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What is your favorite cookbook of all time?

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I want to get a couple of new cookbooks and wanted to know what you chowhounders would name as your absolute favorite book, and why. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I've been totally in love with Molly Steven's "All About Braising" for two years now. I've yet to have even one recipe disappoint, and I've made probably half those in the book. It's a beautiful book, with many full-color pictures and illustrations; she includes many useful essays on how to buy particular cuts of meat, what to look for at your green grocer, etc.

    My favorite recipes include her "world's best braised cabbage," "zinfandel pot roast," adn "brisket braised with rhubarb and honey." Oh, and "braised pork belly with glazed turnips."

    You can check out some of her recipes and techniques on her website www.mollystevenscooks.com.

    Most would consider this to be more a winter cookbook than a summer one, but for a NYC apartment dweller with no grill or outdoor space, I can live with heating up the apartment for the kind of moist, flavorful food that comes from braising.

    I've given this cookbook as a gift to maybe half a dozen people, and those that have tried the recipes later told me how much they like it.

    17 Replies
    1. re: JimJohn

      I find myself intimidated by this book. I have checked it out from the library twice now and have DO's to use but think the recipes are suited to having nothing to do but cook. I call it "day off" cooking. Would you agree? I also think that the ingredients are doable and easy to find but really odd at the same time--in other words, things I'd never put together and am cautious about doing. I got really excited by the pot roasts and then saw the canneloni recipe and got more excited and I had to laugh when I saw she calls for making your own canneloni! Fortunately she gave steps for doing things in advance which makes it more realistic but I'm still incredibly intimidated by this book. It's like an "adult" cookbook when I've only been using kids or something. I can't explain well. :(

      1. re: eperdu

        eperdu, looking through the many Cookbook of the Month reports on AAB might give you a sense of how the recipes come out and how doable they are. People are really enthusiastic about that book!

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I've read all the threads and I've read all the recipes. I'm just intimidated by it. I am planning to start with the Polpettone and tomato sauce.... that just sounds amazing to me. I think because it's similar to a meal at a restaurant which I love but don't get enough. ;)

          1. re: eperdu

            That's a great recipe to start with. They're just meatballs, after all. But, oh! What meatballs!

            I think you'll find it takes her more words to say something than you'd find with many other cookbook authors. It can make the recipes look more intimidating than they actually are.

            Another great *starter* recipe in the book is World's Best Cabbage. It is. And it's really easy.

            1. re: JoanN

              I love cabbage so I'll have to give that one a shot. I have such a weird schedule that I really only get two nights a week to cook "at my leisure" the other nights I'm trying to fix dinner at 9pm which is no fun at all.

        2. re: eperdu

          Braising takes time but I find this book very easy to use and I generally have all the ingredients, so, no, I am not sure what you mean, sorry ;(

          1. re: magiesmom

            I think it's probably the time factor for eperdu.

            By its nature, braising takes time. Even the cabbage recipe, which is very, very easy, takes a good 2-2 1/2 hours total prep and cooking.

            I like this cookbook a lot and think it's a great addition to even the most basic library. But it is probably a day-off book for most working people.

            1. re: magiesmom

              Same here. It is an easy book to cook from (and be inspired by) but nothing unusual about it or the ingredients it calls for. A great straightforward braising book with clear instructions IMHO. A good one to fall in love with! :)

              1. re: chefathome

                It is a well-written book, no argument there. The ingredients aren't unusual in terms of finding them but in terms of combining them (for me). For example, lemony chicken with prunes and olives. Normal ingredients but .. what a combo! I'm sure it's probably rooted in a classical French recipe but ...

                I also find the NUMBER of ingredients to be high. The hard cider and parsnips chicken is one of the least amounts with 6 ingredients (not including oil, s&p etc). A lot of the ingredients are pretty basic and pantry items (onions, garlic, etc) but it's still a lot for each recipe.

                Also, she really likes rosemary! It's one of my least favorite herbs so I'm hesitant to try the recipes because it's a primary taste/ingredient. It's possible it tastes great but it makes me shy away.

                The other thing, which someone else mentioned is that she's very wordy. The recipe instructions are 2-3 pages long each when it could be much shorter.

                Tonight I'm making the Polpettone in Tomato Sauce. It's a simple recipe but it sounds wonderful.

                Don't get me wrong, I love the book, it just makes me nervous :)

                1. re: eperdu

                  >>Also, she really likes rosemary! It's one of my least favorite herbs<<

                  Leave it out. Or substitute thyme if you think it will work (and you like thyme). I don't *hate* rosemary, but I think it's overused. It's good with roasted potatoes and some meat dishes, but I like thyme a lot more, and I substitute it frequently.

                  The fact that they're both woody/stalky herbs helps make the substitution possible. I wouldn't switch in basil or tarragon.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    Jay, thanks for the sub suggestion. I do like thyme quite a bit. I like trying recipes as written because I trust other peoples taste sense better than my own. I'm still learning :)

                  2. re: eperdu

                    I get it - sometimes I'm a little thick. :) The lemon chicken recipe you mention is very good - probably tastes different than what you would expect. Prunes add a lot of depth to braises without being obviously prune flavour. Sorta like anchovies. They melt into umaminess and add that extra something.

                    You're right - she IS wordy. She could be more concise. Too bad there are not more photographs in the book - they can be helpful, too.

                    ETA: This is in response to eperdu re Stevens' braising book.

                    Hopefully you'll love the Polpettone. It would be awesome if that inspired you even more! I love that you are excited about it and want to learn. Your curiosity and questions are indeed the makings of a great cook. :) Don't get discouraged. We all had to start somewhere!

                    1. re: chefathome

                      Thanks. That particular recipe is one I want to try. It's just two of us so I end up having a lot of leftovers which makes me hesitate on some of the more unique recipes. I love prunes, oh wait, "Dried Plums" if the word prunes is non-chic. ;)

                      The polpettone is on hold--apparently ground veal is not very common. The ingredients are pretty simple so I think what I'll do is just keep checking my stores for the ground veal and then when I see it, I'll jump on it. That said, now to find a new recipe.

                      Seeing as how many braises are better the next day, it might work better for me. I work from 12pm-9pm which really makes meal prep tricky. Maybe I can try making everything first thing in the morning and then refrigerating it and reheating it at 9 when I get off work. It's an option! Thanks so much everyone for the input!

                      1. re: eperdu

                        Go to the butcher and request ground veal, or grind your own. Or if the recipe calls for a mix of ground meats, veal is often part of those "meatloaf" mixes of three meats (unseasoned of course).

              2. re: eperdu

                The thing about the time with braising is that it's hands-off for most of it. I cook with this cookbook on weekdays all the time. The total time you're cooking is pretty low, and then you stick it in the oven.

              3. re: JimJohn

                You know, I have like 100 cookbooks, and I gotta say All About Braising is certainly in the top 3. Just an amazing book. I'm going to buy another copy now for my sister, good call, thanks.

                1. re: SocksManly

                  I like to give this book and a dutch oven to newlyweds.

                  ~TDQ

              4. I agree with JimJohn, All About Braising is a great book. It's extremely informative with lots of tips, and I love the variety of recipes - everything from classics to "Vietnamese Braised Scallops" and "Mediterranean Squid. Some of my favorites are "World's Best Cabbage", "Braised Halibut Steaks with Creamy Leeks", and "Veal and Ricotta Meatballs".

                Lots of info here with reports of recipes and pics as it was a Chowhound Cookbook of the Month: October 2006 Cookbook of the Month: All About Braising'
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/330177

                Actually, in that theme, these are some of my other all-time favorites from the Cookbooks of the Month - I use them as my go-to books for both weeknight and entertaining menus, have learned a lot from each author regarding their style of cooking, techniques, and cooking tips, they've influenced and changed my style of cooking, and most, if not all, recipes I tried were winners:

                Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking http://www.chowhound.com/topics/325712

                Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355995

                Claudia Roden, Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387069

                Suzanne Goin, Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397079

                Fuchsia Dunlop, A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494660

                3 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  I've been using the original Joy of Cooking for 40 years, so that must be it. Craig Clairborne's International Cookbook got me going into world cuisine and Pierre Francy's 60 Minute Gourmet opened up a world to me. James Beard's New Fish Cookery taught me the Canadian cooking theory of 11 minutes to the inch. Pretty old stuff, huh?
                  PS I do have a lot of new cook books too.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    The Hazan and Goin books are definitely two of my all time favorites. I also rely a lot on The Way to Cook. Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories is a new favorite.

                    1. re: Rubee

                      i love molly stevens' braising book too! it's been wonderful. ditto on the braised cabbage -- so good! and pork braised in milk is another favorite. and the duck legs in port were amazing as well. and i make the quick lemony prune olive braised chicken legs all the time. and there are many more!

                    2. "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" Vols. I and II, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, is my favorite cookbook. I started cooking out of both volumes when I was about twelve years old and it/they introduced me to the concept of sauces (other than, say, ketchup or meat gravy). Furthermore, everything in it works. There are no losers, at least, none among the many recipes I have tried. Evrything is delicious and it is all explained clearly. Of course, citing Julia Child's book may be a bit passe, but hey, sometimes the old books are the best. This cookbook changed my life and turned me into a cook. I love it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gfr1111

                        These are my favorites too. I started cooking from these at about the same age as you. My first recipe was Hollandaise sauce. It taught me so much about technique, and that helped me so much through out the years, it really is my favorite.

                        The whole concept of a "Master Recipe" and then listing the variations was an eye opening experience. This was opposed to having separate recipes for dishes, even if they were similar. I know there are other techniques that are not in these books, but it certainly gives you a great start to cooking, and even cooking on the fly, e.g. start with X, and add what you have on hand to make at least a passable, and sometimes great dish.

                      2. I love "Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens, by Malulee Pinsuvana. It is a quirky, spiral-bound little book that it would be easy to dismiss as dated... but the recipes are really quite something. The Chicken Satay recipe alone is worth having the book for! And the photos are hilarious-- often a glass of beer sits by the plated food -- this is obvioulsy about to be consumed, not styled for a photo shoot.
                        My other favorite is Trattoria, by Biba Caggiano. Each recipe is accompanied by a description of the trattoria from which it came... Reading it is as much fun as cooking from it. And the recipes are more like the food I loved in Italy than any other I've looked at.
                        Oh, and I do use the Bittman 'bible' (How to Cook Everything) more than any other cookbook I own. Doesn't make it my "favorite" -- but it is my most-used!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: missoulagrace

                          missoulagrace, I was given Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchen more than 20 years ago, by Finns while I was living in Helsinki. It was my introduction to Thai food. Now it looks like Number 2 Son will be moving to Thailand to teach in Aug. (Number 1 Son lives in Seoul. Hmmmmm, maybe we go teach in Taipai or Viet Nam?
                          Isn't Julia the grande dame of American cooking? I think I am over due in getting her books. Her biography is fascinating.

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            The Olives Cookbook by Todd English. Recipes that are challenging but possible for the average to good home cook. Garlic Risotto with lobster cream sauce, yummm! My copy has been used so much that the back is broken and most pages are stained but it is my favorite of all time.

                          2. re: missoulagrace

                            Missoulagrace,

                            "Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens - Book 2 With ASEAN Recipes" by Malulee Pinsuvana came out in 1986. It's in the same spiral format and also has a cover showing four dishes.

                            1. re: ThaiNut

                              Really? I will look for it!

                              1. re: missoulagrace

                                Missoulagrace,
                                Since it is so old I doubt if it is still available in the usual bookstores in Bangkok, but it might be findable at the big flea market they have they at Chattuchak Park. My (Thai) wife and I will be going there around December. If you have no luck on eBay or other stateside sources let me know and I can try to find a copy there. My email is adcamer77@bellsouth.net. We have probably 30 Thai cookbooks, most written completely in Thai, and hers are a couple of favorites.

                                1. re: ThaiNut

                                  That is such a nice offer... thank you! --Grace

                            2. re: missoulagrace

                              Okay, so I was able to get ahold of "Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens" and it is exactly as quirky as you describe. The recipe I have to try first is the one for "steamed buns" that calls for Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits in a tube. I am just so incredibly curious.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                LOL! I never thought of that! I have been longing for steamed pork buns for a while now but too lazy to make the dough. Never thought of the dairy case! I'll have to give that a try! '-)

                                Oh god, if it works well, the pounds I will gain...! <sigh>

                            3. Restricted to one choice I would say Joy of Cooking.

                              1. The first Mastering the Art of French Cooking is almost thread bare but my most often used book is Chez Panisse Vegetables - always gives inspiration.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: madwrk

                                  Absolutely agree on Chez Panisse Vegetables. And CP Fruit is another favorite. I've been doing a lot of cooking from Patricia Wells at Home in Provence recently and everything has been excellent.

                                2. My all time absolute favorite cookbook is The Silver Palate Cookbook: Julee Rosso, Sheila Lukins ...First published in 1982

                                  I have relied on it hundreds of times.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: laliz

                                    Agreed. It's the quintessential "American" cookbook. The recipes are pretty easy to follow and are pretty delicious. Tons of recipes and the sidebars are fun to read.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      The first cookbook I ever purchased and still one of my favorites. Love!

                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        also agree with silver palate... also the new basic cookbook, i think by those same authors? good list of how to stock a pantry, how to do basic sauces, etc.

                                      2. re: laliz

                                        If I have to choose just one, this is my favorite too.

                                      3. Marcella's Italian Kitchen (Marcella Hazan) - it's falling apart from use - everything I've made from it has been stellar.

                                        1. Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Introduced me to a lot of great food I wouldn't have cooked otherwise, and that I prepare now on a regular basis. I've made 116 of 150 recipes plus many of the variations. I can't think of any other book that has more balanced or better tested recipes. Even back when I started the book, and my cooking experience was limited, people were always impressed by the food.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Romanmk

                                            Im pleased to say that I have almost all of the books mentioned above in my own personal library. But my favorite in recent years among the collection has been "Nigella Bites" by Nigella Lawson. There was something about having her cook many of the recipes on her BBC show that made me understand how easy it is to prepare these wonderful dishes. She's all about "maximum flavor with minimal effort". Last fall I met her at a booksigning (for "Express" her latest effort) and I brought along my dog-eared and sticky-tabbed copy of :"Bites" to be autographed. When she saw it, she exclaimed "Oh I LOVE this!" being so pleased that someone so obviously was USING the book.

                                          2. If I could choose only one cookbook, it would be Extending The Table: A World Community Cookbook by Joetta Handrich Schlabach. This book is from the Mennonite Central Committee and it really is a celebration of the connectedness of humans via their food. It's not my most used cookbook (Bittman's How to Cook Everything, late 90s Joy probably get those honors) but whenever I read it I feel a little more humble, a little more grateful for what I have and a little more compassionate. Many of these recipes are from native people with whom the Mennonite outreach workers interacted (and they are credited for their recipes). FWIW, I am not a Mennonite--in fact, I belong to no religious organization. But I find this book quite beautiful, nonetheless.

                                            Recipes are from the entire world--Appalachian US, India, Nigeria, Brazil, etc. They may not be the most authentic, but many were collected in the years before ethnic ingredients became so mainstream that they can be found in many, if not most, supermarkets. They are also designed to be used in American kitchens. I love the Gado Gado recipe, but I take their suggestion and replace the water with coconut milk. My mom has requested this for her visit next week.

                                            The book is also filled with stories that are a pure joy to read. Well most of them (there is one that is really tragic, but it makes me so grateful for what I have). Sometimes this cookbook is an antidote to my own sometimes snarkiness.

                                            That said, I'd hate to be limited to a single cookbook! Heck, I don't even like to be limited to a single cookbook for ice cream (which is why I had to get a second!)

                                            Great thread!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: nofunlatte

                                              I love that one too- also their first Cookbook- More with Less!

                                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                                ok, now i'm curious.. i'll have to check it out! thanks for the recommendation!!

                                              2. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I grew up with such a wonderful garden, and a mom who taught me that you go pick your veggies once the pan is hot, but it was this cookbook that made me fall in love with cooking whole foods and beautiful produce. And it's a great all-around book, too. How to perfectly soft-boil an egg, how to make bread, how to prepare all kinds of beans. You don't need to be a vegetarian to love it (I'm not!).

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Vetter

                                                  ok i was trying to decide on MY favorite, between this and Nourishing Traditions or Fanny Farmer, and then i realized that, yes, deborah madison does have the perfect hard-boiled egg recipe as well, and i struggled for 20+ years to make deviled eggs from every cookbook i could think of, until i found her recipe. so, yes, you're right, it IS the best cookbook of all time! goes to the desert island with me...

                                                2. No such thing, as several posters said, as "a" favorite cookbook. There's a suite of basics for me (I suspect for everyone). Mine includes Julia, Mastering the Art, Book I; Joy of Cooking; Arthur Schwartz, What to Cook when You Think There's Nothing in the House (an underrated gem); Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday; Pam Anderson, Perfect Recipes for Having People Over; my forty + year-old copy of Jim Lee's Chinese Cooking (no one's ever heard of this but I took my first Chinese cooking class from him that long ago). There are other cookbooks, but those are musts for me. BTW, have you ever heard of Food Lover's Companion, by Sharon Herbst? Not a book of recipes, but "comprehensive definitions of nearly 6000 food, drink, and culinary terms." I could no more be without than without a good dictionary!
                                                  Have fun browsing!

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                    I love the Jim Lee book too, the recipes are excellent and the style most engaging. Have used it since that long ago as well. I have seen it mentioned maybe once other than this on the boards. The cooking class must have been fun!

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      So nice that someone loves Jim Lee also! His Elegant Stir-Fried Vegetables remains my standard for Chinese veggies. And although I may not use many of the recipes, I ALWAYS check him out, and read whole chunks for fun and information. He was a very engaging teacher. He was short and roundish, like a dim sum, and very down-to-earth. He and his wife lived on the edge of Chinatown in a converted matzoh factory. (How could I forget?) Those were the days of Strictly Cantonese; part of the fun of reading the book is remembering those days. I think there's a lot of snobbism and El Bulli-ism now about Chinese food. Cantonese cooking is due for a revival! (Except, like all cuisines that rely simply on top-notch ingredients, it's not in step with our times.) Thanks for the memories, buttertart.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        P..S. to buttertart: which are your favorite recipes from the book?

                                                        1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                          I've used his marinated pork chop recipe forever, among others - will have a look and see which pages are stuck together!

                                                      2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                        I have Pam Anderson's Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, but haven't cooked from it yet. Could you recomend some of your favorite recipes? Thanks!

                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                          Rubee, where shall I begin? Her lasagne is much more than it modestly claims, Really Good. (Best I've had, ever!) She's terrific on soups, theme and variations.I am a salad hater, but hers I make exception for; try any of them. The Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil is the simplest ever, but dinner guests always insist on the recipe! (I make it a lot, because it's so simple, and such a winner.) Her Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans are the equal of my cherished 8 hour New England baked kind (I'll still make them in the winter, becuz it's such a great thing to have the oven on and a delectable smell warming the house, but this recipe is just as good to the taste.) The Roasted Peaches (or Pears, Plums, or Apples) with Caramel Sauce is also easy, versatile and a big favorite. And if you don't mind a little more trouble (not too much) the Molten Chocolate Cakes with Sugar-Coated Raspberries are over the top. Little black dress Dinner Party stuff! (although the Berkshires aren't very much of a little black dress kinda place). Obviously this is a very idiosyncratic selection: but most of her recipes have in common being straightforward, pretty simple, and immensely flavorful. Have fun!

                                                          1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                            Thanks so much, I really appreciate it. Those sound great. I'm going to go through it tonight and mark those recipes so I can report them under the "unused cookbook report" thread. Thanks again!

                                                      3. You don't say what you already have. I agree that Stevens, Goin, Rodgers, Dunlop would be right at the top of the list. But I wouldn't want to have to live without the New Gourmet Cookbook or Bittman's How To Cook Everything. I'd choose either of those over any edition of Joy of Cooking in a heartbeat. And if it were desert island/only one cookbook time, it would be agony trying to choose between the two.

                                                        24 Replies
                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          JoanN--I'm so delighted to see the Dunlop books at the top of your list. I recall when those were the COTM, about mid-way through, when you were still coming to a conclusion about those books.

                                                          Those are two of my favorites, too, although, perhaps for a completely sentimental reason. I had never thought I could cook Sichuan or Hunan food that could in anyway approximate the deliciousness I found in my favorite restaurants. And, in spite of the way I bumbled through those two books, I was pleasantly surprised at how successful many of the dishes were. And, I love the little essays that Dunlop uses to introduce each recipes--I found them interesting and engaging.

                                                          RE: the Gourmet Cookbook and BIttman's How to Cook Everything, aside from comprehensiveness, what especially appeals to you about those? And what are the relative strengths of each, if I might ask? The reason I ask is I don't yet own Joy of Cooking and figure I should probably pick one up someday. Maybe I shouldbe considering the Gourmet Cookbook or Bittman instead?

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            I've cooked perhaps two dozen recipes each from The Gourmet Cookbook and How to Cook Everything and there isn't a single dish I wouldn't (perhaps haven't) done again. The recipes are thoroughly tested, clearly written, and don't require finagling or adjusting of flavors to get them to work. This may be somewhat unfair, but the Gourmet recipes have been more guest-worthy, the Bittman more reliable for the what-can-I-do-with-these-chicken-breasts-that's-different tonight. That's because Bittman, more so than Gourmet, often gives a number of different flavor variations for a basic technique. I would highly recommend either book, perhaps giving the slight edge to Gourmet but only because a few of those recipes (Cilantro Lime Shrimp, La Brea "Tar Pit" Chicken Wings, Creme Brulee French Toast) are now regularly asked for by the guests for whom I first made them.

                                                            Because I needed them professionally, I have four different editions of Joy of Cooking and rarely look at any of them. If I need a Joy of Cooking type of reference, or a very basic recipe, I usually go to The New Doubleday Cookbook (now in it's third edition). You just can't beat Jean Anderson for reliability. I wouldn't bother with Joy. It's been devalued and superseded.

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              Thank you, as always, for your insights! I'll take a closer look at both of those (I've been thinking about the BIttman one for awhile) and at the New Doubleday Cookbook, too.

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                I'm not sure what La Brea Tar Pit Chicken is... but having been to the La Brea Tar Pits, I've gotta say that's not a very appealing concept... LOL, LOL.

                                                                1. re: drongo

                                                                  Actually, I envision it as a salty-sweet, sticky, finger licking "tar" kind of coating. It sounds very appealing to me!

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                            2. re: JoanN

                                                              If this thread is going to be revived, please note that I withdraw all accolades for the Bittman. I can't imagine what must've gotten into me! Still like Gourmet yellow, Gourmet green perhaps even better, and I'd add Essential NYTimes to that list of compendium books with reliable recipes.

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                omg JoanN, that's hilarious. I didn't notice it was an old thread and I can't remember why I signed on since the homecooking board is so wonderfully distracting...

                                                                I'm sticking with the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, it's in my skill range, I think I've learned the most from it, and there's still plenty to make. I never did get going with the Gourmet books, I think there's just too much there for me....

                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  The good news is, I have both Gourmets and ENYTC. Never did buy the Bittman.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Smart woman. I bought it from the can't-resist table at Costco because it was on so many best-of lists. I was quite enchanted at first (obviously!), but the more I cooked from it the less enamored of it I became. It hasn't quite reached the donate pile, but it soon might.

                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      Just lucky. I know we have a Costco in the Twin Cities, but I'm not exactly sure where it is. Some far-flung suburb, I think on, gasp, the Minneapolis side of the metro. I think.

                                                                      Part of my problem with Bittman is his recipes --and most definitely the variations-- often don't feel like recipes to me, but simply ideas. I often seriously wonder if he's even tried them, or if they just occurred to him as he was typing up his story trying to meet deadline.

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        There is a Costco in Maplewood on Beam between US 61 and White Bear Ave. That said, I find their cookbook offerings to be steadily dwindling with each visit.

                                                                        1. re: Pwmfan

                                                                          Oh! I was totally wrong! Not that far flung, not that west! Thanks for that. Too bad the cookbook selection isn't that great.

                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            My local Costco cookbook selection varies dramatically from month to month. Granted, I'm a huge Costco shopper and go weekly (usually) so I can see it from week-to-week. But, it depends on what books are released. This past month has had a huge Ina Garten selection (2-3 books) with an endcap of Foolproof. The sales technique of that one ISN'T foolproof as I've still not bought it. Hah! They usually, around Christmas, have the Thomas Keller's in gift packs for insane prices. Right now they've got Bouchon and Ad Hoc but not packaged together. They had a couple paleo books and the Flying Apron series of books (Flying Apron is local for us) and a few of the standard hot books like the "hide real food in your junk food so your kids will eat it" books or whatever diet cookbook is trendy.

                                                                            But, the prices are usually good (on par with Amazon new) and they do signings there too which can be fun. I was able to meet Shauna (Gluten-Free Girl) there one day.

                                                                            Not all Costco's may be the same, they do vary by location as well. I happen to visit the one across the street from HQ so we get some different things than others. :)

                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                    Oh dear what happened with Bittman?

                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      Got really tired of the "Here's 50 Things You Can Do with a Hot Dog" articles in the Times and that translated to the book.

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        Don't think that the Bittman book has any hot dog recipes.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          Agree 100%...The NYT articles have been beyond tedious, and I've never cooked anything from any of his books I couldn't have come up with myself.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            Dare I disagree just a little? Bittman, original "how to cook everything" version, fills a spot for me in the "Simple things I should know how to cook but don't, and Fanny Farmer has left me in the lurch" category....and it is really sort of embarrassing how often that happens.

                                                                            Worth the shelf space for me, but definitely not a "favorite" book of all time....although what's "favorite" changes regularly, and I can really empathize with Joan N's reversal.

                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                              But, are Bittman's version even very good? Maybe it's all of those recipes you think you should have (and I completely relate to you on this point) in one place, but they are all pretty ho-hum ones.

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                For sure I use it more for ho-hum stuff....like what temp should I cook "x" at or what's a quick sauce for "y".....and definitely "the all in one place" point is well taken....not every night is gourmet or even EYB around here!

                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  I had the original edition of HTCE, and it disappeared in a move (along with a bunch of other books, thankfully not counting the rest of my cookbooks). I wouldn't want to give it the shelf-space now, but I'm happy to have spent a few bucks for the iphone/ipod app, which has the entire contents of the book plus effective search and cross-indexing functions. I've never made a lot of use of the book, but I do look up basic info or ideas occasionally.

                                                                                  And I swear by his HTCE recipe for caramels - the original chocolate variations - both of which I've made multiple times, always to rave reviews.

                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    I also have the app and have never made anything from it. I keep thinking I want the book, but I never end up buying it since I do have it already. It's just odd. I never think to look at this app for recipes.

                                                                                    1. re: eperdu

                                                                                      I got the app when they gave it away free a couple years ago. I checked out some of recipes was not impressed. As someone else posted, they are nothing I couldn't have come up with myself. And completely uninspiring. I do not understand the appeal of him at all.

                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    I bought the book about a year ago for $9 (new with no dust jacket). I've made a few recipes from it, but it's sort of a reference to me for basics, or for cooking some ingredient that I haven't before. But then again, I very often just use a recipe as a guideline, and muck about with it until I get it to taste how I want.

                                                                                    It's not perfect, but has been well worth the nine bucks i spent on it.

                                                                      2. By far, our "bible" of the kitchen is The Best Recipe...from the editor's of Cooks Illustrated. Swear by every recipe in it!

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: 4maxwelz

                                                                          The Best Recipe is my favorite too... i love all things ATK. :)

                                                                          1. re: 4maxwelz

                                                                            Love The Best Recipe. I'm increasingly perplexed by ATK's tendency to tweak and revamp recipes from cookbook to cookbook, though, often incorporating more and more arcane ingredients, and never an explanation as to why or what was lacking in earlier, simpler versions. I have an autographed copy of The New Best Recipe but as far as I can tell it's just a ruined version of The Best Recipe.

                                                                          2. I second Romanmk's vote for Rick Bayless' The Mexican Kitchen. I have been cooking out of this cookbook for about 5 years now and the binding has come apart from such frequent use. I have loved everything I've made. People are always delighted with the food even really really picky friends from Mexico. Often when I use other cookbooks I feel small details have been left out so that I can never quite achieve what the chef achieved by following the recipe. Rick Bayless teaches you how to cook the food explaining the tiniest details so that the food you end up with often tastes better than what you could get in a restaurant--a very satisfying feat for a home cook. Happy buying anyway--I always love to get new cookbooks.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: lowandslow

                                                                              I just finished all the soup recipes. They're phenomenal!

                                                                            2. I could never pick just one. But the yellow Gourmet cookbook has become a favorite, and I agree with everyone that the Molly Stevens braising book is a gem. But more of a winter gem.

                                                                              1. So I'm a food geek. If I were told to pack up and be ready to evacuate in one hour and could only take one of my nearly 200 cook books with me, it would absolutely have to be Larousse Gastronomique, hands down. <sigh> Okay, so sue me. I'll be over the weight allowance.

                                                                                1. All time has to be my first cookbook. While I cooked a bit at home with my mother, a good Southern cook, the first time I was on my own was at a fire station where the firefighters had to cook for themselves. The others on the crew were so lame in the kitchen, I did most of the work. The cookbook of choice (one) was a Betty Crocker 2nd edition and I cooked out of that for summers and college. A few years ago, I found a pristine copy in a used book store and was delighted to buy it. The cake and cookie recipes have held up very well.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: EdwardAdams

                                                                                    I still love "The Frog/Commissary Cookbook."

                                                                                    1. re: malvern girl

                                                                                      I picked this one up a while ago, but have only made one or two things from it. Which recipes do you love?

                                                                                      1. re: mirage

                                                                                        Wow, too many good recipes to list. I really like their herb vinaigrette, the curried chicken salad, oatmeal cookies, carrot cake and the "25 Quick" Hors d'Oeuvres and Salad ideas, but there hasn't been any recipe I've tried that stunk. I do substitute canola oil for corn oil though. This is the only cookbook I own that has fallen apart from using so much.

                                                                                        1. re: malvern girl

                                                                                          Thanks - I'll check them out. For me, I thought the wings were okay but we really liked the mushroom barley soup.

                                                                                        2. re: mirage

                                                                                          Replying to something from a few years ago -- but I love the chicken wing recipe from that book.

                                                                                    2. Sunday Suppers by Suzanne Goin. Everything I've made from here has been terrific. Love her flavors, her writing and her focus on seasonal ingredients. If I had to pick a 2nd place winner, I'd choose Spice by Ana Sortun. I've made lots of winners from this cookbook and I've learned so much about different spices and cooking from the eastern Mediterranean countries.

                                                                                      1. I love Portuguese food and live near a huge Portuguese population and there are many authentic restaurants to choose from - but I'm going to be moving out of state where there isn't a Portuguese eatery in the entire state so I needed to learn how to cook the dishes myself. I found Portuguese Homestyle Cooking and thank God, the recipes were similar to what I'm used to eating and they turned out great - now I can have Alentejo pork with clams anytime!

                                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1566...

                                                                                        1. Don't laugh; Woman's Day Book of New Mexican Cooking by Jane Butel. A small paperback, I've carried it around, for the last 30 years since I left New Mexico, even to Scandinavia and South America. Here in Maine, it is a life saver; I have even loaned it to lost Texans! I know most of rhe recipes by heart. Green chile enchiladas (stacked), w/ a fried egg on top and a side of pintos for suppah tonight. Sure as hell beats a Yankee boiled dinner or even worst the baked beans w/ the horrid day glow hot dogs.
                                                                                          Bien provecho!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                            My mother had a copy of Jane Butel's Fiesta and it was one of the first cookbooks I read cover to cover. I have my own copy now, but have never cooked anything from it...

                                                                                          2. The cookbooks I have found most useful are Hazan's Essentials of classical Italian and Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. The book I find least useful but am boderline obsessed with is Henri Paul Pellaprat Great Book of French Cuisine. Every time I look at the turkey he serves in a sculpture of horses carved out of butter I laugh.

                                                                                            1. My two favorites are The Joy of Cooking and The Cook's Kitchen Bible. When I really started to expand my skills as a cook, I found the Cook's Kitchen Bible invaluable. Then I went on to the Joy of Cooking. If I refer to a recipe at all, it'll probably be in one of those two books. Most of the time I create my own adaptations, unless we're talking breads. I have a 3-ring binder notebook filled with bread recipes.

                                                                                              1. On nostalgia alone - The Settlement
                                                                                                It has some good 'ol basic recipes and some humorous (by today's standards) household management advice.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                  Hooray! I have a really old version of The Settlement Cookbook, too. TOTALLY AMAZING DOCUMENT. Belonged to my Great Grandma, who we're increasingly coming to believe was Jewish when she emigrated and dropped her identity upon arrival in the States, especially after reading the history of The Settlement Cookbook itself...

                                                                                                2. Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking:

                                                                                                  http://www.amazon.com/Craig-Claiborne...

                                                                                                  A nice mix of recipes which I find always useful. Claiborne was the original, and perhaps the best, American food writer. His books are always a pleasure to read.

                                                                                                  I only own about 6 cookbooks even though I cook all the time, and this is one of them.

                                                                                                  1. The other book that every cook should have is Escoffier:

                                                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Escoffier-Augus...

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: vikingkaj

                                                                                                      Agree with this. Plus I use my "Marinades, Rubs, Brines and Cures" like crazy. I bet about 85% of the pages are marked. Talk about great ways to inject flavour into dishes!
                                                                                                      ETA: My all-time favourite food book would be LaRousse Gastronomique. Hands down.

                                                                                                      1. re: vikingkaj

                                                                                                        I read a novel about Escoffier last summer. It is "based on facts" yet so detailed, sensual, and quirky. It was called White Truffles in Winter by NM Kelby. I love to read food novels as much as I like to cook. I wonder if there's ever been a thread about food oriented novels?

                                                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/White-Truffles-...

                                                                                                        Just thought I'd share after seeing your post about Escoffier.

                                                                                                        1. re: pagesinthesun

                                                                                                          I have not seen a thread about food novels but would love one. I personally love the memoir style novels--especially related to cooking school and chefs. I started with the Ruhlman novels and now I just devour (hah!) anything in that genre.

                                                                                                      2. I quite like the Joy of Cooking as it covers a vast amount of topics and recipes. It has excellent instructions and every recipe that I have made from the book has been successful. It is a very good reference book.
                                                                                                        I also like the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook as it has many recipes that my Mom used to make. (Am a Canadian baby boomer)

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                          I gotta see if I have a copy of the Laura Secord, am one too...and have fond memories of that book.
                                                                                                          The Joy I like is from 1975.

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            I found many of the recipes in my Mom's little tin recipe box in the Laura Secord book and think it is an excellent book for Canadians looking for old recipes Mom used to make. I was delighted as some of my recipes were stained and not easy to read. In particular there is a recipe for wheat germ muffins in this book which I love. I also have the 1975 Joy which is a little tattered.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                              Laura Secord...yum :)

                                                                                                        2. The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, by Giuliano Bugialli

                                                                                                          http://www.amazon.com/Fine-Italian-Co...

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                            anything you can find by Roy de Groot, particularly Feast for All Seasons, probably 50 or more years old and still my favorite.

                                                                                                          2. Zuni

                                                                                                            1. I collect cookbooks, & have several hundred. But if I had to choose just one that I use more than any of the others (in fact, it's falling apart), it would be Julia Child's "The Way to Cook".

                                                                                                              This is a lovely book that not only has clearer-than-clear instructions for the new cook, but is also savvy enough for the experienced one.

                                                                                                              I ADORE it.

                                                                                                              (Oh - & the "Steam-Roasted Goose with Port Wine Gravy" recipe in this book has been our traditional Xmas Day dish since the book first came out.)

                                                                                                              1. Probably the French Laundry Cookbook.

                                                                                                                I THOUGHT I could cook before I got that book, but by the time I had cooked myself through half the recipes (I cooked all of them) i actually COULD cook.

                                                                                                                Changed professions and went to culinary school shortly after, so that would have to be the big one for me.

                                                                                                                Modernist Cuisine (not the at home version, the 6 volume set) would be a close second.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: twyst

                                                                                                                  The French Laundry is one of my favourites as well. Modernist Cuisine at Home is on my (lengthy) list.

                                                                                                                2. For Asian cuisine, "Best of Singapore Cooking" by Leong Yee Soo.

                                                                                                                  For Western, "Joy of Cooking" (mine's the 1975 edition by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker).

                                                                                                                  26 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                    1975 Joy rules :)
                                                                                                                    Must get the Best of Singapore Cooking.
                                                                                                                    The new "The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from around the World" by Linda Lau Anusasananan is terrific, by the way...

                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                      Thanks for the heads-up. I've got to look for Linda Lau's Hakka cookbook. I think it's a bit hard to find in Singapore (or Malaysia) as we have local Hakka cookbooks written for the local, largely Chinese market, whereas Linda probably writes with the American audience in mind.

                                                                                                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                        It is, but it's especially interesting because it has recipes from Hakka living all over the world. Very worthwhile.

                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                          buttertart - I finally got a copy of Linda Lau's Hakka cookbook from Books Kinokuniya in Singapore :-)

                                                                                                                          Giving that to one of my sisters as a Chinese New Year gift (tomorrow) - her husband's Hakka so that should be a pleasant surprise for him (as well as her).

                                                                                                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                            Great! And gongxi fa cai!

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              Gong Xi Fa Cai to you, too, and happy chowing in the Year of the Snake!

                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                Taro abacus beads (suan pan zi), made from Linda Lau's cookbook, today :-)

                                                                                                                                Instead of stir-frying or braising the beads, my sister made a Hakka-style soup flavored with salted black beans, dried cuttlefish, pork (both ribs and fatter cuts of pork) and other aromatics (garlic, onions).

                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                  fabulous.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                    Completely.

                                                                                                                      2. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                        For me it will always be the 1975 Joy of Cooking, the last one Marion worked on and the culmination of her whole life's work.

                                                                                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                          Had to look into Leong Yee Soo....looks like the "Best of Singapore Cooking" is one of six in a series she wrote....do you have the others? Any thoughts about whether or not I "need" all six!

                                                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                            to qianning...they do look fab, those Singapore books, a Nyonya one too...
                                                                                                                            OK so how come some of my posts reply to the post I want to reply to, and some go down to the bottom? Maddening.

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              Buttertart, I *think* the posts all eventually go where they are supposed to go, but when you first look at your finished reply it appears to be at the bottom, and without the RE: member name. But once you leave the page and come back (or maybe just refresh), it moves into position.

                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                BT: As you know I'm sucker for Singapore books, and yes the Nonya book was the one that really got my attention, Terry Tan's book is good, but not perfect....I'm already looking into how to get a hold of one the Leong Yee Soo books
                                                                                                                                through the library system before I go crazy.....

                                                                                                                                BT & Ellabee: I think if you only post one reply in one visit to a thread, the post shows up in the right place. If you post multiple replies in a single visit to a thread the second post shows up out of order. And in my experience stays out of order. Moderators told me this was a Firefox only bug, not sure if that's true, but the fix they gave me did not cure it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                  Do you have Singapore Food by Wendy Hutton? I was given this as a present by friends from the when we left but have only cooked one recipe from it. I'm wondering how authentic they are.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                                    No. Wish I did. I do have the Periplus one that she edited, "The Food of Singapore", and am very fond of it (the Claypot Rice recipe and the Chili Crab are two of my most prized recipes; the Laksa Lemak isn't perfect, but it is still darn good). Authentic, I have no idea, but definitely not too dumbed down.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                      Thanks, good to know. The one recipe I have used is the clay pot rice. I wonder if it's the same. I've found her recipe cooks it beautifully and you get the crust but I like the flavour from this recipe ( http://www.foodcanon.com/2012/06/clay... ) better. I've been working on combing the two.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                                        that one looks good too.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                                      I LOVE "Singapore Food" by Wendy Hutton - she was a long-time resident of Singapore, and also wrote for Singapore Airlines' Silver Kris inflight magazine. Wendy's a New Zealander, but she's got a firm handle on Singaporeans' palates, so her recipes are usually spot-on. Her cookbook's also one of the first ones I've ever owned.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                        Are there any recipes you particularly recommend from the book? I'm afraid it gets a bit forgotten on my shelf as it's not indexed by eat your books yet.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                                          Oh, I'll need to check and get back to you. My cookbooks were all left home in Singapore, whilst I'm currently working here in Kuala Lumpur.

                                                                                                                                          I got Wendy Hutton's cookbook back in 1982 thereabouts. And it's pretty dog-eared by now. Besides, Wendy Hutton and Mrs Leong Yee Soo, the other Singapore cookbook I owned back then was Mrs Lee's Cookbook by Mrs Lee Chin Koon.

                                                                                                                                          A bit of trivia: Mrs Leong Yee Soo and Mrs Lee Chin Koon are sisters. And the latter is the mother of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister, and grandmother to Singapore's current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                            Now you are making me miss Singapore with all your talk of prime ministers. I'm recalling the quite astounding national days we spent there (three in a row) with the flag strung from every balcony and the terrifying roar of the jets overhead as you cram into the esplanade to see the display. I've pulled the book out for some inspiration and mee hoon kueh is on the menu for Monday night - a friend's recipe. I think I will also make some acar soon as I've been missing it and there is a recipe in the book and the petai beans (in jars) in the pantry will need to be consumed soon. One Singaporean flavour I am missing and doubt I will find outside of the region is buah keluak.

                                                                                                                                2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                  qianning, Leong Yee Soo's "Best of Singapore Cooking" should only be in *one* whole volume - though I did see the book being broken up into small sub-volumes and sold separately. Don't buy those as you'll essentially be getting 6 parts of the same book, and may turn out to be more expensive.

                                                                                                                                  I noticed recently a new re-print for the original book just out in Singapore's bookstores this month. Its cover looks like this:
                                                                                                                                  http://www.kinokuniya.com/sg/index.ph...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                    Thanks! That information really clarifies which book to seek. I too noticed that Amazon shows a reprint due for issue next month.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                      I just signed up to be notified when this is available on Amazon. Wonder if the Kinokuniya here has it :)
                                                                                                                                      And just nailed the cheapest copy of the Hutton on AbeBooks.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                        you sure do move fast!

                                                                                                                              2. The cookbook that changed the way I thought about food was Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. I. For those of us of a certain age, Julia is our touchstone and lodestar.

                                                                                                                                I refer regularly to Cooks Illustrated and its associated cookbooks, and find Ruhlman's Ratio and Twenty valuable, but the grubbiest, most stained books in my collection are forty year old volumes of Fannie Farmer and Joy of Cooking.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: sheiladeedee

                                                                                                                                  You should see my copy of Mastering the Art. It's literally in four pieces.

                                                                                                                                2. The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. No question.

                                                                                                                                  25 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                    That book's precious! I bought it when it came out in 1988. I think a cousin, or someone, borrowed that copy one time ... and I never got it back.

                                                                                                                                    Got myself a replacement copy, and quite a few more to give away as gifts through the years.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                      I bought mine when it came out too. It's now falling apart as I have used it so much. It's my favourite cookbook for baking.

                                                                                                                                      My all-round favourite cookbook is "French Cookery School" by Anne Willan; it's quite old. It was the first cookbook I bought. It took me from not knowing how to cook to becoming a pretty good cook and baker.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                        OK, so what's great about this book? Is it just a general how-to make great cake's book? Is there a nice section on pound/bundt cakes? I think I've seen it or one of its iterations but never cracked the cover on it.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                          Eperdu - it's much, much more than a general how-to. If you use the book for the buttercreams alone, you'll be everyone's new best friend.

                                                                                                                                          Souschef - My copy is literally falling apart too. It's full of stains and handwritten side notes and bookmarks. If I had a fire, I'd be tempted to grab on my way out the door.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                            I'll see if my library has it ... thanks! I tend to bake mostly bundt/pound cakes so frosting isn't something I tackle much.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: eperdu

                                                                                                                                              In that case, you might prefer Rose's other cake book called Rose's Heavenly Cakes. There are a number of pound cakes and bundt cakes in that one. I've tried quite a few recipes from it and they were all wonderful (I was part of an online baking group that baked our way through the book).

                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                                I'm a bit obsessed with bundt cakes .. that is an amazing and beautiful collection. I think I need that one .. !!!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: eperdu

                                                                                                                                                  Great book, I like it better than the Cake Bible.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                                  Patricia your bundt cakes look amazing. You piqued my interest in this book. When I searched the index in EYB I came up empty-handed for "bundt" cakes and I only found 2 coffee cakes. Are there other cakes she's suggesting be baked in bundt pans or, were you adapting? I rec'd a beautiful new bundt cake pan for Christmas...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                    If you're looking for a Bundt recipe you should make Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Golden Grand Marnier Cake" from "The Cake Bible". It's a great cake.

                                                                                                                                                    Apologies to long-time participants here as I've mentioned that cake many times before.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                      I'll definitely make it souschef, I appreciate your recommendation.

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks so much!

                                                                                                                                                      Though I don't have the book, I did find the recipe online here:

                                                                                                                                                      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-s...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                        Really? You do NOT have The Cake Bible? Gasp... LOL

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                          I know!! How is that possible?! Actually I wasn't sure so I had to check EYB. Then, you know I just had to head over to Amazon to just take a little peek......

                                                                                                                                                          Luckily I got distracted by a video of Martha making cookies (Lime Meltaways which I've decided to bake tomorrow!!) so I didn't manage to hit the "add to Wishlist" button - at least so far!!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                            I have had The Cake Bible forever. It is my go-to book for technique not so much for ideas. I do not bake much usually but there are time when I do. This month seems to be one of these months. I am making chocolate tart from Flour today and her carrot cake the following weekend, a Hungarian torte the weekend after and savoury cookies for lunch with my quilting friend somewhere in between - this is a big baking month for me!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                              Which Hungarian torte? From a book or a family recipe? If the latter, boy would I love to have the recipe :)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                Don't know if this is what you have in mind, but there's a fairly straightforward yet wonderful recipe for Dobosh Torte in Paula Peck's book.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe is from a book but came to me from friend's family whose mother made it for her Hungarian husband. There are several recipes and all are pictures taken of pages - very difficult to navigate... I think I'll make the one that everyone knows - seven-layer. Happy to send you recipe(s) if you are interested - my email is in profile.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                    Pics please!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                      She didn't send any pictures - it very well be an older book without pictures. I'll take a picture of the cake that I will make next weekend and post it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                        Great, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                        Breadcrumbs - Thanks! Btw, I changed my profile from Patrincia to ButterYum to reflect my blog name.

                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, I'm not sure what you mean by EYB, but the cakes I pictured are all from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and they're are all baked as directed in the recipes - no adaptations on my part.

                                                                                                                                                        The cakes are (clockwise from top left):

                                                                                                                                                        Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake
                                                                                                                                                        Whipped Cream Cake
                                                                                                                                                        Pumpkin Cake
                                                                                                                                                        Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake
                                                                                                                                                        Chocolate Velvet Fudge Cake

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                                        Oh no, out I am going on a yard sale quest to buy that book. Those bundt cakes look delicious.

                                                                                                                                                3. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                                  Regarding the Cake Bible: I bought it years ago due to all the raves, I also have her pie cookbook. I've never cooked a thing from it. I know I don't like the layout of the recipes. That greyscale box with the ingredient list is nearly impossible to read due to lack of contrast with the font on many pages. I think I have a bad print copy, I got it on Amazon so I didn't see it before purchasing. If I had I wouldn't have bought it.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                    The Cake Bible is definitely not the kind of cookbook one gets for the inspiring photos. You should give it to a young aspiring baker - they would probably really appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ButterYum

                                                                                                                                                      I was given the Cake Bible as a pre teen, by a family friend who encouraged my cooking. I have no idea where that copy is now, 2 decades later, but it has had a lasting effect on my cooking and baking skills.

                                                                                                                                                4. My three cookbooks with the most stains on them and most tattered covers because of phenomenal use are: The French Chef Cookbook (culled from Mastering the Art but written more like Julia's shows), Joy of Cooking (not the current one), and Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                    I hate to say it, but my copy of the Joy of Cooking sits on the shelf untouched after many, many years. No real reason other than I never think to look at it. I should probably do something about that.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Patrincia

                                                                                                                                                      Mine, too. I do not find it creative or inspiring but perhaps it is time I went through it agian; maybe I will find a hidden gem in there somewhere! :)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                        Mine's like an old trusted friend - it literally taught me how to cook when I was a kid. It also was one of my first 3 cookbooks, and I now have a collection of more than 1,500.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                                                          That's an awesome story. I understand about books being "old trusted friends". I do not have as many as you but do have many hundred and the vast majority are friends.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                          +1 The only recipe that I make out of Joy is yorkshire pudding.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                            You're probably past the point where you will get much out of or appreciate Joy of Cooking.

                                                                                                                                                            For many of us, it taught us how to cook all kinds of food. We learned the basics from it. "Know Your Ingredients" was a popular chapter. You can learn how to make a quiche, proper roast beef, rack of lamb and Brunswick Stew. Also, it has the best recipe for Oatmeal Cookies.

                                                                                                                                                            Even though I have advanced quite a bit from when I first started using JOC, I believe there is no finer book for a beginning home cook. And I still go back to it when I need to know the basics of a recipe.

                                                                                                                                                            If you haven't touched yours, consider passing it on to the next generation. They can learn so much from it.

                                                                                                                                                            A little history about the Joy of Cooking, and why it's more than just recipes: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/workli...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                              You helped me to view this differently than I did when I posted earlier. I was not thinking of learning to cook from the book in the past but rather how I cook in the present. One of the books I learned from at an early age was Fannie Farmer. Thanks for the history. :)

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                          I like The French Chef Cookbook a lot too. I also use it more than the others.

                                                                                                                                                        4. IMO every high school graduate ought to be given The Joy of Cooking original version as a graduation gift. Of course the lobbyists for McDonalds and Wendy's etc. would be screaming their heads off. LOL

                                                                                                                                                          1. The cookbooks that opened my eyes to wonderful cuisine were "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" Vol. I and 2. My brother bought me the set when I was just 14 and I learned step by step from her wonderful instruction. I lived two streets away from Julia Child in Cambridge and would occasionally see her in the butcher shop in the neighborhood. I have autographed copies of her books and cherish them so much. I also love her "Way to Cook". Another book that is an absolute favorite of mine is Bruce Healy's and Paul Bugat's "The French Cookie Book" - an absolute classic in that genre. If I could only have a few cookbooks, it would be these four.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: laraffinee

                                                                                                                                                              Do you have any favorites from The French Cookie Book? So many of the recipes look good that I don't know where to start!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                                                                                Although I do have favorite recipes from the French Cookie Book (Gerbet Macaroons, Caen-style Sablés, Nantes-Style Galettes, to name a few), the thing that is most wonderful about the book is how to work with the basic types of cookie batters and pastry doughs. I learned how to use a pastry bag with this book. Once you have a good feel for these batters, you can get the results you want even with variations in flours and ovens etc. It is like a textbook for me.

                                                                                                                                                            2. This is a hard question for me, not because I have so many cookbooks but because I'm still finding my cooking legs. I obsessively read all the threads about cookbooks and check out all the books from the library and I write up lists of all the recipes that sound good in each one and I try to make at least one before it heads back to the library. But, I don't own most of them. I only buy a few books a year--no matter how much Chowhound I read! I have a fabulous library system and can easily get books without buying them.

                                                                                                                                                              That said, the cookbook that I've cooked the MOST from though is Martha Stewart Everyday Food "Great Food Fast" -- I've never really seen it mentioned here but it's my #1 most used book.

                                                                                                                                                              It was this book that made me realize cooking isn't hard, can be simple and taste good. It also taught me a little about cooking seasonally. I picked up the book in Fall and made about half of the Fall recipes. They weren't all successes in that I've made them again but I LEARNED from it. I started to develop my cooking palate. I learned to love tarragon and mustard together from this book. I learned that bone-in chicken breasts taste fantastic but are a pain in the tookus. ;)

                                                                                                                                                              Several of my 'go to' meals are from this book. Right now, it's my favorite. It's the one I connected to and have learned from.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eperdu

                                                                                                                                                                That is a nice cookbook, eperdu, especially for newer cooks with busy lives. It is my SIL's favorite book--and she's a very accomplished, wonderful cook.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                  The first recipe I made from it was the chicken with the mustard tarragon cream sauce. I impressed myself with that one! I've impressed others too and it's so simple. I think the thing I love about that book is that it was easy and the results are almost always spot-on which gives you the confidence to move forward and do more.

                                                                                                                                                                  I wish I had more time to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eperdu

                                                                                                                                                                    So funny--when I was just starting to cook, I made a Silver Palate recipe that sounds very similar--and I made it a lot b/c it was a hit.

                                                                                                                                                                    Confidence just comes with experience. It took me a couple of decades (what a waste of time!) to be confident enough to veer from a recipe or improvise a little. But the more you do, the more confident you'll become.

                                                                                                                                                                    As to the rosemary, just use less or use a different herb. I find rosemary often over-powering, but I love thyme, so I'll substitute. Or I'll cut way back on the rosemary. Also, I've never, ever seen fresh chervil here so if a recipe calls for that, I have to substitute (and the internet is a great help in finding substitutions if you don't trust your instincts yet).

                                                                                                                                                                    Just keep at it. The fact that you're here and that you're trying new things and interested in building a good library tell me that you are, inherently, a cook.

                                                                                                                                                                    And sometimes you have to tune out the peanut gallery. Just b/c someone for whom you cook doesn't like something doesn't neccesarily mean it isn't good--or isn't worth trying to perfect.

                                                                                                                                                              2. my reply to a similar thread:
                                                                                                                                                                Sun-Drenched Cuisine by Marlena Spieler. I bought this book in Palo Alto, Calif. when it was published in 1986 and by now I have cooked almost every recipe in it several times. She draws very interesting recipes from literally around the globe with adaptations from traditional recipes...Africa, Asia, Italy, Provence, Spain, Brazil.....easy to do every day with huge bursts of flavor and her writing is seductive and sensual you almost want to eat the book. Includes salsas, soups, condiments, relishes, as well as meat, fish, veggie, desserts, eggs, cheese. When it went out of print I bought several of the British edition at bargain prices for gifts and everyone who as received one...including a new bride last year...has been wowed. She's written lots of cookbooks and used to write for the SF Chronicle newspaper...this is by far her best, in my opinion.
                                                                                                                                                                \
                                                                                                                                                                if I had to pick one as all-purpose for the way I cook, it would be this one.

                                                                                                                                                                1. You won't be sorry, you'll be delighted, if you pick this up:
                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.amazon.com/LEE-BAILEYS-GOO...

                                                                                                                                                                  It's the book that got me interested in cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                    Lee Bailey's Country Weekends is a nice one, too.

                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Baileys-Cou...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                      I can't understand why this guy isn't more famous!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe he didn’t become famous because he didn't cook professionally, unlike Martha Stewart or Alice Waters or Christopher Idone, his cookbook-publishing contemporaries. He was a designer who taught at Parsons and Tulane. At the time COUNTRY WEEKENDS came out, he also had a store at Bergdorf-Goodman.

                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, it’s also likely he isn’t more famous because he died ten years ago:
                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/17/nyr...

                                                                                                                                                                        The obituary says he started writing books before Martha Stewart, whose ENTERTAINMENT I bought the day after Christmas, 1982. I did not become aware of Lee Bailey until the following year, when I bought COUNTRY WEEKENDS.

                                                                                                                                                                        I imagined he was cashing in on the coffee-table cookbook trend I thought was started by Martha Stewart and Christopher Idone. I just loved those books, which went to the trouble of showing us how good food could look as well as taste.

                                                                                                                                                                        He wrote a column for the Times, and he put out a lot of books (the Amazon dates are wrong, as usual: nothing existed before Amazon):

                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                          What do you mean by "the Amazon dates are wrong, as usual; nothing existed before Amazon"? Are you referring to the publication dates? Many of his books have different versions published on different dates. The link you provided lists the last publication date (not the original one).

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: emily

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes. I am referring to the original publication dates, which Amazon usually ignores.

                                                                                                                                                                            As far as alternate publication dates, I thought what Amazon did with old books like these was simply to give the date on which Amazon started *selling* such a book. I have never heard before that each of Amazon's later dates represents a subsequent printing of a book.

                                                                                                                                                                            How do you know this to be true? Do you work there?

                                                                                                                                                                            EDIT: Actually, Emily, I went to the Amazon page for the hardcover edition of COUNTRY WEEKENDS, which was published in 1983. Here it is:

                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Baileys-Cou...

                                                                                                                                                                            Here's the Book Description:

                                                                                                                                                                            Release Date: September 16, **1997**

                                                                                                                                                                            The best-selling and award-winning book that established Lee Bailey as an authority on entertaining is now an affordable **paperback**. Lee Bailey's Country Weekends was Winner of the Tastemaker Award for Best Cookbook in 1983, and has sold more than 150,000 copies in hardcover. Full-color photographs.

                                                                                                                                                                            Note that the description is of the paperback edition, released in 1997.

                                                                                                                                                                            I'd say Amazon, as they usually do, in my experience, got the date wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                            If you click the link on the Hardcover Edition page for the Paperback Edition, you'll see it even has a different cover.

                                                                                                                                                                            When I do a search for "Lee Bailey Country Weekends," the first book on the list has a date of 1997, and the cover photo from the 1983 hardcover.

                                                                                                                                                                            The third book on the list has the hardcover photo and a publication date of Jan 1, 1983.

                                                                                                                                                                            It's not clear where the listing for the actual paperback edition is. There's no photo of it on page one of the search.

                                                                                                                                                                            So, different edition, shmifferent edition, is all I have to say. That and, The Amazon Dates Are Wrong, As Usual.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                          He was more famous 15 or 20 years ago than he is today.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                                            I never thought of him as being particularly UN-famous, actually, until blue moon put forth the proposition. He was only '80s famous, I guess, in comparison to Mario Batali and Bobby Flay and their ilk, none of whom I find as entertaining as Lee Bailey.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                              I love that! 80's famous.

                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, that summer, 1983, I started catering out of my house, and the people I knew *talked* about Martha and Alice and Lee and Chris, and how we liked their books, and how we were using some of their recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                All my foodie friends knew who these people were, but it was nothing like today, like talking with someone in wherever you live, whom I've never met in person, and so forth.

                                                                                                                                                                                So yeah, '80s famous.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                                              That's odd...I never thought of him as particularly famous but, then, he was always around New Orleans when I was younger...one of those people who was just "there" like Craig Claiborne in NY. I was surprised to see he has been dead ten years. Then, too, Richard Collin is dead. I realize with mild horror that I am some ten years older than these people were when I first knew/heard of them

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                              I suppose I meant I can't understand why this guy isn't more famous... on the Chowhound threads I read.

                                                                                                                                                                              I know he's gone now, and his story. Worth discovering-- several charming books and really solid recipes as good as anything out there.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. My favorite is Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The best dishes are simple combinations of superior ingredients. I learned this by cooking from this book.

                                                                                                                                                                          Today I dined at a trendy Italian-ish restaurant in LA that gets rave reviews here. The food was nowhere near as good as what I cook at home from this book.

                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                            >> The food was nowhere near as good as what I cook at home from this book.<<

                                                                                                                                                                            It's almost always that way. We have a Lidia's here, but only seldom does the food they make equal the food I make at home from either Marcella's books or Giuliano Bugialli's.

                                                                                                                                                                            There is only one restaurant in Pittsburgh that gets Lasagne Bolognese, canneloni, and other pasta dishes right, and does so consistently. It's called Piccolo Forno. It's in Lawrenceville, but Piccolo Forno was there before the hipsters (not that I don't like hipsters: I should look so good in girls' jeans).

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                              The long-cooked cabbage recipe in that book is my favorite preparation for that particular vegetable. I could eat the whole thing at one sitting!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                                                                I think you must mean the Smothered Cabbage, Venetian Style, nofunlatte, and I'm right there with you on it being my favorite (and the possibility of eating it all).

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                                                                                                  How interesting, cabbage is one of my top vegetables, and l made that recipe three times decades ago, and it just did not click for me.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Different strokes.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm going with the single cookbook on my shelf that is more tattered and worn than any other. The New Orleans Cookbook, by Rima and Richard Collin. Yes, it's focused. Yes, I consult many other cookbooks for many other foods. But the gumbos, the jumbalaya(!), the etouffe, and perhaps most of all as far as my kids are concerned, the yam pie, are all authentic, delicious, and doable. Cannot recommend this highly enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. The Victory Garden Cookbook. This is an older book but I made more recipes from it than anything since The Joy of Cooking. The format is locally available vegetables A-Z, with glossy photos to help you identify them in the grocery store in case you are a newby, with marketing, growing and basic prep steps for each. Then there are some basic and more sophisticated recipes for each veg. Marian Morash is the author and wife of Russell Morash who gave us Julia Child on TV so between the French Chef influence and the Morash's Nantucket award winning restaurant there are lots of veggie centric but great recipes. My copy is bound with tape. Maybe I should get a new one.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                                                                    +1 on this. I left the Victory Garden cookbook behind in a cross-country move in the mid-1980s and have regretted it ever since. This summer I spotted a used on online at a very low price and jumped -- and I've used it more in the last six months than all my other books combined.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I rarely refer to cookbooks anymore except to check my memory on the preparation of a particuar dish or try something I have never perpared before. That being said, the Times Picayune Creole Cookbook is my favorite. I enjoy reading the book, I particularly like the "old timey" language, the sometimes vague directions, and the history contained therein. No one cookbook has it all but the Joy of Cooking comes close. Gourmet, 1950 never disapppoints.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mudcat

                                                                                                                                                                                      The Picayune Cookbook was once described as having interchangeable recipes. No matter what the title, the recipes seem to read "select a nice fish, clean, prepare as usual and serve."

                                                                                                                                                                                      My 1930-something Joy of Cooking is perfectly fine but I grew up reading "The Gentleman's Companion" by Charles H. Baker, Jr. Most fun cookbook(s) I own.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I've got a lot of cookbooks. This one is my most prized. The color plates are amazing. The recipes are challenging but if followed amazing dishes result.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I mean just look at the plate of the 'Truite Saumonee' Froide sur Mousse de Tomates'. No kidding, I've made this dish a few times. Never have I tasted a more incredible trout dish. Just saying, for those who are into the 'classics'.

                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                        That is stunning! I think I'm adding this to my (long) list of wishlist cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, talk about 'food porn' eh? I found the book at a swap meet. I think I paid two bucks for it.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Want to read a little story.? Recently I had occasion to visit a large farmer's market. There were at least two dozen stands selling food. Fresh made pasta, cooked meats, some high end 'food trucks' selling expensive 'gourmet' treats. That sort of thing. All these sellers were wearing 'chef's jackets. I had brought this book to show a friend who is a 'foodie' like me. He was selling handmade fresh pasta. He said "why not show it to some of the other people selling food? I bet they'd love to look through it." So I did. I took the book around and the first person I showed it to didn't recognize the name. I went to seven 'food' stands in a row. No luck. The eighth: "Do you recognize the name on this book?' Answer: "Julia Child?" The ninth looked at the cover and said " Auguste Escoffier the father of classic French cooking". Just some 'food for thought'.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                            Wow, $2, good deal!
                                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting story...were the vendors all very young?

                                                                                                                                                                                            Which recipes from the book have you made and loved?

                                                                                                                                                                                            I look forward to a day when I'm retired and I have alllll week to prepare lavish dishes for dinner parties. *sigh*

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah all the vendors were young but you'd assume some of them must have attended some sort of cooking school. Escoffier's name must have come up you'd think but apparently not.
                                                                                                                                                                                              I make all my stocks and sauces following Escoffier's recipes. Beurre marie, rouxs white and brown, sauce veloute, bechamel etc. etc. It's really the stocks and sauces that are the keys to really tasty dishes. Master them and you can elevate an ordinary Wed. night tomato sauce for say ravioli into an extraordinary 'sauce tomate'. The difference is you had first to have made the 'fonds blanc'. For that you'll need some fresh small beef bones preferably crushed, with some trimmings, a whole fresh old chicken, a carrot, onion leak and bouquet garni. Into cold water. Just bring to a boil then slow simmer uncovered for three hours. Skim. Cool strain reserve. The book has dozens of really simple appearing sauces but the simplicity is deceiving. Each one is elegant in appearance and flavor. Just one tiny screw up and the flavor/consistency is lost. We can all picture the 'old school' Escoffier chef screaming at his apprentices: "NOT THAT WAY! I said twenty milliliters NOT thirty milliliters!". There's always a good reason IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the info. It sounds like a cookbook I'd love to have.
                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm glad that I can work through the recipes alone in my kitchen without Escoffier screaming at me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Feeling the way I do now about preparing food if I could go back in time I would move heaven and earth to be trained by Escoffier. Screaming and all. LOL
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Check this out.http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss...
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Notice the 'used' price of the second book down!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks! I'll post back when I've tried my first recipe from the book to let you know how it went. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for showing that Escoffier book. I had an online credit and bought a used copy that is supposed to be in "new" condition. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                            As an Escoffier fan I WANT this book! I have others but not this one with the colour plates. Sometimes I pass an afternoon reading his recipes wistfully. I've made a few, too. Love the classics. This trout recipe must be sublime! I'd love to try it myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                            ETA: Puffin, this is in response to your posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll put up a couple more photos of the color plates from the book. (It appears 'The Contessa' currently has the camera.) LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                Please do! I would LOVE to see them. As soon as "The Contessa" is finished with the camera.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                              Just got my Illustrated Escoffier in the mail. Used but in great condition. Can't wait to work on some of the dishes in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook from the 60's. Still have 2 of them, still use it, perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                                                Used to cook from that book and his menu cookbook quite a bit, but they're now on a top shelf with other reference books that I rarely look at any more. Time to haul out the ladder and take another look?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes. Especially now that some of the "Old School" recipes are making a small comeback. And because I find some of the recipes new to me (I'm in my 40's) such as cold salmon with dill sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mind you, I have a minimalist cookbook collection, as I have a tiny place, and most of the newer things can be found online.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I would name the late Barbara Tropp's "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking." However, it is out of print and can be difficult to come by. A close second is her second book, "China Moon Cafe" which is now available on Kindle. I find both her books to be excellent teaching books and the food is delicious. I was lucky enough to take a couple of classes from her before she died. She could cook!! If you enjoy cooking Chinese food one of these books is invaluable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ptrefler

                                                                                                                                                                                                  <I would name the late Barbara Tropp's "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking.">

                                                                                                                                                                                                  While this isn't my favorite cookbook of all time, it is certainly my favorite Chinese cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Great recipes IIRC for tea smoked chicken and duck, a Chinese chicken salad with ginger and peanut and sesame oil sauce, and the whole velveting concept. Truly a classy book. And isn't it the one Martha cribbed from for Entertaining?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I far prefer Irene Kuo's "The Key to Chinese Cooking" to the Tropp. There's just something about the Tropp I can't get past. I rebought it recently and am deeply unimpressed (to quote Mr. Cohen).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Agree!

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. "The New James Beard," a completely new work published in 1981 to replace his original 1959 (updated in 1970) cookbook. This is a large, general purpose cookbook, whereas my other cookbooks are specialized in one way or another. I like it for Beard's commentary, not merely his recipes — this is a readable book with no space wasted on pictures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. As promised more 'Escoffier color plates"

                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh. My. Word. These are incredible!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you! Can't wait to get this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. A little late in responding, but since this thread is still active some 5 years later, I guess people are interested. This was a hard question for me to answer. I have around 250 on my shelves and I am still looking for that one, definitive cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The one I could turn to for everyday, get-dinner-on-the-table dishes and spectacular, special occasion dishes alike. Oh, if only there were such a book. Instead, I get my supply of inspiration from a dozen or so must have books. Among these,
                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would have to say SUNDAY SUPPERS AT LUCQUES gets the award for the most star quality recipes from one book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am intersted in buying Sunday Suppers at Lucques but have heard the recipes are really complex and time consuming. What do you think? I too have a crazy number of cookbooks and am always looking for more. Is this one really worth it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Plumpyprune

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, yes, and yes. Some of the recipes are complex and time consuming, but many can be done in parts and she tells you when something can, or even should, be made at least a day in advance. I don't think I've ever served a dish from this book at a dinner party that wasn't a huge hit. I'd give up most of my cookbook collection before I'd give up Sunday Suppers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am new on this site and so happy to hear from all of you. Thanks so much for your feedback. You've done a great in convincing me to buy this cookbook. Will let you know how much I love it once I try a recipe or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Plumpyprune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Welcome Plumpyprune! Here's a link to report threads where folks have reviewed recipes they made from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sunday Suppers at Lucques. It might help you assess what you'd like. Click on the links in the opening post:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/397079

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Plumpyprune

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Totally agree with JoanN. The recipes are probably above the level of the novice cook but not by much. It is not so much that they are complex as they are time consuming. But each recipe is a gem and if you follow the directions, you will be richly rewarded. My advice, this is one you want on your shelf!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll second DK's reply! I talked my dinner club into cooking a menu out of this book and it was a raving success. Not necessarily your everyday cookbook but for weekend joy of cooking or a special occasion this is a must have! There is a new Goin coming out this fall and I can't wait:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Madhur Jaffrey ''World Vegetarian" is my favorite for awhile now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I've cooked my way the Poor Girl Gourmet and everything has been wonderful! I have something of an obsession with this cookbook...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Girl-Gourm...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. The dirtiest cookbooks in my kitchen (meaning the most used) are (in no particular order) "Sunday Suppers at Lucques," Suzanne Goin; "In the Hands of a Chef," Jody Adams; "From Julia Child's Kitchen," herself; "Bistro Cooking," Patricia Wells; "Menus for Pasta," Anna Teresa Callen; "Feastivals Cooks at Home," me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. This one the most challenging. I figure anyone who can replicate the sauces/stocks/dishes using it IMO can cook almost anything (Asian food excepted).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have this book. Bought it used a few months ago. Haven't made anything from it yet, plan to do so over the summer. Gorgeous pictures, I hope to make food that looks half as good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've religious followed some of the recipes. Hard to describe what such a seemingly small change can make. I made one dish/sauce calling for clarified butter and I just used salted table butter and the result looked horrible! And it didn't taste a good as I assumed it would. Next time I used clarified butter and the result was much much better. Got to follow the recipes carefully. Have fun and enjoy!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      IMO anyone with some experience can cook a chicken or a roast. The real trick is to get the stocks/sauces perfect. Escoffier is the master.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks so much for the advice! Finally gave in yesterday and purchased the book. I can't wait to see it and try some of the recommended recipes. Now quite curious to see the Escoffier cookbook:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Purchased the book yesterday online and I too plan to try some of the recipes over the summer when things slow down. Can't wait to see the book and thanks for replying!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Plumpyprune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Try the sauce in this dish. I didn't even attempt to plate the fish the same way but I did get the sauce right. 'Nirvana' for any type of fresh fish.