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Your 10 Essential Cookbooks?

Food 52 is asking folks to list their 10 essential cookbooks (and there's a prize btw).

Since we have at least a couple of cookbook lovers here as well, I thought I'd pose the question.

It's such a difficult question to answer..how do you possibly choose?

What are your 10 essential cookbooks?

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  1. I only have seven essential books. Eight if you count the folder where we keep the tried & trusted recipes we've cut out from magazines etc. So long as I could keep the eight, I would happily get rid of every other one in the house. Here's the pick:

    Complete Cookery Course - Delia Smith

    30 Minute Cook - Nigel Slater

    New Book Of Middle Eastern Food - Claudia Roden

    Real Fast Food - Nigel Slater

    One is Fun - Delia Smith

    Cookery Bible - Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave

    Ultimate Curry Bible - Madhur Jaffrey

    1. I was curious and looked at Food52 website but couldn't find it. Where did you see this, BC?

      1. Found it! If others are curious too, it is here: http://www.food52.com/blog/3690_a_cal...

        1. I could happily cook from the following books for the rest of my life...

          In no particular order:

          Gourmet Today - Ruth Reichl
          Fish Without a Doubt - Rick Moonen & Roy Finamore
          Real Fast Food - Nigel Slater
          Tender, Volume I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch - Nigel Slater
          The Kitchen Diaries - Nigel Slater
          The Food Matters Cookbook - Mark Bittman
          The Italian Country Table - Lynne Rossetto Kasper
          The Complete Asian Cookbook - Charmaine Solomon
          The New Book of Middle Eastern Food - Claudia Roden
          Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian - Madhur Jaffrey

          Bonus Books :

          Eat Right, Eat Well: The Italian Way - Edward Giobbi & Richard Wolff (2nd ed.)
          Planet Barbecue!: 309 Recipes, 60 Countries - Steven Raichlen

          5 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            I'm tickled you like the Solomon that much, cara Gio.

            1. re: buttertart

              I have had her Complete Vegetarian for many years and love it but have not cooked from it for a long time - for some reason her Armenian Potatoes stand out - super garlicy and I made the dish for a dinner party for the first time. I loved it - the guests were overwhelmed:)

            2. re: Gio

              I'm amazed (in a good way) at how the Slater books have attained such a high place on your list in a relatively short period of time. Would they have made your list before Slater was COTM?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Before "Tender" and "Kitchen Diary" were COTMs I had had KD and "Real Fast Food" on my shelf for a couple of years and only cooked a few recipes from each. During their time in the sun I began to understand the way Slater put ingredients together simply to bring out the full flavor of each component to meld into a delicious dish. I truly love these books and intend to use "Tender", especially, to augment whichever book wins the July COTM voting...

                1. re: Gio

                  That was my thought, too, to use "Tender" if COTM chose to pair a vegetable book with another title. I never had a chance to delve into it as fully as I would have liked when it was COTM.

            3. Marcella Hazan, Essentials

              Julia Child, The Way To Cook

              Bittman, How to Cook Everything

              The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

              Greenspan, Around my French Table

              Hesser, The Essential NYT Cookbook

              Sax, Classic Home Desserts

              Lewis, The Gift of Southern Cooking

              Rosso and Lukins, The New Basics

              Andoh, Washoku
              I almost forgot - Goin, Sunday Suppers at Lucques! That is eleven. Well, I go to eleven.

              1. I don't have 10 cookbooks, and this list won't win anything. Still:

                Bittman, How to Cook Everything, 2nd edition
                Bittman, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
                Claiborne, New York Times Cookbook, 1st edition
                Beard, American Cookery
                Collin, The New Orleans Cookbook
                Clayton, Complete Book of Bread, 1st edition

                I supplement these by scouting around on the Web.

                1 Reply
                1. re: John Francis

                  Good to see The New Orleans Cookbook listed! The only way anyone will ever get me to give up mine is if they pry it from my cold, dead hands!

                2. I've heard in some other placed that the book Larousse Gastronomique is supposed to be epic but I gotta say that so far, I have yet to see a single mention of this book on this forum. Why is that?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lottobear

                    I suspect it's because cooking classic French dishes is not a high priority for many members of this board.

                    1. re: lottobear

                      "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" is a better option for American home cooks, if that's the kind of food you want to prepare.

                      1. re: lottobear

                        It's more of a reference book than a "cook"book. I often consult it; I rarely cook from it.

                      2. These are my essential cookbooks. Not necessarily the ones I will always cook from, but if I were unable to buy another cookbook and were in a land where they were not available, these are the ones I would absolutely choose to keep.

                        Now, "IF" I were in a land where I could find the ingredients, that's a different question and answer for me.

                        Essentials of Japanese Cooking by Tokiko Suzuki

                        The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp

                        The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy

                        Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

                        Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking by Giuliano Bugialli

                        La Bonne Cuisine of Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Essential Companion For Authentic French Cooking by Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange and Paul Aratow

                        The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: Every Recipe from Ten Years of the Hit TV Show by America's Test Kitchen Editors

                        1,000 Indian Recipes: by Neelam Batra

                        660 Curries: Plus Biryanis, Breads, Pilafs, Raitas, and More by Raghavan Iyer

                        American Pie: My Search For The Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart

                        1. I'm thinking.
                          Marcella's Italian Kitchen (Hazan)
                          Indian Cooking (Jaffrey BBC book)
                          Fannie Farmer Baking Book (Cunningham)
                          Land of Plenty (Dunlop)
                          Revolutionary Chinese Cooking (Dunlop)
                          Wei-Chuan Chinese Cuisine 1 & 2
                          The French Chef Cookbook (Julia Child)
                          Something Maida Heatter, can't decide
                          A Baker's Tour (Malgieri)
                          That sort of covers it.
                          List subject to revision...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: buttertart

                            Since I'm counting the Wei-Chuans as one (so there), please add the 1975 JOC.

                          2. The 1975 Joy of Cooking!!! and nine others of course....

                            1. Okay. This was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Haven't even hit the "Post My Reply" button and I'm already feeling guilty about the books I've left out.

                              Fish Without a Doubt (Moonen)
                              Sunday Suppers at Lucques (Goin)
                              NYT Essential Cookbook (Hesser)
                              Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hazan)
                              Thanksgiving Dinner (Blue)
                              Jean Anderson Cooks (Anderson)
                              The New Making of a Cook (Kamman)
                              All About Braising (Stevens)
                              Land of Plenty (Dunlop)
                              The Cake Bible (Berenbaum)

                              1. I don't have quite the cookbook collection of others here, but these would be my 10 in no particular order:
                                660 Curries (Iyer)
                                Land of Plenty (Dunlop)
                                All About Braising (Stevens)
                                Essential Cuisines of Mexico (Kennedy)
                                Cradle of Flavor (Oseland)
                                Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hazan)
                                Cook This Now (Clark)
                                Real Chocolate (Coady)
                                Slow Mediterranean Kitchen (Wolfert)

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                  I have the Oseland Cradle of Flavor, but I've never cooked from it. What do you love from it?

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    My favorites from there are the beef rendang, chicken rendang, chicken satay, shrimp sambal, and yellow celebration rice. Both of the rendangs take a bit of time, but are well worth the investment. The shrimp dish is extremely quick. I've also made and enjoyed quite a bit the Penang-style stir-fried kuey teow noodles, potato rendang, and spice braised Nyonya pork. Oseland's introductions to the sections are also well worth the read.

                                    1. re: TxnInMtl

                                      ditto on several of you favorites from Oseland TIM; also the kecap manis/pepper/lime juice dipping sauce for sate--quicker, easier and at least as good as any peanut sauce.

                                      1. re: qianning

                                        I love the kecap/pepper/lime dipping sauce as well. Thanks for reminding me of that one.

                                    2. re: roxlet

                                      Nyonya-Style Spiced Fried Chicken and Spice-Braised Tuna were both big hits for me.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        Did you cook the tuna for as long as the recipe says? He says it should be pink inside, and then you rest it, but i'm wondering if it would be overlooked and dry by the timing he gives.

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          Didn't remember details, so I just took a look at the reports here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6165...

                                          Smtucker says she pulled the tuna a bit earlier than the recipe called for. I just don't remember whether I did or not. If I did, I didn't make a note of it. Perhaps it depends on how low your simmer is. Anyway, it most certainly was not overcooked and dry and the way the recipe is structured, it's easy enough to pull the tuna when it's done to your liking.

                                  2. Many that we're mentioned, but I could not be without Radically Simple by Rozanne Gold. Almost each page has a sticky note on it.

                                    1. 660 Curries -- Raghavan Iyer
                                      Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking -- Marcella Hazan
                                      Land of Plenty -- Fuchsia Dunlop
                                      Thai Food -- David Thompson
                                      New Book of Middle Eastern Food - Claudia Roden
                                      Fish and Shellfish -- James Peterson
                                      Vefa's Kitchen -- Vefa Alexiadou
                                      Essential Cuisines of Mexico -- Diana Kennedy
                                      Marcella's Italian Cooking -- Marcella Hazan
                                      The Cheese Board Cookbook

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                        I have Velfa's Kitchen, but have never cooked from it. What recipes so you recommend?

                                      2. I'd like to start by saying this was a hard decision to make. Very hard. As I went through my shelves, I felt guilty about the ones I was leaving out. But in the end...

                                        The first four were no-brainers:

                                        Sunday Suppers at Lucques
                                        The Splendid Table
                                        Simply French
                                        The Sephardic Culinary Tradition

                                        The last 6 were harder for me to pick, so probably less essential.

                                        These three for sure:

                                        The Cheesemonger's Kitchen
                                        Zuni Cafe
                                        Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook

                                        The last three books would be a Mexican cookbook, an Asian cookbook, and a baking book., but since I am not much of a baker I'd probably substitute the baking book for a book with a lot of baking recipes in it. Only problem is I don't have just one go-to book for any of these three topics, so I'd have to randomly select three from my shelves, much like I would do when buying a guide book and hope that I had made a good choice. So here goes:

                                        Mighty Spice
                                        Isabel's Cantina
                                        Nancy Silberton's Sandwich Book


                                        1. Unless you are qualifying this question with "if there was no internet", there are no essential cookbooks.

                                          Don't get me wrong. I own at least 150 cookbooks. I don't refer to them on a daily basis because most of the recipes that concern me have been transcribed and are stored on my hard drive. Almost any recipe or even a cooking technique or cuisine can be studied on line. Yes, there are some very specific recipes that can't be found but there are dozens of recipes that are similar.

                                          I suppose I am being too technical or literal here.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                            I second this. Internet has made studying cuisine and cooking techniques much easier and cookbooks have become somewhat redundant for me. I still buy cookbooks occasionally for inspiration, learning more about cultural context of food and divulging in great storytelling like those written by Julia Child, Nigel Slater and Elizabeth Andoh. I don't buy big heavy cookbooks that feature thousands of recipes which can be found online.

                                            1. re: pearlyriver

                                              Wow... I expected people to line up to scold me. I have participated in many other cookbook threads but they wanted to know what my favorite cookbooks are or what cookbooks are best for beginners or what cookbooks to give as gifts.

                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                Another reason is that I live in Vietnam. Those who are fortunate to live in multicultural cities like NY and Sydney will hardly understand the pain of not being able to find exotic ingredients. There're some of my cookbooks which have gone to waste because I couldn't cook anything from them.

                                          2. Growing Up On The Chocolate Diet, Lora Brody -- Memoir with recipes, but the few recipes more than put it near the top of my list

                                            Joy of Cooking, older editions, before the nervous nutritional nellies got hold of the text

                                            The Way To Cook, Julia Child

                                            Fannie Farmer cookbook--tried and true

                                            Cooking in Ten Minutes, Edouard de Pomaine--not a bit list of recipes, but lost of good advice on attitude and approach

                                            Fear of Cooking, Robert Scher

                                            Silver Palate Cookbook, Rosso and Lukins

                                            A Taste of Ancient Rome, Ilaria Giacosa--it's a pain to try to adapt pre-Fannie Farmer recipes to modern measures and cooking practices, but it's a really interesting look at how we got to where we are.

                                            That's my desert-island-with-a-Zabar's list.