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The cookbook you use most?

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  • fara Apr 21, 2013 07:23 PM
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For the past 5 years or so I've turned to secrets of Armenian lebanese and persian cuisine by Linda C. Absolutely fantastic all of the time. Tonight we had a lamb stew with greens and black eyed peas...so good

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  1. Being one who is pretty good at reverse engineering dishes I've had (particularly international ones), I don't rely on cookbooks a whole lot, but I do have a few favorites. Other than my father's meticulously kept notebook of family Eastern European gems, the go-to books that spring to mind fastest are: the big yellow "Encyclopedia Of Chinese Cooking" , The Joy Of Cooking (one of the early/mid 1970s editions) and the Betty Crocker International Cook Book (most all of the books that have appeared under the 'Betty Crocker' banner are excellent...well researched and for the most part not dumbed down).
    I have other specialized books in the library to which I refer occasionally, but the ones named are favorite general purpose ones.
    Although Dad's notebook probably beats them all. :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Professor

      We don't get to travel as much as I would like so instead of reverse engineering the recipe I use the recipes as a way to experience other cultures.

    2. It's hard to tell! I have about.....450.....and I always have a stack from the library!!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: sandylc

        Here, here Sandy! I love having all my cookbooks just as an at-home browsing library. And yes, a few public library cookbooks tend to find their way home too!

        1. re: sandylc

          Do you have a favorite out of those 450?

        2. Local Flavors by Deborah Madison and Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I use the former to inspire me during summer months when I'm deluged by CSA veggies. I use the latter for basics - pizza dough, pancake batter, etc.

          But mostly I use recipes from here, elsewhere online, or just made up on the fly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tcamp

            I have tried to like HTCE, but nothing I have made from it has turned out particularly well. I mean, I have cooked a zillion recipes in my day, and his just don't work for me. I am intrigued when I see that people have success with that book.

            1. re: gridder

              I use it like many people seem to use Joy of Cooking - a basic reference guide for making "staples." I like his variations - for instance proportions for making salad dressing then a list of ingredients you could possibly add for variety; herbs, anchovies, etc.

          2. The Encyclopedia of Sauces for Your Pasta by Charles Bellissino

            Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking by Raghavan Iyer

            1,000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore

            These three get used to the point of abuse.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              Do you have a favorite sauce in the Bellisino book, PK?

              1. re: Jay F

                Good Lord, there are so many great ones! There is one that he calls a "Venetian tomato sauce" that I've always really loved, though. You have to reduce it quite a bit, which is somewhat unusual for pasta sauces, and the result is a particularly intense sauce.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  You got me. I just ordered a copy. Thanks.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    Great. Hope you like it. Just one thing--don't make his Quattro Formaggi sauce. It contains a misprint that calls for waaaaay too much cheese. Made the stuff, and it came out like taffy. In fact, I used the leftovers to caulk my bathroom tiles, and it's still holding up great after 11 years.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      Hey, PK - I got the book. It's wonderful. I've never seen so many pasta sauce recipes in one place before.

                      Thanks so much.

              2. re: Perilagu Khan

                i have to recommend the Marge Poore 1,000 mexican recipes book. NEVER let me down

              3. Blush

                1000 Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bey Miller

                Mid 70's Joy of Cooking

                I had over 30 cookbooks at hand over the counter in my kitchen, and used them all consistently, but these two would be my sources for inspiration in the middle of the week without a trip to market.

                1 Reply
                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  That was a GREAT book. I made the duck out of it to impress my Chinese pals in college.

                2. Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

                  Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking v.1

                  Giuliano Bugialli's The Fine Art of Italian Cooking

                  Joy of Cooking 1973 trade paperback

                  The Fannie Farmer Cookbook 12th edition

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Jay F

                    We must have started at the same time, Jay F. You have listed all the other well stained, broken spine books on the closest shelf.

                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                      Indian River, you should SEE my copies of MTA and Marcella's actual first book.

                      I've taped them both up, but Julia is literally in eight pieces. I ought to buy another copy, but hey, that's my cooking history, in THAT copy.

                      I'd been cooking for awhile, but I really got started in 1978, and even more in 1982. Entertaining by Martha Stewart is another book I could have listed.

                    2. re: Jay F

                      What do you recommend

                      1. re: Jay F

                        What do you recommend from Julia to start? We have that cookbook but it has been a little intimidating to start

                        1. re: fara

                          Hi, Fara -

                          One of my favorite things is the Poulet Roti a la Normande on p. 243. Or the Poulet en Coccote Bonne Femme on p. 252.

                          I've done a duck recipe, only to find out I don't like duck that much.

                          Then there's the Boeuf Bourguignon on p. 315. Use frozen small onions to save a lot of time and effort, or, if you're like me, leave them out entirely. Any of the beef braises is good.

                          Or just pick your favorite vegetable, and cook it a la Julia. Anything with mushrooms is wonderful.

                          For dessert, Bavarois a L'Orange or Chocolate Mousse.

                          1. re: Jay F

                            My second purchase. Based on Mom and I watching her in the afternoon. Some of the easiest looking are actually the hardest because they are based on experience and technique. Hollandaise, omelet, and a roast chicken.

                            On the other hand, some of the most daunting are actually straight forward if you FOLLOW THE RECIPE.

                            Sorry, but I really believe that recipes should be followed at least the first couple times.

                            Jay F has already recommended le Bouef Bourgignon. I would also recommend Lobster Thermidor. Be sure to buy an extra lobster so you have plenty of meat in the presentation shells.

                            And do not buy shark or monkfish to marinade in the stock made from that extra shell and hope to pass it off. You will be found out sooner or later and your culinary creds will be down the drain. Nurse shark if you can get it. Mako is also recommended. Not that I would know.

                            Have fun, make mistakes, burn the pot, and please don't set the book on a hot burner. Then it will look like mine. :-)

                      2. Tie between Carmine's cookbook for what we know and love and the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook for trying new things.

                        1. Honestly, I use Ina Garten's cookbooks a TON. Her food is simple and delicious and her voice is soothing and explains everything thoroughly. Her most recent two get a lot of abuse at my house! "How Easy is That?!" and "Foolproof".

                          1. I don't cook from books that frequently, but since I got it, I have used 660 Curries a LOT. Indian cuisine is not something I had a lot of experience cooking before I bought this book, and I am still not at the point where I'm comfortable improvising whole Indian meals, so having a comprehensive book like that is great. We eat a lot more Indian food now!

                            1. There are two I use probably more than all the others put together:

                              "Complete Cookery Course", Delia Smith

                              "Real Fast Food", Nigel Slater

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Harters

                                One of my loved cook books is Real Fast Food. I've cooked from it a lot over the years to the point where now I know all my favourites by heart. Which is a good job now as all my cookery books are in storage having been shipped from the UK. It'll be the first time I've had access to all my cookery books as for the past few years half of them have been in storage in the UK whilst we did our house up. When I unpack all the boxes next week I'll have a HUGE smile on my face!

                                When I was at university (giving my age away here!) I had 3 cookbooks:

                                Nigel Slater - Real Fast Food
                                Nigella Lawson - How to Eat
                                Jamie Oliver - The Naked Chef

                                I cooked a lot from them then and I still go back to them now.

                              2. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison

                                Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters

                                Vegetarian Epicure, Anna Thomas

                                Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer (1951 ed.)

                                Victory Garden Cookbook, Marian Morash

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ellabee

                                  The Art of Simple Food has my favorite cake recipe of all time, their version of the 1-2-3-4 cake. I am so glad I bought that book.

                                2. Italian: Patsy's
                                  Chinese: Bill's Asian, Blue Dragon
                                  Vegetarian: bean by Bean
                                  General Cooking: Simply Bill's, Slater's Appetite, Dean adn Deluca

                                  1. Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice (though it's a toss up with her Land of Plenty).

                                    1. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I'm not even vegetarian but I find myself constantly using this cookbook. So many amazing recipes in there.

                                      Another one that I love is Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries (the first one). When you and your partner both work full time weekday jobs, quick, tasty recipes of this quality are a godsend.

                                      1. Any of Marcella, especially for vegetables.

                                        1. The Joy of Cooking is my go to for basic proportions, cooking times, etc. I don't use a lot of the recipes but I do lean on their wisdom when another recipe is somewhat suspect. I do occasionally doctor up their basic recipes.

                                          My other cookbooks serve as inspiration. Mostly I go to the web though. My books are slowly moving from my limited kitchen shelf space into shelves elsewhere in the house.

                                          1. Isn't it interesting that the book you've selected is one I've never even heard of. I am going to look it up right now. I don't have any Persian cookbooks per se so I am have to snatch one up....

                                            My most used cookbook would have to be SUNDAY SUPPERS AT LUCQUES by Suzanne Goin. SIMPLY FRENCH and THE SPLENDID TABLE would probably come in second and third.

                                            I have other cookbooks I've used more, but these three have me returning to the same recipes again and again and turning to its pages for inspiration.

                                            If I had to keep going, I would probably add ZUNI CAFE and THE CHEESEMONGERS COMPANION to the pile. Followed by THE SANTA MONICA FARMERS MARKET COOKBOOK. O.K., I'll stop there!

                                            ETA: Just bought your Persian Cookbook. Thanks for the tip!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                              What do you like from the SM Farmers Market book? My libraries don't have it but I'm a sucker for a good FM cookbook.

                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                Off the top of my head ( not at home right now) the pork and white bean stew and the apricot jam are both excellent.

                                            2. Forty years of cooking, and my two Joy of Cookings (70s and 90s Revised) are still my most frequently used. While I now follow few of the recipes exactly, it's always a great source of inspiration and a check for cook times or unfamiliar ingredients.