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Your 10 Essential Cookbooks?

Breadcrumbs Jun 15, 2012 04:20 AM

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?

  1. s
    SCF Aug 19, 2012 10:52 PM

    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.

    1. Hank Hanover Aug 19, 2012 03:47 PM

      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
        pearlyriver Aug 19, 2012 08:08 PM

        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
          Hank Hanover Aug 19, 2012 08:13 PM

          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
            pearlyriver Aug 19, 2012 10:08 PM

            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. d
        dkennedy Aug 19, 2012 03:14 PM

        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. a
          AlkieGourmand Jun 16, 2012 08:42 PM

          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
            roxlet Jun 17, 2012 01:32 PM

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

          2. a
            angelsmom Jun 16, 2012 12:24 PM

            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. t
              TxnInMtl Jun 16, 2012 05:22 AM

              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
                roxlet Jun 16, 2012 05:26 AM

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

                1. re: roxlet
                  TxnInMtl Jun 16, 2012 05:53 AM

                  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
                    qianning Jun 16, 2012 11:40 AM

                    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
                      TxnInMtl Jun 16, 2012 12:03 PM

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

                  2. re: roxlet
                    JoanN Jun 16, 2012 06:29 AM

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

                    1. re: JoanN
                      roxlet Jun 16, 2012 10:34 AM

                      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
                        JoanN Jun 16, 2012 11:54 AM

                        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. JoanN Jun 16, 2012 04:43 AM

                  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. r
                    ratgirlagogo Jun 15, 2012 05:42 PM

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

                    1. buttertart Jun 15, 2012 05:23 PM

                      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
                        buttertart Jun 16, 2012 12:59 PM

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

                      2. r
                        Rella Jun 15, 2012 02:54 PM

                        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. l
                          lottobear Jun 15, 2012 02:00 PM

                          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
                            Harters Jun 15, 2012 02:15 PM

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

                            1. re: lottobear
                              John Francis Jun 16, 2012 03:30 AM

                              "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
                                JoanN Jun 16, 2012 04:41 AM

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

                              2. j
                                John Francis Jun 15, 2012 10:50 AM

                                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
                                  GulaSocordia Jun 16, 2012 06:35 PM

                                  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. s
                                  Splendid Spatula Jun 15, 2012 09:43 AM

                                  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. Gio Jun 15, 2012 09:21 AM

                                    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
                                      buttertart Jun 15, 2012 05:24 PM

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

                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        herby Jun 15, 2012 07:24 PM

                                        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
                                        The Dairy Queen Jun 16, 2012 06:41 AM

                                        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
                                          Gio Jun 16, 2012 08:37 AM

                                          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
                                            JoanN Jun 16, 2012 08:43 AM

                                            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. herby Jun 15, 2012 08:43 AM

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

                                        1. herby Jun 15, 2012 08:41 AM

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

                                          1. h
                                            Harters Jun 15, 2012 08:20 AM

                                            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

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