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serious, albeit beginner "cookbooks" for self-teaching

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With money very slowly being saved to send myself to culinary school, are there any books I can get to begin to learn techniques and become more hands-on than I am right now? Basics are always a smart place to start, I'd like to build as strong of a foundation of knowledge as I can on my own while I wait for my piggy bank to fill up :] I'd love to hear any and all suggestions!

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  1. Three of the best in my opinion

    Cooking by James Peterson
    The Way to Cook by Julia Child
    Complete Techniques by Jacques Pepin

    1. Martha Stewart's Cooking School adam

      3 Replies
      1. re: adamshoe

        I took this one out of the library, and I'm thinking of buying it. I like it because the technique is explained, and then more advanced recipes using the technique are included.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          I read the Peterson and the Stewart books back-to-back (what can I say, I can't help myself) and found the Stewart book better for precise descriptions of technique, although the Peterson book was more fun to read.

          1. re: buttertart

            I haven't read the Peterson book, but I enjoyed the Stewart book. My younger brother picked it up, and thought it was really interesting.

      2. Pretty sure the CIA has a book.

        1. I will also add The Good Cook by Anne Willan.

          The CIA books tend to be geared toward professional cooking with attendant large portions, but they do have some geared to home cooks. Have not seen them so cannot comment.

          1. The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan.

            Only for Italian, obviously, but very clear, complete and useful.

            1. La Methode and La Technique by Jacques Pepin are excellent, picture by picture instructions on the classical basics. Try to find them on www.half.com and they'll be ridiculously cheap.

              1. Thanks so so much, I can't wait to start building my library

                1. Le Cordon Bleu's "Professional Cooking" by Wayne Gisslen. I have the 6th edition but originally got the 4th edition out of the library and had to add it to my own. Available at Amazon. There's a student edition and a teacher edition but if there's a difference between the two other than price I couldn't find it. Go for the teacher edition.

                  1. Sauces by James Peterson is also excellent, covering every imaginable kind. And I still think Larousse's Gastronomique is an important reference book in any cooking library.

                    1. A couple of good broad-based books that start with the basics and work their way up are Mark Bittman's How to Cook Evereything and the Rombauer's family's Joy of Cooking.

                      1. I always recommend James Beard's _Theory and Practice of Good Cooking_ for it's emphasis on technique over recipes and excellent illustrations--


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                          Yes, that is a book I refer to often, though I've not cooked from it much. For the OP, I used JC's The Way to Cook to begin to teach myself to cook, and still use it quite often.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            That's another fine choice. I often find myself checking _The Way to Cook_ when I'm unsure of something.