HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Bought new cookbooks!! But are they worth it?

chaitali Sep 5, 2010 08:39 PM

Hey..I went and bought my first cook books.
They seem pretty good but I don't know for sure (since I haven't received them yet).
Any reviews on these books would be welcome

1. Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless

2. New book of great desserts by Maida Heatter

3. Lidia's Italy by Lidia Bastianich

4. Becoming a chef by Karen Page and Andre Dorenburg

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. chaitali RE: chaitali Sep 5, 2010 08:39 PM

    *Andrew Dorenburg

    1. p
      PAO RE: chaitali Sep 5, 2010 10:21 PM

      I have used Rick Bayless cookbooks for years including Authentic Mexican. They're wonderful. Authentic Mexican came out before Mexican food ingredients were widely available in the US, however. I don't know whether Bayless did a second edition. With that caveat, the recipes are pretty authentic. Mexican food can be very labor intensive. I don't know how experienced you are as a cook, but if you are starting out, you might try some of the easier recipes first--eggs, rice, some salsas, beans, guacamole. I love his zucchini with roasted peppers, corn and cream recipe and variations. Also fish with garlic. These are all pretty simply recipes.

      I also like Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts, although you will find, as with most of her cookbooks, they do contain some clunkers. I like her blueberry pie #2 and lemon meringue pie recipes. Also her strawberry sorbet (you can use raspberries instead). Her pie crust recipe is fine. And the World's Best Hot Fudge Sauce is divine.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PAO
        DiningDiva RE: PAO Sep 6, 2010 12:05 AM

        Authentic is a *very* good cookbook. I think (but am not 100% sure) that when it hit either it's 20th or 25th publishing anniversary It was reissued. The recipes are well written and easy to follow and even if someone doesn't have a lot of experience with Mexican technique they should be able to run out a good portion of the dishes in this cookbook.

        1. re: PAO
          chaitali RE: PAO Sep 6, 2010 09:22 AM

          He did..there's a very nice looking 20th anniversary version but I don't know if the recipes are different. It does have a snazzy cover though.
          I'm 22 but would say I'm an intermediate level cook. I just needed some good cookbooks by established authors.

          Do you have suggestions for any other dessert cookbook ?

          1. re: PAO
            buttertart RE: PAO Sep 6, 2010 03:57 PM

            Curious, re Maida Heatter, what clunkers? I've only ever had one failure in 25 or so years of baking from her books, a carrot cake with fresh ginger that didn't work, whether because of me or the recipe I'm not sure since the flavors were not enticing enough to risk making again.

          2. Quine RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 02:55 AM

            I am not being mean when I ask this: What was your decision for choosing these books?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Quine
              chaitali RE: Quine Sep 6, 2010 09:10 AM

              I needed cookbooks and these were cheap.
              I'm paying around 25 for all four of them with shipping :)

              1. re: chaitali
                sexyLAMBCHOPx RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 01:37 PM

                Great deal! Enjoy! Cant go wrong with the price.

            2. h
              Harters RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 03:22 AM

              Wouldnt you have been better asking for comments before you bought them? Asking now seems rather pointless.

              1. bayoucook RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 06:14 AM

                That's a darn good start. Be sure to add classics like Joy of Cooking and books by Julia Child as you continue your collection. All that matters about cookbooks is that YOU like them. I have over 200 and I love and enjoy them almost daily. Relax, cook, and have fun!

                18 Replies
                1. re: bayoucook
                  chaitali RE: bayoucook Sep 6, 2010 09:16 AM

                  I plan to buy Julia Child's Mastering the art...
                  I don't really know about Joy of Cooking though, I think Mark Bittman's books may be more useful to me than JoC.

                  1. re: chaitali
                    smtucker RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 11:55 AM

                    Actually, the Green Gourmet would be better than the Bittman if you are only going to own one tome. The recipes are more global in nature. When we selected the Green Gourmet for COTM, we all found that we had to double the spices for non-Western recipes.

                    1. re: smtucker
                      Caitlin McGrath RE: smtucker Sep 6, 2010 03:29 PM

                      smtucker, did you mean to say Bittman in your last paragraph, about doubling the spices?

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                        smtucker RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 6, 2010 04:45 PM

                        Well, I was referring to Gourmet Today. I have found the Indian and Asian recipes a little cautious and have often found that I want to amplify the spicing to my taste level. Sorry not to be clearer.

                        1. re: smtucker
                          Caitlin McGrath RE: smtucker Sep 6, 2010 06:23 PM

                          No problem, it was probably clear to everyone but me; I was just remembering the several posts I've read saying how underspiced Bittman's recipes are. I've filed away your comment for when I make any such recipes from GT.

                    2. re: chaitali
                      Breezychow RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 03:45 PM

                      From someone who owns all of the late great Julia's cookbooks, let me suggest that you start with "The Way To Cook" rather than her 2-volume "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". In the former, she takes many of the classic recipes from the latter making them easier, quicker, & much healthier for today's lifestyles. It's a FABULOUS cookbook (the Steam-Roasted Goose with Port Wine Gravy has been our family traditional Xmas meal since the book first came out years ago), & I use mine so much that even though I have many of the recipes nearly commited to memory, my copy is still falling apart.

                      It's available in bookstores in both hard & softcover versions.

                      1. re: Breezychow
                        jen kalb RE: Breezychow Sep 6, 2010 08:17 PM

                        The Way to Cook is an excellent book with which you will produce fine food and Heatter and Bayless are also very good, Heatter's precision is useful if you are a relatively inexperienced baker and her recipes are very very good.Ive no experience with the Italian book so cant comment on that.

                        I find Bittman boringly reductive; the recipes in the Green Gourmet book are more interesting and I daresay more ambitious and tasty. if you need a fat general tome with a broad range.. My 20-something daughter is producing good food from it

                        1. re: jen kalb
                          chaitali RE: jen kalb Sep 7, 2010 06:42 AM

                          Is Green Gourmet the name of the book or is it the 2009 copy of Gourmet which has a green cover?
                          I've been trying to find Green Gourmet on Amazon, but it redirects me to an Australian vegetarian cookbook. Is that the one everyone is talking about?

                          1. re: chaitali
                            jen kalb RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 07:23 AM

                            sorry, its just shorhand for this book - the recently published Gourmet Today


                            1. re: chaitali
                              smtucker RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 08:58 AM

                              oh. So sorry... it is the Gourmet Today with the green cover which is a newer version of the old Gourmet which had a yellow cover [I think.]

                              1. re: smtucker
                                beetlebug RE: smtucker Sep 7, 2010 09:01 AM

                                The Gourmet Today (green cover) is a newer book then the Gourmet' (yellow cover), I don't think it's a newer version per se. It's a newer book but I *don't* think the recipes are re-done. They just over the newer versions of the magazine.

                                I have both and don't feel like there is any repetition of the two. The yellow one is also great. It's been my go-to cookbook for years.

                                1. re: beetlebug
                                  The Dairy Queen RE: beetlebug Sep 7, 2010 09:07 AM

                                  Yes, "Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen" (the recently-released "green" book) is different from "The Gourmet Cookbook: More than 1000 recipes" (the older "yellow" book released in 2006 that I refer to as "Gourmet Yesterday"). I haven't gone through all 1000+ recipes to compare, but I think there is little overlap.

                                  The "contemporary" aspects of the green book are that they use more "ethnic", and sometimes "lighter" ingredients. Both books are pretty wonderful. Many (maybe half to 2/3'rds?), but not all, of the recipes from both books appear on Epicurious, but even the ones that do have sometimes been revised for inclusion in the books.


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                    chaitali RE: The Dairy Queen Sep 7, 2010 09:26 AM

                                    Great thanks!!

                            2. re: jen kalb
                              roxlet RE: jen kalb Sep 7, 2010 07:26 AM

                              I agree 100% on The Way to Cook and Bittman.

                              1. re: roxlet
                                buttertart RE: roxlet Sep 7, 2010 07:28 AM

                                Ditto. I find Bittman too casual.

                                1. re: buttertart
                                  Angel Food RE: buttertart Sep 7, 2010 10:18 AM

                                  I concur with the comments re: Bittman - i reference How to Cook but if I had to pick out of the the two of them, I'd go with JOC.

                            3. re: Breezychow
                              jmckee RE: Breezychow Sep 10, 2010 10:37 AM

                              I would concur; Way To Cook teaches lots of technique and variations.

                            4. re: chaitali
                              bayoucook RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 07:07 AM

                              Even after 40+ years of cooking, I still need to refer to JoC sometimes - a how-to or what-is or a method I haven't used in a long time. I come from the land of gumbo and for chicken gumbo I use their recipe all the time; there are many faves of mine in there. I have the Bittman one too, but haven' t used it as much as JoC - yet. To me JoC is a Bible for cooks.

                          2. chaitali RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 09:12 AM

                            I probably should have mentioned that I'm intermediate level cook and I plan to go to culinary school after I graduate from college.

                            1. nomadchowwoman RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 11:21 AM

                              My 2 cents--I own the Bayless, which I love, and the Bastianich, which I almost never cook from (that's not an indictment--I just have so many Italian cookbooks that i love, that that one gets overlooked).

                              I'd put on my wish list if I were you a Julia Child, as others have suggested--maybe The Way to Cook, one or both of the big Gourmet cookbooks (Gourmet and Gourmet Today), The New Basics, something that deals w/the science of food (I like Shirley Corriher's Cookwise), Larousse Gastronomique, a Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking.

                              BTW, great bargains on "used" (they are almost always practically untouched) cookbooks are available through Amazon. Sometimes the 3.99 shipping is more than the book!

                              Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc At Home can be had for $1 in The Good Cook's introductory offer (4 books, $4). That might be a good book for an aspiring chef.

                              27 Replies
                              1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                wekick RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 6, 2010 11:36 AM

                                I find quite a few @ thrift shops, antique malls and yard sales. You can also find items to cook with at great bargains. I pay .25-$2 for most cookbooks. Some I use for awhile and pass along, some I keep.

                                1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                  chaitali RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 6, 2010 03:30 PM

                                  WOW! Ad Hoc for a $1!!!
                                  How do I not know about this! I'm definitely signing up for the good cook.
                                  Thanks for the heads up :)

                                  I really want to buy a book that deals with the science of cooking too, but I'm not sure if I should get On Food and Cooking by Harold Mcgee or Shirley Corriher's CookWise. Any suggestions?

                                  1. re: chaitali
                                    jen kalb RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 07:27 AM

                                    I joined this club many years ago. Im not sure, with all the different ways of obtaining books and recipes now, that it would be worth it these days. I took Ad Hoc out of the library. It is cerrtainly not worth it if weight and size per recipe were factored in. It really does not seem intended for use in a kitchen by a serious cook, tho the recipes look good.Like one of the other posters I would recommend libraries and other alternative means (used or remaindered books online etc) ahead of buying new.

                                    1. re: chaitali
                                      cowboyardee RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 11:53 AM

                                      re: Mcgee vs Corriher

                                      Depends on what you're looking for. If you're genuinely interested in the science of cooking, Mcgee is really the gold standard. His book is comprehensive, well organised, interesting and detailed. But it also is a little less concerned with practical applications of cooking science, and what recipes it does have are mostly ancient recipes included as an historical point of interest.

                                      Corriher's CookWise is filled with recipes, frustratingly organized, huge, and more concerned with offering practical tips than Mcgee. If you don't find food science all that interesting and you want something with more practical tips and tricks, CookWise might be a better choice.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                        chaitali RE: cowboyardee Sep 8, 2010 10:38 AM

                                        I think I'll go with McGee.
                                        Thanks for the info!

                                        1. re: chaitali
                                          Mistral RE: chaitali Sep 9, 2010 01:40 AM

                                          I have both McGee and Corriher . McGee is THE reference work but I would go to the library for Corriher . Corriher is highly readable and you will really enjoy it. Lots of useful info.

                                    2. re: nomadchowwoman
                                      buttertart RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 6, 2010 03:59 PM

                                      Dang it, I looked for that when I signed up again recently and they hadn't posted it as available. Shoot.

                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        roxlet RE: buttertart Sep 7, 2010 07:28 AM

                                        I find that site extremely clunky to use. It has taken me numerous tries to find specific books. It's almost as if they really don't want you to order them and would like you to go with the Sandra Lee or Rachel Ray. OK, so I'm being paranoid, but it is hard to find specific books!

                                        1. re: roxlet
                                          buttertart RE: roxlet Sep 7, 2010 07:29 AM

                                          Know what you mean!

                                          1. re: buttertart
                                            The Dairy Queen RE: buttertart Sep 7, 2010 07:42 AM

                                            RE: The Good Cook: I think only certain books are available to "non-subscribers/potential new subscribers" at any given time. Actual subscribers have access to a different collection of books, which, again, seems to change based on availability, or, I am guessing, discounts and other promotions offered to TGC by the publishers.


                                            1. re: buttertart
                                              roxlet RE: buttertart Sep 7, 2010 07:43 AM

                                              I haven't joined yet. I'm waiting to see if a couple of books that I want show up there, like the new Essential New York Times Cookbook. Did you read about that one? Apparently it will be a compilation from the archives going all the way back. I'd take that for a buck.

                                              1. re: roxlet
                                                The Dairy Queen RE: roxlet Sep 7, 2010 07:47 AM

                                                My experience is that the books available through TGC are those that they think are going to have mass appeal and/or the ones publishers are pushing hard. This can include some great books, but whenever I am trying to take advantage of any of their promotions, 2 for 1, buy 2 get one free, that sort of thing, I have a hard time finding a book I want for the second book. I usually end up with a book I haven't really been yearning for, and may or may not end up liking. I give those away.


                                            2. re: roxlet
                                              bayoucook RE: roxlet Sep 7, 2010 09:45 AM

                                              i just found that to be true as well. They showed 3-4 titles by Julia Child, and zero for some of my other author searches! They do seem real high on Food Network choices. The 4 books for a dollar each does come with free shipping; unsure what happens after that....

                                              1. re: bayoucook
                                                Caitlin McGrath RE: bayoucook Sep 7, 2010 10:13 AM

                                                You generally have to pay tax and shipping on the 4 books, and you have to buy two more qualifying books within a specified time (a year or two). The membership prices are generally at least as much or more than discounted Amazon prices, and you have to add shipping costs, though they sometimes have discount shipping - the bargain comes when you average out the cost including the intital $4. But it's true that lots of what they offer is Food Network and celebrity chef-related.

                                                1. re: bayoucook
                                                  roxlet RE: bayoucook Sep 7, 2010 10:15 AM

                                                  after that you have to buy two books at prices that are less than the publisher recommended price. If you find 5 books in the initial offer that you like, you only have to buy one additional book. It's nice that it's on line. In the past I would get into trouble when I joined book clubs in forgetting to mail back the cards for books I didn't want.

                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                    chaitali RE: roxlet Sep 7, 2010 11:01 AM

                                                    Yeah I don't know if the membership is really worth it though. I can get books for a lot lesser at amazon or abebooks. I'm guessing you'd have to return the 4 initial books if you cancel the membership. I doubt they let you keep them.

                                                    1. re: chaitali
                                                      roxlet RE: chaitali Sep 7, 2010 11:15 AM

                                                      On a cost basis, it is definitely worth it if they have books you want. It is going to be much, much less than Amazon and ABE. When I chose the 5 books that appealed to me, my total cost was something like $13 for 5 books, which includes shipping. Then, I would only have to buy one additional book at a price less than the published price.

                                                    2. re: roxlet
                                                      buttertart RE: roxlet Sep 7, 2010 11:43 AM

                                                      That's the way I play it, 5 and then 1 and out (or sometimes I stay in, they have occasional sales/special offers for members who stick around, w/o having to buy additional books. The online selection refusal thing is great.

                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                        jen kalb RE: buttertart Sep 7, 2010 01:15 PM

                                                        thats for sure. - it would be great, but I am sure I would still screw up. I used to GET books I didnt want . But I would simply throw them in the mailbox marked return to sender and it worked. I would never go in for a bookclub again.

                                                        1. re: jen kalb
                                                          buttertart RE: jen kalb Sep 7, 2010 01:57 PM

                                                          My trick too...they get a bit shirty about it after a while.

                                                          1. re: jen kalb
                                                            Caitlin McGrath RE: jen kalb Sep 7, 2010 02:19 PM

                                                            I recently rejoined because there was a reasonable selection of books I was interested in (and they do endlessly solicit you to re-up!), and the only reason I was willing to do so is that the deal for new members (at least a few months ago) was that there is no monthly reply necessary and no automatically sent books. They still send stuff promoting their monthly picks (I elected to get it email only), but they only send what you select and order.

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                              roxlet RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 7, 2010 04:56 PM

                                                              That's good to know. Still trying to select 5 that I would actually use...

                                                              1. re: roxlet
                                                                Beckyleach RE: roxlet Sep 10, 2010 10:12 AM

                                                                I found the website searches a bit sneaky just now, too. For some reason, New American Table showed up under one column (bestsellers, I think?) but when I tried to search directly by either author or title (to put in my cart, as one of the dollar books; I bumped a cheap one down as my half price book. Heh heh!) it disappeared. This is an expensive, award-winning cookbook and I wonder if they were hoping I'd give up and go for Paula Dean, ya'll? I found it, though. Outfoxed, Good Cook. Take that!

                                                2. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                  Beckyleach RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 10, 2010 10:07 AM

                                                  Off topic a bit, but THANKS for reminding me of the Good Cook club. I hadn't been a member in years, because I'm disorganized and always was forgetting to return the darned letters declining selections. It got to be a family joke, to the point that my mother would snicker conspiratorially along with my husband, when they'd see me coming out of the post office with yet another unwanted selection of cookbooks.

                                                  Anyway, with email I should be safe. ;-) And I just got four big, fat, expensive books I've been wanting a long time, for a dollar each: Ad Hoc at Home, How to Cook a Lamb, New American Table, and James Peterson's Baking.

                                                  1. re: Beckyleach
                                                    nomadchowwoman RE: Beckyleach Sep 10, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                    I'm laughing b/c I too own a fair number of cookbooks I got b/c I forgot to send back/misplaced the card during a several memberships in The Good Cook book club over the years. But it is different now, and, like others here, I get my intro books and then immediately discharge my membership obligations and close it out. (I also agree w/other posters that finding the books one wants on the GC site is a pain.)

                                                    Good choices, BTW!

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                      chaitali RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 10, 2010 02:46 PM

                                                      Wait so you can get the 4 introductory books for $4, then cancel your membership and still keep the books without paying anything extra?
                                                      Boy..they would lose a lot a money if they did that!

                                                      1. re: chaitali
                                                        roxlet RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 02:54 PM

                                                        No, you can get 4 for $1 each, and a 5th for half the publisher's listed price, and then (if you order the 5th book) you only have to order one additional book.

                                                3. w
                                                  weem RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 12:33 PM

                                                  To the suggestions above, I would add two thoughts.

                                                  First, the public library can be a good source of cookbooks, allowing you to try out a book for a few weeks before deciding whether to buy it.

                                                  Second, there are many ways in which a cookbook can be "worth it". Obviously, if it is full of recipes that you make and enjoy, or if it teaches you a range of new techniques, then it is worth it. But it can also be worth it if it simply inspires you. After all, a cookbook can be more than just a collection of recipes. If, for instance, the Bayless and the Bastianich books fascinate you with their discussions of regional foods as they relate to cultural history, or open your mind with new approaches to ingredients, or simply inspire you to get into the kitchen with their obvious love of the process, then they will have been worth it even if you never cook a single thing from them.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: weem
                                                    nomadchowwoman RE: weem Sep 6, 2010 12:36 PM

                                                    Well said.

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                      weem RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 6, 2010 10:13 PM

                                                      Thanks. :-)

                                                    2. re: weem
                                                      wekick RE: weem Sep 6, 2010 01:44 PM

                                                      The library is a great source. Just don't spill anything on it. I just bought Ad Hoc that way! Someone spilled coffee.

                                                      1. re: weem
                                                        chaitali RE: weem Sep 6, 2010 03:19 PM

                                                        That is exactly why I'm buying Bastianich's book. I love reading about the background of food and the cultural history and the geography of the region it originates from. It helps me better understand the food.
                                                        But you've said it way more eloquently than I have :)

                                                        1. re: chaitali
                                                          weem RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 10:15 PM

                                                          Thanks, and I agree. Cookbooks often find their way to my bedside reading pile rather than my kitchen.

                                                        2. re: weem
                                                          chaitali RE: weem Sep 6, 2010 03:22 PM

                                                          Oh and the only library I have access to (since I don't own a car) is the school library. I'm not so sure if they have cookbooks, but I'll definitely check it out.

                                                        3. j
                                                          josephnl RE: chaitali Sep 6, 2010 03:40 PM

                                                          I know that you didn't ask, but for my money, my most used and worn out basic ccokbooks are The Joy of Cooking and the Silver Palate Cookbook.

                                                          1. chaitali RE: chaitali Sep 8, 2010 10:42 AM

                                                            Okay so based on everyones suggestions, I plan to add Joy of Cooking, Green Gourmet and Mcgee's On food and cooking to my collection.

                                                            Any suggestions for great dessert cookbooks?

                                                            20 Replies
                                                            1. re: chaitali
                                                              The Dairy Queen RE: chaitali Sep 8, 2010 10:45 AM

                                                              I do love the green Gourmet Today, but I think of it more as a collection of reliable recipes than as an instructional/foundational kind of book. They do have some sidebars on ingredients and things like that, but mostly, it's just a ton of recipes...


                                                              1. re: chaitali
                                                                dave_c RE: chaitali Sep 8, 2010 10:59 AM

                                                                If you have a Goodwill or some type of second hand store, you can find Joy of Cooking for a few dollars.

                                                                For dessert cookbooks, look into books by Dorie Greenspan.

                                                                1. re: chaitali
                                                                  beetlebug RE: chaitali Sep 8, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                                  For dessert cookbooks, I love "Pure Dessert " by Alice Medrich and "Sweet Spot" by Pinchot Ong. Both were Dessert cookbook of the months a couple of years ago.

                                                                  1. re: beetlebug
                                                                    beetlebug RE: beetlebug Sep 8, 2010 11:05 AM

                                                                    Here are the threads:

                                                                    Pure Dessert


                                                                    Sweet Spot


                                                                  2. re: chaitali
                                                                    JaneEYB RE: chaitali Sep 9, 2010 05:53 AM

                                                                    I'm rather obsessed with dessert cookbooks and the ones I love the best are by David Lebovitz (his new one 'Ready for Dessert' is a round up of his best recipes), Dorie Greenspan (her 'Baking: From My Home to Yours" is essential in my view), and the less well-known Dede Wilson, whose 'Baking to the Limit' and 'Unforgettable Desserts' are fantastic. Oh, and Annie Bell's 'Gorgeous Desserts' and 'Gorgeous Cakes' are full of wonderful desserts, For ice cream I'd say David Lebovitz's 'The Perfect Scoop' is essential but I also love Emily Luchetti's 'Passion for Ice Cream'.

                                                                    1. re: JaneEYB
                                                                      buttertart RE: JaneEYB Sep 10, 2010 06:01 AM

                                                                      I had always wondered about the Wilson books. Good to know.

                                                                      1. re: JaneEYB
                                                                        buttertart RE: JaneEYB Sep 10, 2010 06:02 AM

                                                                        Re Lebovitz: the absinthe cake in "Sweet Life in Paris" is magnifique (pistachio+anise, mmm).

                                                                        1. re: JaneEYB
                                                                          buttertart RE: JaneEYB Sep 29, 2010 06:59 AM

                                                                          I got the Wilson books out of the library, Jane, and looked through the "To the Limit" one last night - very nice and unusual receipes (that blackberry cream tart with strawberries is so sexy). I also like the number of desserts with espresso powder in them - it seems to be one of her default flavors (as cinnamon is to Greenspan - rather unfortunately as far as I'm concerned).
                                                                          The only thing I don't like about "Baking to the Limit" is that it makes me sing the Eagles song to myself when I think of the title.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                                            roxlet RE: buttertart Sep 29, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                                            Oh, don't get me started! It'll be in my head all day. I had a hard enough time getting rid of The Dutchman yesterday!

                                                                            1. re: roxlet
                                                                              buttertart RE: roxlet Sep 29, 2010 10:39 AM

                                                                              Yes, but at least that's a GOOD song.

                                                                        2. re: chaitali
                                                                          wekick RE: chaitali Sep 9, 2010 06:53 AM

                                                                          This one I busted the budget for
                                                                          The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming was reprinted and you could buy it from the North Fork Inn for $50 but when I looked it up to post it has sold out. Fortunately quite a few of her recipes are on Epicurious, just search her name.

                                                                          1. re: wekick
                                                                            JaneEYB RE: wekick Sep 9, 2010 09:25 AM

                                                                            That's on my second-hand list - I have a booklist (both cookbooks and novels) that I always check when I'm in a second-hand bookshop. I really should get in the habit of looking at Abe and Amazon, but that feels more like a deliberate choice to spend yet more money on cookbooks, whereas buying it if I stumble upon it in a bookstore feels more accidental.

                                                                            Was it worth $50? I ate at The Gramercy Tavern for the first time in the spring and I thought the desserts were the best part of a great meal. Of course the pastry chef is now Nancy Olson rather than Claudia Fleming, who is now at The North Fork Inn, as you say, But the people at GT are obviously good at picking their pastry chefs.

                                                                            1. re: JaneEYB
                                                                              wekick RE: JaneEYB Sep 9, 2010 01:55 PM

                                                                              Was it worth $50? Well I am glad I bought it when I could because now it is sold out and the second hand places are really high. This past year that I have had it, I have not been able to use it as much as I wanted too but plan to use it more at least the next two months. We have been gone all summer so I am going to be a little more organized and purposeful about what I cook now that we are home.
                                                                              I keep kind of a mental list of books I am looking for too.
                                                                              Another dessert book might be something by Alice Medrich like her new book.
                                                                              which is a rework of her old book

                                                                              1. re: JaneEYB
                                                                                The Dairy Queen RE: JaneEYB Sep 9, 2010 02:05 PM

                                                                                I bought the Fleming book when it was available at NFI and I think I paid close to $60 for it. (Somewhere here on HC there is a discussion between JoanN and me about that). I've never cooked from it (my track record with dessert books is awful. I collect them and seldom cook from them, even though I intend to. You know, "when I have more time...") Anyway, it is incredibly inspiring to flip through. Every single dessert sounds unique and amazing.

                                                                                Someday, I really am going to cook from it! When I have more time...


                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                  chaitali RE: The Dairy Queen Sep 9, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                                                  You guys are incredible! Great suggestions :)
                                                                                  I just got my copy of Maida Heatter's great new desserts. I was a little disappointed to see that it has no photographs at all, but it's quite a hefty tome.
                                                                                  Some of the recipes seem a bit quaint (broiled grapefruit anyone?) but I saw a lot which I would love to try (whole-wheat fig and date bread..yum!)

                                                                                  I also got Becoming a chef yesterday. While most of the recipes are very impressive, I'd be very hard pressed to find a lot of the ingredients listed in the recipe.
                                                                                  Besides that, the stories about famous chefs and their advice to novice/prospective chefs is invaluable. I'm really glad I bought this one!

                                                                                  1. re: chaitali
                                                                                    jen kalb RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 12:24 PM

                                                                                    the test of a cookbook is in the eating. Heatters recipes produce delicious food.At the time the book came out, pix were not normally part of it.
                                                                                    Some of her recipes have become catering favorites (the pecan bars americana) if you make her recipe you will see the inadequacy of some of the bakers and caterers versions out there.

                                                                                    1. re: jen kalb
                                                                                      buttertart RE: jen kalb Sep 10, 2010 12:28 PM

                                                                                      100 percent agree, Maida Heatter is to baking/desserts as Marcella Hazan is to Italian food. Her recipes work. If the dust jacket is still on your book I think it's one of the ones with a lot of the desserts pictured on it - and a key to them on the inside back flap. (Still waiting for PAO to say which of her recipes are clunkers, in my experience there has only been one that didn't work. For me.)

                                                                                      1. re: jen kalb
                                                                                        chaitali RE: jen kalb Sep 10, 2010 02:45 PM

                                                                                        I do have the dust jacket actually, but I didn't know about the reference in the back..thanks!

                                                                                        1. re: chaitali
                                                                                          roxlet RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 03:03 PM

                                                                                          I love that Maida Heatter book and have made some really special cookies out of it. She has one really great one that everyone loves. You make the dough and then roll in balls, and roll in finely chopped dry roasted peanuts. You make a well in the center and put a small spoonful of peanut butter, which you then cover with mini chocolate chips and then bake. I think they're called Charlie Brown's.

                                                                                2. re: wekick
                                                                                  roxlet RE: wekick Sep 10, 2010 02:59 PM

                                                                                  I actually (eek) had two copies of The Last Course. I had (once again) forgotten somehow that I had it, and bought an autographed copy when I was at NFT&I the first time two summers ago. I gave the extra one to my neighbor who went to pastry school and always brings fabulous brownies to my big parties. She was beyond thrilled, but had I really thought about it, I would have sold it on Amazon and made some extra cash to fuel my addiction.

                                                                              2. chaitali RE: chaitali Sep 8, 2010 06:52 PM

                                                                                Ohh Pure Dessert looks pretty good.

                                                                                Thanks for your suggestions everyone!!

                                                                                1. f
                                                                                  fishface42 RE: chaitali Sep 8, 2010 07:12 PM

                                                                                  My first cookbook 40 years ago was "The Joy of Cooking" because it was comprehensive and explained every step in detail. Today I go to Martha Stewart's website for recipes. The site has a huge variety, the recipes are very reliable; and you can print them out to use, and not worry about spattering a cookbook in the kitchen. And you don't end up with a large collection of books you seldom use wasting shelf space.

                                                                                  1. p
                                                                                    pitterpatter RE: chaitali Sep 9, 2010 04:41 AM

                                                                                    I would add "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison. It is comprehensive, with 1,000 recipes for sauces, salads, veg main and side dishes, breads, pastas, etc.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: pitterpatter
                                                                                      Beckyleach RE: pitterpatter Sep 10, 2010 09:39 AM

                                                                                      Ha! Just saw your post after my new post descended to the bottom of the thread. GMTA. :-)

                                                                                      1. re: pitterpatter
                                                                                        jen kalb RE: pitterpatter Sep 10, 2010 12:20 PM

                                                                                        just note that lots of folks arent impressed by this book (see current October COTM discussion)

                                                                                        I think by and large mediterranean countries and asians do a taster more itneresting job with vegetables than we do.

                                                                                        1. re: jen kalb
                                                                                          chaitali RE: jen kalb Sep 10, 2010 02:39 PM

                                                                                          I grew up in a vegetarian family so I've got veggies down to pat, it's desserts that I really needed help with. Plus I wanted cookbooks that would teach me different cuisines (with authentic dishes) besides my own.

                                                                                      2. b
                                                                                        Beckyleach RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 09:39 AM

                                                                                        I like your start. I have about 400 cookbooks and yet the ones I reach for most often are The Joy of Cooking (for the basics, or when you just want chicken and dumplings, damn it! ;-) and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (by Deborah Madison--she is the queen of cool, interesting easy meals, things with just sliced potatoes, or unusual sandwiches, interesting salads or so forth. The Savory Way, also by her, is my favorite but it's out of print, I think), plus Marcella Hazen's comprehensive italian works, and (being a displaced southerner) a well-worn, stained copy of Cooking Across the South, by Southern Living magazine.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Beckyleach
                                                                                          chaitali RE: Beckyleach Sep 10, 2010 02:40 PM

                                                                                          I really want to buy Marcella Hazan's books, but there are so many, I don't know which one to choose! :(

                                                                                          1. re: chaitali
                                                                                            buttertart RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 03:03 PM

                                                                                            The best one as a sampler is Marcella's Italian Kitchen. It's apparently her favorite too!

                                                                                        2. f
                                                                                          Felila RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 01:01 PM

                                                                                          I'm using my second copy of Madhur Jaffrey's _World of the East Vegetarian Cooking_. Wore out the first.

                                                                                          Rose Levy Beranbaum's _Cake Bible_ taught me how to bake light, fluffy, delicious cakes.

                                                                                          The website The Fresh Loaf taught me how to bake bread.

                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Felila
                                                                                            chaitali RE: Felila Sep 10, 2010 02:43 PM

                                                                                            I've heard that Rose Levy Beranbaums recipes are a bit iffy and inconsistent.
                                                                                            So I'm a little wary of buying Cake Bible or any of her books.

                                                                                            1. re: chaitali
                                                                                              buttertart RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 03:03 PM

                                                                                              Far from it, her recipes are excruciatingly accurate and work extremely well.

                                                                                              1. re: chaitali
                                                                                                roxlet RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 03:05 PM

                                                                                                That is completely not true, IMO. Her recipes are tested to the nth degree and are neither iffy nor inconsistent. In my experience, they always work out perfectly if you follow the directions.

                                                                                                1. re: chaitali
                                                                                                  nomadchowwoman RE: chaitali Sep 10, 2010 08:45 PM

                                                                                                  +3 on that: precision is her hallmark. I'm not much of a baker, but I've had good success w/ the RLB recipes I've tried, from both her "bibles."

                                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                                                    buttertart RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 11, 2010 07:12 AM

                                                                                                    The apple pie filling from the Pie book recipe has the best spice mixture ever (at the less-cinnamony end). It enhances. rather than masks, the apple taste like crazy.
                                                                                                    I have been a bit slapdash in my baking at times and found her recipes fussy but when I rein in my baser impulses and follow them I am always more than pleased. souschef is right...

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                      nomadchowwoman RE: buttertart Sep 11, 2010 08:47 AM

                                                                                                      Good to know; one reason I'm not crazy about apple pie is that the cinnamon is almost always overwhelming. OTOH, DH loooves apple pie, as he reminds me often.

                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                                                        buttertart RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 12, 2010 08:08 AM

                                                                                                        They do that, don't they. I'm with you on the cinnamon, just a smidge.

                                                                                                  2. re: chaitali
                                                                                                    Mistral RE: chaitali Sep 11, 2010 01:06 AM

                                                                                                    Her recipes are outstanding - she is one of the few really testing recipes!!!

                                                                                                    In addition has an excellent web site - forum and blog. I have two of her books. The Cake Bible is a must.

                                                                                                    A lot of her recipes are available on her web site - FREE in PDF - and you can Google as well. Try any one and you wont be disappointed.

                                                                                                    I particularly like her web site - there is so much info there and if you have a problem one of the expert moderators will answer your query within an hour or so.

                                                                                                Show Hidden Posts