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What five cookbooks would you keep?

I'm doing a little late spring cleaning and realized I have over forty cookbooks, some still stored in boxes from a move and other in my pantry. Since I keep my go to recipes in a binder and don't use a majority these cookbooks very much, I've decided to donate many with the idea of keeping only five.

So far I've kept...
1) Bread Baker's Apprentice
2) Julia Child's Way to Cook
3) Old red binder Betty Crocker Cookbook (nostalgia)
4) Charcuterie
5) ?

If you could only keep 5 cookbooks what would you keep?
General cooking?
Ethnic or specialty cooking?
Would you even keep five cookbooks?

Just curious :-)

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  1. In no particular order:
    NYT Cookbook circa 1961
    MTAOFC Vol 1 Julia Child et al
    The Sultan's Kitchen Ozcan Ozan
    The Way to Cook Julia Child
    Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home Child/Pepin

    I really like the NYT cookbook because so many of the recipes can't found anymore. Especially the hors d'oeuvres for cocktail parties, and some of the great sauces I've found in it. Totally appropriate for having the popular Mad Men party.

    7 Replies
    1. re: cosmogrrl

      Cosmogrrl (et al)

      Thanks for answering and providing a list.
      Part of the reason for the question was to look for inspiration on what to keep (or buy) to round out my (new) collection.

      Five is an arbitrary number which, for myself, would assure I'd use the cookbooks more often. Some have been packed in my garage for two years (after a move). If I didn't miss the books, I guess I really didn't need them. :-)

      If it's allowed by CH, I plan to collate all the inputs and post the list sometime during the weekend.

      1. re: dave_c

        Well, since you only have 40 books, this list might not help you much, but this is Mark Bittman's list of 50 books he's rather not live without. It's a pretty old list (which means some of the new books, such as Charcuterie, aren't going to be on it) and he was going to update it a couple of years ago according to his blog (but never did, as far as I know), but it's kind of an interesting read. Many of the books listed by 'hounds as indispensable--including Child's Way to Cook, Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, Kennedy's Art of Mexican Cooking, Casas' Foods and Wines of Spain, Hazan's Essentials, Joy--appear on Bittman's list, too.



        1. re: dave_c

          To better utilize those underused (and forgotten) cookbooks,try this new site: http://www.eatyourbooks.com

          beetlebug turned some of us on to this site not too long ago.

          I LOVE it! It saves me soooo much time. For example, recently I wanted to use some shanks in my freezer. EYB found about a dozen recipes in my books, and I was able to narrow the list down to three from the ingredient lists on the site. That means I only had to look at three specific books. Instead of trying to go through my entire collection. Saved me oodles of time!

          1. re: mirage

            Second Eat Your Books - it has been a fantastic resource to finding recipes that I'd never have found otherwise. Got chickpeas? Well, you also have 45 recipes that use them! Lamb shanks? Here are 16 different preparations! And so on. Definitely recommend using this if you have a lot of books.

            1. re: mirage

              Well, that site is just pretty clever isn't it? Might help me justify a few more purchases...thanks!

              1. re: mirage

                I just checked out Eat Your Books and I am so excited!! what a great idea, thanks for the tip.

                1. re: mellycooks

                  Thanks for the tip about www.eatyourbooks.com

                  I just joined and I have been using it everyday since. Love it!!! What a great find.

          2. I'd hang on to the specialty or ethnic whatevers. General cooking is just that; how many variations on a theme can you have. Since you have the binder of go-to recipes, you're good with general cooking.

            Only 40? I don't even want to tell you how many I have in my little studio apartment. I sleep wtih them some nights.

            I do applaud you for cleaning out and donating them; I've purchased many a good book from donated causes.

            1. How many angels can fit on the head of a pin? Five is rational number.
              Sir Thomas Aquindumkeg

              1. 1. Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course
                2. Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food
                3. Nigel Slater's 30 Minute Cook
                4. Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries
                5. Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery (probably)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Harters

                  I am a big Nigel fan, too. But I am surprised "Appetite" didn't make it onto your list.

                2. I agree in scaling down where you need to scale down, but I wouldn't set an arbitrary number, either. You might end up getting rid of books you wish you hadn't. I'd keep the old, hard to replace books. Charcuterie is in my public library, several copies, so, I'd toss that.


                  1. I recently pared down my cookbook collection, and I can assure you that I still have far more than 5. If I could only have five, I would have a folder filled with photocopies from those books I was giving away. So, I don't see the point! :-)

                    I donated the unused cookbooks to my local library. Librarian says that the cookbook section has seen a large upsurge in circulation in the past two years. They have expanded the section.

                    1. You know, I was going to attempt a list, even though I knew it would have more than 5, but I realize, I can't even narrow it to five categories, let alone 5 books. (I'm listing below just the cuisines for which I have several books. Interesting, I'm very short on Middle Eastern books. Hmmm.) I'm guessing I have at least 10-15 books in each of the below categories.

                      1) General (including Betty Crocker)
                      2) US Regional, various including several of each California, Minnesota, Louisiana
                      3) European including several of each Italian, French, Spanish, English
                      4) Asian including several of each Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai
                      5) Vegetables and vegetarian books
                      6) Single subject, either ingredient, technique, or specific-appliance focused, including several of each bread, dessert, grains
                      7) Other misc world cuisines (Mexican, South American, African-various)
                      8) Weight watchers (seriously, I have a whole collection, only ones that call for real cooking and real ingredient. Some weren't that easy to acquire)
                      9) Restaurant books (French Laundry, Au Pied de Cochon, etc.) this is the one category I feel I could axe at any moment, except that many are souvenirs from special meals.


                      13 Replies
                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        OK, here's my list of the books I would keep if I seriously had to choose five:

                        1) Home Chef by Judith Ets Hokin--weird, but true, but it's the general cookbook from which I learned to cook. It's always the book I return to when I need to get back to basics, for whatever reason.
                        2) Thai Cookery--handbound copy of book from the author. Again, the book from which I learned to cook Thai food, and to which I always return. Would be impossible to replace.
                        3) Paula Peck's Art of Fine Baking, because it's a classic and because it was a gift.
                        4) Better Homes and Gardens, Salads. It was my grandmother's.
                        5) Au Pied de Cochon--the album, because it was hard to acquire in the first place and because it holds special memories.

                        Books I would keep, sentimentality aside, and just for the cooking/recipes. Sorry, but I have to have six:

                        1) Home Chef by Judith Ets Hokin--I'd still need a general book
                        2) Dunlop's Land of Plenty
                        3) Pham's Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table (It was hard to decide between this book and Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, but much of the latter is on her website, so, I'd keep Pham)
                        4) Thai Cookery--still have to keep it
                        5) Paula Peck's Art of Fine Baking (still makes the list!)
                        6) Casas' Foods and Wines of Spain

                        Runners up: Hazan, Ottolenghi (even though much of it is online), Elizabeth David Classics, Berley's Flexitarian Table


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I've been jonesing for the Paula Peck book again, should I go for it? I had it ages ago. Packing up the collection has been an eyeopener - I've been finding books I didn't even know I had...embarrassing as that is...I'm sorting into "can go upstairs", "need near kitchen", and" can go to basement" categories and it's not easy. I would be hard put to choose 40, 5 would be a real chore - will have a think.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Well, as you know, I'm not a very experienced baker, so, we may be at different places in terms of what we need baking-wise. But, I find it so very thorough. You may find that it doesn't have all of the sexy new desserts that have since come along. But, you can pick up a used copy on Amazon for only $1! How can you beat that for a classic?!

                            I recently (finally) signed up for a free trial of Eat Your Books and went all around my house to inventory all of my cookbooks. I have fewer books than I thought (maybe only 140?), though that doesn't include all of the books that aren't on EYB, which I estimate to be another 40 or so. (I haven't figured out how to request that they add a book to the system.)

                            Of course, not all of those 140 books have been indexed on EYB, which is a bummer. (I think that's my next project: is figure out which ones I want to request they index.)

                            It seems that the "location" feature of EYB would be very helpful for you right now, as you are trying to sort which room in your house you are storing your books in.

                            But, now that I've inventoried all of my books, there are a handful that I wonder if I will ever use. So, I may be undergoing my own culling project soon.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Ha - I didn't read the entire thread and just recommended Eat Your Books too!!

                              I think that EYB is trying to contract with other book vendors and thus include more books. I've got 179 listed and another 30+ out of print/foreign and thus not listed with them. I'm hoping the new vendor(s) will change that. Even so, with "33,423 recipes" on my bookshelf I'm happy with it.

                              1. re: mirage

                                This is very encouraging, as I'm just in the trial membership phase right now?! I wish there was a way to look at the books on my shelf in a more compact way (as it is, I get 17 pages of cookbooks, which is kind of overwhelming.) Any tips about that? Is it overwhelming when you type in, say, chicken, and you get a million hits


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  I imagine "chicken" would get you quite the response!!! That WOULD be overwhelming.

                                  I've being using it for more focused searches. Like the above-mentioned shanks. Or recently I was trying to figure out what to do with my lobster fumet (any suggestions?) so I typed in "bisque" so that I could compare the recipes without driving myself crazy looking in cookbooks that don't have bisque recipes.

                                  I also frequently have a leftover ingredient or two in the frig that I don't want to toss, so I'll type that/those into EYB. I've been REALLY lucky doing that - in fact I've wound up using cookbooks that it wouldn't even have occurred to me to check! That, in my opinion, is a beautiful thing!

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Yeah, I'm happy with EYBs, too, even though only a small number of my books (about 125 out of about 400) are available.

                                    I tend to have a lot of old cookbooks because of my graduate school studies (American Studies--specializing in Foodways and culinary history) but also because books I bought *then* are becoming "old" *now* (well, I guess that's because--at 54--I've been buying them for a while! Damn. ;-)...

                                    Nevertheless, nearly all my recent purchases (within the past decade?) are indexed, and I have hope that they'll start hitting up the older classics, soon, as well. It's so handy and my Lifetime Membership of just $50 should promise me that it'll remain handy a long, long time.

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  BTW don't do what I did and Google "eat MY books" (if you're of delicate sensibilities)...hope to get into this sometime soon, still sorting through books.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    Duly noted! My goodness!

                                    I just cooked from TWO cookbooks today I'd never used before (though, they are new ones, so, that's a little unfair) because I'd found recipes through EYB.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I've got to get with the program on this!

                                3. re: buttertart

                                  Ah, here's JoanN on Paula Peck. Im"peck"able timing, I'd say! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7084...


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Great minds think alike dept? Must get.

                                  2. re: buttertart

                                    I keep it just because my sister kept it and my mother kept it....It's a classic and it just seems "right." Someday I'll actually use it, I'm sure. :-)

                              2. Oooohhhh - can you send me your rejects? I'm always up for something else new! I would definitely keep more than 5.

                                1. 1) How to cook everything by Mark bittman
                                  2) Food Matters, by mark Bittman. Technically not a cookbook, but it has recipes, including a recipe for THE MOST AMAZING whole wheat pancakes, that for some reason i fail time and time again to copy into my own little binder of recipes...
                                  3) Small Potatoes Cookzine. It's a little book of vegan recipes by a friend of mine. He's sold out right now, but here's the link: http://www.etsy.com/listing/37781571/...
                                  4) The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
                                  5) Still waiting to discover number 5!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: LukesBride

                                    Our kids got me Bittman for Xmas. I need to use it more often.

                                  2. Who needs cookbooks now that we have the internet? Skip the recipes and have short stories about food instead!!!

                                    Still and all, I use them all the time. Limited to five, I think I'd pick:

                                    1. Irma Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking. Comprehensive, encyclopedic, and where else can you get tips on soaking your raccoon in milk before pan-frying it?

                                    2. Julia Child, The Way to Cook. I use this less than I did years ago, but I still use it. And plan to give copies to my kids when they go out on their own. The focus on technique, and the way it can be applied to different foods, helped me learn to **cook** instead of just following recipes.

                                    3. Barbara Tropp, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. Detailed descriptions of and recipes for a variety of dishes.

                                    4. Diana Kennedy, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. If you're only getting five cookbooks, why not get three of Diana Kennedy's classics for the price of one?

                                    5. Julie Sahni, Classical Indian Cooking. A decent primer on the cuisines of the subcontinent, with enough recipes to keep things interesting for a good long time.

                                    1. Hmmm...This is a really interesting question. I've got the basics down, so I'd have to look to my most off-beat, inspirational cookbooks, I suppose. I'll give this some thought and report back.

                                        1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                          And if you had to get rid of 621 of them?

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            You sound like my husband. Getting rid of cookbooks in our house is a touchy subject.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Nothing wrong with having lots of cookbooks. But the question here is which five you would keep. As your husband would undoubtedly say, don't fight the hypothetical.

                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                ahahahahhaaa! As another owner of a large library of cookbooks, (over 500) my mind seizes up just trying to imagine having to pare my collection down to only 5 books. Wrapping my brain around that is kind of like wrapping my head around the idea of just how large the universe really is.

                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                  I had a hard time keeping track of 40 cookbooks. I can't even imagine 621 or 500. You're probably a better organizer than I am. I'm embarrassingly terrible. lol

                                                  What cookbooks have you been looking at lately?

                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                    I have the bulk of them in three floor to ceiling bookcases in the living room.( I also have stacks of them on the floor in the bedroom and the living room. My dream is to live in one of those english manor homes with the huge library, fireplace, those great club chairs and french doors leading out to the veranda. But I digress.)

                                                    Honestly I was having a lot of trouble keeping track of them and it was not only getting very overwhelming, it was becoming a source of great guilt for me. I felt really bad that I had all these books that I wasn't really using because it was so time consuming to try and find anything.

                                                    Then the "eat your books" website entered my life. It was like a "guilt-be-gone" button. Now I'm able to utilize a good deal of my collection much more quickly and efficiently and I'm really enjoying them much more.

                                                    As to what I'm looking at right now (among others) : Ad Hoc, Edible, Tacos by Mark Miller, My New Orleans.

                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                      What hasn't been mentioned, that I enjoy, is perusing my bookshelves of cook books, purposely finding one from which I have not cooked in a long time, finding an appealing recipe and cooking it, just for the "joy of cooking".
                                                      "One is the Loneliest Number"...I can't imagine only 5 cookbooks. For me there is something aesthetically pleasing about physically intiate in holding a cook book. I use the internet too, but it is not he same for me. Call me a romantic or just old....
                                                      As me mum used to say, "Books are sacred."

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        As someone currently going through my library and packing it to move, all I can say is I feel exactly the same way, Passa. There are very few culls. And I had the pleasure of coming across my "Fun to Cook Book", my very first one, unexpectedly. Books are indeed sacred.

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          Hey, I keep my Mickey Mouse Disneyland Cookbook! Alice B. Toklas Cookbook too No apologies.

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            The Mickey Mouse one probably wasn't available in Canada or I would have had it too, I imagine. Reading is one of the three paramount pleasures of life.

                                                          2. re: buttertart

                                                            Oh, love the "books are sacred" phrase. Hate the packing of books, though--my sympathies, buttertart. The last time we moved--a long, painful, do-it-yourself move--JUST OUR BOOKS filled almost an entire 25' Uhaul truck. That day's packing happened to fall on Thanksgiving Day (the move required four or five trips with truck) and all the day consisted of was up and down stairs, one heavy book box after another, over and over and over....then, reverse at the other end! But did we consider lightening our load? Never! ;-)

                                                            1. re: Prairie Gal

                                                              The last time we moved the movers said, "Whoever packed these books did not know what they were doing" - the boxes were HEAVY. So it may be useful to get some tips on packing (whatever they may be) from a moving company. Buttertart, when you move I will be there in spirit (not in muscle) to help you.

                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                We had the weight in mind - and put lighter items in to top them off. They guys who helped us were picking most of them up like feathers, even the ones I could barely budge.

                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                  My last major house to house move I had to pack up 28 years worth of my family's stuff, including thousands of books. Yes, they are sacred! I used liquor boxes (the liquor stores saved them for me) and they were just the right size and didn't weigh too much. Now I'm looking at moving again, this time to another island, so have to do books again. Yikes! Friends of the Library will get my "extras."

                                                                2. re: Prairie Gal

                                                                  I'm an English teacher close to retirement. I'm donating my literature collection (except for my 19th cent. Russian Lit books in Russian) to my poor, small downeast Me. high school. But getting rid of cookbooks is a different matter. I still have the Chinese, Greek, Italian, Indian, etc. cook book, in soft back, from the 70's. I coveted and hoarded my MIL's 19th cent. New England and American Cook Books. My precious.
                                                                  I have the first Indian cookbook in Finnish, given to me by the Ambassador of India. Get rid of it? Not a chance. My Armenian cook book? don't act like a Turk.
                                                                  My "books are sacred" mum has also never forgiven me that I am not a doctor or lawyer.

                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                    Ours will go to the local library eventually. The first Indian cookbook in Finnish? That's a gem. Your mom and mine were obviously of like mind...

                                                                  2. re: Prairie Gal

                                                                    The books - 140 cartons or so - not all cookbooks, my husband is a historian and we have a lot of novels, poetry, and art books too - are the reason that some of our furniture didn't make it on to the 25' truck or the van sent to supplement it. There are still random books scattered that will have to be packed, we ran out of boxes. Fortunately we packed sorting between upstairs, first floor, and basement - and we had 5 big strong guys to help. I had visions of innumerable trips up and down stairs just as Prairie Gal had to go through! Some inevitably will be relocated.
                                                                    Our apartment building mates benefited from the few (20 maximum) culls (one of them was the new Eileen Yin-Fei Lo book which I found of extremely limited interest) - books to share were put in the foyer and the cookbooks were the first to go.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      So, it sounds like the move was fairly seamless...

                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                        Well, yes and no. We're in the new place but a number of things remain in Bklyn. They packed up the truck with the boxes and then found out little things like our dressers wouldn't fit!

                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                        Yeah, I'm never going through that again. Freecycle is my friend.

                                                                        1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                          The only books I regret having gotten rid when I moved 10 years ago are cookbooks. I've even rebought a few of them.

                                                                  3. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                    Yes, I enjoy spending quality time with my books as well. I always did. I love books, all kinds of books. But when it came to really using such a huge collection efficiently, there is no doubt that the internet has been my friend.

                                                                    And again, this isn't about using the internet to find an on-line recipe (although I do that too,) it's about using a website to find a specific recipe in one book out of hundreds. I just don't regularly have hours to flip through my books and find the exact "whatever" recipe that I'm looking for at any particular time. And I find, too, that this process helps me reconnect with some of my books that I may not have spent any quality time with in a while.

                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                      Exactly! I love the idea of sitting in pre-chosen library that reflects my taste. I can curl up in a comfy chair, stretch out my hand with my eyes closed and be happy.

                                                      2. 1--The Savory Way, by Deborah Madison. It's one of her earliest and most interesting, I think, with deceptively simple recipes of unusual ingredient combinations, and a "good read" as well...and I got her to autograph my tattered first edition for me, last summer at the Seed Saver's Convention in NE Iowa.

                                                        2--The Joy of Cooking, because I've had it since the mid-70s and it's a family member by now.

                                                        3--Mastering the Art of French Cooking (can I have both 1 and 2 and call it a set?)

                                                        4--Southern Living's Cooking Across the South, 1980...because although I have hundreds of cookbooks, this old, worn out book is the one this always Southern Gal (despite living in the Midwest for the past 30 years) always turns to when the cornbread needs bakin' or the banana pudding needs fixin'.

                                                        5--I was going to say something Marcella Hazen-ish, or else a good bread book, but since I'm running out, and need to be as comprehensive as possible, it'll be either of the two excellent Gourmet cookbooks--either The Gourmet Cookbook or Gourmet Today--edited by Ruth Riechl.

                                                        1. Well.... It sounds like you are an experienced cook so the beginning stuff isn't needed and you already have a list of four so I think I will suggest just one to take #5.

                                                          The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America.

                                                          It seems like you have to have a reference and giant tome of recipes if you are only going to have 5 cookbooks. The Professional Chef will fill the order. All 1215 pages of it.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: tonka11_99

                                                            I hurt myself pulling that book off the library shelf... lol j/k.
                                                            That is one big book!

                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                              I saw this book at a friend's and was really fascinated by it. It seems like it would be a great resource, though, I can't imagine you'd ever actually cook from it. Too unwieldy. Plus, I was struck how, despite the size, it was still very heavily "western" oriented. But, yeah, what an impressive tome!


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Yea, it requires a lot of work before cooking. Scaling recipes from the usual "makes 10 servings", reading the "how to" section before going on with the recipe, having a LOT of stock always at hand ... ;) Still it is worth every single penny IMHO, and once you have a system to use it, you'll never give it away!

                                                          2. Bouchon
                                                            Chez Panisse Deserts
                                                            All About Braising
                                                            Zuni Cafe Cookbook
                                                            Invitation to Indian Cooking--Madhur Jaffery

                                                            1. There are more than 5 world cuisines, so mathematically this is a null set.
                                                              This will date me:
                                                              Joy of Cooking
                                                              Claiborne's World Cooking
                                                              The Book of New Mexican Cooking, Jane Butel
                                                              A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru, by Violeta Autumn (as the title implies, Russian, Jewish and Peruvian all in one.)
                                                              Skogens Spiskammer (vein til baer og sopprikket) , Falk, Lenskog,Bengtsson. A wonderful guide and cook book to the forest's edibles. In Norwegian.
                                                              And six: 60-Minute Gormet, Pierre Franey. This book taught me so much.
                                                              Seven....this is not possible!
                                                              I have carried the above books and several more around the world.
                                                              So much food, so little time.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                Seven, James Beard's New Fish Cookery.

                                                              2. When I moved overseas, I packed up most of my cookbooks and only took a select few with me.

                                                                How To Cook Everything--Mark Bittman
                                                                Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking--Marcella Hazan
                                                                Country Desserts--Lee Bailey
                                                                Swedish Recipes Book--American Daughters of Sweden (a sentimental choice; it was my grandmother's book.But there are some great recipes for cookies in it)
                                                                How to be a Domestic Goddess--Nigella Lawson
                                                                Barefoot Contessa at Home--Ina Gartner
                                                                Les Halles Cookbook--Anthony Bourdain (I've only made three things from it, but I love reading his writing)
                                                                Seasoned America--Paul Prudhomme
                                                                Bistro Cooking--Patricia Wells.

                                                                That's 9. I also have a big folder of recipes my mother copied out for me from various sources, and of course the internet.

                                                                1. Interesting that there are so few dessert books listed. I would probably keep all of my many books on chocolate and toss out the rest.........theoretically speaking :)

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                      I have Chez Panisse desserts in mine, but Bouchon has some of my favorite desserts

                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                        I have two dessert books listed in my nine, plus several of the others have dessert chapters. It is much easier for me to wing a meal than it is to wing a dessert--as long as you have a basic understanding of cooking, you can put together a decent version of most recipes, but you really need specific directions to bake something properly.

                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                          I have Paula Peck's Art of Fine Baking listed in mine. The Thai book has a steamed banana cake that is one of my all-time favorite desserts. I might have to drag that book out tomorrow! The other books probably have desserts, too, though, that wouldn't be the reason I put them on the list. Don't even remember the desserts in those books!


                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                            Classic Home Desserts, by Richard Sax. Definitely a keeper.

                                                                          2. I find that between sites like Epicurious and food blogs, there are so many recipes online now! I think the cookbooks worth keeping are the ones that are most enjoyable to own, whether for the photography and layout, voice of the writer, or additional articles.

                                                                            Dave_c: Do you not do a lot of ethnic cooking? Your list seemed to center on the general/French.

                                                                            If I were really going to scrap my collection, I would keep:

                                                                            A Platter of Figs by David Tanis - I only just recently picked it up, but is so delightful to just sit and read. It always gives me writing and menu ideas, even if they are only inspired by something in one of the narratives and not an actually recipe.

                                                                            Small Plates by Jennifer Joyce - A constant source of inspiration, this book lists meals by topic (tapas, middle eastern meze, etc.) and provides quickly thrown together, purchased, and homemade options to create a dinner spread for a group.

                                                                            Fragrant Rice by Jane De Neffe - I have heard this compared to Under the Tuscan Sun, but that completely undervalues this book. It is a complete window into a rare and under-appreciate cuisine which is both delicious and incredibly healthful.

                                                                            The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery - Apart from its long unchallenged position as my favorite source of baking recipes, this cookbook is drop dead gorgeous. If there weren't recipes on the backsides of the photo pages, I would cut them out and have them framed.

                                                                            Handwritten Italian recipes from my first cooking class - while not a cookbook per se, these are so precious that I don't know what I would do if they were lost. C]They chronicle essential cooking techniques like the proper way to make gnocchi, tiramisu, and mousse and some of my most popular dinner recipes.

                                                                            I'm glad I came across this thread because I have had a blog post about 25 Inspiring Cookbooks to Get You in the Kitchen percolating for a while and had nearly run out of books that fit the strict standards I had set in my research. Thanks for the additional ideas!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: GabiL

                                                                              I enjoyed reading Fragrant Rice, but have never actually cooked from it. Are there any particular recipes you recommend? When we were cooking from Oseland's Cradle of Flavor last year when it was cookbook of the month, I had planned to cook from Fragrant Rice, but just didn't have time.

                                                                              Rose Bakery was a Cookbook of the Month about a year ago, in case you want to scan any of the threads. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6087...


                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                Hi TDQ,

                                                                                I am traveling, so I don't have fragrant rice with me right now, but the Balinese recipes that I use the most are the fish skewers (because I don't eat meat, though I'm sure those ones are just as tasty), rujak (fruit salad with sweet/sour/spicy sauce), banana pancakes made with rice flour and coconut and topped with palm sugar syrup (I'm not 100% sure if this one is in the book), and gado gado (vegetables with peanut sauce). Her peanut sauce is my favorite peanut sauce recipe.

                                                                                I know there are a lot of other recipes that are easy and very good that I only remember when I am flipping though the book. Have you been to Bali? I think it can be a little hard to know where to start sometimes if you haven't been exposed to the cuisine too much.

                                                                                1. re: GabiL

                                                                                  I shall look those up, thank you. The gado gado is the top of my list!


                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Wow GabiL, that pancake recipe sounds heavenly, I may look you up to email you directly to see if I can get a copyofthis recipe. If you reread oldposts, maybe you could paraphrase it here too. My son is gluten free, and it sounds like a treat the whole family will enjoy. That book will go on my short list as well, though I know you said this recipe might be from a diff source.

                                                                            2. Bittman How to Cook Everything, Bittman Best recipes in the World for sure. Then some variation of Tom's Big Dinners, The Herbfarm Cookbook, Barbecue Bible, TexMex Cookbook (Robb Walsh), 50 Ways to Cook Most Everything, A bread baking book, Vegetables on the Side, Classic Indian Cooking (Sahni). I will stop now.

                                                                              1. Like others who have added their lists to this thread, I too am hard put to choose just 5 books. The following have made the cut simply because I have enjoyed cooking from these more than all the other cookbooks in my collection and they came to mind the quickest, even though I have most of the books on Bittman's list, except for the baking and dessert books:

                                                                                1.) Elizabeth David Classics: Mediterranean Food, French Country Food and Summer Cooking
                                                                                2.) Mario Batali: Molto Italiano {I have a collection of about 25-ish Italian cookbooks and refer to several frequently, but Molto is the one I go to most often. Many of the recipes mirror those with which I grew up so I have been able to relive wonderful meals with relatives long since gone.)
                                                                                3.) Madhur Jaffrey: Indian Cooking
                                                                                4.) Virginia Willis: Bon Appetit Y'All {I haven't cooked all her recipes ...yet !}
                                                                                5.) Joy of Cooking (Seventh Edition) {This was a scary addition since I wouldn't consider buying it when I began collecting and cooking from cookbooks. Too general, too ordinary, too popular... But I bought a small plastic bound paperback in the 80s and found it very useful. A few years ago I bought the latest edition and now find that I return to it more than any other for general information, especially the conversion and equivalent tables.}

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Gio, I cannot believe you aren't done cooking from BAY'A yet! You've tried so many of her recipes. Do you know how many you have left?


                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Hah... it's becoming my magnum opus, TDQ. Except for the mayonnaise biscuits I haven't made any desserts or other baked goods...yet. Of the other chapters there's probably about 15 or 20 left to make. I'll get to those eventually if the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise.

                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      You know what would be a fun COTM? For people to cook from the dessert sections of any previous COTM. The desserts always get ignored!


                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        Well, I do it for several reasons... I'm more a savory foods lover than sweets, and since DH has to actually help with the physical part of cooking each night there isn't enough time to include a dessert. His attention span in the kitchen is 1 main and 2 sides. LOL I'm lucky he does That, I guess. I have done my fair share of dessert-making and baking... have no fear. But your idea is interesting. Some of the recipes in the books we've cooked from do look delictable.

                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          An intriguing idea. (Said as one who loves to make desserts.)

                                                                                  2. 1. Joy of Cooking. It's been my bible for decades. Recipes such as brownies, plum cake and oatmeal cookies have become family favorites. Just a great general resource.

                                                                                    2. Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook. (I have the blue paperback.) Chock full of pie fillings and good general advice.

                                                                                    3. The KitchenAid Cookbook. Yes it came with my mixer, but the recipes are good, especially the honey oatmeal bread.

                                                                                    4. The French Chef Cookbook. Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Great recipes detailed instructions and fun pictures from the TV show and of Julia.

                                                                                    5. Yankee Peddler Fare. Never heard of it? Well, not surprising. It was done in-house by my church about 20 years ago. We formed a committee and tested all submitted recipes before choosing the best ones for the book. Sour Cream Chicken, Stollen, and Slush are just some of the standouts.

                                                                                    1. Waking up in the middle of the night as I am wont to do, it's nice to have a topic like this to ponder. I came up with:
                                                                                      1. "The French Chef" by Julia Child, also recommended by Trishuntrapped below, I see - it has all the basics and a killer chocolate pots de creme recipe that's very easy
                                                                                      2. "The Key to Chinese Cooking" by Irene Kuo - a masterwork, the best general book on Chinese technique and recipes I've ever seen (in my opinion better than Barbara Tropp's big book and far far better than the so-called Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, a writer whose other works I admire)
                                                                                      3. "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book" by Marion Cunningham, the best general baking book I know of, exciting recipes and standards clearly explicated with foolproof recipes
                                                                                      4. "Marcella's Italian Kitchen" by Marcella Hazan, a sampling of her genius that has recipes for some of the most delicious food I've ever produced (the pasta with veal, saffron, and cream; the cabbage rolls with beef and prosciutto; the veal scallopine with hazelnuts among others)
                                                                                      5. This is the toughie. Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking"? Fuchsia Dunlop's "Revolutionary Chinese Cuisine"? Both are favorite cuisines and I am familiar with cooking them, so perhaps a North American book, either "Madame Benoit's Cooking at Home" by Mme Jehane Benoit, who was a wonderful cook and effectively the Jane Grigson of Canada (for the delicious Greek pudding and so many other things), to honor my roots, or Ronald Johnson's "The American Table", for the charming writing (he was a poet) and the recipes (Kansas City Mashed Potato Soufflé, anyone) for my adopted country.
                                                                                      I would probably go with the Jaffrey in the end. And you'd have to drag me away in chains from the rest.

                                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                        Funny, you kept Dunlop's "Revolutionary Chinese" and I kept "Land of Plenty". I couldn't decide which one, so, I opted for LOP because it was her first and, I think, had a tiny more passion built in to the writing. Of course, I actually intend to hang onto them both!


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          I'd have to go back through LOP. Sichuan food is much more available than Hunan in most places and I prefer Hunan. I got RCC and started cooking from it before I got it all the way read!

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            Oh, excellent point! Now I want to swap out LOC for RC!


                                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            TDQ and Buttertart, I've seen so many great reviews of Dunlop and have a seriously stupid question to ask -- do you think it's worth checking out even if you're *not* a fan of Chinese food, at least the American version? The recipes in the COTM reports sounded great, but I generally find Chinese food as I have had it to be muddy in flavor and a bit gloppy. Much more of a fan of the clean layered flavors of Thai or Vietnamese. That said, I think I am probably missing out. And that cilantro salad everyone was raving about sounds amazing and so up my alley. Plus, our geeky family hobby is attempting to learn Mandarin, so it could be fun for the whole gang to cook from (my kids were having fun last night trying to translate the names of the stir fry dishes in this month's Saveur). Finally, if I'm taking the plunge into Chinese, would you recommend the Irene Kuo book over starting with Dunlop? TIA!

                                                                                            1. re: mebby

                                                                                              Hunan and Sichuan food - the real stuff - is anything but gloppy, I think you'd love it. The books are very easy to cook from. Definitely start with Dunlop if you like spicy food. The Kuo is good for general Chinese technique and recipes. Another gem is the Wei Chuan Chinese Cuisine, Chinese Cuisine II and Chinese Snacks series - Wei Chuan is a big Taiwan food company and put these books out in the late '70s. Excellent recipoes for the real thing. Not a glop in the books!
                                                                                              Congratulations on your family project of learning Mandarin - it's been ours for many years as well (at university, in Taiwan, and followup thereafter). It's a lot of work memorizing characters but the simple grammar makes it not as hard to learn as one would think.

                                                                                              1. re: mebby

                                                                                                Adding on to what buttertart says, there's no harm in checking these books out of the library and trying a couple of the recipes and see what you think. Maybe have a peek at the threads from when these books were Cookbook of the Month way back when and try a couple of the recipes that seemed to be universal favorites? The only caution is there is a pretty big investment in time in the beginning of picking up specialized ingredients, dark soy sauce, shaoxing wine, fermented black beans, Szechuan peppercorns, etc. Most of these ingredients keep a long time, so, you will use them eventually if you continue to cook from these books. But, your first shopping trip can be a bit daunting if you aren't expecting it.

                                                                                                But, even if you don't decide to cook from the books, I think many of the essays that accompany the recipes are very charming and interesting and worth a read.

                                                                                                Chinese food is quite a bit different than Vietnamese, although, Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese cuisine, but I would agree with buttertart than none of Dunlop's recipes are gloppy.

                                                                                                I defer to buttertart on Kuo as I'm not familiar with that book.


                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  Thanks to both of you for the advice -- it's all that COTM enthusiasm that made me think I really ought to check it out -- you dedicated COTMers haven't steered me wrong yet! I have considered checking out of the library, but they seem to always be checked out (a great sign) and truth be told it takes very little prodding to get me to buy another cookbook, novice though I am in comparison to the more seasoned collectors here. (And, buttertart, you give me too much credit on the mandarin characters -- we're focusing on conversational initially and being rather language-challenged, I am still trying to wrap my mind and tongue around the various intonations -- but it's really fun trying to get there!)

                                                                                                  1. re: mebby

                                                                                                    All you can do is try, I give you endless credit for embarking on this.

                                                                                                2. re: mebby

                                                                                                  FWIW, the cooking in Dunlop's books is NOT gloppy, not sweet, & definitely not the fry-it-and-then-add-soy-sauce-and-cornstarh american-Chinese take out variety at all.

                                                                                                  Dunlop's book are much more regionally specific than Irene Kuo's (although Guo's recipes often tend toward the interpretation of dishes one finds in Shanghai).

                                                                                                  I prefer Dunlop's books, her recipes come very true, and often cover dishes for which it is hard to find an Englisbut language recipe that comes true. That said both Sichuan and Hunan cooking are known for using both a lot of spice (chili, and sichuan pepper) and for being fairly heavy on the oil.

                                                                                                  Irene Kuo's recipes are geared towards a much milder pallette, more comprehensive geographically, and more tuned to cooks who can't or don't want to search for "obscure" ingredients. Possibly an easier place to startfor a novice to chinese cooking. Although for something more akin to the "clean layered flavors" of Thai or Viet Namese, Dunlop's books/recipes are a closer match.

                                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                                    The Dunlop books are an amazing accomplishment. Definitely produce food with the real taste, and quite easily. I hope against hope she is working on one on Huaiyang cuisine as her memoir seemed to indicate.
                                                                                                    Another good introductory Chinese cookbook is Nina Simonds' "Classic Chinese Cuisine" - she was educated in Taiwan and was the translator for the Wei Chuan books.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      Her new book is due out in February 2012 (in the UK, hoping for simultaneous release here but meantime have preordered it from Amazon UK...needless to say I cannot wait) - "Every Grain of Rice" - not "just" Huaiyang cuisine, evidently recipes from all over China. Hooray, hooray, hooray, roll on the day.
                                                                                                      And Ms Dunlop has a brand new new namesake chez nous...meet Fuchsia.

                                                                                              2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                Buttertart, I have not seen Jaffrey's book, and am assuming that as with most Indian cooks she is heavy on the chilis and other spicy-hot ingredients. I like Indian food but despise the spicy-hot stuff as I hate the mouthfeel of it and cannot digest it. For that reason I tend to stay away from Indian restaurants - I have been burned (literally) too many times. So my question is: if you take away the spicy-hot components from Jaffrey's recipes do you have enough there that it is still tasty ?

                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                  Actually her recipes are on the mild side. If you like spices but not chili peppers you would still come up with very good food if you eliminated the hot pepper. The other of hers I've used a lot is also in paperback, "Quick and Easy Indian Cooking" - lots of good stuff in there too.

                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                    Difficult to get away from chilli in the cooking of the sub-continent but I'd suggest you might want to seek out her "Ultimate Curry Bible". She includes curry recipes from across the world (including a couple she describes as of American origin - although I think this means she wrote them while she was living there). You might, therefore, find some dishes that are more to your taste.

                                                                                                    Bear in mind also, that chilli is a spice imported to India so is not part of traditional food. If you look for dishes that may now be described as Pakistani and originate from the north or west of the country, you are likely to find considerable influences of Afghan and Persian food.

                                                                                                  2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    Happy to hear your support of "Key To..." I was musing over it recently--I've had it for decades?--wondering if I ought to upgrade, wondering if it wasn't as good as I'd heard or thought (I don't have much basis to judge, as I can't seem to get the hang of most Asian cooking techniques, oddly) and wondering why it wasn't indexed on Eat Your Books. Given my ineptitude with this style of cooking, I'd say that any book that can save me from failure MUST be great but it's good to hear a similar opinion.

                                                                                                    1. re: Prairie Gal

                                                                                                      Ah, I wondered if I was the only person who worried that, if my older "classics" weren't indexed on EYB if, indeed, they were actually classics.

                                                                                                      I think it's a combination of factors whether a book gets indexed. Whether the book is truly a classic, how popular it is, and how new it is. Since EYB's business model seems to involve selling books, it's more profitable to index newer books that. (I'm guessing.)

                                                                                                      But, yeah, I was looking at some of my cookbooks that aren't indexed on EYB and wondering if they ever will be. For those, I'm wondering if I'll ever really use them. I'm thinking about shelving them somewhere separate and specific so they don't get lost in the shuffle and I remember to consider them for recipes "the old fashioned" way.


                                                                                                  3. The Joy Of Cooking - but I have two editions and I can't decide between the 90's one and the 70's one.

                                                                                                    Zuni Cafe - I love reading and cooking from this

                                                                                                    The Vietnamese Kitchen

                                                                                                    Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

                                                                                                    The Essential Cuisines of Mexico

                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                      For the Joy, I would take the 1970's one myself.

                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                        I lean that way too, but there a couple recipes in the 90's one that I like that aren't in the 70's one. But, the 70's has a lot more on wild game and I like looking at the elaborate table settings.

                                                                                                        1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                          The 70' one has a great cake recipe (among others) - Lightning Torte or Blitztorte - not in the 90's book. I just like it better in general, for this and the reasons you cite.

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            Yeah, this thread has me paging through the 70's one and I'm thinking a retro dinner party is in the future with ribbon sandwich canapes and some sort of gelatin dish might be fun. I could just copy the few recipes from the 90's one and ditch it.

                                                                                                            1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                              Look for the apple (peach?) cake Cockaigne too, I must have made that 50 times by now.

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                The cakes look awesome. I've been neglecting this book. I totally forgot about all the info on canning and freezing as well. I've been looking through it on and off all day. No wonder its so stained and the index is falling out.

                                                                                                              2. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                                Thinking of retro... I had an out of the blue, odd craving for Chicken a la King. That's something I haven't had or seen since the 70's.

                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                  Hah! The last time I had "chicken a'la kind" was indeed in the '70's--1974, to be precise. I was the guest of an entire roomful of sweet, blue-haired old ladies, as one of their "Optimist Club's Senior of the Year" award members. We met at the
                                                                                                                  Roanoke, VA, country club: the room was a sea of white table cloths, flowery hats, silent (and uncomfortably servile--I was a child of the Civil Rights Movement) African-American waiters at the ready, pitchers of iced tea, and rigid traditionalism.

                                                                                                                  I was completely out of my element and amused at "passing" as a Sweet Young Lady for the afternoon (ah, if they only knew... :-) but also slightly terrified and a bit bored, at the same time.

                                                                                                                  Of course we were served chicken a la king. Those Ladies fell to their dinner like field hands! I was astonished to see the gusto--all conversation ceased, all pretense at decorum ceased, and they just GOBBLED up that patty shell like they'd been starved for days...

                                                                                                      2. I am glad I read this post-it has given me many suggestions for new books to collect. I have tons of dessert cookbooks, since that is my favorite thing to make. I love Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The Florida Pie recipe I got from there has been a hit every place I have taken it. People just love it.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: amylovescupcakes

                                                                                                          If you like Dorie Greenspan (and I do too, a lot), get her "Paris Sweets", it's great. She also has a new book coming out this fall, jumping for joy here...

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            The Pierre Hermé Chocolate Desserts book is with DG.

                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                              Also the first Hermé and Baking with Julia. DG rocks!

                                                                                                            2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              Oh thank you for letting me know. I will have to get them! I do like her. I didn't realize she helped write Baking with Julia until I reread the other cookbook last night.

                                                                                                          2. Let me start by saying that I would never do this in real life. We have thousands of books in our apartment and only 70 or so cookbooks, so we already feel as though we're being stark minimalists in that area. So my list would be of the five that I have the strongest emotional attachment to.

                                                                                                            1)Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls - the first cookbook I actually cooked out of all by myself. I don't even own this one anymore, but for this project I would make a point of getting ahold of a copy again, perhaps by stealing my sister-in-law's copy (OK, just kidding).

                                                                                                            2)1975 Joy of Cooking. The bible, now and forever. Grew up with the 1962 version that was my mother's bible, but the 1975 edition has gone with me everywhere since I moved out on my own.

                                                                                                            3) Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure 1 and 2.
                                                                                                            4)Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian Worlds of the East.
                                                                                                            5) Gloria Bley Miller's Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook.
                                                                                                            These last three are the books I cooked from the most when I was first cooking for myself and started to need to learn how to cook the foods that weren't included in the Joy. Every time I go into the kitchen it always makes me happy to see them on the shelf and reminds me of all the kitchens I've cooked in and the people I've cooked with.

                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                              Wow, ratgirlagogo, I think we are psychically linked.

                                                                                                              I had to go online and order a copy of the cookbook I first learned from (my mom still has it) -- it was a one that you'd give a new housewife in the early 60's if she didn't know how to cook, called "America's Cookbook." Kind of a mini-"Joy".

                                                                                                              I think I gave away my copies of "Vegetarian Epicure." All I can remember about them was that you were supposed to make stock out of potato peels. I'm probably doing them a disservice.

                                                                                                              My 1964 "Joy of Cooking" paperbacks are falling to pieces, esp vol. 1, as is my "World of the East." I make her masoor dal variation with kalonji and ginger every couple of weeks.

                                                                                                              Mom let me keep the Gloria Bley Miller when I left home in the 80s. Don't cook from it much anymore because we're veggie now, but the principle of cutting foods as uniformly as possible has been burned into my subconscious from an early age.

                                                                                                              1. re: the_MU

                                                                                                                Ah, Anna Thomas....How did I forget? I was living on my own, in my own apartment, in the Hippie Dippie region of the city, when this book came out. My room mate and I entertained all our hairy, bearded, barefoot young male "conquests" with food we learned to cook from this Joy for the Counter Culture set.

                                                                                                                The first meal I ever cooked for the man who became my husband years later, was from this book. The first meal I ever hosted for my parents--after moving in with said man, in a cockroach-ridden, run-down, Art Deco, so-damned-cool-and-awesome apartment building in the Fan District of Richmond, VA, was from this book. And it was a disaster:

                                                                                                                I had no sense of "balancing" the elements of a meal, so I blithely made this godawful, heavy, "walnut balls with bechamel sauce" thing and combined it with something equally righteously stodgy (lentils? wheat berries? ) and I swear, I think I served peanut soup, as well! My kitchen was the narrowest of galley kitchens, it was hot as HELL in the apartment from the July weather and the oven, we had to sit on crates and eat off a card table, and my parents--very uncomfortable with our "sinful" unmarried arrangement, but trying desperately to appear nonchalant--were completely done in by having to pass through our bedroom (which had almost nothing in it but the one, Indian-print festooned, SINGLE BED we shared in our illicit bliss <g>--to get to the bathroom.

                                                                                                                I remember everyone valiantly trying to eat all these damned NUTS in sweaty silence....to their credit, my parents never said a cross word, left quickly, and then we all laughed and laughed about the entire Incident over the many (married ;-) years that followed.

                                                                                                                Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up this August. I think I need to cook some lovely, heavy, fatty foods from Vegetarian Epicure, eat them in sweaty happiness, toast my parents' memory, and remember that summer of our carefree youth, when love triumphed over 105 degree days and even an army of cockroaches.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Prairie Gal

                                                                                                                    Such a terrific, vivid story -- and what a beautiful illustration of how one great (cook)book can evoke 30+ years of memories. Another good reason to keep 'em all!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Prairie Gal

                                                                                                                      I can just picture that apartment and the dinner!

                                                                                                                  2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                    The Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls. Yes! I poured (pored?) over that book over and over again. I remember making the eggnog from the book many times for my Dad and me. I still have my copy. A sentimental favorite.

                                                                                                                    And the Vegetarian Epicures. The first one came out during college years, I think. Or around then. And helped me make the transition from my Mom's kind of cooking to other kind of cooking. I loved both books. Thanks for thinking of them. I suspect the first one would feel dated now but not the second one.

                                                                                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                      You can always spot my favorite recipes because they've been poured over.

                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                        <You can always spot my favorite recipes because they've been poured over.>

                                                                                                                        What a great play on words. ;)

                                                                                                                      2. re: karykat

                                                                                                                        Somewhere, somehow, I ran across the blog of a girl who is cooking her way through the Betty Crocker Kids Cookbook. I wish I'd bookmarked it as I swear I'll never find it again.

                                                                                                                        I'm so tired of the cookthrough blogs, but I thought this one was pretty cool.


                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                          Interesting! That would bring back some good memories.

                                                                                                                    2. First, I admire someone who can whittle down their books to just five! Unfortunately, like others, I have a "problem" and the bookcases are groaning with hundreds. However, if I had to pick five, my favorites as of today that I enjoy cooking out of the most out or refer to often:

                                                                                                                      "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" (Hazan)
                                                                                                                      "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" (Rodgers)
                                                                                                                      "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" (Goin)
                                                                                                                      "Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking" (Dunlop)
                                                                                                                      and lately I've been cooking a lot of Vietnamese so "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table" (Pham)

                                                                                                                      1. My list only includes ~20, but this is still tough.

                                                                                                                        1) Mexico: One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless
                                                                                                                        2) The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnsey-Whittingstall
                                                                                                                        3) Complete Techniques by Jacques Pepin
                                                                                                                        4) The Encylopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine by John Folse
                                                                                                                        5) How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

                                                                                                                        I'd also have a tough time parting with The Flavor Bible by Andrew Dorenburg and Karen Page. Though not really a recipe book, I absolutely love it as a reference.

                                                                                                                        1. I don't think I could pick just five, though I've considered (half-heartedly) getting rid of many, when maneuvering around the stacks of cookbooks around my apartment. But for a basic list, in no particular order ...

                                                                                                                          1. Baking with Julia
                                                                                                                          2. Baking from My Home to Yours
                                                                                                                          3. Barefoot Contessa (or BC Parties)
                                                                                                                          4. KAF Baker's Companion
                                                                                                                          5. New Basics
                                                                                                                          6. 1,000 Indian Recipes
                                                                                                                          7. Into the Vietnamese Kitchen
                                                                                                                          8. Jewish Cooking in America
                                                                                                                          9. Vefa's Kitchen
                                                                                                                          10. Cold-Weather Cooking

                                                                                                                          1. Boy is it tough narrowing it down to 5 books. What makes this exercise easier is that this is just an exercise. Fortunately, I do not have to limit my cookbooks to 5.
                                                                                                                            1. Betty Crocker Cookbook (Mom's copy from 1969)- this is a keeper for sentimental reasons. It was a gift from my American grandmother to my mom. My mom is Japanese and this was her introduction (and mine) to many traditional American foods (i.e. chocolate chip cookies, meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, etc).
                                                                                                                            2. The Food and Wines of Spain- Penolpe Casas- this book allowed me to contiune my love affair with everything Spanish. I fell in love with Spain as a college student and lived in Spain for a time. This book helped me recapture so many food memories.
                                                                                                                            3. Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art- Shizuo Tsuji- A comprehensive guide to Japanese cooking. Allowed me to experience and recreate many food memories for me and my Japanese mother.
                                                                                                                            4. Marcella Hazan- The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking. This book introduced new flavors and techniques to me (i.e. fresh pasta, tomato sauce with butter and onion, potato gnocchi, ricotta gnocchi, etc).
                                                                                                                            5. Right now this is a wild card (so many that I love depending on my mood- Smoke and Spice, Barbeque Bible or Weber's Real Grilling for BBQ, Dok Suni- my first introduction to the delights of Korean cuisine, Made in Spain or a Taste in Spain in America- me encanta todo español, anything Jacques Pepin- very creative cooking, always delicious, but both complex and simple, or Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice- Iove the research and science of anything...especially food.)

                                                                                                                            1. Somebody was wishing there were some books on chocolate on the list. I have a few recommendations but I had not presented them because I wouldn't think a book that specialized should be on 5 cookbooks would you keep list.

                                                                                                                              Anyway here they are:
                                                                                                                              Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers by Nick Malgieri

                                                                                                                              Chocolate Cake by MICHELE URVATER

                                                                                                                              Chocolate Artistry by Elaine González

                                                                                                                              The Art of Chocolate: Techniques and Recipes for Simply Spectacular Desserts and Confections by Elaine Gonzalez

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                Also Alice Medrich's "Bittersweet" for extensive info on manufacturing, types, applications, and excellent recipes.

                                                                                                                                1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                  We probaby need a separate thread on cookbooks about chocolate, the fifth food group ;)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                      Well... Yeah. It's at the top of that food pyramid.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                      And the Malgieri book has the fabulous Supernatural Brownies in it.

                                                                                                                                    3. The cookbooks I have kept for years are Claiborne's NY Times Cookbook, Beard's American Cookery, Clayton's Complete Book of Bread, and the Collins' New Orleans Cookbook. More recently, Bittman's How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian look like keepers. Mostly very basic stuff, and yes, I have pretty simple tastes.

                                                                                                                                      Nowadays, with so many recipes available for free online and many of them quite good, I've taken to collecting them one at a time, creating my own "book" using the recipe software called Living Cookbook. Adding new entries from sources ranging from the Food Network site to the New York Times Online is as easy as...well, pie isn't actually that easy, is it?

                                                                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: armagnac

                                                                                                                                        Glad to see someone else using Claiborne's NYT cook book! I was beginning to feel a little out of touch and uncool! This cookbook has recipes I've not found anywhere else, so I really can't live with out it. It pretty much opens up to Green Goddess dressing now. BTW when I've made this dressing at dinner parties people love it!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                          Both of Claiborne's, the Black bound NYT and the green bound World Cooking one, which gave me my first introduction to world cuisines. Our youngest son has it at college. The seventies Holy Trinity of cook books: Claiborne, Franey, Beard, Child and Rombaeur, er, better make that the Holy Pentity.
                                                                                                                                          How to cook "Disco Duck"?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                            I use it, and the other Craig Caliborne's Favorites. They're terrific books with recipes that are from all over the world.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                              I moved the original, the new NYT from the 80's, and the Chinese one with Virginia Lee. Must get the world book. One of my first "serious" ckbks (which also got moved) was a Bantam pb of his book on herbs and spices - a useful introduction for someone who was raised to think paprika was only used for color.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                Interesting, the paperback Craig Clariborne's Herb & Spice Cookbook was the first cookbook I purchased as a young woman; my interest in cooking morphed into a serious interest in herbs. I have the revised edition now and still use it on occasion.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                  That is interesting, I got it when I was about 17.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                    I was slighty older, in college, second year, IIRC, so 19? Trying to cook well and impress the boyfriend, in my first apartment.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                      I remember making the "Mexican casserole" for the same purpose (highschool bf) - the first Mexican or Mexicanish thing I'd ever had.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        The Mexican Torte? It called for fresh or "canned tortillas," I vaguely remember the canned ones in the grocery stores, along with canned tamales; haven't seen them in years!

                                                                                                                                                        Nutmeg cake was my simple go-to cake, although freshly grated nutmeg was beyond me at that time, and the gazpacho was a favorite summer soup in the house, as well as the caponata.

                                                                                                                                                        "Blender" mayonaise was my speciality, along with all the book's other sauce variations. The rye bread recipe never worked for me. I got rye bricks.

                                                                                                                                                        A simpler time. Thanks for the trip down memory lane...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                          Oh yeah, the "Torte". Remember those canned tortillas too, a peculiar smell and clamminess to them. Doesn't it also have a really good cinnamon sour cream coffee cake too, or am I conflating things I saw around the same time?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                            Don't see it in the book, maybe elsewhere?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                              I know! It came with my first Bundt pan - my mom gave it to me as a present for good marks or something like that. And I got the book around the same time.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                I have a revised and expanded version of H & S, as my old paperback disintegrated years ago. Possibly that recipe was removed? I wouldn't think a expanded version would have recipes removed but...there are only three recipes for cinnamon, none for coffee cake and sour cream is just used for salad dressings in my edition. If you have the recipe in your version, can you paraphrase and post when you have a moment?

                                                                                                                                                                I re-read the book last night, remembering some dishes I made from it. There is an author's note about purchasing cracked wheat from the Middle Eastern shops on Atlantic Ave by Court St in Brooklyn; that meant nothing to me at the time, as I lived in Hartford. Thirty-five years later, I was living in that neighborhood and shopping for cracked wheat at Sahadi's.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                  I found the sour cream coffee cake in my mom's recipes (which is what made me think about it) - I'm sure now it came from the Viking Bundt pan folks. Will post it when I get a chance, it's a goodie. (Re sources not meaning much at the time: what were the odds that a teenager from a midsized Canadian city would land up 20 or so years later living walking distance from the shops mentioned and shopping there frequently? Weird how life goes.)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                    "Weird how life goes."

                                                                                                                                                                    Absolutely. I would not have believed anyone if they had told me that's how it was going to work out.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                            What?! Canned tortillas? I've seen tamales, but tortillas in a can? Wow oh my goodness, what in the world can they taste like?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                              Can't say, could never bring myself to try them. I can only imagine...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                                                They were the only ones available in my part of Canada when I was a teenager and embarked on this recipe. Dampish and chemical smelling but not terrible when fried.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                  Due to Texans & North Sea oil, I could buy canned tortillas (after a failed attempt to use lefsa) in Norway. butttart nailed it. Leathery.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                    Mercifully no longer the case. Available fresh now.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                          In paperback: Claiborrne's Eating Healthy, his diet cookbook!

                                                                                                                                                2. For me cookbook's true value is inspiring you/instilling the foundation to do your own thing. Some that have offered this are:
                                                                                                                                                  1) Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
                                                                                                                                                  2) Zuni Café by Judy Rodgers
                                                                                                                                                  3) Chez Panise Café Cookbook by Alice Waters
                                                                                                                                                  4) Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli
                                                                                                                                                  5) Either Fish Forever by Paul Johnson
                                                                                                                                                  or The Young Man and the Sea by David Pasternack
                                                                                                                                                  This doesn't take into account the verbal recipes handed down from the very sweet women my wife spends most day's with when we're on the spit of land
                                                                                                                                                  (chez-gautier.com) we own in SW France.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GTrane

                                                                                                                                                    I have the Toung Man and the Sea but I have yet to cook from it. Do you have any favorites I should try first?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                      Excellent call on Pasternick's work. Like Forever Fish, it is a book by someone who's actually fished, thus instilling a respect for the ocean and it's sustainability. As for Young Man And The Sea, if you have access to a really fresh source, I'd go crudo. The Nantucket Bay Scallops and Bluefish Tartare recipes are two that stood out for us, although when the Albacore is running off the Northern California coast (our home when Stateside) then we'll go for that preparation.
                                                                                                                                                      When you prefer 'heat', you can't do better than the very simple Grilled Sardines with Caponata. If the caponata seems daunting (We tend to put a dozen jars at the end of each Summer.), think about something we do in the Spring in France when the sardines are running and arugula is just starting to sprout. Grill them as described in Young Man, plating them with the "greens" tossed lightly in a red wine vinaigrette. Add a slice or two of lemon to the plate, along with some thinly sliced, garlic rubbed toast, brushed with oil and done on the grill. All that's left is to uncork a crisp white.

                                                                                                                                                  2. With over a hundred, there are few I'd want to part with, but these five would be at the top of my list to keep:
                                                                                                                                                    1. Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking
                                                                                                                                                    2. Vefa's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                    3. Molto Italiano
                                                                                                                                                    4. Ad Hoc At Home
                                                                                                                                                    5. The French Laundry

                                                                                                                                                    Great question!


                                                                                                                                                    1. Thanks for sharing your list of favorite cookbooks. There were over 130 cookbooks mentioned! I tried to figure out a way to organize the list without overloading CH so I just simply listed those books there were mentioned multiple times, which worked out to 15 cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                      Times Listed - Cookbook Title
                                                                                                                                                      6 - The Joy of Cooking
                                                                                                                                                      4 - How to Cook Everything
                                                                                                                                                      4 - Zuni Cafe Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                      3 - Essentials of Classic Italian
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Ad Hoc
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Land of Plenty
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Mastering the Art of French Cooking
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Molto Italiano
                                                                                                                                                      2 - New York Times Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table
                                                                                                                                                      2 - The Essential Cuisines of Mexico
                                                                                                                                                      2 - The French Chef Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                      2 - The Way to Cook
                                                                                                                                                      2 - Vefa's Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                      However, for those stumbling up this thread, I highly recommend reading the full thread for the wide range of recommendations. Also, Cookbooks, like food, evoke memories. There are many heartfelt comments throughout this thread.

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks everyone!

                                                                                                                                                      1. My picks:

                                                                                                                                                        1. Bittman's How to Cook Everything just for basics.
                                                                                                                                                        2. Sunday Suppers at Lucques
                                                                                                                                                        3. The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
                                                                                                                                                        4. Cook's Illustrated Baking
                                                                                                                                                        5. The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard.

                                                                                                                                                        (My bias is evident, I think.)

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                                                            Isn't it great? My fantasy is to go on a honeymoon trip to her bed and breakfast and eat desserts from the book.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Well, it looks like descion making isn't my thing, but I got this far:

                                                                                                                                                          a) either "How to Cook Everything" or "The Way to Cook
                                                                                                                                                          b) either "Land of Plenty" or "Revolutionary Cooking"
                                                                                                                                                          c) either ""Foods & Wines of Spain" or "Couscous"
                                                                                                                                                          d) either "Pleasures of the Viet Namese Table" or "Bengal Lancers"
                                                                                                                                                          e) either "Real Thai" or "Periplus Sigapore" (definitely Periplus if I could keep the the whole series and call it one book!)

                                                                                                                                                          Finally, my much tattered bought it in Taiwan pirated copy of the '60's version of "Fanny Farmer".

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                            I have a number of pirated ones from Taipei in the '80s. Caves bookstore just isn't the same these days.

                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm new to cooking, but I would say the following:

                                                                                                                                                            1) Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This book has changed my life. From this cookbook, as an inexperienced cook, I regularly make dishes that surpass those at pricey, upscale restaurants that are well-regarded on this board. And they're typically unusual and interesting to boot (in America that is). Because of this cookbook, I've gone from eating out every meal to eating out only if I'm unable to cook for myself.

                                                                                                                                                            2) Joy of Cooking. This enables me to make every American classic.

                                                                                                                                                            3) The Best Recipe. I enjoy reading the detailed descriptions of why recipes are chosen. This definitely helps me learn how to cook.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: aventinus

                                                                                                                                                              You may be new to cooking, but you are very discerning about your sources. Marcella's books are treasures beyond compare. I read Joy of Cooking cover-to-cover when I was first starting to cook seriously and it was invaluable. And the CI books are very helpful and instructive.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Apart from ones that have already been mentioned- Get Saucy. Am I the only one that loves (or has) this?

                                                                                                                                                              1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the one you write your own in.
                                                                                                                                                                My little red book goes with me on most trips to family since I find myself more often than not in the kitchen there. (Your with family when you can rumage through their pantry for dinner ideas without fuss.)
                                                                                                                                                                My next two are from Junior League Books I picked up either on travels or grew up with. They are "Taste of Aloha" and "River Road Recipes."
                                                                                                                                                                Beard on Bread is my go to on bread and bakery items.
                                                                                                                                                                The last one would be a toss up between "The Rustic Table" or "A Baker's Odyssey."

                                                                                                                                                                1. Must not be a lot of Southern cooks responding - so I will represent. The book I would save if my house were on fire is the Lee Bros. "Southern Cookbook". It is my go-to book.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. MTAOFC - Julia Child
                                                                                                                                                                    Julia Childs Baking Book
                                                                                                                                                                    Paula Wolfert's Moroccan Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                                    Diana Kennedy's Cuisines of Mexico
                                                                                                                                                                    The Italian Baker by Carol Field
                                                                                                                                                                    I like these not just for the recipes but they are great reads.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1. The Professional Chef, CIA
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Mexican Kitchen, Rick Bayless
                                                                                                                                                                      3. The Silver Spoon
                                                                                                                                                                      4. The French Laundry
                                                                                                                                                                      5. Kitchen Sessions, Charlie Trotter

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1. Marcella Hazan The Classic Italian Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                                        2. Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc Some amazing techniques and tips for everyday meals.
                                                                                                                                                                        3. Julia Child: From Julia Child's Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                        4. Alice Waters: The Art of Simple Food
                                                                                                                                                                        4. Canyon Ranch: Nourish: indulgently healthy cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I have a very limited cookbook collection, so I'm not to the paring down stage yet. Of the ones I have that I definately plan to keep:

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (an edition from the early 2000s - got me through college).
                                                                                                                                                                          2. Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.
                                                                                                                                                                          3. The Silver Spoon
                                                                                                                                                                          4. Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I now have to add James Beard's Menu's for entertaining. It's a wonderful resource for entertaining and recipes. He gives such wonderful advice on how to entertain properly, even if time is something you have very little of. Plus some very good recipes (like, duh, it's Mr. Beard ;). Plus, just having a full menu is nice. I like how he give advice on when to prepare stuff and how to get it out to the table on time. And his hors d'oevres (horse do-vers in my family) and/or canapes are wonderful! BTW, what is the difference between them?

                                                                                                                                                                            It's just a fabulous resource for entertaining! A bit dated sometimes, but i find that to an asset. I just love to use it, at the very least for inspiration. And since many of the recipes aren't in peoples cooking/recipe lexicon, I get plenty of compliments, and perhaps a few points for being "original" ;)

                                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                              "And his hors d'oevres (horse do-vers in my family) and/or canapes are wonderful! BTW, what is the difference between them?"

                                                                                                                                                                              Here's a link that explains the very subtle difference between the two, and also discusses appetizers and amuse-bouche. Scroll down the page for the info:


                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                    Horses' doovers? That must be the Brit influence on you Canucks, Ms Buttertart, as it's certainly what our family call 'em.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Although when I'm making them, they're now known as "Uncle John's picky bits".

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                      My dad was from St Leonards on Sea, after all! Even though he left at the age of 12 and was only back during the War. You can take the boy out of Blighty but you can't take the Blighty out of the boy.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                        Lol. That reminds me of something an old friend makes - a kind of addictively moreish canapé - which we nicknamed "Junior's naughty bits".

                                                                                                                                                                                        And of course, there's always a CAN-APE.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                          You mention an addictively moreish canapé and don't give details...cruel woman you are!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                            That's because I can't actually remember! It's something to do with pastry and cheese - it's been years since I ate one of Junior's naughty bits, sadly.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                You can't even remember what the naughty bits were ? We could get inventive if your did remember......pastry and cheese is a great base to build on.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. This tread has taken on a new reality. May be moving in August. Which ones to take cross country?

                                                                                                                                                                                  30 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                    Moving? Oh boy, you're not going to be a Maine-iac anymore? I couldn't possibly decide, as I couldn't decide which five I would keep to begin with. I'd be inclined to move the ones with the most sentimental value, and the most often used.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                      The sentimental for the Land of Enchantment.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                          Please stay on topic! Email me. Joy of Cooking, Skogen's Kamerater, The Arab Table, Beautiful Med Cookbook, Cooking of Sapin and Portugal.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                            The Post Office book/media rate is a great way to keep you one with your books. 30% of the cost compared to shipping in the moving truck.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Just a thought since 5 books seems way too hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                              Is this still true? I think the PO might have dropped this rate.
                                                                                                                                                                                              On the other hand, it is a good excuse to buy more!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                USPS is still offering media mail, as far as I know. (I often sell used books on Amazon & I used media mail just a few weeks ago. It's also still showing on their website as an option.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As Donald Fagan might say, "like a Sunday in TJ, it's cheap but it's not free." $1.99 plus $0.39 a pound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe I'll be able to get back my great game cook book I loaned to a friend 35 years ago in Grants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                      First you'll have to get some great game! I hear the elk population is rebounding in the Zuni mountains...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Elk on Mt. Taylor too. Antelope past the Malpais off Rt 117. Big horn sheep on Mt. Taylor? Good turkey hunting. tons of crawdads in Blue water lake. The search resumes for the cut throat throat trout.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                What's good in The Arab Table? Have it, never cooked from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll reply later, I'm in the midst of laying red oak hardwood flooring on the 1st floor, packing and kayaking guiding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The 5 cook books I WILL take to New Mexico are
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Arab Table, by May Bsisu
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mathew Kenny's ( A Mine boy!) Medditerranean Cooking
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Food of Korea
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Frank's Native American Cooking
                                                                                                                                                                                                    And from Ausin's finest Mexican restaurant, Fonda San Miguel, Thirty Years of Food & Art, salmon marinated in tequilla, yum.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    From The Arab Table, I'm making either Morrocan chicken soup or orange lentil soup today. I used the lamb kebab & pilaf recipes recently, and the lamb and yogurt recipe is a standard. I do a lot of cooking from this book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just reread my posts, boy does my tune change. I did move to NM in August and I brought the above list except I substituted The Basque Table for Matthew Kenny and in addition brougt Bittman's 1000 World's Greatest Recipes. Using them a lot, and google recipes every now & then.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thankfully I have a lot of recipes in this old knoggin. I find it interesting that I'm cooking a lot of my old international recipes that I learned to cook as a young man when I lived in NM in the 70's.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Carpe Chow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                        How do you like that Bittman book? I worry the recipes would just feel international-esque instead of satisfying.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's good in that I have so few cookbooks w/ me and prefer a book (English teacher) to a computer screen. The recipes are more authentid the my old Claiborrne, NYT's International Cookbook, which our son is borrowing in college. There are gaps in it , however, I was looking for German foods and there are none.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I mainly cook international foods; I ain't a meat loaf and potatoes kind of guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hmmm. interesting! Are there any particular cuisines in the book you think are especially strong?


                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I did take 5 cookbooks to NM a year ago. The ones I used the most were The Arab Table & The Food of Korea. I took Tuscan Cooking, instead Med. cooking and used it a lot too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                          What recipes from the Arab Table? Have it, haven't used it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't have it here in Maine, but a lot of the lamb recipes, stews and grains.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Too funny, just noticed we had this same exchange last year!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                              Moving is a good test of what you value. We are snowbirds. The books that go with us every six months are:
                                                                                                                                                                                              1) Wine Lover's Cookbook;
                                                                                                                                                                                              2) The Key to Chinese Cooking;
                                                                                                                                                                                              3) The Classic Italian Cookbook;
                                                                                                                                                                                              4) Trattoria;
                                                                                                                                                                                              5) On Top of Spaghetti

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: trail 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                Someone gave me the Wine Lover's Cookbook a while ago - I haven't really looked at it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Which recipes have you liked?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mirage

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We like a number of them: Risotto with Lemon Shrimp; Dragon Fire Noodles; Grilled Veal Chops. The real value, however, lies in the discussions of "bridge ingredients" which pull food and wines closer together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: trail 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ...and I would love your recs for On Top of Spaghetti.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Again, a number of favorites. We both love to cook, tend to be non-repetitive, so it takes a lot to make it into our top five. "Jo's Spaghetti with Sausage and (white)Wine" is a clear go-to dish. We've done five or six times for guests. That's unheard of for us. The authors use some "blend-back" techniques for their pastas that enhance taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. If I were to have only ONE, it would be Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook. I will also repeat ones others have mentioned, Bittman's everything, Joy, Ratio, also have a few ethnic ones I like, but not enough to count in a "top 5" list. I'm still growing my collection, only 30 or so at the moment, including several in the "cooking for children" genre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Really glad you asked chowhounders for their favorites, I was wondering about this myself. Thanks for the ideas to add to my book wishlist!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 1. The Joy of Cooking.I"m probably in it once aweek(if only to refresh my memory)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Bread Maker's Apprentice Even if you don't make bread, adelight to read and re-read
                                                                                                                                                                                                  3.The Around the World Cookbook I like the funky recipes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Great Sausage Recipes A passion of mine
                                                                                                                                                                                                  5. A Good book on pressure cooking I use mine sometimes but alwasys forget timing. There are many.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                                                                                                    What a great thread - thanks for all the inspiration! Here's my list (this was HARD):

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1) How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman (recently supplanted Joy of Cooking for me - sad)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2) How to Bake, Nick Maglieri (sp?)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey
                                                                                                                                                                                                    4) one of Mario Batali's -- currently in love with "Molto Gusto" - also love "Molto Italiano"
                                                                                                                                                                                                    5) Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan (can I sneak in both Vol 1 and 2 on a two-fer?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Thanks everyone for your 5 favorite cookbooks! Keep the suggestions coming in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm going through an Asian cooking phase right now. Your recs have pointed me in a good direction. So far I've made dishes from Land of Plenty and have (from the library) Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese Cooking. Next, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, thanks for the suggestion of EYB (Eat Your Books). Looks like a promising replacement to my Cook's Illustrated online subscription.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try the recipes in Revolutionary CC, they're wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks... What recipes you would recommend that I start out with? I'm still stocking up my pantry with ingredients. Too bad I can't read Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Noticed RCC had two General Tso recipes which is interesting that two "American" dishes are included in the book... lol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                          FWIW, the coriander salad, shrimp with garlic chive, pork with black beans and green peppers, and hand torn cabbage, have all become part of the standard repetoire at my house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The beef with coriander is also wonderful and the recipe exactly reproduces the dish as I ate it in China. Fuchsia D is a marvel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                              BTW, a favorite use of that coriander salad is on fish or shrimp tacos. So good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wonder where all of these Chinese generals came from......Generals Tso, Tao, etc., and I wonder how they got these dish named after them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              On the subject of eat my books (well. not quite the same), if anyone knows where I can find an index to Chocolatier and Taunton;s Fine Cuisine magazines, I would really appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                For Chocolatier, have you tried searching/asking over at DessertProfessional.com?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, I haven't but will give it a shot. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jennifer 8 Lee did a really interesting project investigating General Tso, fortune cookies, etc: http://www.fortunecookiechronicles.co...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To souschef...You might try eBay? I was surprised to find complete years of Gourmet from the 70s and before available there, for cheap!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fuschia Dunlop actually has an interesting three-page explanation in the book (p. 117) - that a Hunanese chef named Peng Chang-kuei invented the dish and named it General Tso's Chicken after a 19th century military general from Hunan named Tso Tsung-t'ang.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, there's little dispute that Peng Jia invented **a** dish and named it after Zuo Zongtang. And he claims to have been the first chef to serve the dish in the US. But Peng's recipe is a stir-fried dish with an unsweetened sauce. What most of us would recognize as "General Tso's Chicken" was created by T.T. Wang, who was serving it at his NYC restaurant, Hunan, a couple of years before Peng came to the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At Hunan, the dish was called General Ching's chicken. (Peng claims that Wang stole the dish from him, but given that it was a different dish with a different name, that seems to be a stretch.) Other restaurants appropriated Peng's name and Wang's recipe and put them together, giving us the American Chinese classic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here's Jennifer 8. Lee's take on it...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And the Peng family still has a very good Hunan restaurant in Taipei, the Peng Yuan (Peng Garden), that has been in continuous operation for many years, if anybody's travelling and wants to go to the source.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also check out the threads on Fuchsia Dunlop's books when they were "Cookbook of the Month" for lots of recipe tips and descriptions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What is "Cookbook of the Month"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When we all pick a book to cook from together. The thread for the current book (or books) is always stickied to the top of the home cooking forum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Join us! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7178...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Archive of all the books we've cooked from for COTM: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the info... Cool stuff! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hmmm... I'm commenting on my own post. Poor netiquette.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Looks like I misunderstood the concept of EYB... I thought the site provided recipes... EYB is just a databse of cookbook indexes, plus a little bit more. My objective was to minimize my cookbook collection, not add to it. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The EYB site does not provide recipes, alas. What EYB does is make it easier to use the cookbooks you have, at least, the ones that are "indexed" on EYB (which, for me, is about half of my collection.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the books that it has "indexed", it provides a searchable database of recipe ingredient lists. Which is slightly different than a "database of cookbook indexes" as you said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And, as far as minimizing your cookbook collection, I do think EYB can help you make much better use of some books. I've already started unloading cookbooks I don't use that often that I think are so obscure that they will never be indexed on EYB.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And when I make new cookbook purchases, I am definitely swayed by whether the book is on EYB. If it is not, I am less likely to buy it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I still have a bunch of books that are really special to me that are not indexed on EYB, and may never be, but I keep them for a very specific, deliberate reason.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Difficult lt to say but here are my favorites :
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Julia Child, The Way to Cook, of course !
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Cuisine mei wenti, French cookbook by Olivia Guinebault. It introduces very simple French recipes. The author is French. She used to teach non French people, including a lot of americans. The must from this book is the shape. You can have a look on cuisinemeiwenti.com
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - The food of Thailand, yummy!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Pham's Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Barbara Tropp, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ailiwei

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I looked up that Cuisine meiwenti on Amazon.fr and now I want it...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Why would YOU of all people (a very accomplished cook) need very simple French recipes ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Moins accomplie comme cuisiniere que vous me pensiez...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a sickness. Because I like the look of the book...it's cute...and in French. I could shelve it beside my brand-new edition of the Escoffier Guide Culinaire my friend brought me (after scheming with my husband on what to get me for my birthday).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe we need to see a pic of your collection sometime Buttertart! :b

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They're in several locations in the house - including in boxes in the basement - so it'd be a bit tricky at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. With so many recipes available online these days I think cook books are a bit obsolete. Having said that...I have no less than 100 books in my collection and have no intention of cutting back or even slowing down. I read them for enjoyment more than anything else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BUT...if I had to keep only one it would be The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. Any serious home baker must have this book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An interesting question would be: if you did not have access to online recipes what is the one book you would keep? In my case it would be a no-brainer - "French Cookery School" by Anne WIllan. I wonder if Buttertart has yet made the veal sweetbread recipe in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I didn't have access to online recipes and could only have five books I would just cry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nope, not yet. Will need to get to a specialty meat market to get the sweetbreads. The one in our town closed the week we moved in!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That is a great book, I learned a lot from it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BTW when I make that recipe I use whipping cream instead of flour to thicken the sauce as I don't like flour-thickened sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have two sources for sweetbreads, but have to travel about 14 miles to get them. Don't be put off by the smell; it goes away after you soak them in water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hey Buttertart, I just received Anne Willan's "From My Chateau Kitchen". I think you'd love it. Lots of anecdotes followed by recipes, and wonderful pictures. I'm looking forward to making the apple cake on the cover. Not a trace of cinnamon in the cake, I'm pleased to see. So much apple stuff is ruined by cinnamon, the one spice I dislike.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't think cookbooks are obsolete, at least, not good ones. As a practical matter: a well-written cookbook will often provide invaluable information "outside the recipe" including cultural context, technique, ingredients, equipment, serving suggestions, and pantry stocking you may otherwise have to go searching for. From an intangible perspective: my most favorite cookbooks are more than just collections of recipes: they set a mood with the photos and writing. They tell a story of a person, a place, or a time.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds like a good food blog without all the flashy flash ads and brightly colored (annoying) backgrounds... However, those blogs are becoming harder to find. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. 1) How to Cook Everything (Marc Bittman)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2) Baking From My Home To Yours (Dorie Greenspan)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3) Vegetables Everyday
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4) French Taste (Laura Calder)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5) The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great (Pam Anderson)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6) The big book of chicken (Maryana Vollstedt)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ...this is just what I can remember off of the top of my head. I honestly can't choose just 5 cookbooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lissalee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Only 5 cookbooks, perish the thought!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is like asking someone to read only 4 novels over the course of their life or listen to the same four CDs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I use my books mainly for inspiration, reading them from cover to cover, earmarking all the must tries and then rereading the juicy parts again later. Do I cook out of them? Yes, but usually only a few recipes out of each one. It doesn't mean I love them any less. When I am hosting a dinner party I spend hours (probably more like days) perusing the pages of my books figuring out the perfect menu. It’s one of my favorite things about cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since I just got finished posting my entry on another thread about having just ordered 6 new books, I am probably not your go-to source for whittling down your collection. I can't stand clutter, so the size of my cookbook collection has been somewhat tempered by my bulimic tendency to first binge on new books then purge old ones. Right now I think my shelves are due for a good purging.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I could get down to 10, but I would be pretty miserable without access to all my other ethnic recipes. Where would I look for recipes for Thai curry, Chinese eggplant, Mexican sopes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My list:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Handwritten binder from culinary school
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. The Splendid Table (Italian)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Simply French (French, duh!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. The Sephardic Culinary Tradition (Regional Jewish recipes)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook (each recipe is a keeper)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6. Zuni Café (food porn, really)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7. Sunday Suppers at Lucques (same as # 6, I am salivating as I remember recipes)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8. Ma Mason Cooking School Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    9. Ken Frank’s La Toque Cookbook
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    10. Baking with Jim Dodge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The last three are mementos related to Culinary School, I would not part with any of them for sentimental reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I did find it curious that none of my selections, other than Lucques and Zuni which have been COTM selections, made anyone else’s lists. We all have such varied experiences!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What is really fun is to read this thread and then the one about which cookbooks do you regret buying and discovering that one 'hound's treasured is another 'hound's buyers remorse.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Joy of Cooking -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Breath of a Wok -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Authentic Mexican -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hot Sour Salty Sweet, A Journey Through Southeast Asia -
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How to Grill -

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Gourmet Cookbook (the big yellow one edited by ruth reichl)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Joy of Cooking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Roasting, by Barbara Kafka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All About Braising, by Molly Stevens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. cookbooks became less about recipes and more about sources of ideas and sentimentality years ago. So I'd probably keep for sentimental reasons the Original NYT Cookbook, Fanny Farmer, and Mastering the Art Vol I and II. For ideas I'd keep Marcella Hazen for Italian and Maddhu Jaffrey for Indian. Others that I look to a lot are Martha Stewart (when ever she says how to do some 101 technique she is so far a good guide) and both Beard and Birnbaum for bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I read cookbooks for entertainment as well as for information, and some live in my bookcases while others reside in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The mainstays of the kitchen library are, for the most part, books I've been cooking from for many years:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          * What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat -- Arthur Schwartz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          * The Savory Way -- Deborah Madison
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          * American Wholefoods Cuisine -- Nikki and David Goldbeck
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          * The Good & Garlicky, Thick & Hearty, Soul-Satifying, More Than Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook -- Joe Famularo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          * Chez Panisse Desserts -- Lindsey Shere (priceless for the ice cream and sherbet recipes alone)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Runners-up: Little Meals and Recipes 1-2-3, both by Rozanne Gold

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also treasure my old copies of Julia Child's The French Chef Cookbook, James Beard's How to Eat Better for Less Money, and Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne's The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I am not a cookbook fan and would gladly give up my collection for these five:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Glorious Foods of Greece, Diane Kochilas (Because I am passionate about Greek cooking)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vefa's Kitchen, Vefa Alexiadou (I need this one too)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Silver Spoon, (a bible)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            French Laundry, (for when I'm feeling creative)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan (Dessert treasures from a place I've never been)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I am not a cookbook fan and would gladly give up my collection for these five:"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So what's holding you back ? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That Paris Sweets is her best book, in my opinion. I love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Even better than Around My French Table?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of her baking books. I like that the focus is so narrow (and the fact that it's focused on Paris is a treat). I' have to look at AMFT again, I read it while I was still pretty sick and I hate to say it but I found it a little cloying in tone (I'm sure it was just because I was under the weather, and finding everything a trial) and the recipes didn't 100% grab me. The daube and the pork tenderloin w oranges are great recipes though - but the sablé breakapart didn't do it for me. I need to get further into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So weird, I thought I replied.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I had to part with my copy of AMFT temporarily and, therefore, haven't had a chance to sit with it much, either. I hope to be getting it back some time this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But, EYB did a "best of the best cookbooks of 2010" by looking at all of the "best cookbooks of 2010" and AMFT was at the top of the list. ENYTC was second, with NOMA being a close third. Funnily enough, NOMA has hardly generated any discussion here on Chowhound.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        From what I've seen, NOMA is a chef's book to end all chef's books, and is dependent on somewhat obscure hyperlocal (to Denmark) ingredients. In my opinion it'd be a suitable COTM about the time that The French Laundry was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's my impression, too, actually. I haven't actually been able to look at it because I've only seen it shrinkwrapped at the bookstore.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's because NOMA is a joke, not a cookbook. Unless you want to cook with birch bark and other strange stuff. Gorgeous photos, though. There is no recipe in this book that I plan to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Good to know, I read that you had hundreds of cookbooks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fair cop. Been collecting them for (gasp) 40 years appx.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Any indonesian cookbooks that you can recommend? I've longed to become more familiar with this cuisine after eating out once with my coworkers. Can't remember the name of the restaurant but loved everything that was put in front of me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have a couple of books by Sri Owen (the big authority) but have never cooked from them. Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cooking has some good recipes as does the Time-Life Southeast Asian Cooking spiral-bound if you can lay hands on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Interesting, such a small selection and only one native. Not only that, one of her books gets one review, gives her 4 stars because she enjoyed her writing but hung her cooking out to dry (also a native).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She has a website with a few recipes I'm going to try (not the pumpkin one, I'll be burned at the stake.) It also looks like the time life one is available on amazon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I did a little bit of googling afterwards and saw this one, looks promising as well with good reviews:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the info =D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The one you found is put out by the Taiwanese food company, Wei-Chuan, whose cookbooks are all very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 1. How To Cook Everything - Bittman
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Jacques Pepin's Table
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Essentials of Italian Cooking - Hazan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. The Herb Farm Cookbook - Traunfeld
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. French Farmhouse Cookbook - Loomis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. How to Cook Everything - Bittman
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. The All New Joy of Cooking - Rombauer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. The New Best Recipe - "Cooks Illustrated"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4.Moosewood Cookbook - Katzen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. Barbeque Bible - Raichlen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 1. Joy of Cooking - Irma Rombauer; 1953 edition; my mother's; the book I learned to cook from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Vegetarian Epicure, Books 1 & 2 - Anna Thomas; my 'bible' when I began to cook on my own (loved Prairie Girl's story about the walnut balls)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone - Deborah Madison
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook - Lukens & Rosso
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. whatever I'm immersed in at the moment - currently The Herbfarm Cookbook - Jerry Traunfeld

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Nothing like a great open market and good imagination, but for a bit of a start...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1) The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2) Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3) Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4) Fish Forever by Paul Johnson
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5) Momofuku by David Chang


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Womans Day Encyclopedia of Cookery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All Paul Prudhomme
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All Frugal Gourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, my mom's handwritten recipe book

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hard to keep just five. 50 maybe? Remember the olden days when we clipped recipes from magazines and the newspaper. I learned to cook from Womans Day Encyclopedia and Joy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. old red binder Betty Crocker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vefa's greek cookbook (it's beautiful blue & white)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Molto Mario
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Union Square Cookbook (1st one)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Joy of Cooking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 1. Dean and Deluca: Fantastic variety and foolproof
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Sydney Food: Bill Granger. Great, very do-able, and a solid varietty
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Peace Love and Barbecue
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. Minimalist Cooks Dinner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5. Appetite by Nigel Slater. best book going on how to think about food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd miss Barbara Tropp's books, but I honestrly don't have the time for sub-recipes. I'd miss Union Square - perfect food for having guests over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I went for books with strong fundamentals and geographic outlook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Westy


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Which Dean and Deluca cookbook do you have? Just went on Amazon and there are several out there. I'm intrigued - can you tell me the authors? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dkennedy


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had the one featuring food and wine as well, but it never saw anyuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The one I recommend has everything from very good pasta dishes to Kentucky BBQ sauce (black, fairly thin, and made for lamb). All of it approachable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Westy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the info Westy, I just bought a copy used of Amazon. Looking forward to checking it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Westy and others,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I started a new thread asking for favorite recipes out of Dean and DeLuca. Here is the link:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. An update to my January posting:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Joy of Cooking - Irma Rombauer (1953, my mother's)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone - Deborah Madison
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vegetarian Epicure 1&2 - Anna Thomas (counting as one book; sue me)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Classic Indian Cooking - Julie Sahni
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Authentic Mexican - Rick Bayless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Would really, really miss several others, but there's always the library. Also not counting stored-away treasures like an old, old Virginia cookbook with notes by my deceased cousin who lived to 108.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I see your cousin's book with the notes as a view into someone's thought process which is more interesting than a book with pretty pictures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I notice as I look over my top five lists that there are no pretty pictures in any of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. 1, Delia Smith Complete Cookery Course
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2, Nigella Lawson Nigella Express
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3, Nigella Lawson Nigella's Christmas
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4, Nigel Slater Real Food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5, James Martin Desserts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The a fore mentioned books are among my faves but in actual fact, I would only need one cookbook. My own! I have a book in which I have written down all the family classics we have & it is always being updated. I have done this for my 6 children so that when they are older they have old fave's on hand & its also a good little memoire of when we were all not quite so long in the tooth! Its also handy to flick through if I cant decide what to shop for dinners for the coming week.