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Cookbook for brother

My brother's birthday is coming up next week and I was looking for some suggestions on a cookbook that I might buy him as a gift.

He really likes to cook but is pretty much a meat, potatoes, and pasta guy. Right now, he is big into grilling steak and cooking one dish dinners.

Since this is a new interest, I'd like to get him a cookbook with great recipes that are easy and fairly quick to prepare, something that will inspire him to continue to pursue his interest in cooking and expand his horizons a bit.

I don't think he'd appreciate/like a technical cookbook.

Any ideas?

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  1. "To Serve Man"? Just kidding - old Twilight Zone reference inspired by how you titled your thread.

    The obvious suggestions would be books by grilling celebs like Steve Raichlen. But if you want something to guide him into a more varied repertoire, almost anything by the Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen people would be good. I recently looked at their new Cooks Country cookbook (they expanded their original franchise into a Cooks Country magazine and now, PBS show). Didn't buy it because most of the recipes are similar to what's already on my bookshelves or in my brain - but they are very accessible, traditional dishes with good instructions and illustrations.

    1 Reply
    1. re: greygarious

      Wow, 'To Serve Man' reference. One of the absolute best Twilight Zones ever. Chilling... And I totaly second your rec for ATK cookbooks (I must have a dozen). Get their 'The New Best Recipe'. Tons of recipes. easy to follow and great results.

    2. I like the Martha Stewart Everyday Food cookbook. It's a softcover, and has recipes from every cusine, and beautiful pictures.The recipes are quick to make, don't use crazy ingredients, and use only a few pots and pans. I find myself wrestling it out of my husband's hands quite often.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cheesecake17

        Ditto, my Dad loves to cook but loves pictures and gets overwhelmed with too many ingredients - Everyday Food is perfect.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          I just got this based on recs from other hounds. It's a great resource for someone who wants simple recipes for good food that don't seem too intimidating. It's organized by season, which helps, in my opinion. There are a good number of grilling recipes in the summer section.

        2. Here's one that an associate of mine recently received as a gift. Aside from the rather risque title, it has some pretty good recipes.


          1. I learned to cook with Joy of cooking and I recommend it highly (for man or woman). Another good one is Mark Bitman's How to Cook Anything. I find the title pretentious but the book is great for skilled or unskilled cook alike. Good luck!

            1. Since he's into grilling, maybe one of Bobby Flay's books. I've never read one, so someone else might be able to comment if that would be a good choice. But if the books are like his TV shows, Flay always makes a complete meal, and while the grilling thing would keep your brother in his comfort zone, the seasonings, sauces, and side dishes might encourage him to venture into new territory.

              1. I have the afore mentioned The Cook's Country Cookbook and Martha Stewart's Everyday Food-Great Food Fast.
                Cook's has 500 classic, regional, and heirloom recipes. Old school recipes that have been tested for the best methods of cooking and best ingredients to use. It has a whole chapter of casseroles and other potluck favorites. It also has wonderful explanations of what can go wrong and what America's Test Kithen did to make the recipe the "best" version. Some beautiful color pictures, but not very many.
                Everyday Food has 250 recipes that are divided into seasons. Each season is divided into Soups/Salads, Main Courses, Pastas, Sides, and Desserts. Recipes more modern than Cook's. The prep is fast as the title suggests. Lots and lots of beautiful pictures.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nolanani

                  Everyday Food is the one I was talking about. I love it- I've made so many recipes from it. It's simple to follow and the pictures are stunning.

                2. Maybe you want to move him away from so much "meat, potatoes, and pasta" and more toward "one dish dinners" by getting him a casserole cookbook.


                  You can figure out what's at his skill level or a little more.

                  1. If he's really into grilling, try one of Stephen Rachelin's books like How to Grill or The Barbq Bible.

                    1. I would recommend either:

                      - bowl food
                      - fast food

                      By Murdoch books (I think) - which has a whole series of cook books.

                      The recipes are geared toward people who are developing an interest in cooking (but not yet into food porn!) so the recipes are quick and easy to follow, there are plenty of pasta recipes, but also accessible recipes for dabbling in curries, noodles, stir fry etc.
                      below is a link to the books on amazon.



                      1. Anything by Nigel Slater - a real man's cook. You could start him on "The 30 Minute Cook", or maybe Appetite or Real Food. He's English and very funny, and not fussy or primpy. Given the stage your brother's at, I think these will be a perfect slight nudge to the next level without overwhelming him with having to prepare a 27 step bechamel sauce and chicken stock before even starting to put the rest of the meal together.

                        It sounds like my baby brother (I still think of him as my baby brother, even though he's 6' 4" and mid thirties) was exactly where your brother is when he got massively enthusiastic about Nigel Slater.

                        1. The suggestions are all good, but I would like to suggest another tack. A book by a guy who talks not only about the how of cooking but the why of it might help my a cook of him, not just someone that can follow recipes. I think the book I would most recommend as a gift to someone like your brother would be John Thorne's "Serious Pig." It gives the roots of lots of American dishes, is enjoyable reading, and has good recipes in it. On a lighter side, get a good illustrated pasta book--there are all kinds of choices in the bookstores. It is hard to go wrong with pasta.

                          1. What about a great food magazine subscription? Cuisine at Home is nice with great pictures, and technique too. Your gift will keep coming each month :-)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lexpatti

                              Lexpatti makes a great suggestion, both in concept and choice of magazine. If you get him a book, he may flip through it and then stash it away. With a subscription that comes every month or two, and has fewer recipes to consider, he may be more likely to actually read through it and get motivated. And magazines play to the strengths of the produce available for the given season. Cuisine at Home is a good one; if you decide to go with the ATK/CI folks, Cooks Country would be better for a beginner than is Cooks Illustrated.

                            2. Thanks for all of the great suggestions! I ended up ordering the new Cooks Country cookbook and Martha Stewart Everyday Food.

                              I have Steve Raichlen's Grill Bible myself and love it! I made dishes out of it all summer.