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Sep 5, 2010 08:39 PM

Bought new cookbooks!! But are they worth it?

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

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    1. 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

        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

          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

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

            2 Replies
            1. re: Quine

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

              1. re: chaitali

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

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

              1. 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

                  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

                    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

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

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        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

                          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

                      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

                        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

                          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

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


                            1. re: chaitali

                              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

                                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

                                  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.


                            2. re: jen kalb

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

                              1. re: roxlet

                                Ditto. I find Bittman too casual.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  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

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

                            4. re: chaitali

                              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.