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If you could write your own cookbook...[Moved from Home Cooking]

I am trying to brainstorm ideas for writing my own cookbook but it seems as though every subject has been done already. So...any ideas? What would you choose as a subject for a new cookbook that would blow people's minds? What type of cookbook does the world need right now?

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  1. Every subject has indeed been done already, many times over, but that doesn't mean the end of the cookbook industry. What do you do best? What is special about the way you make those things? What kind of cookbook would YOU buy from you?

    I buy books if the author is a chef I respect, if at least half of the recipes look like they are new and different or have an interesting twist on the classic version, if there are lots of pictures, if the layout doesn't annoy me, if it is on good discount at Amazon, etc. If it really is a rehash of everything I already know or have in other books and by someone I've never heard of, I can resist.

    1. Junk Food Vegetarian is my cookbook. A percentage of my best cooking is kinda in that territory: chili, burgers, a concoction I call Oobleck that totally wowed a professional chef (and the ingredients are embarrassingly very processed foods (which is all I'll say)). It probably wouldn't blow people's minds but I think it's kinda fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MplsM ary

        I'd buy it!!! I'm all about gourmet or ethnic foods made vegetarian (i.e. subbing tofu or mushrooms appropriate for the flavors, or just omitting the meat), but I def have made vegan "pork and beans," chili dogs, "chili cheeseburgers." lol. I normally hate meat substitutes, but there is a little fun in using them to create childhood memories.

      2. I love the idea of writing a cookbook, and I've had several ideas, but they've all been done. Over and over. And I know a publisher wouldn't provide me the photography budget that a proven author would get, so why bother?

        My latest idea: One-Ingredient Recipes. I've got a few recipes, but I probably will never get enough for a whole book. So y'all are welcome to swipe my idea and publish away. (Just thank me in the acknowledgements - that's all I ask...)


        P.S. If you're looking for serious ideas, take a look at Amazon.com to see what's selling the most. Pick the most cutting-edge trendy idea, and do that. You'll probably hit it big, especially if you write with passion and clarity!

        6 Replies
        1. re: AnneInMpls

          One ingredient recipes got my attention. Can you eleborate?

          1. re: serious

            I've managed to think of four one-ingredient recipes so far:

            Cheese crackers (grate hard cheese, put in small clumps on silpat, and bake)

            Crockpot "roasted" chicken (put a whole chicken in the crockpot for 8-9 hours - though herbs and S+P are recommended) Recipe/idea here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4349... .

            Dulce de leche (boil a can of sweetened condensed milk - in or out of the can, depending on your beliefs)

            - Banana ice cream (peel and freeze a banana, then eat)

            Not quite enough for a cookbook, eh? If only I could think of 20-30 more, I'd have something. But I probably never will, so I offer these ideas up as starters for someone more creative than I.


              1. re: serious

                Well, in my imaginary cookbook, the butter and thyme and mustard would all count as ingredients. (I wouldn't count the salt and pepper, though.) But it does sound delicious!

                Oh, and another idea: pureed steamed veggies - snow peas or brocolli or cauliflower or green beans or whatever - as a side dish or soup (water doesn't count as an ingredient, either). Though a big dollop of cream and/or chicken broth is a big help ... ... ... ... ... maybe I should write a *two* ingredient cookbook!.


                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  When I make that chicken (a lot), I stop at the perfectly roasted thing and never get involved with thyme or mustartd.

          2. re: AnneInMpls

            For years I given the Three Ingredient Receipes, Four Ingredient Receipes and Five Ingredient Recipes books (along with some cash) as a High School graduation/going to college gift to all of my client's children.

            One ingredient recipes....hm

          3. I would like to write a book based on my great grandmother's recipes. I would need to adapt her recipes for a modern cook, (avoiding such icky things such as how to dress a squirrel), whilst keeping the items anyone today might eat (best yorkshie pudding ever).

            In this new depression, perhaps we really should start looking back to the economical foods that were once normal meals.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Ginsugirl

              How would you prepare squirrel without dressing it?

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Get some other redneck to do it for me!

                1. re: Ginsugirl

                  Ah kin do it fer yuh, but I haint no rednick.

              2. re: Ginsugirl

                I would think the recipes from you GM would be perfect if you did a couple of things. As you said, look back at economical foods. Show how she got by on shoe string budget. But what I think would be really great is a story about you and her as an introduction. Perhaps talking about how she would always make this recipe for this occasion. I can always remember her doing............. She used to tell that this dish was ............


              3. Most cookbooks have recipes with 2 features...an ingredient list and the process integrating the ingredients into an edible concoction. What one rarely sees a list of the utensils one needs to prepare the concoction. Include such a list in your book.

                Two of my favorite cookbooks are geared to cooking without recipes. I'm a kitchen experimenter, not a cook, not a chef.

                Yesterday I made a frittata with reconstituted powdered egg whites, 2 whole eggs, ricotta, cubed Chedder cheese, left over broccoli, and some leftover pasta salad that contained drained canned tomatoes that I diced along with stuffed olives, ripe olives and capers. This frittata was made in an old-fashioned cast iron skillet. This concoction was started on a cooktop and ended up under the broiler to finish it. I learned long ago that it will not slide out of the skillet like an omelet, but must be divided into at least 4 slices and lifted out with a spatula.The resulting frittata was delicious beyond my wildest expectations.

                This is the kind of creative experimental cooking that I do. I have a personal motto about culinary creativity.

                "Cook like a peasant, dine like a gourmet."

                There are not many cookbooks out there that encourage this kind of culinary creativity.

                Good luck with your endeavor...I hope that you find your niche.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ChiliDude

                  This is exactly how I learned to cook. Two things in the fridge that either needed to be eaten or I couldn't decide which to have. Combine them somehow. Just start concocting things. It was fun and I really learned a lot.

                  My personal favourite type of cookbook is the ATK/CI style books. They read almost like a text book. They explain what's going on. What they tried that worked and how they ended up with the recipe they ended up with. I would often think, "What if I substituted this for that??" Well they've thought of that and will tell you why they didn't use it.


                2. Just about every topic has been taken, but the context of cooking changes and so do national taste and the ingredients that are available, so there is always room for another cookbook. On the other hand, there is also competition to get them published. But I think it helps to consider what kind of cookbook you have been looking for that hasn't been published recently or something out of print that hasn't had anything comparable to replace it. Two topics I have been looking for are a good treatment of rye breads (particularly German sourdough ryes) and cooking for one or two on a very limited income.
                  I think the latter topic is an urgent need. I know single men on disability incomes that have to depend on food stamps and have limited cooking skills and survive on rice and beans with small scraps of meat added. I don't know if there would be a huge market for a book like that unless it were done with enough flair that even starving college kids would find it worthwhile.

                  1. Yes, every subject has been sung about, painted about, danced about, poemed about, but there's always room for more great art. Of course, there isn't always an intersection between what you can sell and what you want to write. I think the best advice to a writer of any sort is write about what you know. If there's an area you know in great depth or have a great passion for, I think that's where you can find your opening. Personally, I'm interested in updating classics, making them lighter, "greener."


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      TDQ, so well said! My cookbook collection has moved from a book containing recipes only to cookbooks that tell a story or backstory about the author, food category, history of ingredients, etc. Combining storytelling with recipes makes for a great read AND a wonderful cookbook. Restaurant and spa cookbooks, if they aren't too PR-driven can offer interesting lighter, greener recipes/menus too.

                      If I ever take on a cookbook it will be about breakfast food. Been done to death--but I love breakfast. In my past life I operated a breakfast in bed service and have many stories to share & recipes to pass on. Who knows, maybe some day...

                    2. I would like to see another good cookbook organized by flavor. I say "another" because I've only seen on organized by flavor: "Ethnic cuisine: The flavor-principle cook-book" by Elisabeth Rozin. So you could possibly have one chapter for lemon+garlic based recipes, another for savory chocolate recipes, another for sour-flavored dishes (I mean like sauerbraten, for example), another for tomato-cinnamon flavors. These are just quick ideas; if you think about my suggestion, you'll no doubt come up with better ones.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ChesterhillGirl

                        I started writing a newsletter for all the “foodies” I know where we live about 3 years ago, it is about food and so much more. Then it hit me write a book on the bases of my newsletter so I have taken everything from the newsletter and have been placing in the book. It is based on “full package” entertaining and living.

                        Then in the middle of this my mother had an idea for another book called "Slay the Gourmet" …oxymoron since my pen name is Bermuda Gourmet Goddess and my newsletter is Gourmet Goodness, but it was my mother’s idea, take classic meals and simplify to today’s busy families. But we are having a blast writing it.

                        Write about what you want to write about, if you are passionate about cooking with herbs, write one about that. If you love Italian, Greek or French then go for it because if you don’t someone else will.

                        However, whatever you do make sure your heart and passion shines through… AnneInMlps says why bother, Well Anne, bother for the love of the food, because who cares about how many other cookbooks are out there, write it for you, your friends, your neighbors, whoever, just have fun doing it!

                        1. re: ChesterhillGirl

                          "Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean" by Chef Ana Sortun is organized by flavor as well, albeit spice flavors.


                        2. Everything's been done. But if I had to write one, I'd look to the classic dishes from my region (north west England) and how I might tweak them, together with recipes using the foodstuffs we grow in the region.

                          1. I guess it depends on what kind of cook you are and what audience you want to target, but maybe a sort of updated depression food or something that responds to the current economic situation. Combination of economy and good ingredients could be useful now.

                            1. Just wrote one and am planning to just sell locally for now. It is based on me and a lot of friends. Working full time plus a second job from home at night and a full time single Mom I always cooked. Ok some shortcuts when needed. But I can make the best when I have time. Everyone would always email me and ask me what can I make? Or how can I do this? What is a good soup recipe. Maybe they were not gourmet for them, but most didn't know how to boil pasta. Not everyone knows how to cook. Maybe it is just those in Sarasota, but I have come across that in a couple of towns ... so my cookbook is designated to those who basically don't know how to or don't have time to COOK. But at the same time don't want jarred meat sauce, Hamburger Helper, or a Frozen dinner.

                              For TV,Rachel Ray is great for 30 minutes with 30 ingredients at times. Some of my guy friends have never heard of cumin no less all the other spices. That is not against her, but realistic for a few of my friends and others out there. Me I have always used it ... but not everyone does. I enjoy watching her and thinks she has done an amazing job. Sandra Lee, another uses fresh and store bought ... however my friends and others through networking I have found want to make a descent dinner with as few as possible ingredients, easy simple and stuff they can keep in their pantry or cabinets.

                              So my cook book is based on that. So far I have sold 150 copies and it is published yet. That isn't much, but it is just local and I am seeing how it does.

                              I'm trying to get someone who spends 100 bucks a week on takeout or eating out to make a couple of good meals he can take for lunch for eat another night, some simple soups, stews, etc. Hoping maybe they will learn and enjoy cooking. Not scare them with too much and too many spices. They still may have to go to the store but, a few things and presto ... dinner

                              1. Bolivian/Finnish Fusion!?

                                1. I'm thinkin' there's room for a NEW book about canning. There are really only a couple out right now and they've been around for a long time. A book with recipes covering new foods and new recipes for canning standards would probably find it's own place.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    I think there's more out there than you think there are. There are definitely a few newer titles with more up-to-date ingredient combinations than the Blue Book and Fancy Pantry.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I think there are some general books for preserving, including freezing, drying, smoking, and canning. But I don't think there are so many just about canning. In fact, I think Presto, makers of the pressure cooker/canners, has an on-line primer.

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        actually, if you're looking for some great recipes, vegetariantimes.com has a few great canning recipes if you're looking for inspiration. The ones i made came out fantastic!

                                  2. The book I want to write and haven't had time or resources to write would be a cookbook for older or physically challenged people living on a meagre income and trying to prepare good meals on very little money. This might apply especially to older men who have lost their wives and who know very little about cooking and nutrition, but it might also apply to college kids or people out of work. Think about what a Food Stamp Gourmet cookbook would look like. I know that title is an Oxymoron. But poor guys ought to be able to eat better than rice and beans all the time.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                      Wonderful! I hope you're able to make it happen one day.

                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                        Neat idea. Similar to your idea of the "food stamp gourmet", I heard of a book put together by (I think) Seattle chefs that was "food bank cookbook." http://www.heraldnet.com/article/2009...


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Dear DQ, I used to live in Stanwood, just a few miles further north, but still in Snohomish County. I'm writing to friends to get a couple of copies of that book for me to send to some people who need them. Thanks for the tip.

                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                            Oh fantastic! I hope this book turns out to be useful! It seemed like a wonderful idea.


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I wrote to friends who live at Tulalip. I hope to have the book soon. This was a wonderful tip. Grazie di cuore!

                                              As for other book ideas, I love what Alford and Duguid do in theirs, and I would welcome something on African cooking--not just traditional but also the wonderful fusion cuisine emerging in Kenya and South Africa and, perhaps, in other places.

                                        2. re: Father Kitchen

                                          My cook book I just wrote and in the process of editing address challenged people on an income rather old, handicapped, low income, or just inexperienced as well as busy parents, moms, dad and single parents. I am trying to use simple ingredients, healthy but still good. Trying to let people know that fast food and take out will cost they double or triple the amount and many meals may be made on a low budget, or just trying to save, or just not knowing. Everything from some healthy salsds and chicken dishes to how to save at your local grocery store and tips to what you have in your pantry. Simple staples go a long way.

                                          A bit different than yours and I think you have a great idea. Mine hits on those plus others just learning or wanting to cook but don't know what to cook.

                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                            Let me know when it comes out. I'd love to get a copy.

                                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                                              I will, it will be self published, but have been talking to a few people, probably locally but I could easily send a copy.

                                              I'm trying to get the message out to those who spend or thing they have to spend alot on cooking.

                                              It all started when a friend called me about how to cook a turkey and make thanksgiving for mom and girlfriend. He was shocked and how easy and how inexpensive (minus the wine and fancy decorations it was). When I told him s/p, maybe butter, a little broth and a turkey he couldn't believe it. He now cooks all the time ... and I send him recipes all the time. He just made flank steak, roasted fingerling potatoes (he never knew that was a potato) and roasted asparagus. Well he wouldn't of even thought or even considered but that was his mothers day dinner and his email, 10 minutes ago. It was a hit. Very inexpensive dinner. And yeah, simmered berries over anglefood with vanilla yogurt topped with granola and toasted nuts. Not too gourmet, but definitely better than takeout, healthy and much cheaper.

                                              So that is how my book started. But yes, teaching people homeless, single, just not knowing how to cook ... where to start. I taught a class locally that made, hamburgers, fries and shakes and a cookies for desert. And the second class made pizza and salad with a sundae for desert. We made 4 burgers, fresh fries, shakes and cookies filled with ice cream cheaper than Mc Donalds. Same with the Pizza. 2 large pizzas with all the toppings, salad and a sundae. Not bad. And all these were super quick in the house no grill even in the oven so less clean up.

                                              I'm trying to teach healthy, smart, easy, but still educate on good cooking. You don't have to be chowhounds, but you can still enjoy good cooking.

                                              I actually appreciate Sandra Lee and Rachel, although I don't like either of them much, I apprreciate their strategy. Sandra has a great idea. But too costly. Rachel yes 30 minutes I agree, but 30 ingredients. I try to say great ideas ... lets mix, semi home made, 30 minutes or less but less ingredients. Most people don't have have half that stuff in their pantry. Go simple and easy

                                              It is being edited so still a way to go but yeah, no problem.

                                          2. re: Father Kitchen

                                            Father Kitchen, I encourage you to start writing a blog with you ideas and recipes. I've long admired your ideas and writings on these boards. It's very difficult to get a book contract for a cookbook for an unknown, even with an independent publisher. A blog will give you a built in audience and increase your profile and will increase your chances of having the cookbook picked up by a publisher.

                                            Your work will be protected by copyright and there has been precedent for bloggers getting book contracts. One I am very familiar with is Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero who have now written 3 cookbooks and including at least one that made the NY Times Bestseller list.

                                            Your idea is a good one and look forward to one day seeing it in print. You are already a good writer, unlike many other would be authors, you just need to get the ideas on paper and find yourself a publisher.

                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                              I actually have a cookbook manuscript out looking for a publisher--on sourdough bread. A published author friend saw my manuscript, which was a writing course project, and asked to send it to his agent, an established name in the field. The agent liked it. But a year and more has gone by and my project remains orphaned. I like the blog idea. But I simply don't have time now to give it the attention it would need. Besides, it would be a spirituality blog involving food, not a food blog. But I'll give it some thought. At present, I am recovering from a shoulder injury and surgery and PT takes up so much time that my other duties suffer. But I'll let the idea ferment and see where it takes me.

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Sam, I wish you would write a cookbook. A culinary nomad with recipes to prove it. It would be a great grab bag of good eats.

                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                    Thanks, FK. I guess I would write a (hopefully entertaining) food ethnography from around the globe in which recipes show up at the appropriate places, kind of along the lines of what you said: "spirituality blog involving food, not a food blog," which in my case would be, "book involving cooking, but not (quite) a cook book" although I have worked for many years to get the recipes and techniques.

                                                2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                  Sounds wonderful, let us know when you either have the book or blog available. I also have always enjoyed your writings on food and bread making.
                                                  Sourdough is something I would love to try more seriously. I have done some experiments but still don't feel confident and am not in the "habit" like I am with other fermented foods (saurkraut, fermented veggies, kombucha). Hopefully someday bread will be added to that list of staples that I make every week!
                                                  Best of luck to you with your recovery!

                                                  1. re: poptart

                                                    Thanks for the encouragement. I always say sourdough bread is only water and flour. Basicially, it isn't much more challenging than mud pies. And easier than keeping an African violet alive. I think people worry too much about failing, when in fact nearly everything turns out to be an edible experiment--some of it very good. Just observe and have fun.

                                                  2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                    Father Kitchen, I echo Sam's wishes for your speedy recovery. But, I think your book sounds like a fabulous idea. I don't know what one is supposed to do after a year of hearing nothing from an agent. Once you have more time, perhaps research that and see if you need to get a new agent or just bug the one you have a little more or what. Best of luck to you, both regarding the cookbook, and your shoulder injury.


                                              1. I love books that cover naturally healthy foods, things that are "real" and not "low-fat versions of" traditional dishes. Also am attracted to books focusing on seasonal fruits and veggies, and books written in an engaging, personal way.
                                                Vianna La Place has written some nice ones, her recipes very simple and unfussy but flavors complex. Her writing about each recipe makes you want to try it.
                                                Nigel Slater is a wonderful writer and I love his books as well.

                                                1. I'm (internally) tossing around ideas myself. I think one key thing is to have a perspective or a distinct voice/point of view. Part of the reason that I've come to love British cookbooks is that one gets that distinct voice, as if a friend were in the kitchen with you.

                                                  I recently had the opportunity to talk to a v. well known cookbook author, and she said that the market is tough right now. That said, there was that WSJ article recently that suggested that, inspite of so many online sources for recipes, cookbooks remain popular.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. I've always wanted to do a cookbook featuring each state's most famous food products, e.g. salmon dishes from Oregon, peaches from Georgia. It would, of course, require me to travel to each state and do some extensive eating.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: ola

                                                      I had a friend who did most states and did exactly but never published. I have some of her recipes, but what an idea. I have a few main cook books not too many but I do have several small ones from local states, towns, cities I have visited. Not major ones, just local ones which I love. Some of the best recipes ever. I have one from MN and it is all about fish, local vegetables, and wild rice mostly and what amazing recipes there are. These are what I love to see. I got a small seafood book from a small town in Mexico and a few others from GA, TX, NM, Oregon and Delaware. That would be a fun book to make.

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          One is Wild Rice Star of the North 150 recipes. The other is in my POD. It was more fish based plus wild rice but it was more fish from up north and being in FL I didn't use it as much. I think it was Minnesota ... Classic Fishing Favorites. It was about 50 recipes. Plus also wild rice recipes and some favorite sides and vegetables native to MN. I kept some written down but the wild rice book had so many more that I can use more.

                                                      1. re: ola

                                                        Bobby Flay did something similar called with his cookbook,Bobby Flay Cooks American: Great Regional Recipes with Sizzling New Flavors. I think he wrote it after traveling for one of his endless Food network shows. Lot's of the dishes are recreated at his restaurant Bar Americain.

                                                      2. I would like to do a cookbook about eating more healthily that wasn't alarmist, extremist, and did not treat food as if it were medicine (in Julia's perfect phrasing). I'm at a point in my life where I'm eating what I think of as more sensibly, but most of the cookbooks aimed at improving nutrition / fat intake just seem off the scale to me. Seems like some of the folks don't even LIKE food.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                          I agree, a lot of variation, and still good ol' down to earth favorites but made a bit healthier and eating should still be fun and you shouldn't have to give up everything. My friend just decided recently to eat healthy and can't even eat out with us. It is ridiculous. It is overboard.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                            Jeffrey Steingarten has some good stuff on the way health issues in foods are blown out of proportion in his first collection, The Man Who Ate Everything.

                                                        2. Cooking Next Season. What to put in the ground now, and how, and then what to make with it. Particularly good for some Asian recipes in the U.S. You could have a chapter on how to put up vinegar etc.,too... with the idea that you will have made or grown almost all the ingredients for the recipes, which would be a short, masterful list of delicious things.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Although I've improved significantly since forcing myself to cook more often since my husband quit his job and went back to school three years ago, I would love a cookbook of menus rather than just individual recipes. I tend to get stuck in ruts sometimes, so to have a book that had recipes for a fabulous main course and then sides to go with it that compliment it and use complimentary flavors and ingredients, would be great for me. I know I can pair recipes for mains and sides up myself, but sometimes I just want to be told what to make instead of always having to figure it out myself. I don't know if this makes sense. Typed out like this it sounds kind of silly.

                                                            I also love reading period fiction/non-fiction. Learning how things were made before modern technology is fascinating to me. Along the same lines, rustic cooking is interesting too. There's a show I've been watching on Discovery called Alaska Experiment and I love to see how they prepare the food they find/hunt.

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jen76

                                                              One of the girls I worked with had no idea how to cook, literally no idea. Her husband traveled a lot so she was alone, but she was also pregnant so she really wanted to learn good healthy cooking. Rather than taking classes she asked if I would help here. One night a week she would come to my place and another day I would go to her place. Well I taught her some short cuts, and some easy recipes as well as some basic tips. However, I would write out a weeks menu for her as you mentioned you would like. It gave her an idea of 3 things to put together for that night. Vegetable meat or fish and starch or some combination.

                                                              Your idea of wanting that doesn't sound silly. I do that for a friend right now as well. He is also learning to really enjoying cooking recently his wife just decided she doesn't it anymore so he has taken over. He usually emails and asks, I have 4 chicken breasts and some fresh squash, what can I do. I write out the whole dinner for him. Last night he was having a sort of surf and turf. So I wrote it all down from the brandied mushrooms for the steak, a simple marinade for the scallops, to the roasted fingerlings with a dill and sour cream garnish and the stuffed tomatoes with gruyere, pancetta and fresh herbs. He emailed me back and said it was totally amazing. He loves as you mentioned. Having the whole dinner planned out.

                                                              So I think your idea is great.

                                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                Young adults starting out, first apartment, first dinner guests could use a cookbook that is menu based. I see plenty of cookbooks for young children and experienced cooks but not nearly enough cookbooks, food mags that appeal to sophisticated youngish adults that happen to be beginner cooks.

                                                                My nephew is living in the Bronz, first apartment, started hosting small dinner parties and was looking for a cookbook that appealed to his sense of style but beginner level cooking/preparing....still searching.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  My book is for the beginner cook, single or married or family but currently not menu based. But hints on cooking it home can be done cheaper, easier and quicker and healthier.

                                                                  I do like the menu based idea. And agree. Not many out there for wanting a killer party, but I basically don't know what to do. It is hard. I understand your nephews frustration.

                                                                  I just gave a friend a menu for a dinner that had to be cost effective and fun. Appetizers, drinks, desert, steak and chicken, veggies and a pasta dish. Well a few cheeses, marinated olives, some easy dips with unique chips, breadsticks wrapped in proscuitto, skirt steak with a a couple of sauces all fresh and simple, some rolls for those who prefer a sandwich which is a great filler, simple marinated veggies, a fresh tomato pasta with a fresh light cream sauce, Sangria goes a long ways, some easy shrimp skewers (on sale they can be a great buy, a little marinade and grilled) perfect easy appetizer. Fresh fruit with angel food cake or a lemon cake is a quick easy desert. Serve in wine glasses with some marscapone and is is easy and quick. He didn't want casseroles or lasagna or stews or soups so this is what I gave him. Most all made ahead so easy for him. I think he ended up goat cheese and pancetta stuffed mushrooms too. I think 20-25 people.

                                                                  Well, it was a total success. Lots of food, not many leftovers, easy. I gave him step by step directions and he was thrilled. His friends couldn't believe he made it.
                                                                  Now it wasn't that gourmet or unique, but all in all, just good healthy food. Easy for him and he said with a agenda list and a little planning and help from his roommate it was great.

                                                                  Small dinner parties are the way to start but still equally frustrating to those who need a place to start. My friend loved all the recipes because most had just a few ingredients. Lots to make, but all basically simple and made ahead.

                                                                  So yes, a book needs to be developed

                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                    KC -
                                                                    Your suggestions above sound fabulous. Brandied mushrooms? Roasted fingerlings with a dill and sour cream garnish? Stuffed tomatoes with gruyere? Yum! Would you be willing to share the recipes? These are the things I would never come up with. My husband is sort of picky also (he doesn't think he is, but he is...ha!). He like sauces on veggies, but short of Hollandaise (which we love, but holy cholesterol batman!), I'm at a complete loss most of the time. I just get tired of mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, steamed veg, sauteed veg, and so on.

                                                                    1. re: Jen76

                                                                      Glad to and honestly not much cheese, lean beef, mushrooms, just a little brandy, tomatoes veggie, low fat sc, etc. Amazing a little flavor goes a long ways. I will post for you. There are so many easy ways to jazz up potatoes, vegetables, even mashed potatoes. I make a mashed with broth, seasoning, and spinach and only 1/4 cup cream or milk. Healthy and done in 10 minutes. Grilled chicken with a cumin, chili and orange juice marinade, then grilled pan grill or outside with just a little butter and fresh herbs. Sliced and served. Healthy quick different and great flavor. Serve with a salad of arugula, sliced onion, mandarine orange segments (right from a can), some pecans and the dressing is red wine vinegar, canola oil, orange marmalade and some fresh tarragon. Simple and quick. It is a great compliment to the chicken and potatoes. And cholesterole, pretty low.

                                                                      I will get the recipes to you. Do you also have an email I can send other info
                                                                      Glad to share this, but you can email me as well, glad to help out and give daily menus. I love to. My email is on my profile. Look in a bit for the recipes here.

                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                        Please start a thread on the Home Cooking board to share your recipes with Jen76 and others reading along, as cooking is not on topic for this Not About Food board. Feel free to leave a "pointer" post here with the URL of your new thread cut and pasted to aid others in finding it.

                                                                        Also, please keep in mind that we ask our users to share their tips and expertise here on our boards, not via email. An email helps one hound; posting on Chowhound helps the whole pack!

                                                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                          I tried to edit and contact directly but the thread wouldn't let me edit my post. I have had this problem several times. I realize after I posted I should of did it differently but when I use the edit button it won't let me save it. So if I post and realize it is wrong ... what can I do?

                                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                            You can reply to your own post with a correction, or if it is important to you to have the first post edited, you can flag it with the Report button, and include the editing you want in the comment space.

                                                                            If you have other similar questions in the future, we'd be happy to address them on the Technical Help board.

                                                            2. If you don't have your own concept that you feel passionately about, why would I want to buy your book?