HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice

Cookbooks I won't buy

billieboy Mar 2, 2009 03:40 PM

Because my disposable income has been reduced a bit, I have to cut back my spending on cookbooks. I have made a list in my mind of books I won't buy for various reasons. Let me know if I am missing out on a great one.

Any book that has these words in the title

Bible (exception..the Flavor Bible)
30 Minute Meals or such

Any book that is a paperback as the first edition. If the publisher has no confidence in it, neither do I (exception...Coil bound)

Any book written by a celebrity chef (possible exception...Tom Collichio..Think like a Chef)

Any book that comes from a famous restaurant. I can't cook that stuff anyway.

So...any others I should reject and any that I am wrong about?


  1. mcglothlen Jul 8, 2009 04:54 PM

    I'm seconding the notion that Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Bible" books (Cake, Pie, Bread) are exceptions to your rule (which I think might be questionable anyway - but, then, I'm a collector). Also there are some TREMENDOUS books out there that claim to be "Complete" - Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads comes to mind as does the Complete American-Jewish Cookbook and The Complete Book of Greek Cooking (by The Recipe Club of Saint Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral). Ohhh... and Bruce Aidell's Complete Sausage book... that's pretty great. I can't think of any "Ultimate" or "Best" ones that I like. And most celebrity chefs can't write. One recent exception is Mario Batali.

    1. p
      puddin head Mar 21, 2009 03:44 PM

      I tend not to purchase, with a few specific exceptions, giant 500 page general type cookbooks. I buy cookbooks mostly because I have an interest in a specific technique or food type, so I turn to my specialty books rather than a giant general book to fill specific needs. Note, this does not include giant 500 page books on specific topics. I recently purchased The Art and Soul of Baking, which is huge, but focused on baking only.

      1 Reply
      1. re: puddin head
        flourgirl Mar 22, 2009 07:03 AM

        I have a fairly similar cookbook buying philosophy. I absolutely love single subject books - if they are well done they tend to be very in-depth discussions about a very narrowly focused topic and you can really learn a lot - plus it makes the search easier if I know that I would like to make something unusual with potatoes - I have three books just about potatoes/potato salad and I can be pretty sure that out of those three books I'll find something I would like to make.

      2. r
        rememberme Mar 9, 2009 07:49 AM

        I too usually go to the web, (or chowhound!) but I do still buy certain fundraising cookbooks, because (1) I want to support the organization, and (2) people tend to drag out their favorite recipes, so there's usually some good stuff in there, of course depending on the population that's contributed recipes to the book.

        1. yayadave Mar 9, 2009 07:46 AM

          The real deal in cookbooks is coming, when we can load good cookbooks on our Kindles. Imagine a whole library of cookbooks in one little piece of equipment.

          25 Replies
          1. re: yayadave
            flourgirl Mar 9, 2009 08:27 AM

            I don't own a Kindle and have no plans to buy one in the future. And buying cookbook downloads for the Kindle would be a problem for me since I love cookbooks, love to read cookbooks, love actual books and not digital versions and I am not going to pay twice for the same book.

            1. re: yayadave
              c oliver Mar 9, 2009 08:40 AM

              Now THAT is very interesting. I've had no interest in a Kindle because I'm a library user. But the idea of storing non-fiction on it is a great one. We have a second home and when going to the other, I'm always trying to figure out which cookbooks to take. Plus my Sunset Garden Book. Plus we do house exchanges and like to cook when we're on those. I know it will only be a few years before the price comes WAY down and now it does hold some appeal. Thanks for opening my mind to something new. (Actually the older I get the more electronic "toys" I seem to crave :) )

              1. re: yayadave
                Morganna Mar 9, 2009 09:19 AM

                KINDLE! Me want! NOW NOW NOW! ;D

                1. re: Morganna
                  yayadave Mar 9, 2009 12:42 PM

                  I haven't noticed any particularly desirable cookbooks on there yet, but they're threatening to Kindle-ize ALL books. For example, I noticed a complete 19 vol. translation of Montaigne Kindle-ized for 99 cents. It would seem that books out of copyright should be less expensive. Think about all of the books of Julia, James Beard, Marcella, Martha (sorry, I like her), Maida Heatter, and the Fruge in one place for 99 cents a book.

                  I haven't bot one yet, but I'm keeping track.

                  1. re: yayadave
                    Morganna Mar 10, 2009 08:57 AM

                    I just love its gadgetyness and free wikibrowsing wirelessly wooooooo It'll also read text files and pdfs, so books I get from other sources I could read on it tooo.... and I could put recipes on it, and use it in the kitchen! Want want want!

                    1. re: yayadave
                      Emmmily Mar 19, 2009 08:23 AM

                      Forget the price of the downloads, the Kindle itself costs 360 bucks! If I could get it for, say, $50 I'd be all over it - a Kindle takes up way less counter space than a laptop (I often cook with online or typed-up recipes, and bring my computer into the kitchen), and in my Manhattan apartment counter space is at a premium (when the tops of the garbage can and microwave start to look like attractive places to set bowls, you know you're in trouble). But for that cash I could go buy every cookbook on my list and then some. So until the price goes waaaay down, I'm sticking with paper.

                      1. re: Emmmily
                        billieboy Mar 19, 2009 08:36 AM

                        Wait!! there's more!!! In two years or even less it will be outdated and will have to be replaced with Kindle II , then in two years..................
                        I would cost almost $500 to get it here in Canada.

                        1. re: billieboy
                          Morganna Mar 19, 2009 09:54 AM

                          The Kindle 2 is already out. We are, in fact, buying one. It's on the truck on its way to us even as I type this.

                          I am -very- excited. The price will come down in time, but it's worth it to us to buy one now. It's REALLY way cool. :) I've got a couple of cook book samples I'm seeing about getting, and there's an awesome cooking reference that's very comprehensive that I'm putting on my wishlist as a gift for the next holiday season. :)

                          1. re: Morganna
                            buttertart Mar 19, 2009 10:11 AM

                            I would really like to hear how it works out for you. I keep thinking about getting one and then decide I might just as well depend on my library (totally spoiled, live close to the main Brooklyn NYPL).

                          2. re: billieboy
                            flourgirl Mar 19, 2009 01:01 PM

                            Yes, that's another point I forgot that I hate about gadgets - the relentless need to upgrade. I find it infuriating. As Emmmily said, if it was $50 it would be one thing, but if I spend $360 on something, the expectation is that it will used and useful for a VERY long time. As it is, I'm dealing with the Boy's gaming systems constantly becoming obsolete, the gosh darn cell phones, and now we've added MP3 players to the mix (and don't even get me started about computers and software....)

                          3. re: Emmmily
                            yayadave Mar 19, 2009 01:13 PM

                            "I could go buy every cookbook on my list"

                            The lack of cookbooks I found desirable was a turn-off for me. Have you looked?

                            1. re: yayadave
                              pikawicca Mar 19, 2009 05:40 PM

                              Yes, I have. I like the idea, but there are virtually no cookbooks available in this format. If all cookbooks were in this format, I'd be all over it.

                              1. re: yayadave
                                Morganna Mar 20, 2009 06:09 AM

                                Sheeesh, give it some time! Considering how relatively short a time the Kindle has even been available, the quantity of books you can get is pretty astounding. There were, actually, a couple of cookbooks/references that looked promising that we've queued up samples for.

                                Meanwhile, I went into my queue and opened every book there and requested that they make a kindle version available. I'm not JUST using it for cookbooks, y'know. :)

                                1. re: Morganna
                                  yayadave Mar 20, 2009 07:35 AM

                                  Hey, 'm not knockin' it!! I think it looks great - and better in a little while.

                                  1. re: yayadave
                                    Morganna Mar 21, 2009 05:23 AM

                                    *giggle* Ok, I'll stop pouting then. I have a serious gadget lust thing going. I love gadgets, my husband loves gadgets, and we've already picked out names for our pair of Kindles (we're starting with one, but we'll end up having to get two in order to avoid bloodshed). :) We're naming them Babbage and Lovelace. :) We're such geeks.

                                    Back on topic, I think I'm going to be getting the outdoor cookery cookbook that's already available for starters. We're going to be doing some camping this summer, and I just love the idea of being out there, camping, but having the cookbook with me so I don't have the memorize recipes, or bring along several bits of paper. :) I'm also hoping Gourmet magazine will go Kindle eventually, that's the only magazine I subscribe to. :)

                                    1. re: Morganna
                                      yayadave Mar 21, 2009 07:50 AM

                                      Here's a read for you. Notice the home made cover as an idea for your new cookbook


                        2. re: yayadave
                          Roland Parker Mar 11, 2009 10:43 AM

                          Plus you can take the kindle with you to the supermarket and ensure that you haven't forgotten any ingredients.

                          1. re: Roland Parker
                            Morganna Mar 11, 2009 11:31 AM

                            kindle me want kindle. ;D Do y'all get the idea I want one of these things? *giggle*

                            I just love the idea of how portable it is, and how it would change the ways I do some things. :)

                            1. re: Roland Parker
                              yayadave Mar 11, 2009 12:43 PM

                              I hadn't thought of that. Or to the fish mongers to get the right thing.

                              1. re: Roland Parker
                                oakjoan Mar 11, 2009 12:52 PM

                                Yeah, until you forget your Kindle or lose it.

                                1. re: oakjoan
                                  yayadave Mar 11, 2009 01:32 PM

                                  If you forget your Kindle, you're no worse off than if you forget your shopping list. If you lose it, when you get another one, you still have rights to all the titles you have previously purchased.

                                  Understand, I'm not 100% convinced about this, but it sure looks interesting.

                                  1. re: oakjoan
                                    flourgirl Mar 11, 2009 01:40 PM

                                    Or it's dead because you forgot to re-charge it. I'm already sick to death of having to remember to keep the phone, laptop and i-pod charged.

                                    1. re: flourgirl
                                      billieboy Mar 11, 2009 01:57 PM

                                      I can't even keep myself recharged :-)

                                      1. re: billieboy
                                        flourgirl Mar 11, 2009 02:20 PM

                                        I hear that - (as she sleepily contemplates starting dinner which at the moment seems like an insurmountable obstacle....)

                                2. re: yayadave
                                  roxlet Mar 20, 2009 07:00 AM

                                  I just bought a Kindle in anticipation of a year in Egypt next year. I won't be able to take many books with me since I will be home schooling my son, so the Kindle struck me as the ideal solution to have all the novels and cookbooks I want with no endless trek to find a store that carries the one I want (memories of trying to buy the last Harry Potter in Cairo on the day it was released). SO far, the biggest drawback to cookbooks would be the lack of color pictures, which I have to say that I will miss!

                                3. pitu Mar 9, 2009 06:36 AM

                                  There is not a cookbook written that I wouldn't buy, if it was the right price.
                                  : )
                                  Okay, that's not true. But almost. I love used and remaindered cookbooks, along with the library, and it would be wrong to feed my cookbook habit with new full-price anything.

                                  I take exception to most of your rules -- for instance, the Batali books are great (famous chef, famous restaurants, yet delicious and attainable at home.) SOME of those books are unattainable and about fame and pictures (French Laundry, El Builli), but most of them are not. Cheaper to buy the book than the meal when it comes to Batali....

                                  Maybe reject tv show and non-cook celebrity books (although someone here loves the Sophia Loren books, right?)

                                  First edition in paper seems reasonable - and even desirable - if you actually want to buy books.

                                  The only blanket rejection I can think of is "made by manufacturers"-- Jell-o or Campbell's soup - because I'm not into processed and prepared foods. Although even then, I'd check out a Jell-o book from the 50s at a church sale...

                                  1. Morganna Mar 9, 2009 06:17 AM

                                    I find it really interesting that no one posting on the thread so far has the same answer as I have in this (I skimmed, so I might have missed it), but I stopped buying cookbooks a while ago. I primarily use the internet now for recipe research, and chowhound.

                                    That being said, there are a few cookbooks on my Amazon wishlist, but they're there for very specific, niche reasons (the Little House cookbook for one). And are really only there marginally for cooking reasons. :)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Morganna
                                      flourgirl Mar 9, 2009 08:24 AM

                                      I doubt I will ever stop buying cookbooks. Cookbooks are much more than just a source of recipes to me. I love to curl up with a good cookbook just as much as I love to curl up with any other good read.

                                    2. r
                                      robt5265 Mar 8, 2009 09:27 PM

                                      anything with Paula Dean's make-up laden face on the cover.....

                                      1. k
                                        Kagey Mar 7, 2009 02:32 AM

                                        I'd refute a few of those. Celebrity chefs Nigella, Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver do really good cookbooks (admittedly Nigella isn't a chef). Nigella's How to Eat and Slater's Appetite are two of my all time favorites.

                                        Leith's Vegetarian Bible is very worthwhile. Can't stand Berenbaum's Bibles.

                                        The Moosewood cookbook is definitely stuff you can cook despite it being a restaurant cookbook. Also, lots of people recommend the Zuni Cafe book. I don't have it, but have tried a few recipes from it, and so far really good. I think Deborah Madison's Greens Cookbook is also a restaurant one, and that's excellent too.

                                        I do agree about "30-minute" titles.

                                        A couple of my favorites are paperback, though not sure if they were paperback in first edition: Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern book and Madhur Jaffrey's Invitation to Indian Cooking (may have got the title wrong there).

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Kagey
                                          greedygirl Mar 9, 2009 06:19 AM

                                          Nigel Slater's The 30-Minute Cook is great.

                                        2. s
                                          salsailsa Mar 6, 2009 07:38 PM

                                          I'm not a fan of celebrity chef cook books because I find that the recipes are too over the top. Often they call for obscure ingrediants.

                                          I also detest books that involve commercial products in the recipes- anything Pilsbury etc.

                                          Anything Rachel Ray will also never see the likes of my shelf.

                                          One series I like is the "Best of Bridge" they have about 5 paperback, coil-bound books. Lots of good, solid recipes.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: salsailsa
                                            c oliver Mar 6, 2009 07:57 PM

                                            I guess I have to disagree with you there. I have two Batali's which are great, two Martha Stewarts, two or more Frugal Gourmets, Julia Child, Hazan, Beard --- it just goes on and on.

                                            1. re: c oliver
                                              yayadave Mar 6, 2009 10:41 PM

                                              I think the only rule in this regard is that there are CELEBRITY chefs and then there are celebrity CHEFS.

                                              1. re: yayadave
                                                salsailsa Mar 8, 2009 07:52 PM

                                                Yes, I should have been clearer. Julia Child, James Beard etc. I regard more like master chefs as opposed to the fru fru Foodnetwork Celebrity chef.

                                                I'm sure Gordon Ramsey's restaurants are amazing, but I have not really been impressed by his cookbooks.

                                          2. h
                                            hlehmann Mar 6, 2009 08:58 AM

                                            I avoid any book that has the words "simple" or "for bachelors".

                                            Seriously though, I really like some of the cookbooks from famous restaurants. Lately I've been cooking many of the recipes from the French Laundry Cookbook, and I have my eyes on the cookbook from The Tavern on the Green. I find their recipes inspiring, they're usually awesome, and I don't mind taking half of a Saturday afternoon cooking one meal, since I'm usually just cooking for two now, rather than an entire family.

                                            1. steamer Mar 3, 2009 04:18 PM

                                              You would be wrong about the first edition in paperback. It often has to do with getting the book out within budget constraints. For example will a niche book sell enough copies to cover costs at 40 bucks hardcover, or is it better to budget for a 16 dollar book in paperback that people would actually buy.

                                              So you could miss some interesting cookbooks by avoiding the paperbacks.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: steamer
                                                billieboy Mar 3, 2009 04:26 PM

                                                That's what I'm trying to find out here on this thread. I do not have the opportunity to browse. Just order blind from Amazon. I find the reviews from customers on Amazon to be not much good. So many give one star for the dumbest reasons and many 5 star reviews look suspiciously like plants to me. Too much praise.

                                                1. re: steamer
                                                  JoanN Mar 3, 2009 04:28 PM

                                                  Actually, it costs very little more to produce a hardbound book than a paperback book. And you can charge a good deal more for the hardbound. You need to have quite a bit of confidence in a book to produce it only in paperback. If I'm not mistaken, "The Silver Palate Cookbook" was originally published in paperback.

                                                  As others have said, take any rule and you can easily find the example that proves it a lie. Better not to have a set of rules in the first place.

                                                  1. re: JoanN
                                                    billieboy Mar 3, 2009 04:34 PM

                                                    Hmmmmm Something to consider.

                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                      MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 04:35 PM

                                                      Good point about Silver Palate - and now that I think about it, I suspect that "The New Basics" by the same authors also came out initially in paperback. I don't use it a lot, but have made some good things from it, and having the Cafe des Artistes recipe for gravlax has, in itself, made it worth the purchase.

                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                        steamer Mar 3, 2009 05:45 PM

                                                        True the actual hardcover binding doesn't cost that much, I guess I was thinking in terms of a large, full color, good paper, well printed hardcover done by a name, i.e., "Nobu's Crockpot Cookery," versus "The Vegan Peanut Cookbook" with minimal photos or illustration, on cheap paper, etc.

                                                        The Nobu book would have been no sweat to push through, while anything offbeat is a much tougher sell at editorial meetings and every penny in the budget counts, so there would be no way the chief is going to say: "Yeah lets go ahead with a hardcover peanut book." You need to have quite a bit of confidence to publish anything, hard, or soft.

                                                        1. re: steamer
                                                          pitu Mar 9, 2009 06:53 AM

                                                          LOL "Nobu's Crockpot Cookery" for COTM!

                                                    2. sfumato Mar 3, 2009 04:13 PM

                                                      No 300 Best Appetizers or stuff like that. Other than that, I always manage to find exceptions.

                                                      1. Sam Fujisaka Mar 3, 2009 02:46 PM

                                                        Answer: anything not in the "Bargain Books" section of Barnes and Noble in DC.

                                                        Rationale: My go to bible is Bocuse's "Paul Bocuse's French Coocking" (1977, New York: Pantheon). Almost everything else is entertainment, albeit including much that is very helpful. And the bargain books at B&N are now and then ones that I've wanted - just had to wait a bit. Plus my friends give me desired cookbooks for Christmas and Birthdays.

                                                        1. Will Owen Mar 3, 2009 12:52 PM

                                                          In addition to the "quick'n'easy" genre, I try to avoid cookbooks with no personality or point of view. I also avoid those expressing annoying personalities and points of view. Sometimes these traits come to light after I've got the book home, in which case they go in the stack to be horse-traded at the cookbook store up the street (everybody needs a cookbook store up the street!).

                                                          I love my Julias and my Beards, my Joneses and Villases, my Elizabeth Davids and Jane Grigsons. I treasure Tony Bourdain's Les Halles book, not so much for the recipes as for the sharp wisdom directed at the process of cooking. Paula Wolfert used to put me off with her precious stem-winding approach, but she just really does care about doing things right. And I used to adore Nathalie Dupree, but the last two books of hers I've gotten appear to have been dashed off for the money, very disappointing and sad.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                                            oakjoan Mar 8, 2009 10:35 PM

                                                            Paula Wolfert is my IDOL. She is a little too "authentic" for me, but I put that aside after several dishes I made turned out to be fabulous.

                                                            Her Biblical Breakfast Burrito alone makes her a goddess. I think it's online at her website. We ate it every morning for breakfast for months.

                                                            I also love my E. Davids and Julias and De Groot and andandandand...

                                                            I don't mind Rachel Ray that much, but I'd NEVER buy her books or those of Martha Stewart. Too much exposure on TV that turns me off even if they're good cooks with good books.

                                                            1. re: oakjoan
                                                              billieboy Mar 9, 2009 05:59 AM

                                                              I agree wholeheartly with Paula Wolfert. I have Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and I just love it. I do not consider her a "Celeb Chef". By those I meant the TV types.
                                                              I also love Fuchsia Dunlop and of course St. Julia.

                                                              1. re: billieboy
                                                                oakjoan Mar 11, 2009 12:49 PM


                                                                I also consider the day I discovered Fuchsia Dunlop on the BBC website to be one of the great days of my life.

                                                                Have you tried Cooking of Southwest France or Mediterranean Greens and Grains? Wolfert at her best. Of course, some of the French recipes are complicated and too much trouble for me, but there are loads of other recipes that are not.

                                                                1. re: oakjoan
                                                                  emily Mar 19, 2009 04:06 PM

                                                                  Do you have any favorite recipes from Greens and Grains? That was the one Wolfert book I passed on, but I sometimes think I should order it.

                                                                  I just found out her clay pot cookbook is coming out this fall:

                                                                  1. re: emily
                                                                    oakjoan Mar 19, 2009 05:25 PM


                                                                    Where to start, where to start. Well, one of the first things I tried, and about which I've posted several times is her "Breakfast Biblical Burrito" (Turkish Durum) which consists of chopped tomatoes, onions, diced jalapeno, green pepper, parsley, mint and feta cheese all mixed together with some good olive oil and served on a pita folded in half like a taco. One of the best breakfast dishes I've ever had (p. 19)

                                                                    Potato Cake Stuffed with Taleggio and kale (307)

                                                                    Creamy Rustic Pasta and Red Lentil Soup with mint and black pepper swirls and Turkish red pepper paste. (p. 76)

                                                                    Slivered Endive, Fennel, and Blood Orange Salad (p. 137) - this is also good with regular oranges. I am of the school that believes oranges and fennel are among the greatest combos on earth.

                                                                    There's also a recipe I just noticed, for koshary (p. 180) which is what I made from my newly-acquired Ottolenghi cookbook. Haven't tried Wolfert's yet.

                                                                    Broccoli Rabe Risotto With Pork (p. 189). I tried this only because I'm a big fan of Lidia Bastianich's pasta with bitter greens and Italian sausages and this sounded similar. Wonderful!

                                                                    Golden Rice (p. 230) This is a great dish from Catalonia, but I've never followed the complete directions. I have adapted it a bit and it's a wonderful fish risottoesque dish which is served with aioli.

                                                                    Middle Eastern Fish Platter with Spices, Caramelized Onions and Rice with Onion-Tahini Sauce. (p. 241) - FANTASTIC!

                                                                    Rice Pilaf with Leeks and Dill (p. 281) - Rice cooked in chicken broth with leeks, onions, carrots, and dill sauteed in olive oil

                                                                    Greek-Style Rice with Spinach, Feta and Black Olives (p. 282). Another great combo.

                                                                    I'm saving the best for last and I usually don't even like cooked cabbage....
                                                                    Braised Cabbage with Glazed Onions and Sauteed Mushroms (p. 306). I tell you this is ambrosia. Cabbage slowly cooked with onions, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, pancetta, pearl onions, and parsley. This turns it into a creamy and delicious side dish great with simply prepared chicken or meat.

                                                                    I haven't tried this next recipe, but it sounds really intriguing...Provencal Chard, Golden Raisin, Apple and Gouda Cheese Pie. Sort of a sweet and tangy tart. (p. 326).

                                                                    The reason I started this message was that I thought one of my all-time fave Wolfert recipes was in this book. Turns out I was wrong. Duh....in any case, it's a really good book!

                                                                    The dish I thought was in this book is actually in Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, p. 319...Musakhan a combo of chicken, onions stewed in olive oil, spices and sumac and served with toasted pine nuts and broken pieces of lavash sprinkled on top. I could eat this every week forever!

                                                                    1. re: oakjoan
                                                                      emily Mar 20, 2009 10:57 AM

                                                                      Thanks for the list!

                                                                      1. re: oakjoan
                                                                        LindaWhit Mar 21, 2009 06:05 AM

                                                                        Oh WOW that Musakhan recipe sounds superb! Is it similar to this one?


                                                            2. jeniyo Mar 3, 2009 12:48 PM

                                                              I don't like books that talks about "30 minute meals" or "Pillsbury" or "easy". They are just not a good read to me. My first cookbook is moosewood's dessert cookbook given to me when i was in elementary school. not everything made sense to me but i sure learned quite a bit from that one. this explains why i bake so much...

                                                              I like to go over big pretty books from Keller, Michael Richards, etc... but only make select number of dishes for special occasions. Mainly for entertainment/ flavor combos. Love their technique though.

                                                              I don't think i use my reference books much, i'm always in such a hurry and don't have time to read through the entire chapter. ie. the CIA book, and the intro to the Zuni Cookbook. I really want to spend some time and read through the stock and sauces portions of these books- because, as much as i'd like to think, i don't know it all. I think it is nice to have a few of these but i wouldn't want to get more than a hand full of reference books...

                                                              i recently been using mainly magazines and things i've found online. i usually print out things that looked interesting and keep on fridge for the next shopping trip. once used, i have a file for them. The people in Chowhound and blogs keep me busy enough =)

                                                              my grandmother gave me her old Chinese cookbooks from the 30's and 40's from Fu-Pei-mae. Those are great to look at but i might not fry an entire lobster like they used to... for health reasons... =( Fascinating and great for holidays though. I especially like it that my grandmother learned from her and the pages of the book smells old and greasy.

                                                              the next on my list is the flavor bible, the perfect scoop, that new bittman's book, something to help me with special sauces (i know, i shoulda looked), something that covers classic recipes that chefs leap off from and maybe a creative veggie cookbook...

                                                              and i've always wanted the full collection of Julia Child's TV episodes...

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: jeniyo
                                                                oakjoan Mar 8, 2009 10:31 PM

                                                                I absolutely LOVE the Moosewood Book of Desserts! Recently, I made the Walnut Meringues for a friend who can't eat fatty desserts. These are made of only egg whites (not even whipped, but straight), ground nuts and sugar, with a bit of cinnamon or vanilla for flavoring. You mush this all together, make into small balls and bake at low heat for a while. They come out chewy and wonderful. Moosewood crumbles and crisps are also terrific.

                                                                Sometimes, old standards are best.

                                                                I have a prejudice against cookbooks that are from snooty restaurants or B&Bs or resorts. I unloaded my French Laundry Cookbook (a gift) and the bookstore didn't even want it, said they'd give it to charity. I said okay.

                                                              2. jen kalb Mar 3, 2009 12:38 PM

                                                                In general I dont like rules but my brain definitely screens out celebrity cookbooks (current tv chefs, entertainers etc), cookbooks without a named author, books involving brand name foods, diets, speed cooking, dummies guides and anything cutesy at all.. That leaves out at least 90% at least of those on the bargain tables.There are too damn many cookbooks and I already have many more than I need, that I am not cooking out of very much and that are wonderful.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: jen kalb
                                                                  flourgirl Mar 3, 2009 02:19 PM

                                                                  Yep, my feelings exactly.

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl
                                                                    billieboy Mar 3, 2009 02:34 PM

                                                                    Yes indeed. I am complaining about not having much money so I should stop buying cookbooks altogether. I don't NEED any, but what has need got to do with it? :-)

                                                                    1. re: billieboy
                                                                      flourgirl Mar 4, 2009 03:00 AM

                                                                      Same here.

                                                                      1. re: billieboy
                                                                        Boudleaux Mar 14, 2009 08:22 PM

                                                                        Me too. I actually said to myself, "I'm going to quit buying cookbooks for a while and actually use the ones I have." Then I found myself sitting in front of my computer searching the cookbook section of Amazon.

                                                                        But I do have a lot of books that I've maybe cooked one or two recipes from and that's it. It seems like I enjoy reading them than anything else which is really a shame. I need to put them to use! I have a couple that I cook from all of the time but they are from the 1930s (or so) - local church and community cookbooks from my Grandmother.

                                                                  2. j
                                                                    jzerocsk Mar 3, 2009 11:20 AM

                                                                    Meh....too many exceptions to all of them. The only true way to eliminate a cookbook is to flip through it and see what's in it.

                                                                    1. g
                                                                      gfr1111 Mar 3, 2009 11:01 AM

                                                                      In general, I have not been a big fan of cooksbooks with the words "quick," "easy," "low cal," "light," etc. Since cooking is my hobby, not a job where I have to get food on the table every night for a family, I generally have the luxury of not being pressed for time when I cook.

                                                                      Similarly, I am trying to make the tastiest food I possibly can, so "low-cal" and "light" hold no interest for me.

                                                                      In total contradiction to the above, I like Rachel Ray's stuff, which makes no sense, given the proclivities I have listed above. However, in general, I would avoid cookbooks with the words I have listed above.

                                                                      1. danhole Mar 3, 2009 07:04 AM

                                                                        As far as your list goes, there is one cookbook I own and treasure that has Bible in the title. It is the Pasta Bible. Wonderful cookbook for making everything pasta related, with sauces also included. Very informative and one of those cookbooks you can curl up on the couch and browse through over and over again.


                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: danhole
                                                                          flourgirl Mar 3, 2009 02:18 PM

                                                                          I like this one too and I haven't used it in a while. I think it's time I pulled it off the shelf again.

                                                                          1. re: flourgirl
                                                                            danhole Mar 4, 2009 11:15 AM

                                                                            Glad to hear that someone else is familiar with it. It is truly one of the best out there and I love all the photos!

                                                                          2. re: danhole
                                                                            kchurchill5 Mar 21, 2009 03:38 PM

                                                                            I confess. I do have a pasta book that is huge, but I use it for general simple sauces is all. I use some and then change what I like.

                                                                          3. kchurchill5 Mar 2, 2009 07:04 PM

                                                                            Honestly, have some old from aunt and grandma and mom, not many. I like some small paperback ones but otherwise. I don't use them.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                              todao Mar 2, 2009 08:10 PM

                                                                              I suspect we view cooking in similar light. But I wonder if you have considered what you may be missing if by "I don't use them" you mean you don't read them at all. Except for the old world recipes and those originating in foreign cultures that I insist on preparing according to instructions the first time through, I rarely follow a recipe either. But I love to read them. Reading recipes has, over time, raised my awareness of the same or similar results can be obtained with a variety of methods and which methods are likely to be more successful. I've learned to reject recipes out of hand when they fail the test of culinary logic and have received a good deal of inspiration for developing some of my own recipes along the way. So if you're not reading cook books for pleasure, come join us.

                                                                              1. re: todao
                                                                                kchurchill5 Mar 3, 2009 04:52 AM

                                                                                I do read gourmet and bon appetite and any other food related articles. I also buy small little books usually from places I have visited. I have a few Southern Living ones I inherited, and a Light and Healthy one I did buy. Two of Emerils because it has different recipes that I don't always cook. And 1Pasta one, it has hundreds of very easy sauces, my friend brought it back from Italy, I love it. and of course ... the Joy of Cooking and a few oldies. I love hearing about recipes or trying something new and then recreating with my changes or applying the idea to something completely different..

                                                                                1. re: todao
                                                                                  kchurchill5 Mar 21, 2009 03:36 PM

                                                                                  I love to read, I just don't follow them. I read a recipe and go ... I would want this and do that and add this and not add that ... Then I make it

                                                                                  So yeah, we agree. I love the knowledge, but not always what they use so I make my own. I do like to peruse now and then. Usually other peoples cookbooks or ones I see at barnes and noble or just browsing. I love picking up small ones from trips I take too.

                                                                              2. paulj Mar 2, 2009 06:58 PM

                                                                                I have no problems with the Bittman 'Best' books - I bought one at discount, another used, and checked a third out the library several times.

                                                                                I haven't bought any Jose Andres book, but have checked them out of the library.

                                                                                22 Replies
                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                  Emmmily Mar 3, 2009 05:21 AM

                                                                                  The Cook's Illustrated "The New Best Recipe" is pretty fantastic too. For restaurant cookbooks, I have a few recipes I love from the Moosewood cookbooks. And strangely enough, "365 Chocolate Desserts" that I bought my mother maybe 10 years ago has the best chocolate cake recipe I've found. Other than those and a few other exceptions, I think you're right....

                                                                                  Add also any cookbook by a non-chef celebrity - they're worse than the celebrity chefs.

                                                                                  1. re: Emmmily
                                                                                    MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 05:36 AM

                                                                                    I have Sophia Loren's cookbook - that someone gave me - and the things that I've made from it were very good. I think I recall some other posters on the boards who liked it as well. I think it's hard to make blanket rules about cookbooks - for example, save a couple of recipes, I found Patricia Wells's Vegetable Harvest pretty miserable, though I've liked some of her other cookbooks.

                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                      Emmmily Mar 3, 2009 08:36 AM

                                                                                      There's always exceptions. (Who would think 365 Chocolate Desserts would become a favorite?) Though I recently saw Gloria Estefan's cookbook at the Strand and couldn't help but laugh... Just watch, it'll turn out that one's amazing too. :-P

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                        LulusMom Mar 6, 2009 08:46 AM

                                                                                        My father adores the Sophia Loren book (he's second gen. Italian) too.

                                                                                      2. re: Emmmily
                                                                                        alwayscooking Mar 3, 2009 11:25 AM

                                                                                        Vincent Price (remember him?) had superb cookbooks - an early CH ancestor from the dark days of cooking in the 70's.

                                                                                        1. re: alwayscooking
                                                                                          flourgirl Mar 3, 2009 02:15 PM

                                                                                          I've heard many times that Mr. Price's books were really really good. I would love to see one.

                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                            billieboy Mar 3, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                                                            Yes, as have I. They are available on the used market for a price..A very large price. I would love to have one.

                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                            Will Owen Mar 4, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                                                            "Treasury" is their big fancy one; I bought a second copy just because it was 1st edition and perfect condition for $25, but I find it a tad pretentious, which is not really the kind of people they were. "Come Into the Kitchen" (Stravon, 1969) is another one of theirs, a collection of heritage-type American recipes, and it's an absolute delight.

                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                              LindaWhit Mar 4, 2009 02:08 PM

                                                                                              My earlier post to which you responded was removed, Will - probably because of the "for sale" comment. But yes - I have two copies of the 1st edition of Treasury; great fun to look through. I did get a copy of "Come Into the Kitchen" as well - very enjoyable reads!

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                yayadave Mar 4, 2009 05:10 PM

                                                                                                Does anybody cook from these?

                                                                                                1. re: yayadave
                                                                                                  LindaWhit Mar 4, 2009 05:44 PM

                                                                                                  I haven't yet. But only because I haven't really sat down to go through and see if there's anything I'd want to cook - I just skimmed through the Treasury book when I got it....haven't picked it up again. Bad Linda. :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                    Candy Mar 6, 2009 07:14 AM

                                                                                                    I had a first edition years ago. It never really inspired me and I gave it away. It seemed very dated at the time. Sort of like what my parents considered gourmet dining in the 50's & 60's. &boy curries and the like. It may have gone up in value but I really do not miss it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Candy
                                                                                                      LindaWhit Mar 6, 2009 07:19 AM

                                                                                                      I think I wanted it (found out about it on a CH thread several years back) less for the recipes, and more for the inside info re: "famous" restaurants at the time.

                                                                                                  2. re: yayadave
                                                                                                    Will Owen Mar 6, 2009 01:40 PM

                                                                                                    I've cooked from "Kitchen", never from "Treasury". While the latter is just too fancy-schmancy Continental Cuisine for my taste, a lot of the former's recipes are given in their original, old-fashioned form as well as a modern update, thus providing not only a sense of historical depth but also the information needed to follow the more original procedures if you want to. I love stuff like that.

                                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                                                                                      JoanN Mar 6, 2009 01:49 PM

                                                                                                      Am I missing something? I can't figure out what books you guys are talking about. What are "Kitchen" and "Treasury"?

                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                        billieboy Mar 6, 2009 02:01 PM

                                                                                                        Been wondering the same thing but was too afraid to ask :-)

                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                          Will Owen Mar 6, 2009 02:04 PM

                                                                                                          "Come Into the Kitchen" and "Treasury of Favorite Recipes", two cookbooks by Vincent Price and his wife. They were brought into the discussion in a post that's been deleted.

                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                            LindaWhit Mar 6, 2009 02:06 PM

                                                                                                            Joan, Vincent Price and his wife, Mary, were early Chowhounds. They authored several cookbooks, the first, "Treasury of Great Recipes", http://tinyurl.com/cx7bu6 , which concentrates on great restaurants around the world in their day, showing their menus, photos and recipes.

                                                                                                            The second, "Come Into My Kitchen" http://tinyurl.com/dxjrkj a book of what they (the Prices) considered classic American recipes. The latter is more useful, according to Will. :-)

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                              weem Mar 11, 2009 10:30 AM

                                                                                                              I'm a Vincent Price fan. I have his cookbooks, his art books, a children's book, etc. In addition to the cookbooks listed above, fans should look for "The Beverly Hills Cookbook", which is a collection of audiotapes of Mr. Price reading and discussing recipes in that unforgettable voice of his.

                                                                                              2. re: paulj
                                                                                                paulj Mar 3, 2009 08:04 AM

                                                                                                I've picked up a number of Hermes House picture-book cookbooks from Half Price books. One of the most useful is "Italy's 500 Best-Ever Recipes". If I have, for example, some salmon belly pieces and a hankering for pasta, I can scan through its 30+ recipes for seafood and pasta. Some are traditional Italian dishes, others contemporary Italian, and I'm sure some are British-Italian.

                                                                                                I don't pay much attention to the 'Best' part of book titles like this, but the 500 or 1000 does catch my attention. That's because I used cookbooks for ideas and new flavor combinations. I have enough experience and feel for cooking that recipe details and techniques are not that important.

                                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                                  danhole Mar 3, 2009 08:20 AM

                                                                                                  My DH hates to go to Half Price Books with me because of the cookbook section! I can spend way too much time perusing the aisles there.

                                                                                                  1. re: danhole
                                                                                                    Candy Mar 3, 2009 08:36 AM

                                                                                                    Luckily mine will spend as much time in the cookbook section as I. I just wish we had a 1/2 Price closer. it is about an hour's drive to get to the closest one.

                                                                                              3. todao Mar 2, 2009 06:41 PM

                                                                                                One that is named for a reality TV show (e.g. Biggest Loser Cookbook) or is published for the purpose of advancing someone's theory on "healthy diets" or anything with a title "How to .... (words describing improvement of health, etc.) Another one is "Cook Your Way to ..."
                                                                                                I don't usually purchase cookbooks authored by celebrity chefs or hosts of television programs but I have made some exceptions for the truly talented (IMO) chefs who create not only cook very exotic dishes but who also demonstrate the ability to cook simpler foods that provide hearty meals. 30 Minute Meals and the like don't interest me much. If I couldn't get a meal on the table within thirty minutes I'd abandon the kitchen. I don't enjoy that "quickie" kind of cooking but, if it's necessary, it isn't that difficult.
                                                                                                My favorites are those published early to mid 20th century (or older, when I can find them) and, in my collection, the one I favor most is the Prudence Penny Regional Cook Book, 1941, publlished for the San Francisco Examiner by Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago.

                                                                                                1. l
                                                                                                  lgss Mar 2, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                                                                  If there are some you're interested in consider seeing if the local library has them so you can take them for "test cooks".

                                                                                                  Oops! I see that has already been mentioned.

                                                                                                  1. Candy Mar 2, 2009 04:17 PM

                                                                                                    I'll not give up my Frank Stitt Highland's Grill Cookbook or his new Bottega Favorita cookbook without a fight, yes I can cook that stuff. Any of Rose Levy Birnbaum's "Bible" cookbooks are well thought out and are chock full of really good info. All of my Rick Bayless books are keepers with good info.

                                                                                                    You may be selling some of these books short based on title. Too bad about the library because I often check a book out of the library to see if it is something I want. Oh, and you will not get my Ottolenghi book away from me either.

                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Candy
                                                                                                      MMRuth Mar 2, 2009 04:20 PM

                                                                                                      Yes, I'm with you. BTW - is the Grill Cookbook one that came after Southern Table one?

                                                                                                      The Balthazar Cookbook is one of my favorites - it's a great example of recipes successfully converted from a restaurant to a home kitchen. I use it all the time.

                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                        billieboy Mar 2, 2009 04:28 PM

                                                                                                        I just checked out the Balthazar Cookbook on Amazon. It is now on my short list. Thank you.

                                                                                                        1. re: billieboy
                                                                                                          MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 03:29 AM

                                                                                                          You are welcome - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5058... - lists some favorites recipes from the book.

                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                            c oliver Mar 3, 2009 02:59 PM

                                                                                                            Off-topic but how do you do that? You know, when you give the link but then it takes me to the exact spot. I've thought about it for a while but can't figure it out. Probably something simple?

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                              MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 03:29 PM

                                                                                                              Click on "Permalink" to the left of "Report" - that will put the exact URL for the post in your browser box.

                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                c oliver Mar 3, 2009 03:31 PM

                                                                                                                And it will take one to the exact spot in the link?

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                  MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 04:07 PM

                                                                                                                  Yes - you cut and paste the link - for example, your post to which I am replying is:

                                                                                                                  "chowhound.chow.com/topics/600604#4470786" (I took out the http:// in hopes that the url wouldn't get truncated as the one above was.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                    c oliver Mar 3, 2009 04:56 PM

                                                                                                                    Okay, I'm going to save this and try it tomorrow when my brain feels fresher :) 'Cause I still don't get how it takes me to the "spot" within the thread. I will probably annoy some (again) by trying a test on Site Talk :)

                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                    JoanN Mar 3, 2009 04:09 PM

                                                                                                                    Yes. The link is to that specific message.



                                                                                                          2. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                            Candy Mar 2, 2009 10:22 PM

                                                                                                            Bottega Favorita came out in Nov. this year. Great Stuf. Best Mussel recipe I have ever had.

                                                                                                          3. re: Candy
                                                                                                            chowser Mar 3, 2009 04:51 AM

                                                                                                            I agree about RLB's books. Whether you use the recipes or not, they have a lot of good information. And, I've found them at the library before I decided to buy. Our library has a better selection of cookbooks than Borders.

                                                                                                            Overstock has good cookbooks, sometimes. I found King Arthur's cookbooks there at a fraction of Amazon prices, plus you can't beat the shipping.

                                                                                                          4. t
                                                                                                            TampaAurora Mar 2, 2009 03:55 PM

                                                                                                            For me, it has nothing to do with economy but interest. I love the library for finding cookbooks. I would include anything that is "brand name" based. 100+ Recipes Using X.

                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: TampaAurora
                                                                                                              billieboy Mar 2, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                                                                              Unfortunately, the library in my small town is in somebody's closet. They had to close it because someone forgot to return the book..:-)

                                                                                                              1. re: billieboy
                                                                                                                flourgirl Mar 3, 2009 06:50 AM

                                                                                                                People who have access to a large, well-stocked library with lots of new acquisitions are very fortunate indeed. (I am one of those people.) Because I agree with TampaAurora that the library is a great resource for test driving cookbooks. (I also almost never buy fiction anymore. I just read library books.)

                                                                                                                But to get back to your post, I have to say that as a general rule I almost never buy cookbooks with those words in the title - but there are ALWAYS exceptions. The Cake Bible and The Bread Bible leap to mind as do the Best of America's Test Kitchen 2007, 2008 etc. I recently purchased Best of ATK 2007 (haven't received it yet) and I have Best of ATK 2008 out of the library now. I just made the crumb cake in the book last week and it was the easiest crumb cake I ever made (I make a lot of crumb cake) and by far the best tasting. I'm going to try some more of the recipes this week...

                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                  miss margie Mar 3, 2009 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                  flour girl what is your method - crumbs as a filling or only on top

                                                                                                                  1. re: miss margie
                                                                                                                    flourgirl Mar 3, 2009 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                    This recipe was for crumbs only on the top. It made 2 round 9 inch pans of cake and it was SO good.

                                                                                                                2. re: billieboy
                                                                                                                  thinks too much Mar 3, 2009 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                  Funny! My library is pretty tiny too, but it is linked to all the other libraries in my state. I log on from home, (or work) tap out a request. When it arrives at my local closet, they call me up and I tootle on down. Life without libraries must be harsh!

                                                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                    Sam Fujisaka Mar 3, 2009 02:37 PM

                                                                                                                    It really is!

                                                                                                                    1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                      puddin head Mar 21, 2009 03:20 PM

                                                                                                                      I do the same thing...compulsive library book ordering has replaced compulsive Amazon cookbook buying for me. I have been able to find about 90% of the books I search for (not just cooking, but my other interests as well).

                                                                                                                Show Hidden Posts