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All I want for Xmas is a Cookbook-which one?

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Maybe opening up a debate on this site given the number of cookbook afficianados. I want to put one on my list for Xmas and don't know which one. I have the Bon Appetit and some old standbys (Better Home and Gardens) but want to add to this with a classic. Prerequistes are easy fast cooking that can be easily served to guests as well as family and the cookbook must be in current print. Any suggestions? Thanks for your suggestions....

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  1. Maybe Bittman's "How To Cook Everything"?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowkari

      I agree with the "How to Cook Everything" choice. The recipes are well explained, with some illustrations, and I like how he has suggestions for variations on recipes.

    2. If you enjoy baking or want to improve your efforts I recommend "Bakewise" by Shirley Corriher.

      I also love the "Best Recipe" books by Cooks Illustrated.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        The Silver Palate Cookbook was my bible when I first statred cooking and I still love their recipes. I think that is a good place to begin.

        1. re: greenstate

          I agree with all of the above...
          Every single one of the 'Barefoot Contessa' cookbooks I have purchased and used.
          There is not one recipe in any of her books that I have not found to be outstanding.

          1. re: latindancer

            Thanks for the suggestions. Was looking at my friends copy of Mark Bittmans book and thought it would be a good one to add. I like the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks but do not own one. Which one of hers would you say is the best for general use?

            1. re: T42

              I seem to always come back to the first one I purchased, "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook"....forward by Martha Stewart , copyright 1999.
              I hope you can find it somewhere. Like I said, though, they're all wonderful.

              1. re: latindancer

                Agreed, I also own that book (Barefoot Contessa Cookbook). I have looked in some of her others and not been that interested. But the BCC has some really great basic recipes.

                Here's a ling.


              2. re: T42

                Another vote for The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Indonesian Ginger Chicken is something I make during the week for my family as well as for company. And those Parmesan Smashed Potatoes...to die for.

          2. re: Kelli2006

            Corriher's first book, "Cookwise", is a great reference which I regularly consult, so I had "Bakewise" on my wish list - until I read the comments on Amazon. Their consensus was that there's just as much, if not more, baking info in Cookwise - which of course has plenty of non-baking-related insight as well - and that Cookwise is better organized and easier to use.

            I haven't looked at it but I'd expect Martha Stewart's newly-published "Cooking School" cookbook would fill T42's requirements. Best bet would be to go to the bookstore and skim through some of the cookbooks. My high school English teacher reminded us that a notebook is "a compendium of your ignorance" - don't include what you already know.
            This is my criterion in cookbook selection as well. Only T42 knows what T42 doesn't already know!

            1. re: greygarious

              We just got the new Martha Stewart book in at our store. I've thumbed through it a bit and think I might bring it home soon. It does a good job of going through basic techniques but I thought the recipes looked quite good and interesting. There was a shallow poached fish dish with kumquats that Im' still thinking about several days later.

          3. Another book to consider would be the big yellow "The Gourmet Cookbook" edited by Ruth Reichl. The Gourmet staff culled through the entire history of the magazine's recipes, chose the best of them, and retested and retweaked them to make sure they held up. I haven't made anything from it that wasn't a winner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JoanN

              I second JoanN's rec for The Gourmet Cookbook. I use it often and it has never let me down.

            2. Dean & Deluca Cookbook written by David Rosengarten. Actually, your best bet is to go to your county library, check out a few and sit down for a read. Pick the best sounding book, try out a few recipes and return it in your 2 week time frame before committing to a purchase. Best to make copies of the recipes you try before using them, don't want to splatter a book that isn't yours. That being said, I'll stick with Dean and Deluca. Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: 10gallonhat

                I agree with 10gallonhat that the Dean & Deluca Cookbook is great. I use it all the time. Its only drawback is that it has no desserts....I always forget that and start to look for something sweet in the table of contents, only to have that "D'OH!" moment.

              2. Sounds like you only have a few cookbooks, so here are my recommendations.

                Buy used books. They're the same thing, way cheaper. :)

                Get a James Robertson book. Unpretentious, easy and professional. I also like that he doesn't really do an "all in one" book, but rather devotes each book to a subject. The books of his I have are:

                - Vegetables
                - Essentials of Cooking (how to cut up and use just about anything)
                - Fish and Shellfish
                - The Duck Cookbook

                He has a book devoted to Sauces that I plan to get eventually.

                Also the Martha Stewart books aren't all bad for an all-in-one book.

                2 Replies
                1. re: SocksManly

                  Along the Martha Stewart line...I'm really impressed with the Everday Food cookbook. The recipes are simple, most are quick and there seems to be a good variety.

                  1. re: SocksManly

                    FYI, that's James Peterson, not Robertson.

                  2. If your looking to spice up your breakfast recipe file some of the Bed & Breakfast cookbooks or Inns of America cookbooks are really great. Several are in 5th printings and include background info on the B&B's for travelers.

                    Also, The Sweet Spot is one of my favorite recipe books.

                    1. I'd go with Bittman's How To Cook Everything. When you are too tired to come up with recipe ideas and want something simple that works, there is no better. And the clarity of his approach makes it easy to successfully prepare meals when entertaining.

                      He is coming out with a revised version;

                      Quote from WSJ - ".......back with a "completely revised" tenth anniversary edition. Expectations are high: John Wiley & Sons has announced a first printing of 300,000 for the $35 volume, which is 1,044 pages in length."

                      The difference apparently is a greater emphasis on Fruit and Vegetables, Beans, Grains and Salads, less meat, fish and poultry though what he has is still very substantial.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: CPla

                        Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh Noooooooooooooo! I have both How to Cook Everything and whatever he calls his international best recipes. Together they take up about 6 feet of shelf space.

                        I'm irritated with Bittman after watching 2 episodes of the lame Spanish food show with Mario Batali and Gwnentheiweth Paltrow. Arch and uncomfortable.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          I have Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World and I'm not too thrilled with it. Out of 5 recipes I've made so far 2 have been horrible. Roasted fresh apricots....which I thought would be delectable and a beet,walnut mashy thing which he says is from Russia. Inedible.

                          Instead of watching that show, oakjoan, I'm reading the blog. It's more interesting....

                      2. I highly recommend the old favorite, "The Joy of Cooking." My mother gave it to me years ago and I still use it quite often. I would also recommend "The Silver Palate" cookbook. I bought mine in the early 90's and it sits beside "The Joy of Cooking" on my kitchen counter top. You'll love both books.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Dana1949

                          I think it’s critically important to remember that there are many different editions of “The Joy of Cooking.” The book you have had and loved for however many years probably isn’t the book that’s on the shelves today. And depending on the edition you have, the content may be very (very!) different from the edition on someone else’s shelf. For those who might be interested, here’s a link that lists the various editions, but summarizes only briefly how the books changed from one edition to another.


                            1. re: JoanN

                              Good point! I have the 1999 edition, which I quite like. Great recipes--the only thing I don't like is the writing style (overly pretentious and I'm just waiting for a recipe called Spam Cockaigne!) But lots of great information about the ingredients, which I probably use as much as the recipes if not more so.