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Cooking from the Time-Life "Foods of the World" series of books, anybody?

These books opened my eyes to the world of food outside my little corner of it (then, southwestern Ontario) and made me what I am today. Have had them since I was a teenager. I bet many of you have them as well? Well worth looking into if not.
There has been discussion of them off and on on "Food Media and News" and on cookbook threads here, most recently http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3156....
I've dipped into them from time to time for various dishes and information, and everything I've made from them has been great - and easier to make now than they were in the pre-food processor days.
Favorites include: the chicken breasts with gjetost cheese from the Scandinavian volume, the Geschnetzeltes and the endives stuffed with chicken in Mornay sauce wrapped in ham and gratinéed (to die for) from the Quintet of Cuisines one, the boiled beef from the Austro-Hungarian empire one, and a whole slew more.
How about you?

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  1. Same here! Circassian chicken from the Turkish book, potato raita from India, countless go-to recipes for France, the two versions of Coulibiac from Russia...would darn near save them first in a fire!

    1. My parents got the whole set in the early 70's and I have used recipes from the various issues. My favorites were pork loin stuffed with prunes and apples and hasselbackpotatis which I have made many times and my kids still ask for it (they're in their forties now). This is out of the Scandinavian issue. My wife still makes an adaptation of the kulebiaka from the Russian issue. I have read and enjoyed all of the issues, including the regional American ones. When i see them on our bookshelves, they bring back many happy memories!

      1. I worked at the Faculty-Alumni Center at UConn as a line cook in the late 70's. Every Wednesday we had "International Night," sounds sorta hokey now, but it was a big deal then in our little corner of CT. The chef had the book series, which I coveted, and used them for menu and recipe suggestions. I don't remember everything we did specifically, but the Circassian Chicken and the Salmon Coulibiac were definitely on the menu, as were Russian, French, Asian, Scandinavian and Italian dishes, and probably more. I know we did a Creole night which was a big hit. It was fun for the kitchen staff, an eye opener, culinarily speaking, and a bit of a challenge as well.

        I left for culinary school and returned to the Club after I graduated, to become chef and carry on the International Night tradition for a few more years. I used Craig Claiborne's The New York Times International Cookbook for my inspiration, as the chef took his Time-Life Series with him. At that point the big thrill was Korean night, and we made kim chi in house for that affair.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Claiborne's "NYT International Coobook was one of my favorites for a long time. What I remember about using that book is that no matter what recipe I followed, it turned out delicious. That book still holds a prominent place on my bookshelf.

          1. re: CindyJ

            Truly true, and I also produced many, many of his recipes, in quantity, with no duds!

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              OK, I had to buy it. This is getting bad! Thank goodness for amazon/half.com

        2. I've got 20+ volumes of FOW, and happily, I also have a soft-covered index to the entire series that came along with one of the mailed volumes. The one recipe that comes to mind is Bananas Flambe (Bananas Foster) from the Creole-Acadian volume. That was my go-to dessert for many, many years of New Year's Eve entertaining. I don't use these books very often; maybe this thread will prompt me to go back and explore them.

          1. Cooking Of China. Time to dig it out again!

            1. I bought the whole set by subscription when it first came out, and use the books to this day. Absolutely my go to cookbooks. The writers and editors for the series were the top notch culinary people of the era, including Michael Field, James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Pierre Franey, Richard Olney (I think), and many others. The recipes were written by Michael Field and extensively tested. I have tried very few that didn't work. For me, the books really launched my voyage into cooking. My Chowhound profile shows the TL Creole-Acadian as my most tattered cookbook.

              I really can't say enough good things about these books. Time-Life did a real service when they put together that series.

              1. I don't own any of these books, but if you will indulge me, let me tell you a story. Growing up, there was a family down the street with 6 children. As it happened three of the children's ages coincided with my mother's three children. As you can imagine, the moms became close friends. These friends, who I will call the A's, lived a very different life than we did. She cooked meals with exotic ingredients like whole artichokes, and the kids were allowed to eat ice cream after lunch! I loved it when we had to come home from school and eat lunch at their house. Roast beef, turkey, egg salads, and then the ice cream! And I had a terrible crush on one of the older boys. _sigh_

                This was in the mid-1960's and the beginning of telemarketing. One day we were visting and the phone rang with a marketing call from Time-Life books. If you bought x number of these International cookbooks, you would get y number at no additional cost. Mrs. A explained, isn't that a cooincidence! My husband is the editor in chief of the Time-Life cookbooks, and we test the recipes right here in this house! It was true. I was eating these wonderful meals in the house of the editor. The recipes were tested by his wife. Needless to say, the call was over almost before it began.

                The food was great. Even better, I have used this line whenever marketers call... "really? you are selling vacuum cleaners? What a coincidence, my husband sells vacuum cleaner too!" and the call is over!

                6 Replies
                    1. re: buttertart

                      I'm in my 20s and had never heard of these but I was at a massive used book sale today and a couple of tiny spiral books caught my eye. I leafed through the Middle Eastern and Latin American books of this series and I was blown away at how good the recipes looked. I was like-- what????....this is from the late 60s/early 70s???? There was nothing out of date about the volumes and I purchased the pair for a mere 50 cents. I feel like I've struck gold!

                      1. re: CoconutMilk

                        You have. There were people interested in the subject back in the Dark Ages of the 60's-70's - these books opened up a lot of people's minds on the subject of "foreign" foods.

                    2. re: smtucker

                      Oh, what a cool story! My parents got one of these as a wedding gift...it was always the odd one out on the shelf because of the sleeve. They ordered the rest of the set, and I grew up on them. Every time Mom and Dad were planning a special holiday dinner, or just feeling adventurous, they'd pull one of these off of the shelf and flip through it. They still do. I am personally responsible for the grease stains on one of my favorite Portuguese recipes - when I was first learning to cook, I didn't have the good sense to keep the cookbook out of splatter range - and I still have an electronic file somewhere with a few of my favorites transcribed. I give these volumes (and my parents' enthusiasm for cooking from them) full credit for my curiosity about cuisines and unusual ingredients now. Some (I think South Pacific is one of them) really did call for some ingredients that are still hard to find in some parts of the country - not all volumes were adapted for the typical American kitchen. I've made it clear to Mom and Dad that I want those books eventually, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually written into their will. :)

                      1. re: smtucker

                        Oh I HAD to comment!! what a wonderful story!! I just ordered these on ebay and can't WAIT to start trying out the new and different recipes! My Mom is now living with me with dementia at 92 yrs and I want to try some of the German ones since she is 100% Krautdog!!
                        Thanks for this post and all the others! When I have time....probably after she either passes or goes to a nursing facility (dread it)....but I will remember this site and bookmark it on my PC. I'm a 60's teenager too!
                        Lemon girl...

                      2. We definitely had a couple of these books, but, alas, my memory fails me and I can not remember which, nor what happened to them. Weren't they books that had the spiral recipe part inside a kind of hard-covered book?

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: roxlet

                          I have 2 (Chinese and Pacific/Southeast Asian) they are hardbound 9 x 11 inches, nothing spiral, though, just regular

                          1. re: roxlet

                            They came in a pair, in a slipcase. The hardback book had a lot of cultural stuff. The spiral bound part was all recipes. I had the Chinese and the Indian cookbooks. Hopefully they're still lurking in the stuff in storage, and not actually lost.

                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                So did the spiral part have different/additional recipes from the hardbound?

                                1. re: blue room

                                  I think they were the same recipes, just easier to haul into the kitchen and actually cook. The hardback was more of a coffee table book, with lots of pictures and information about the country and cooking styles and culture above and beyond mere recipes.

                                  I'm actually not sure that there were any actual recipes in the hardback. If there were, those recipes were all duplicated in the smaller spiral bound cookbook.

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    The little spiral books had all the recipes, and were specifically designed to be used for actual cooking (the spiral meant they could lay flat in the counter, and since they were separate you could spill things on them and not mess up the hardbounds). Most volumes of the series had around 100 recipes in the spirals. The hardbound books had a selection of the same recipes, maybe 30 or so in each one, a few at the end of each chapter, and they were more-or-less keyed to the material in the chapter. There were no recipes in the hardbounds that weren't in the spirals.

                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                      The spiral books contain more recipes than the hardcover versions - they're meant to go together, with the spiral ones being used in the kitchen and the hardcover more for reading.

                                      I'm a big fan of cookbooks that spend more space on ingredients, history and cooking techniques than pictures, so I quite like these. My parents had a set, and I retrieved some of the spiral bound ones, and a couple hardcover, when they moved to a smaller place (I didn't have room in my suitcase for all of them).

                              2. I got them when they first came out ... about 40 years ago. Sadly, I gave them away a long time ago although they were very good.

                                I loved the poultry pie [empanada?] from the Spain book, the Liptauer Cheese from the Austrian book still can't be beat. I still cook chicken split down the back and stuffed under the skin from the Poultry book ... a great way to cook chicken. There were so many!

                                Those recipes and the ones from Julia Child's Mastering the Art and French Chef ... most notably the Lamb Printanier made up my teen years and early 20s. So good!

                                1. I've seriously adapted the Time-Life "French" volume's recipe for "Cassoulet" to make it my own, & it's been a New Year's Day tradition here for many years now.

                                  Nothing like having a wonderful recipe to use up some of the leftover Xmas roast goose.

                                  Was lucky enough to score the whole series for mere pennies at a local book sale, but have yet to read/work my way through all of them.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Breezychow

                                    The cassoulet recipe was the first truly difficult dish I attempted, back in college days. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was teaching me how to build layers of flavor. It's a superb recipe on its own, and proof that you don't need duck confit for a cassoulet, which I treat as a concept rather than a formula since it is a provincial dish meant to use what's on hand. But you certainly need the fat! Leftover goose sounds like a great ingredient -- hopefully you've saved the fat too.

                                  2. After reading this I'm thinking WOW -- am I losing it or what. I was just packing up my totally complete set of this series to sell. We have gotten lazy and just run to the internet to look up recipies. Now, I'm putting my set back on the shelf.
                                    Years ago my son and I found a recipe in the American Cooking: New England for a Cranberry-Nut pie and decided to make it for Thanksgiving. We all loved it so much it has become a yearly tradition. In fact, anyone who ever gets lucky enough to have a piece wants the recipe.
                                    Thanks for helping me decide to keep this wonderful set.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: az2ct

                                      I am very glad to hear it, these are invaluable books. Every time I pick one up I find something I want to make.

                                      1. re: az2ct

                                        Love the Cranberry-Nut pie....a Thanksgiving tradition in our family too!

                                      2. This was an amazing series. I bought a few myself and then one of my professors in grad school gave me her whole set in the early 80's after having dinner at my house a few times. I don't have the classic french or the american regional except creole-acadian....but the caribbean, latin american, southeast asia...were especially mind blowing. They were so far ahead of the times...should have been part of the Peace Corps or some kind of international prize. The spiral bound volumes had extra recipes, as others have pointed out, and while you sometimes see the hardcovers at used book shops, never the spiral ones. Have to say I hate it while reading a hardcover and I'm referenced to a spiral bound I do not have.

                                        These have stood the test of time...wonder if some kind of popular movement could get them to update a bit and re-publish?

                                        The early Bon Appetit magazines had so much inventive and really ethnic recipes as well. Really wish another popular movement could get them to post recipes from the late 70's and 80's on the web site.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: az2ct

                                          My next project is to recreate the complete index (which I do have). When it is done (probably in January) I will post a link for anyone who wants it so they can download it.

                                          1. re: az2ct

                                            Did you ever post this link? I'd love to have it.

                                        2. I have the whole set books and spiral recipe books-
                                          I bought these as a young newlywed-
                                          they were my first introduction to the foods of the world

                                          I also have the complete set of Woman's Encyclopedia of Cooking

                                          They bring me fond memories of cooking for my husband and mother-in-law

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jpr54_1

                                            I have the Woman's Day one too, great books.

                                          2. I see these come up at local SAVERS thrift store fairly often, from singles to complete sets.

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                get them all. Seriously. I also own the entire set.

                                                There's another FOTW thread on...Food Media, I think. Someone mentioned Bananas Foster from the Creole and Acadian edition. Insanely good.!

                                                And I forget which book this is in but one of 'em has a simple recipe of sauteed onions, mushrooms, and a splash of sour cream. My spouse loathes this, but I love it.

                                            1. I realize now I bumped the wrong thread w a question about these books. I have come across a bookstore with many of these books in stock and I was wondering if anyone had favourites they'd recommend. I currently have Latin American, American - Creole & Acadian and the Southern Style books. I've learned that the Japanese book is supposed to be terrific and the French books as well.

                                              Do you have any favourites?

                                              Also FYI, in doing my search I learned that all but one of these books are indexed in EYB. I'll paste the link here in case folks are interested. You don't need to be a member to look at the books, recipe index or recipes:


                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Quintet of Cuisines is my favourite.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Thanks bt, if they have it, I'll be sure to get it.

                                                2. These are dated, but that doesn't really matter with food (or anything else, ackshewally.)
                                                  You should be aware of the 2 parts, though -- I don't think all the spiral recipes are contained in the hardcover. The hardcover has the pictures, history, background, etc, -- and *some* recipes.
                                                  Can't swear to this, only have a few!

                                                  5 Replies
                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      That's great to know br. I didn't see any spiral bound books w the hardcover editions but it makes me wonder if they were shelved elsewhere since they didn't have the same look at the other books. Much appreciated.

                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        Breadcrumbs, you can usually find the smaller spiral companion books on eBay, Amazon, etc. (varying prices!)
                                                        I think that many buyers and sellers are completely unaware that the problem exists -- each figures they have a book, self contained. Time-Life has put out another series, "The Good Cook". Also large flattish books, but self-contained, no mini companions. They are excellent too. I have a few.
                                                        There exists also (!) the "Time-Life Illustrated Library of Cooking" I'm not familiar with those.

                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                          Thanks so much for posting this br....if I can't find them in this shop, I'll definitely order them here.

                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          The spirals are harder to find in my experience. Folks downsizing often get rid of the hardbacks and keep the spirals. Once in a great while I find the book board sleeve which both volumes originally fit into.

                                                      2. I had just finished college, and was living alone for the first time when these books came out. My parents generously gave me a subscription to the set, so I got them all, one at a time, as they came out. I've cooked from them continuously over the years, and I think my greatest triumph, back when I was in my 20's, was the "Roasted Boned Chicken with Pork Stuffing" pictured on page 148 of Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jjw

                                                          What a nice story jjw. If I can find that edition, I'll be sure to look for that chicken dish!

                                                        2. By far and away, the Canneloni recipe is the best. Don't cook much from recipe, but if I were to, this is the one recipe I would follow.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: primebeefisgood

                                                            Thanks primebeeflsgood...is that recipe in the Italian book?

                                                              1. re: primebeefisgood

                                                                I'll definitely flag it then, thank-you. I ordered this book from Abe's last week.

                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                  Something funny -- a high school friend made them for a fahhncy dinnah party way back when and I still remember them as being delicious.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    That's great buttertart, what a wonderful food memory and good for you for remembering where the recipe came from!! When I was in university a friend of mine made some amazing potato & pea samosas. I could have sworn I knew which cookbook they were in but alas, years later when I stumbled across the book, no such recipe!!

                                                          2. Oh, Breadcrumbs, I just keep answering all these threads. :)

                                                            I think that all of the 'American' books are terrific. I'm from New England, so that one holds a special place here. The Provincial French book is really good as well. Oh hell, they all are. They [I've said this twice already] might not be 'current cuisine,' but they are fun to read, and you will find some still-relevant, time-tested recipes. And a lot of good stories.

                                                            And the carton just came out of the closet again. It's time to re-read.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: nikkihwood

                                                              Thanks again nikki and if you do start going through the books, be sure and let us know any past favourite dishes you discover.

                                                            2. I had no idea that these were any good! I have 4 of them that I haven't even looked at, and bypass them in thrift stores all the time.....now I shall know to snap them up asap. Thanks!

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                The two best, in my opinion, are the Chinese and Italian.

                                                                1. re: primebeefisgood

                                                                  I would also mention two "odd" ones, Quintet of Cuisines and the (American) Melting Pot, as among the bests. Great recipes in those. Actually, of the entire 25 or so books the only ones that I find aren't helpful in my cooking are Classical French (too complicated for me -- every recipe seems to call for the output several previous recipes, and I don;t have a battery of sous chefs at my disposal) and Japan (just not my thing I guess).

                                                                  It is interesting that when these books were produced (late 60's) home food processors were just coming onto the market, and IIRC food processors are not used in any of the instructions.

                                                                  1. re: johnb

                                                                    Quintet is my favorite by far, must look at Melting Pot again. Classical French ehh.
                                                                    Blenders were as advanced as it got.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      I think one reason I like Melting Pot is that so many of its recipes are for the comfort foods of the immigrant groups it highlights.

                                                                2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                  I know Allegra, I was in the same boat. I'm loving the ones I have though. Even if you never cook from them, they're an excellent and engaging read. Just a bonus that folks say the recipes are terrific too.

                                                                3. I love these books too and recently got a new handful of the spiral-bound recipe volumes at the Salvation Army. The Latin American book delivered big time for me a few weeks ago with a Peruvian recipe for beef heart anticuchos. Without it, I probably would still have the heart in the freezer--it totally motivated me to finally learn to cook it.

                                                                  1. I have a large, but incomplete set that my mother and I collected when I was a teenager. She died in 1971, and the collection ended there. I have carted them around my various moves for 40 years and love hauling them out for a good read. I've made the Jambalaya from "American Cooking" for the same 40 years and it's always a hit.

                                                                    1. My favorite cookbook series....not only have I used the recipes but I have used the cultural information when teaching....and always reread the relevant books before traveling! Visited bakeries in Vienna and Budapest that I had dreamed of since reading about them in FOTW when I was young!

                                                                      1. I'm bumping this thread because I've found a source for these books and I need to know which are the "must haves".

                                                                        I currently own:

                                                                        American Cooking: Southern Style, Creole & Acadian
                                                                        Latin American

                                                                        Scanning this thread, folks have also recommended:

                                                                        Quintet of Cuisines
                                                                        Middle Eastern
                                                                        New England
                                                                        Melting Pot

                                                                        ...any others I must have? I must say, I looked at the Japan book today and it looked wonderful.

                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          There isn't a Turkey qua Turkey volume, is there???
                                                                          The Japan volume made me, a non-fish eater at the time, very interested in the cuisine.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            I don't think so bt. I looked in EYB and came up w zero results.

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              I thought not, Turkey was very exotic at the time.

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                Everything was pretty exotic at the time. Even real Italian (as distinguished from American-Italian) was not widely known then. Thank goodness things have changed, somewhat anyway!

                                                                                Without looking, I believe Turkey was included in the Middle East volume.

                                                                                1. re: johnb

                                                                                  That it was, everything exotic...

                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            The British one is good and makes for a nice travel log. I love the cranberry/walnut tart in the New England cookbook. Actually I have them all and while I don't use too many recipes I have enjoyed the photos and cultural information they provide!

                                                                            1. re: wpattillo

                                                                              Thanks wpattillo, and that tart sounds wonderful!

                                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              Breadcrumbs, all the "American" books are worth owning, IMO.

                                                                              I would also recommend the Spain/Portugal book.

                                                                                1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                  My mother sent me all her original Time Life books, but kept the American books.... grrr.

                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                  by "France" do you mean the Cooking of Provincial France? That is one of my desert island cookbooks! Not that I cook from it much, but it's written by MFK Fisher ( enough said) and is a delight to read. A delightful, though dated, look at the cuisine through the eyes (and taste buds) of one of the best food writers ever. The photos are fun to look at for those of us who have memories of late 60s Western Europe (I first visited Germany as a young child in 1968). And I do covet those sandals on the mother pictured on p. 131--i think they'd be just as fashionable today!

                                                                                  BTW, this book taught me how to make quiche and souffle.

                                                                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                    Hi nofunlatte, I created that list from posts on this thread and kieine, the first poster mentioned the book from France. I'm assuming you're right and it must be the Cooking of Provincial France they were referring to. Even if not, based on your review here, I definitely want it!

                                                                                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                    First of all, are you referring to the big "country/culture" books or the small, spiral bound cookbooks? The answer might vary depending on which.

                                                                                    I would say they are all good and which ones to select depend on the individual. I find I'm not temperamentally suited to Japanese and Classic French cooking, for example, so those I don't cook from, but I'm glad to have them, especially the big ones.

                                                                                    So many of them are useful that it's hard to name a few favorites.

                                                                                    Another point to consider is that, on eBay for example, whole or nearly-whole sets are frequently available for a very reasonable price (on a per book basis) so that even if you don't want them all it's easier and cheaper just to buy the whole shebang. That way you can also look at the ones you thought you weren't interested in and may be pleasantly surprised.

                                                                                    1. re: johnb

                                                                                      Good idea. The classic French is probably my least favorite too...

                                                                                      1. re: johnb

                                                                                        No spiral bound books are available john but I'm able to get the hard covers for between $1-$2 a piece so it's quite a bargain.

                                                                                        Unfortunately the Ebay shipping costs to Canada tend to be prohibitive.

                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                          You want the hard covers, for the text. The spirals have a few more recipes than they do, I think, but the biggies are in the hard covers.
                                                                                          They're all written by the bigs in the field at the time.

                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                            Keep your eyes open. EBay is institutnig a new international shipping program that includes Canada and that may help. I sell restaurant grade SS cookware on eBay and ship to Canada the old way from time to time -- it's more expensive for sure, but workable. I've shipped stuff as far as Russia. And for books there is always the favorable international book rate.

                                                                                            If one is interested in the books for actual cooking, IIRC the spirals have far more recipes, not just a few more. I seem to recall that TL said at the time that the spirals would have 100+ recipes each, and 30 or so would be selected for the books, but my memory may well be faulty.

                                                                                            BTW, $1-2 @ is indeed a bargain. I was an original customer in the 70's and have bought extras many times since. Most recently I got a complete set even including all three supplements for about $110 plus shipping.

                                                                                      2. Thanks for this thread and everybody's comments! My mom had all of these while I was growing up (and still has them). I'd flipped through them a few times and knew that my mom has a few dishes she makes out of them (the only one I can think of right now is the Scandinavian fruit-stuffed pork, whichis great), and she's always held the, to be great books.

                                                                                        So, maybe eight years ago, I was at a garage sale and picked up the whole lot for a song (the lady who pulled in after us was so jealous!) -- all the international books and the American books, both hardcover and spiral-bound for all of them (I'm pretty sure all of them; I'd need to consult a list).

                                                                                        Anyhow, to my point -/ I used the German one a while back when I needed some German recipes, but other than that, had not really looked at them at all. With everybody's praisesof them here, I'm diving in! Pretty randomly, I picked Pacific and Southeast Asian to start with. Just finished the first chapter -- really wrll-written and interesting, good photos with nice descriptions, and great-sounding recipes. Thanks for leading me back to these!

                                                                                        1. I subscribed just after I graduated from college, bought duplicates of my favorites for our weekend place, and got "Good Cook" as a hand me down. Foods of the World is the source for some of my best dishes: red cabbage and potatoes roasted in butter from Scandinavian Cooking, goulash and liptauer cheese from Cooking of Vienna's Empire, Burgundy beef from Provincial France, shrimp stir fry (we make it with cubed chicken breast) from China, lemon and tomato shrimp curry from India, sukiyaki from Japan and best of all, the excellent lasagna Bolognese from Italy. Many of these recipes now seem Americanized to subscribers of Saveur and readers of subsequent, ultra-authentic cookbooks. We still love them. Great Dinners from Life is another old-time favorite (try the Spring Tonic, a terrific vegetable bouillon), along with the Gourmet cookbooks of the 1970s and 80s (simplest and best beef stew ever). It's good to remember that we could cook pretty well before we had access to goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and lemongrass. We still can, and these books are especially useful for parts of the country where ethnic and "gourmet" ingredients are hard to come by.

                                                                                          1. I have a bunch of these and discovering this thread has made me glad I didn't get rid of them and has also encouraged me to keep looking to complete the collection. I haven't cooked from them much but I love the absolutely PERFECT Risotto Milanese from the Italy volume.

                                                                                            I also collect the Good Cook series.

                                                                                            1. would like to make the tomato chutney (tamatar chatni)recipe from the Indian book--I made it often, many years ago, and remember it used fresh ginger and black raisins, but my copy of the book is in storage back in the States--could anyone out there send me the recipe? lesliewile@hotmail.com

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: LMWile

                                                                                                I only have the spiral bound recipe book. The tamatar chatni recipe does not call for raisins. The recipe for adrak chatni is the only one which lists raisins (white). Happy to paraphrase either if you like.

                                                                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                  Thanks, meatn3--All I have in storage is the spiral-bound recipe book too--foolish me, I dumped all the big books over the years. I'd love it if you're willing to send the recipe with the raisins--is it also a tomato chutney? At my age the memory begins to play tricks . . .

                                                                                                  1. re: LMWile

                                                                                                    Adrak Chatni (Fresh Ginger Chutney)

                                                                                                    Makes 1.5 cups

                                                                                                    1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
                                                                                                    1 c. scraped, coarsely chopped fresh ginger root
                                                                                                    1/2 c. white raisins
                                                                                                    2 Tb. finely chopped garlic
                                                                                                    2 tea. salt

                                                                                                    Add all ingredients to a blender. Process at high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape sides of blender with a rubber spatula. Repeat on high for 30 seconds or until mixture becomes a smooth puree.

                                                                                                    May be used immediately or covered and refrigerated. Keeps in fridge for 1-2 days.

                                                                                                    1. re: LMWile

                                                                                                      Tamatar Chatni (Cooked Tomato Chutney)

                                                                                                      Makes about 1.5 cups

                                                                                                      3 medium sized (approx. 1 lb.) firm, ripe tomatoes, washed, cored & coarsely chopped
                                                                                                      1 c. malt vinegar
                                                                                                      1 c. finely chopped onions
                                                                                                      1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
                                                                                                      1 Tb. salt
                                                                                                      1 c. Indian jaggery, coarsely crumbled OR
                                                                                                      substitute 1 c. dark brown sugar combined with 1 Tb. dark
                                                                                                      2 Tb. scraped, finely chopped fresh ginger root
                                                                                                      1 Tb. finely chopped garlic
                                                                                                      8 whole cloves
                                                                                                      1/2 tea. chopped fresh hot red or green chili
                                                                                                      1/4 c. finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stems
                                                                                                      1/2 c. mustard oil OR substitute 3 Tb. vegetable oil
                                                                                                      2 Tb. black mustard seeds

                                                                                                      In a heavy non-reactive saucepan combine the first 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil over moderate heat stirring constantly. Stir in the jaggery. Then add the next 5 ingredients. Keep stirring for 5 min. maintaining moderate heat.

                                                                                                      In a small pan heat the oil until it begins to smoke. Stir in the mustard seeds. The moment they start to sputter add the seed/oil mix to the tomato mixture. Boil briskly, stirring frequently, for 8 - 10 minutes until the mix begins to thicken. Cool. Ready to serve once room temperature is reached.

                                                                                                      Will keep 3 - 4 weeks covered in refrigerator.

                                                                                                2. I haven't looked at the spirals and books in ages.
                                                                                                  I will start to look at them this week-they are sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust

                                                                                                  1. Thanks again, meatn3--very much appreciated!