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Cookbook gift to a friend moving to the U.S.

r
Rach321 Jan 31, 2013 02:28 PM

I'm new here- I've just recently discovered the site, and I'm learning a great deal. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

I have a good friend who loves food/cooking. We met online and food was one area where we really connected. I'm in the U.S and she's from Lebanon.

She will be moving this spring to the U.S. to attend school. I would love to gift her with a cookbook when she arrives, preferably one with an "American" focus (or at least, non-Lebanese as she's already an expert in that area). Another piece of information that might be helpful with your suggestions: She's gluten-free. That's not a necessity for the cookbook, however, as she can make adjustments as needed.

What would you recommend? Are there any cookbooks that come to mind that would be a good gift, and that might inspire her with some new recipes or introduce her to local ingredients (She'll be in Southern CA)?

  1. c
    Christina D Feb 1, 2013 02:24 PM

    The 150 Best American Recipes is the first thing that came to mind.

    http://www.amazon.com/150-Best-Americ...

    I've made dozens of recipes out of this book and have yet to find a clunker. The instructions are straight-forward, the notes are helpful, and the photography is very well done. Highly recommend!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Christina D
      herby Feb 1, 2013 02:37 PM

      +1 and it was COTM not too long ago.

    2. s
      ScottnZelda Feb 1, 2013 09:09 AM

      Anything from America's Test Kitchens. "Best Recipes" for example. Not only do they give you detailed background on the recipe, they also offer insight into which grocery store brands are best to use. Ideally, the book you select would be gluten free and have photos, so you may want to check Amazon, etc, for that, too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ScottnZelda
        r
        Rach321 Feb 1, 2013 09:21 AM

        That's a good idea! I have the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook that I used to use quite a bit- I've started referencing Bittman's How to Cook Everything App on my IPad for most things now. I like the ability to quickly search for the ingredients I'm wanting to use and going from there.

      2. w
        Westminstress Feb 1, 2013 08:31 AM

        An absolutely wonderful book with a CA focus is the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. The farmers market books mentioned by Breadcrumbs sound good too, but I haven't cooked for them. I think something seasonally focused and market based is perfect for CA though.

        I wouldn't do Joy of Cooking, I could never get into that book. I think it's for an older generation.

        1. LaLa Feb 1, 2013 06:42 AM

          If you did want to go the gluten free way...Emeril Lagasse's daughters have a pretty good new cookbook out. As far as telling her about a California approach to gluten free have her watch Alex Thomapolous series on the computer
          http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=jcob72...

          1. Breadcrumbs Feb 1, 2013 06:35 AM

            What a nice gesture Rach. Since you're hoping to introduce her to local ingredients, I'm going to suggest two books that I think would be perfect:

            The Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook. - This book focuses on seasonal foods and in addition to terrific recipes, there is also information about produce, how to shop and the farms that supply the market. The only downside to this book (as I do love it) is that it doesn't have many pictures so if your friend is unfamiliar with ingredients or, is a visual learner this could be a factor.

            The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook - What I really like about this book is that it's organized by month of the year and the recipes focus on what's fresh during that time. I think this would be very helpful to someone new to the State. I'd say the book is equal parts produce guide and recipes. There are lots of beautiful photographs to entice the reader/cook as well.

            Let us know what you decide on.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Breadcrumbs
              p
              Puffin3 Feb 1, 2013 06:41 AM

              Yeah JOC would be my choice. You can't find a more 'American' take on cooking than that IMO.

              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                r
                Rach321 Feb 1, 2013 07:13 AM

                Thank you so much Breadcrumbs! Both of the books you recommended are beautiful, and I love the connection to California! :)

                I'll definitely be back to let you know what I go with.

              2. pagesinthesun Jan 31, 2013 07:08 PM

                I have three options for you.

                The Gourmet Cookbook (I have the yellow one, a bit older) It has many American styles of cooking as well as international (to the American pallet) Recipes are from the wonderful Gourmet Magazine.

                The Essential New York Times Cookbook. A compilation of NY Times recipes...most requested over the years.

                Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. Very well tested recipes. American classics. Rationales for the extra steps in recipes. Might be the best option for a cook that is new to America.

                I use all three on a regular basis. If nothing else than for reference.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pagesinthesun
                  r
                  Rach321 Feb 1, 2013 07:16 AM

                  Thanks for the recommendations! They all sound good!

                2. C. Hamster Jan 31, 2013 05:57 PM

                  Why not Joy of Cooking ?

                  It's not my personal cookbook of choice but it's sorta " America's Cookbook."

                  And it's really not half bad.

                  If you want this to be an introduction to America, I'd not gift a Jamie Oliver book ( although several of them are pretty good).

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster
                    sunshine842 Jan 31, 2013 10:25 PM

                    + a million -- Joy would be my first and only choice.

                    Not only does it have *really* good recipes that are typically American, but it's recipes that most of America actually eats...with ingredients most Americans can find.

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      h
                      hazelhurst Feb 1, 2013 06:55 AM

                      I'm with you..nothing wrong with it although maybe nothing of pyrotechic "Zowie1' in it. i grew up with at least three edtiions dating to the 1930s plus a wartime one. In truth, it is a great primer and the honoree may already know a lot of it

                      I gave some Russian friends La Child's "THe Way to Cook" and they've loved it. Basic stu\ff.

                      1. re: hazelhurst
                        r
                        Rach321 Feb 1, 2013 07:00 AM

                        Thanks all! I have a couple of older small paperback copies of the Joy of Cooking. I look at them from time to time for ideas, but I really haven't cooked from them as the format of the book is nearly impossible to use in the kitchen. I'll take another look at a hardback copy to see if I like that better!

                        1. re: Rach321
                          p
                          Puffin3 Feb 1, 2013 07:07 AM

                          Give her one that is 'coil bound'. Easy to use in the kitchen.

                          1. re: Puffin3
                            r
                            ratgirlagogo Feb 1, 2013 12:34 PM

                            Coil bound is good. Plus it really is THE cookbook if you're trying to give someone else a feel for the general American food culture of the past century or so. Probably the OP's friend will find it much more interesting than our US posters do for that reason.
                            In fact although I am a great lover of Joy,any cookbook designed for US home cooks would IMO be a better choice for someone curious about everyday US home cooking than any restaurant-related cookbook.

                            1. re: ratgirlagogo
                              r
                              Rach321 Feb 1, 2013 12:54 PM

                              Good point! I'll take another look at my paperback copies when I get home and see if it seems like a good fit!

                  2. boogiebaby Jan 31, 2013 05:41 PM

                    I'd go with a Barefoot Contessa book. As much as Ina Garten annoys me, her recipes tend to be simple but elegant at the same time, and use fresh ingredients. I live in So. CA too and I often pull out her books in the spring and summer after visiting the local farmer's market. Another favorite is the Naked Chef/Jaime Oliver books -- good emphasis on eating simple, fresh foods.

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