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Feb 9, 2011 06:06 AM

Looking for a basics cookbook

My sister is getting married soon and I want to get her some good cookbooks to start with for her bridal shower. She cooks a little now, but she's in college so doesn't have a ton of experience. I'm looking for something that will teach her lots of standard recipes and techniques but not be too fussy. I'm thinking something by Alice Waters or maybe Ina Garten? I've never been a huge Julia Child fan or a fan of cooks illustrated. What do you think?

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  1. I like Delia Smith for basics. Her Complete Cookery Course is a classic, and her How to Cook series covers the real basics like boiling an egg. There might be a bit of a culture clash for a young American though: some of the dishes might be unfamiliar, and Deel can be a little too jolly-hockey-sticks at times...

    1. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and the Joy of Cooking are good for both novice and experienced cooks (with wonderful explanations about ingredients and techniques). The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks (red plaid cover) are also good introductory cooking texts.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nofunlatte

        I agree with both How to Cook Everything and the Joy of Cooking.

      2. Check out Martha Stewart's "Cooking School"

        and Williams Sonoma "Tools and Techniques"

        I picked up the Williams Sonoma book on a whim over the holidays because i got it 50% at Borders. I was very pleasantly surprised out how informative it turned out to be, even for a relatively experienced cook like myself. It's loaded with great photos that do a very good job of illustrating a particular technique etc.

        1 Reply
        1. re: flourgirl

          Second on the MS "Cooking School". I read it concurrently with James Peterson's "Cooking" and liked it much more.
          The Marion Cunningham revision of the "Fannie Farmer Cookbook" is very instructive and useful too, but not as (overtly) sexy (no photos).

        2. I would give her the Joy of Cooking, it will have the recipe for meatloaf or tuna casserole and also "fancier" food as well. For a second book I would recommend "A New Way to Cook" by Sally Schneider which has a lot of recipes - but the real value is that it teaches a technique (steaming shellfish or roasting poultry) and then give different ways to improvise different flavor combinations. It helped me learn to cook more intuitively, and I think it would be good for a novice.

          2 Replies
          1. re: corneygirl

            +1 on Joy of Coking - the original version.


              You can only find it on Ebay, but I most cherish Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook. My mother got one (new, of course) when she got married in 1969. I always loved it so much, that my father found me a 1961 1st edition on ebay about 6 yrs. ago (as seen in the link above, still available in good shape). It is silly, yes, with it's pictures of women that look like June Cleaver and the recommendation to keep up your morale by putting on make-up and perfume daily, not to mention the suggestion of keeping your man relaxed by making sure the children are cleaned up and well behaved and his favorite cocktail is made at the time of his arrival home from work. Despite that, it includes the basics on everything, from how to set a table or a buffet to properly wrapping items to freeze and measuring out ingredients. Many of the "lessons" are considered modern today, such as the recommendation to vary texture and color on the plate when planning a meal or how to cook fish on a cedar plank. The recipes are easy and the 'retro' nature of most of them doesn't take away from the reality that they taste good, especially the baked goods. You won't find anything remotely ethnic in this book, and the one genuine complaint might be that when they try they often fail miserably.

              This cookbook is not only a great educational tool for the beginning cook, it provides some laughs as well. I just LOVE it!