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Nov 11, 2010 09:31 AM

[old] Cookbooks you covet - which cookbooks are on your holiday wish-list this year? Which books are just too expensive to buy for yourself without feeling guilty?

Between Chowhound recommendations and the growing number of cookbooks being indexed on Eat Your Books, I'm finding my "wish-list" is growing at an unprecedented rate!

I'd love to know which books are on your list...I may need to add to mine!!

Below is my list (so far!):

Sunday Suppers at Lucques - Goin/Gelber

Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey - Faris/Eber

The Classic Italian Cookbook: The Art of Italian Cooking - Marcella Hazan

Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America - Andres

Bluegrass Winners - Garden Club of Lexington

The American Diner Cookbook - Elizabeth McKeon
American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza - Reinhart

Bistro Cooking at Home - Hammersley

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking - Barbara Tropp
Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking - Eileen Yin-Fei-Lo
The Breadth of a Wok - Grace Young

Thai Food - David Thompson

The Art of Mexican Cooking - Diana Kennedy
The Cuisines of Mexico - Diana Kennedy
The Tortilla Book - Diana Kennedy
Mexican Cooking - Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz
Veracruz - Zarela Martinez
Mexico the Beautiful - Marilyn Tausend
Feast of the Water Gods - Patricia Quintana

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  1. My next cook book buy is going to be Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. It looks to have some awesome recipes and it's the go to book for one of my favorite foodie friends

    3 Replies
    1. re: jenspeed

      I have Jaffrey's World Veg. book and it's great. She also has another vegetarian book called Eastern Vegetarian Cooking (or Cookbook). It's a great one, with recipes for things like mung bean pancakes. Obviously, the World Veg. Cooking book is much more comprehensive and diverse, and I don't even know if Jaffrey's Eastern Cooking is still in print.

      I also LOVE the late Barbara Tropp's Chinese cookbook. You have to prepare some flavored oils and other things before cooking some of her recipes, but they're not difficult and the recipes are great. Be sure you don't get it mixed up with the other book - "Mastering"instead of "Modern".

      Lucques is a major treasure as is The Classic Italian book by Hazan.

      HOWEVER, if I could only have books by ONE author, it'd be Fuchsia Dunlop. Either Hunan or Szechuan are great....I think she may even have a new one.

      1. re: oakjoan

        From your lips to God's ears, I would be beyond thrilled to have a new book by FD, especially if it were the one I thought she was hinting at in the memoir, on Huaiyang (a southeastern Chinese) cuisine...

      2. re: jenspeed

        I love the World Vegitarian. My wish list for this year is her newest book, "At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka" and Andrea Nugan's "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors". Also, I would like finally to buy "Vefa's kitchen" next year!

      3. You might read buttertart's post about her disappointment with Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking

        I not only want Thompson's Thai Food, but also his latest Thai Street Food (in fact, I almost prefer the latter since I'm guessing most of what I know of Thai food is really street food)! But, yeah, feeling too guilty about price AND space to buy them for myself.

        American Pie has been on my list for has The Breath of a Wok.

        I also will admit I want Bobby Flay's Throwdown cookbook, though I suppose I should really look at the book at the library before I say that.

        Is there a reason why you want the separate volumes of Kennedy's "Cuisines of Mexico" and "The Tortilla Book"? They, along with her Mexican Regional Cooking, were combined into "The Essential Cuisines of Mexico."

        Speaking of Mexican, I would love "My Sweet Mexico."

        I recently picked up David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke and I actually kind of like the tone and philosophy of it. I haven't cooked from it yet, though. It's divided into three parts "small" (1-2 people), "medium" (4-6 people) and "large" cooking (groups). The "small" cooking section is less about recipes and more just food writing in general.


        25 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Wow DQ, you've made my day!! I had no idea that the 3 Kennedy books had been combined. Even better, I'd just ordered "The Essential Cuisines of Mexico" from AbeBooks on Monday because I found it an amazing price!!

          Thanks to you, I now get to add 3 more books to my list!! ; - )

          I haven't heard of "Heart of the Artichoke" but I'll definitely take a look, it sounds like a good read.

          FYI, I just picked up Bobby Flay's Throwdown at Costco and while I'm imagining a number of these recipes may be available online, what really attracted me to the book were the back stories with lots of extra info about the episodes and the wonderfully appetizing photos of the dishes. Of course it didn't hurt that I was hungry when I flipped through it in the store!! In many cases (perhaps most, I haven't gotten through the whole book yet), both Bobby's and the competitor's recipes are included. The Chicken Cacciatore and Fried Chicken photos looked especially delicious!

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Oh, I'm glad you think the Throwdown book seems to be worth it. Like you, I'm less interested in Bobby's recipes and more interested in the competitors recipes and stories.


            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              i was actually just wondering about the Throwdown book when i saw it at Bed Bath & Beyond today. have you ever checked online to see if the ones in the book are also available on the FN site?

            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              I don't like the Tropp book either, I'm an Irene Kuo girl all the way.

              1. re: buttertart

                buttertart, is it "The Key to Chinese Cooking" that you like by Kuo?

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Yes, it's still the best general Chinese cookbook out there.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Thanks buttertart, I just ordered it from Abebooks.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      Do you have Breath of a Wok? Curious where you think it lies on this general-subject Chinese spectrum. I took it out of the library a month or so ago and was charmed by it. The list of recipes I wanted to try got too long to photocopy or scan, so I bought it. Problem is, I've bought too many new cookbooks lately. I'm feeling a little schizo trying to sample them all. But after Thanksgiving I hope to settle down with this an try to give it a good test run.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        I read it (from the BPL) and enjoyed it very much but it didn't captivate me. The new one is gorgeous but I didn't see any recipes I just HAD to try (nor did I in "Breath").

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Gee. I just kept slapping Post-Its on one page after another. We'll see. But probably not until after Thanksgiving. I've got to get to Chinatown to restock the pantry.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Was in Flushing yday doing that, the Great Wall markets are super. Who knows, maybe I was in a crabby mood when I read it.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Hmm, that's funny because crab season has been postponed as of today!

                              Sorry, couldn't resist.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                That wouldn't be Dungeness crab, in the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, available at Monterey Market and the BOWL, would it now??????????

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I am confused here. Buttertart says she doesn't like Tropp, but the book TDQ seems to be pointing to is Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking which is not by Tropp. Hers is the Modern Art of Chinese Cooking...... plz clarify.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    I think buttertart is saying she doesn't like Tropp either. In the post DQ points to, buttertart is expressing her disappointment w MACC, by Yi-Fei-Lo. So I concluded that, in buttertart's estimation, the only consistently reliable, truly authentic author of Chinese cooking she's come across so far is Kuo. Gee, I hope I got this right!!

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Correct, I think buttertart doesn't like either the Troop MACC or the Yin Fei Lo MACC. Of the Chinese books you've got listed in your OP, buttertart recommends only Kuo's.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Thanks DQ...(bc taking deep sigh of relief!!).

                        On Tropp, the only experience I have w her is via the China Moon cookbook and I really like the book for what it is... Cali-Chinese recipes. I find her conversational style of writing quite appealing and the recipes are accessible and have always been no-fail for me both in terms of execution and, being a hit w guests.

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Love, loved loved China Moon Cafe. I have the cookbook, too, but have never gotten around to cooking from it. Do you have any particular favs from it?


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            I've tried about 25% of the recipes and haven't been disappointed in any of them. I did start out, as she suggests by making 4 key items in advance for my pantry:
                            salt and szechuan peppercorns, pickled ginger, hot chilli oil and a flavoured oil. I love these ingredients and use them regularly, whether or not I'm cooking from that book. Some dishes that stand out off the top of my head are: Hot & Sour Chx w Black Beans, Strange Flavour Eggplant, Summer Meatball Soup, Pork Wonton in Garlic broth, Sweet & Spicy Chx, the spicy orange scallops are delicious, there's a Spicy Pork w Cabbage and Peanuts that's really yummy and the Dim Sum recipes are sooo good. I haven't tried any desserts though. The ingredient lists look daunting but once you've done them a couple of times, its a no-brainer and easy to execute. As is usually the case, its all about the mis-en-place.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              This is fantastic, thank you! It makes me want to pull it off of my shelf and cook from it immediately!


                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                I have the Tropp book; would not ever part with it even tho I've only made 2 recipes from it. Don't laugh: the one on how to cook rice, and have the page marked for pear ice cream...have even bought a substitute (tiny bottle) for the poire William. (One of the Silver Palate books has a great recipe for Blackberry Ice Cream.)

                                Could anyone paraphrase for me the apple studel recipe in One Big Book?

                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Yes, do not like the new "Mastering..." by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo at all, and did not like the Tropp when it came out and I was just back from Taiwan. Haven't owned it in quite a while so MAYBE I should reconsider. For the basics, Kuo.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            buttertart: I really loved China Moon and cooked from it a lot. It is a slight pain to make the flavored oils, etc.she calls for, but once they're done it's not that bad.

                            The first time I actually used the book I didn't notice the prep that must be done before one starts cooking from the book. I went into a frenzy of making the required oils, etc., and then it wasn't that big a deal.

                            I haven't cooked from it for years now. I should dust if off and try some of the recipes. Of course I'll have to start over with the oils since I made them in the early 90s!

                    2. The Art of Mexican Cooking - Diana Kennedy
                      Skip this - any of hers and Rick Bayless' books if you are familiar with real Mexican food. Sorry, but they cooked in Mexico. That's it. Waste of $$ . If you want real Mexican food get "A Gringo's Guide to Mexican Food."

                      17 Replies
                      1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                        Wow, ok, you've got my interest. I love authentic Mexican food.

                        I'm a big fan of Rick Bayless - have enjoyed dining at his restaurants and, cooking from his books...though the jury is still out on his recent book "Fiesta....".

                        Kennedy was suggested as another great resource so please do tell....who wrote "Gringo's" (I get 2 possibilities Geraldine Duncan and Mad Coyote Joe) and what is it that drives your passion for it? What recipes do you recommend?

                        1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                          Skip this - any of hers and Rick Bayless' books if you are familiar with real Mexican food. Sorry, but they cooked in Mexico.
                          And this means what? That because they cooked in Mexico their dishes aren't "real" Mexican food?!?!??? What do you consider real Mexican food.

                          I think whatever Mexican books the OP chooses to get depend upon what s/he wants out of it and what kind of cooking experience s/he wants. If Breadcrumbs wants to try and replicate authentic Mexican, Bayless or Kennedy are her best options. If Breadcrumbs wants to replicate gringo versions of Mexican dishes, then your book recommendation is perfectly fine.

                          To make a blanket statment completely dismissing Kennedy and Bayless as valueless with regard to Mexican cooking doesn't exactly demonstrate an a very strong understanding of the cuisine.

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              I agree, of course, with DiningDiva.

                              Also, Breadcrumbs, both authors have had COTMs, which might be helpful to you. I should add that I cook a lot of Mexican (my husband is Mexican), have three Bayless books (favorite is Mexican Kitchen) and two Diana Kennedy, and I'm very happy to have them in my library.

                              Bayless' "Mexico, One Plate at a Time"

                              Kennedy's "Essential Cuisines of Mexico":

                              1. re: Rubee

                                Thanks Rubee, that's great to know . . . on both counts! I actually just purchased the Essential Cuisines of Mexico from AbeBooks and I'm really looking forward to cooking from it and, delighted to know it was a COTM. Oddly, Mexico One Plate at a Time is the only Bayless book I don't own. I don't know how that happened but I've just added it to my ever-growing Christmas list. I just love his food - at his restaurants and made at home. I'm hoping to get back to Frontera Grill later this month. Not sure if you're aware he has a newsletter but I always enjoy reading it and, he always has some great recipes each month as well.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  Before you add One Plate at a Time to your Christmas list, take a look and see what COTMers thought of it. Not much, on the whole. There seemed to be general agreement that Mexican Kitchen (and of course Authentic Mexican) is a much better book.

                                  I have a theory long-time posters have heard before that there are certain cookbook authors who tend to put on a lot of weight while developing, and testing, a new cookbook. There comes a point in their careers where they tell their editor that the only new book they're going to write is a diet book. Well, fine. But don't impose it on us. A Fork in the Road was Paul Prudhomme's contribution. It wasn't a very good book. Remember Patricia Wells's Vegetable Harvest? A lot of COTMers wish they didn't. IMHO, One Plate at a Time fits perfectly into that category. If you want Mexican diet food, fine. If that's not what you had in mind, you might want to look elsewhere.

                                  Rather opinionated here. As if you couldn't tell. Happy to have others jump in and tell Breadcrumbs I don't know what I'm talking about.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    I don't think Mexico, One Plate at a Time is a diet book, but it is , for sure,.not as good as his first 3 books. And you can TOTALLY skip Fiesta at Rick's his latest. Think long and hard about this busy was Rick winning Top Chef Master's, opening a new restaurant, new menus for the existing ones, taping the PBS series, doing all the PR commitments, his commitments to the CIA and cooking tours he supports, plus any and all of his charity work. When does he have time to write a cookbook. Connect the dots, read between the lines....

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      Did I get "One Plate at a Time" mixed up with "Mexican Everyday "? I took them both out of the library at about the same time and didn't much care for either one. One of them was definitely a diet book. Anyway, all the publicity for the book, whichever one it was, had photos of Rick doing yoga headstands and telling us how he'd lost a squazillion pounds and gotten his life in balance. That's great for a yoga class, but it's not what I buy cookbooks for.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        I don't think that's Mexican Everyday you're describing--Mex E.D. is the one that has all of the crock pot recipes in it, which I actually have had some good luck with.


                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          Joan, I think you are probably thinking of Mexican Everyday, it has a number of "lighter" recipes. IIRC, the first chapter has a bunch of salads and salad dressings. I don't know that I'd call it a diet book per se, but it definitely has lighter fare in it. I actually like Mexican Everyday, it's got some nice recipes, including "Roadside Chicken" which is a really easy and tasty way to grill or broil chicken. He also adapted a lot of the recipes for the crock pot in order to make them more accessible. My experience with the crock pot methods has been that sometimes the cooking times are too long, but the results are pretty good. Mexican cooking is laborious and time consuming, I think his attempts at adapting for the crock pot were pretty decent.

                                          One Plate at a Time is kind of his riff on traditional vs. contemporary. I've not been especially enamored of this book, although the recipes generally do work and generally do produce good results. I use it mostly as a starting point and reference when I'm looking to ideas on updated versions of traditional recipes.

                                        2. re: DiningDiva

                                          DD, thanks for this thoughtful and helpful post - i just removed Fiesta from my wish list :)

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            In the forward of Fiesta, Rick says he envisioned it as being a companion book to Mexican Everday. That with the 2 books a cook would have a complete compendium for cooking Mexican. And in looking at the 2 books together I can certainly see his point. The value of Mexican Everday is that he's managed to simplify time intensive dishes while maintaining much of the traditional flavor profile.

                                            Fiesta provides ideas and recipes for parties. What I liked about the book were the timelines and party planning tips, even down to music playlists. What I didn't like about the book was that it did not appear to have been edited very well and there were structure errors with some of the recipes, something that almost never happened in his other books. My personal take, and I'd like to stress this is just my personal opinion, is that Fiesta is the weakest of Rick's book and, for me, seems to lack some of the detail and precision of his earlier cookbooks.

                                            But as a set the 2 books do give the cook the ability to create Mexican themed meals with a reasonable degree of ease and a reasonably good chance for a tasty outcome. For the bulk of Americans looking to cook Mexican they are just fine because they are approachable and fairly simple. However, for a Mexiphile or serious Mexican cook they are probably not going to be particularly valuable.

                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Just my two cents, but I think Bayless's first two books (Authentic Mexican and Mexican Kitchen) are his best.

                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            Agree 100%. I really like Mexican Kitchen a lot.

                                            I would also add a little book he did that's not very well know called "Salsas That Cook". This is a thin little book that begins with 8 basic salsas. He provides 3 different recipe yields for each salsa as well as viable chile (and in some cases herb) substitutions, which gives the cook tremendous flexibility and variety. The reste of the book is 50 recipes each (except the desserts) using one or more the othe salsas. I think this is one of the best cookbooks for the novice Mexican cook. It's easy, approachable, and not particularly dumbed down.

                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                              Own 'em all, have cooked from 'em all, and could not agree more. Also, his new restaurant, XOCO's a bit of a dud in my book. Dude needs to do less, better.

                                    2. I have a cookbook addiction - so I must check out a cookbook from the library before I buy. Latest purchase is Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn.....I am becoming a HUGE fan of hers. All of her recipes are winners and I love the way she writes.

                                      1. I've wanted Splendid Table How to Eat Supper for awhile. I've also had some fellow CH's suggest Twist of the Wrist and Better Than Store Bought. Both look appealing. My problem is that I so rarely use the books I have. I go to them interwebs first. The cookbooks I do have (including some cool "vintage" ones I inherited) have been pretty neglected.

                                        23 Replies
                                        1. re: CapreseStacy

                                          I have Splendid Table How to Eat Supper and I have to say I am very disappointed with it. I am a huge fan of the original Splendid Table cookbook, in fact it is on my top 5 list, so I was very excited when this other book came out. I'd say pass on it.

                                          Here's my list:

                                          Ad Hoc
                                          Mexico the Beautiful

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            I was disappointed in How to Eat Supper, too. Practically everything that wasn't dessert had raw onions in it, and they literally make me sick. I'm glad I only took it out of the library.

                                            Does anyone know if Sunday Suppers at Lucques has those smelly printing chemical pages like Ad Hoc or French Table? Also, is "Lucques" pronounced like the man's name "Luke"?

                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              Hi Jay, I looked through Sunday Suppers at Lucques at my local book store and it appealed to me for the photos and content. Lots of tempting recipes and I think it was a past COTM.

                                              FYI, like Ad Hoc at Home, it was printed in Singapore so you may have issues w the print. I do find that the type of paper used plays a huge role in how strong the odour is though. I have books printed in China and Singapore that don't carry any odour at all. In this case, I didn't notice an odour from SS@L.

                                              As for pronouncing Lucques, the traditional pronunciation is [lu-k] ( n) What I don't know is whether they have elected a non-traditional pronunciation.

                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                Thanks, Breadcrumbs. I had to get rid of Ad Hoc and the Dorie Greenspan cookbooks. I would never be able to use them. And I really liked Ad Hoc. Actually, I love those big cookbooks with pictures of each recipe, even if I never make anything from it.

                                                I think I'll get Lucques out of the library (though library books can have their own set of smells) before I buy a copy.

                                                Thanks for the pronunciation, too.

                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                  I love Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan!

                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Breadcrumbs: After seeing Goin on tv several times, I can say that, at least on TV, she calls it "LOO - K....the French pronunciation is sort of like a combo of luke and leek. In any case, the S is not pronounced.

                                                  Sunday Suppers at Lucques has a recipe for short ribs that is so great it's worth the price of the book for that and the accompanying horseradish mashed potatoes alone.

                                                3. re: Jay F

                                                  With the French u, closer to a German umlauted u.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    buttertart - like "euuuh"?

                                                    Thanks, btw.

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        Say "e" as in "tree," but round your lips as you would for "oooh" as in "true."

                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                          If you go to this link and click the arrow you can listen to it:


                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            Thanks to all of you for the pronunciation help. You should have seen some of my facial expressions.

                                                      2. re: Jay F

                                                        I've never noticed any particular smell to my Lucques book, but then I don't have Ad Hoc or French Table, so I can't compare, But I can say that Lucques is a wonderful (if labor-intensive) book.

                                                      3. re: dkennedy

                                                        I had exactly the same feeling about ST HtES--and I am another huge fan of original ST.

                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                          It was not very good, sort of Silver Palate for the early years of the 21st C.

                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                            Huh. ST HtES has been on my "list" for awhile. You know, that running list of books you keep an eye out for at used book stores and garage sales, etc? Maybe I should remove it from my list!


                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              It's a bit fluffy. In my humble opinion.

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Well, if you ran across it somewhere for a dollar or so, you might see if you can find something worthwhile in it. I was really disappointed in it, but partly, I'm sure, b/c I had such high expectations.

                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  If I had paid for "How to Eat Supper," I would've returned it for another book. I took it out of the library, so it wasn't an issue (I buy about 1/4 of the books I take out of the library--recently Ad Hoc, Judith Jones' book on cooking for one, All about Braising). Too many raw onions. In fact, I had a dream about raw red onions while I was reading it.

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Have you read through it yet? You're more than welcome to borrow mine.

                                                                    1. re: clepro

                                                                      Hey! Good to see you. Are you a fan of the book, Clepro? If so, any particular favorites to recommend off the top of your head? Funnily enough, I got a peek at LRK's How to Eat Supper as well as her (as yet unreleased) How to Eat Weekends at the MPR booth at the State Fair. I think I'm going to check the former out of library and give it a try. "Quick" weeknight meals is kind of my speed right now... THe format didn't bother me.


                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        No, I'm not, sorry to say. I liked her earlier ones, but this one just never grabbed me.
                                                                        BTW, congratulations!!!! Big news; made me smile.

                                                                        1. re: clepro

                                                                          That seems to be consistent sentiment among people who loved her first two books. A lot of people are hoping for one of her earlier books for October, though I can't remember which one. Anyway, stick around for that. I did scan the HTES recipes on EYB and realized that I have all of those recipes in one form or another already. Nothing really earth shattering. Again, might be a good library book, but perhaps not one to add to my collection.

                                                                          As for my news, thank you. It's rather small news, in a way. :). We're thrilled of course.