potato surprise cake ( THE best cake in the world!), french coconut pie, cabbage casserole, pepper grits, pickled black eyed peas, orange rolls, hattie's corn bread, easy eggs sardou, coach house black bean soup, sausage biscuits, and on and on......

                                                                                                                                                                                                    oh, just took some of its venison recipes to our hunter friends. they are now happy campers! (and cooks)"""<<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aha, sorry did not see the previous post, now OF COURSE ordering the book!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                        PS have the book in my Amazon cart - the price went up a bit since ordering it on Saturday - hmm, perhaps a result of your touting it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                          i was hoping to see that you'd already gotten it and were cookin' away!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Ann Willan's "French Cookery School". It's the book that taught me how to cook. I went from knowing only how to boil water to learning to make souffles, puff pastry, choux pastry, etc. If I had to survive with only one book, this would be it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just bought her "Cook It Right" for under a buck from Amazon. Looks very interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I just adore "Lidia's Italy" by Lidia Bastianich. She explores her ten favorite areas in Italy through their foods, but also talks about the places themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lrohner

                                                                                                                                                                                                        i love watching her shows (lidia's italy and lidia's family table ?) on create tv. and i like the travelogue aspects of the lidia's italy show, too. you get a real sense of place, and understand the food much better. i've learned so much from lidia's tv shows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm a Marcella girl, but a friend who loves to cook swears by Lidia. Must take a look at her books again (and cook from them). On a campaign to look through old favorites (The Fannie Farmer Baking Book and Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book at the moment) to see what I've missed. Jane Grigson - another lesser-known writer )in the US), who shouldn't be - is my idol in the kitchen, I admire Elizabeth David but adore Ms. Grigson.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I like the books by the Roux Brothers from England, because of the nice stuff they do. However, I find their recipes unreliable. Examples:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - After folding in one component of a cake they then stir in something else, defeating the purpose of the folding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - They pour warm, melted chocolate over a cake just taken from the freezer. This is guaranteed to make the chocolate seize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Some of their cooking times are way too short.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        For sheer consistency and reliability, I really like Rose Levy Beranbaum, and not just for her baking stuff. She also has two other books.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have been baking from "Heavenly Cakes," and it's going to Goodwill. Every cake has been a huge disappointment. Good texture, no taste. This book has been driving me crazy, and it's out the door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I did make one from "Heavenly Cakes", and it was a huge disappointment. I have baked a number of cakes from "The Cake Bible", and they have been great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had a great deal of trouble with pie crust until I discovered RLB's "The Pie and Pastry Bible".

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm glad I saw this. I was debating buying this (my local library doesn't have it so far) but I already have a ton of baking books (including "The Cake Bbile" so it was hard to justify the purchase. I'm not going to bother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Made another cake last weekend - the chocolate Valentine heart (did not add the raspberry topping) and it is out of this world good. The ganache syrup on the very tender chocolate cake makes a sort of wonderful glaze with just enough texture contrast. My husb said it was what his childhood birthday cakes (and his mom is a suoer baker) wished they could be. Based on these two standouts, would really like to know what didn't work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No longer have the book, but one of the cakes was caramel, another lemon. My husband can't eat chocolate, so didn't try any of those.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Too bad, both of the ones I made had chocolate in them (I'm not a total chocolate fiend, but friends are). I will keep those in mind. There's a very nice-looking Hungarian walnut cake that I'm planning to make this weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've only made one from it - the cradle cake - and loved it. THe white cake in it was the tenderest and most flavorful of any I've tried. Which recipes didn't you care for?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Rundown of Asian overlooked gems, some of which I've mentioned before: Jennifer Brennan's groundbreaking (at the time) Thai cookbook and later "Asian One-Dish Meals" (Vietnamese lemon cornish hen) and "Curries and Bugles" history/memoir/cookbook are very worthwhile. Nina Simonds' Chinese cookbooks are favorites as well (she studied at the Wei-Chuan cooking school in Taipei and did the translations for their Chinese Cooking, Chinese Cooking II, and Chinese Snacks books - these and her "Classic Chinese Cooking" are among the only books to measure up to the magisterial Irene Kuo's "The Key to Chinese Cooking"). Linda Burum's "Asian Pasta" has some wonderful recipes as well. Ghillie Basan's "Food and Cooking of Cambodia" is a short but very usable introduction to this wonderful cuisine. Jim Lee's "Chinese Cookbook" has good recipes and is wryly humorous. And don't forget the "Joyce Chen Cookbook" by Joyce Chen, one of the pioneers of popularization of Chinese cooking in the US through her extremely charming TV show and her very good restaurant in Cambridge, MA - and her daughter Helen's "Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking", full of easy recipes for delicious food (the Shanghai pork chops and the fried rice in which the egg is cooked into the rice are great).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. When I lived in Italy, I asked for a good guide to pasta. I was told that the gold standard was Il codice della Pasta vy Vincenzo Buonassisi, which had been translated into English as "Pasta." I was able to find it used a couple of years ago in the U.S. Meanwhile, I have used Erica de Mane "Pasta Improvvisata: How to improvise in classic Italian Style." De Mane doesn't replace Buonassisi but she extends his approach. If you ever use these books, you will have a chance to develop a sense for pasta that we rarely see in this country. Especially the Italian appreciation for the pasta as the dish and the sauce as a foil to the pasta or perhaps a condiment, not the other way 'round. For lovers of Italian food, these books are not to be missed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Marlena Spieler, Sun Drenched Food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  every recipe is a winner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The first cookbook I bought was the Uncommon Gourmet, and I have probably cooked the most out of that book. I don't know if it's the sentimentality, or that the recipes are easy yet yummy or that because it's not super big it doesn't feel intimidating to search through but it's the first one I grab when I'm looking for something to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Mrs Witty's Monster Cookies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I bought this cookbook when I was a kid and it has beat back every single challenger over more than two decades of baking, including Maida Heatter's cookie cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Great topic, btw! I'm looking forward to picking up a lot of these suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Before no knead bread and, in fact, the whole resurgence of bread baking at home, this book revolutionized how I baked bread. Even now it's instructive about the variety of pre-ferments and has a great inventory of recipes from across the spectrum of bread making and I always recommend it as a great starter book for people working through their fear of yeast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine by Diana Collingwood Butts, Linda West Eckhardt http://product.half.ebay.com/Rustic-E...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. "The Cuisine of the Rose" by Mireille Johnson (French cooking from Burgundy & Lyonnais)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking" by Nancy McDermott.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Every recipe I've made from each of these books has turned out great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kellycooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You made me take down from a top shelf Mireille Johnston's "The Cuisine of the Sun: Classical French Cooking from Nice and Provence." One of my introductions to real French Cooking. Loved that book, and haven't looked at it in years. That should change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              oh i wish i had some nice tomatoes for johnston's tomato provençale: http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. The Four Seasons cookbook, published in 1980.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Among the many exquisite recipes, the one that I have made over and over is their CRANBERRY RELISH. It needs a month in the frig to mellow. it's superb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. inspired by bushwick girl's post upthread, i looked up one of her books mentioned: http://books.google.com/books?id=WlFa...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i love old cookbooks like that! i just spied a recipe for creole chow chow. yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              with the amazing internet, you can often look at the whole book right online between google books and the project gutenberg. ** i love the net!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              another example, with the "real thai" book by nancy mcdermott (though some pages are omitted -- i guess because it is still in print?): http://books.google.com/books?id=LuF2... still, you can really get a good feel for the book -- and many recipes are in their entirety anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ** look at all the free books to download!!!!! wow! http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              this one looks fun! http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30601 "how to analyze people on sight" ;-). this one's a hoot! http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30601/... (the "alimentive" type). LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For you "cerebral" type hounds, note this quotation:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ""Clear Thinking and a Clear Stomach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ¶ Clear thinking demands a clear stomach because an empty stomach means that the blood reserves so necessary to vivid thinking are free to go to the brain. Without good blood coursing at a fairly rapid rate through the brain no man can think keenly or concentratedly. This explains why[Pg 225] you think of so many important things when your stomach is empty that never occur to you when your energy is being monopolized by digestion.""

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <"...energy is being monopolized by digestion.">

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, so That's when the tryptophan kicks in...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i've heard that after lunch is when you want to approach people for favors, raises, new jobs, promotions, etc. ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    LOL... that Does make sense, doesn't it? They'd rather be snoozing and their minds are somewhere else. I'll have to remember that!