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COTM: Which one was your most successful?

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Just curious if you have a favorite COTM?
One where almost every recipe you made came out successful?
Or maybe one that pleasantly surprised you?
Or really got your cooking juices flowing.......
Okay........ maybe your top 5 COTM then ;-)

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  1. I haven't participated in a ton but out of the ones I've done, "Mexican Everyday" by Rick Bayless was by far my favorite. I still use recipes from it, whereas I haven't really from other books.

    1. Dunlop
      Vietnamese month
      Gourmet Today

      Also, Flexitarian Table.


      10 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Just got Ottolenghi and have only fixed one which was really good.

        1. re: c oliver

          I have two ottolenghi cookbooks (plenty and ottolenghi )and everything I have tried is very good. I have also made some things from Jerusalem (off the net) and they were equally good.

          1. re: c oliver


            Ottolenghi just might not be for you, then. What have you tried that you didn't like and what was the one you thought was really good? I haven't tried any Ottolenghi recipe (from any of his books) that I didn't love except for the black pepper tofu from Plenty that was too peppery for me...


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I read that as C Oliver has only fixed one so far but it was really good. CO care to clarify?

              1. re: melpy

                Oh! You're right! It could also totally be read that way. I need more coffee. Would love to hear a clarification from her.

                *Calling coliver!*


                1. re: melpy

                  Oh, lordy, yes! When *I* try for brevity, I'm misunderstood :) I've only cooked one recipe and it was very good. BTW, it was a beet salad.

                  c oliver is having her first and only cup of coffee also. Oops, shouldn't use the third person :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    So glad to hear you're aboard the Ottolenghi train!


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Definitely. The night I fixed that a couple of friends were over for dinner and she just oohed and aahed over the book, saying she really wants it.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Lord, he got a lot of shit over that, didn't he?

            2. Fish: Without a Doubt
              Cradle of Flavor
              Dunlop: Land of Plenty
              Young: Stir-Frying to the sky's Edge and Breath of a Wok
              Ottolenghi: Ottolenghi and Plenty
              oh dear that is five

              next in line:
              Around my French Table
              Olive and Capers
              Roden: The New Book of Middle Eastern Foods

              2 Replies
                1. re: smtucker

                  Oh ! forgot about Young! And AMFT! Still, they would have to be in my top ten, not my top five. Hmmm...actually, no, I might have to nudge Casas down below Young and AMFT. :( I loved reading CoF, but didn't cook a darn thing from it. Must revisit that, I think.

                  My list is heavily skewed towards books I cooked a lot from that I had success with. There are many worthy books I didn't cook as much from so those can't make the top 5, sadly.

                  NEW TOP FIVE:
                  Dunlop -- books I keep turning to again and again.
                  Ottolenghi--loved everything I tried. Really crave-worthy.
                  Vietnamese month--can't think of any losers. Lots of quick, light recipes, too.
                  Gourmet Today--so many winners and something for everyone.
                  Grace Young--Really taught me how to stir fry and I loved her stories.

                  AMFT (I didn't cook from this much, which is why it isn't in my top 5, but what I made, I loved.)

                  Casas (cooked a lot from this, loved it all, but, well, not every book could be in the top 5!)

                  ENYTC--opps, I just remembered Amanda Hesser! Similar to AMFT, I didn't cook much from it, but what I cooked I loved. I loved reading this book, too.

                  Also, Flexitarian Table (lots of crave-worthy recipes from this book).


                2. Completely forgot to list mine!

                  Although most of them were years ago I find I constantly revisit these books:

                  Sunday Suppers at Lucques
                  Around my French Table

                  Oh and a surprise for me :
                  I found I loved 660 Curries.

                  1. Here are some of my favorites, which are not necessarily my favorite cookbooks, but my most memorable months (My first COTM was in February of 2010).

                    Grace Young- Breath of a Wok and Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge- I learned so much this month and continue to use those skills today.

                    Italian Grill- maybe it was because it was the summer, but I had a lot of fun cooking from this book. I still make his chicken under a brick which was my first introduction to fennel pollen.

                    World of Food and the Cooking of SW France- this was a very quiet COTM, but I was cooking up a storm. I learned to make duck confit and cassoulet this month. It was also my first time cooking from Wolfert's cookbooks.

                    660 curries- although I have not made anything from the book since then, it forced me to go outside of my comfort zone.

                    Jerusalem- again, this book stretched me outside of my comfort zone. Discovering the falefel recipe alone (thanks Allegra_K) made this month very memorable.

                    1. In No Particular Order:
                      Fish Without a Doubt
                      Bon Appetit Y'All
                      Ottolenghi and Plenty
                      Land of Plenty and Every Grain of Rice
                      Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge and Breath of a Wok

                      Runners Up:
                      The Olive and the Caper
                      Bistro Cooking
                      Tender and The Kitchen Diaries and alternate Real Fast Food
                      Italian Easy and Italian Two Easy

                        1. I don't actively participate because of a variety o f reasons but I do use COTM to help me guide my CB purchases. Through it I have decided to buy Marcella Hazan's Essentials... I got both Jerusalem and Plenty for Christmas which I love, and i have three Claudia Roden (Italian, Middle Eastern, and Spanish).

                          I have also become a much better judge and more discerning about my books and to enjoy the content more overall than just being a recipe whore.

                          1. I'm embarrassed to be 'apart from the sodality', but what does 'COTM' stand for? Is it one of these groups?

                            Communications on the Move
                            Circle of the Moon
                            Church on the Move
                            College of Occupational Therapists of Manitoba
                            Consultant of the Month (California)
                            Children of the Mind
                            Concise Oxford Textbook of Medicine
                            Craters of the Moon
                            Case of the Mondays
                            Catch Of The Month (fishing)
                            Contracting Officer Technical Manager
                            Customer On The Move
                            Cat of the Month
                            Carnival of the Mobilists

                            Thanks for enlightening me.

                            4 Replies
                              1. re: sedimental

                                Thank you all for your patience, (although I could have lived with "Cat of the Month", too! Or "Craters of the Moon", for that matter.)
                                Anyway, I'll certainly check out the archives.

                              2. re: Phil Ogelos

                                Phil, now that you've been enlightened, here's everything you wanted to know about COTM and (perhaps) more: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9672...

                                Why not join in for March (or have a peek at the achives--it's never too late to read through or post to the threads for former books) or have your say in choosing the book for April! You have until the end of today to nominate a book for April http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9680... after which point we move on to voting on April's book.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Here's the Cookbook of the Month archive from September 2006 to March 2014:

                              3. This is just the sort of thing--ranking--at which I'm woefully challenged, but I'm going to take deep breath and say . . .

                                "The Essential New York Times Cookbook": it is the one from which I've tried the most recipes, almost everyone a success, and it covers such a variety of cuisines.

                                But some others rise to the top:

                                "Fish Without a Doubt" talk me to cook fish.

                                "The Splendid Table": my all-time favorite Italian cookbook, it's bruised and battered but delivers every time.

                                Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking": my first foray into a non-Western cuisine, it remains my go-to (although I also love "660 Curries").

                                Two others that took me out of my comfort zone: "Burma"--absolutely loved it--and "Smoke and Pickles," which really surprised me.

                                I could go on, but that would be missing the point. And it nags at me that there are probably undiscovered "favorites" from months I did not participate.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  Oh how could I have forgotten our Indian books? I mean last night's dinner was plucked right from Sahni.

                                  Oh this is just hopeless isn't it? Top 5 just isn't enough slots for me.

                                2. wow, great question! I couldn't pick just one, but I'd say my most successful/exciting/fun months were:

                                  Gourmet Today
                                  Fish without a Doubt

                                  Next would come:

                                  Italian Easy, etc. (still use these all the time)
                                  Jamie Oliver
                                  and - to me the most surprising and still used quite a bit: Melissa Clark

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Yes! JO and Melissa Clark. I didn't list FWOD because I haven't cooked from it as much as I should, but I love everything I've made from it. His catfish sloppy joes are practically my signature dish now. And I won't list Italian Easy because out of sheer stubbornness, but I really should drag those books out come summer. Perfect for summer cooking when the gardens are going crazy!


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      The Melissa Clark was such an utter surprise for me. I had read a few of her weekly columns and not been interested and didn't think the books would do much for me. But I read a few reports and started getting pulled in. Bought one book, loved it, and then had to have the other. And they've proven very useful for regular life (if you know what I mean). I make those Dahlia's chicken fingers pretty often; I take one of the salads to pot lucks and it is often the only salad that totally disappears, etc.

                                      Understand the Italian Easy thing - the editing is so so bad. But ... the food is great, and given the amount we've cooked we can figure out what is really meant and have a great meal.

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Winter Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, Walnuts and Manchego from Cook this Now. But looking through the books trying to find it reminded me how many good salads she has. The corn/avocado one is great, and we make the orange, olive and mint (or is it basil?) one pretty often.

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            Hmmm...those sound delicious! Thank you for pointing them out!


                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              looking through the books also reminds me of just how badly indexed they are. Eeek!

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                Strange that she's such a powerhouse author and yet her books are indexed badly!


                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  that's why you need to go to eat your books!

                                                  1. re: Madrid

                                                    You are SO right. I'm a member, and yet I always seem to forget that going there is an option. Bad me, bad bad me.

                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                  OK, considering how much i love this book and how many of the recipes i have made, i can't believe i've never tried this salad. I'll be trying this one very soon.

                                                  By the way - I agree on the good salads in this book. I don't think I've had a bad one. Just tried the celery salad for the first time recently and it was great.

                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    Ooh, celery and what? Trying to jog my memory. I know I've made a few celery salads, just not sure if hers is one.

                                                    I just finished the leftovers from an Isabel's Cantina salad and it was still wonderful 2 days later. Radicchio, watercress, endive and avocado with a lemon vinaigrette.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Oh, that sounds like a good salad too. The celery salad has walnuts and parmesan and is dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil, s&p. Talk about the whole being better than the sum of the parts! Here's a link:

                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                        Thanks - I am there! Any salad with nuts and cheese is going to work for me.

                                                        The nice thing with the Isabel's salad is that the avocado sort of does the same thing cheese would do - gives it a bit of creaminess to offset the sharpness of the radicchio and watercress.

                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                            Ah yes, Italian Easy. I had quite a bit of fun with that book too. I love the spatchcocked chicken recipe.

                                          3. I only joined COTM in January 2011 and have not cooked from every one book since then but followed pretty closely and usually made at least one dish though might be guilty of not always reporting. Here is my list:

                                            * Jerusalem - I made the most recipes from this one and almost every dish was a success, many repeated.
                                            * 150 Best Recipes - loved and made many dishes
                                            * AMFT - continue cooking from it and it never disappoints. Started to follow her blog and made a number of recipes from there too - not always "wow" but mostly quite good
                                            * Seductions of Rice - I wasn't taken with the book immediately but it continues to grow on me
                                            * Washoku/Japanese Cooking - this was the most challenging month for me and the most intimidating food to make. I loved everything I made from both books but still intimidated and therefore do not return to it (I only own Japanese Cooking) often

                                            5 Replies
                                              1. re: herby

                                                I got rid of my copy of Seductions of Rice. :(

                                                I forgot about 150 Best Recipes! I swear I scanned the COTM archive before I answered the question but, still, when people mention a book that's not on my list I still jump up and say, "YES! That's a great book."


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Really? Why is that? Good info about different rices and great recipe varieties thought the whole world. And they work :)

                                                  1. re: herby

                                                    Well, it's probably not a very good answer, but I never cooked from it and I was going through a major cookbook purge so out it went. Also, I was a little freaked out about arsenic in rice news reports. I have a young child, so my purge sort of coincided with my general decision to de-emphasize rice in favor of other whole grains in my diet. :(


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      The rice thing freaks me out. And we eat a LOT of rice around here.

                                                  1. Great idea for a thread. I often look back through the books I have cooked from for COTM and I definitely have favourites.

                                                    I've only been participating for a few years and I don't always cook form every book, but usually when I do opt to participate I do my best to be active.

                                                    I have to say my overall favourite has been Every Grain of Rice by Dunlop. I love asian flavours and I found this book to be easy, authentic, and very broad.

                                                    I also really enjoyed Fish Without a Doubt, Burma, and Jerusalem because they challenged me and pushed me to make things I normally wouldn't.

                                                    And lastly, I really liked 660 curries, and have had generally good to very good results, but there have been a few fails for me from this book. Overall however, very successful and a valued member of my collection.

                                                    1. The ones that immediately popped into my head were:

                                                      Dunlop (RCC + LOP and then EGOR)
                                                      All About Braising
                                                      Ottolenghi (Otto, Plenty and Jerusalem).

                                                      Ones that I use frequently also include Melissa Clark month and Flex month. But I started the cooking from threads so I didn't really count them as COTM.

                                                      I also loved Burma (surprisingly so), Vietnamese, Fish Without a Doubt and NY Essential Times. I'm sure there are others but I can't think of them right now. Also, I haven't been too active lately. There is always hope for next month.

                                                      ETA: quick skim reminded me of Indian months and the numerous middle eastern months (Arabesque, Complete Book of ME cooking and Spice). Loved these as well.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                        Arabesque - how on earth did I forget that one. Definitely one of my favorites.

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          All About Braising. How did I forget about that one? _sigh_

                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                            I really enjoyed the dishes we made from Burma as well. Must revisit that book soon!

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              After reading all the praise for Burma, I think I am going to have to add it to my collection.

                                                              1. re: EAH

                                                                Yes, it is really a good one. Using more shrimp paste for fish sauce, fried shallots for fried garlic, etc. subtle yet very powerful differences. Really unique foods.

                                                          2. I'm a very sporadic participant in COTM, so I don't have a ton to choose from. However, the one I definitely learned the most from and keep going back to is 660 Curries. I don't think I've gone to an Indian restaurant once since I bought the book - everything I've cooked from it has been SO much more delicious than anything I've had in a restaurant!

                                                            12 Replies
                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                              You are so right on that biondanonima. I ordered some naan and butter chicken for two the other day and was thoroughly disappointed with the flavour, quality,and cost ($40 for the two of us).

                                                              I thought to myself while we were eating that with the aid of 660 my results would have been much better. Alas, sometimes we just don't have the time.

                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                Doesn't it rock your socks off when you have a meal out someplace nice and think to yourself "I've made something just as good as this (if not better)"?? Credit to COTM and all the positivity here.

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  I very rarely order in and when I go out it is more often than not to eat things I either do not make at home (dim sum, Japanese) or do not make as well (steak house).

                                                                2. re: biondanonima

                                                                  Me too on the 660 curries. I use it as a really good reference book. Great advice for how to use often overlooked ingredients.

                                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                                    I bought 660 Curries, but couldn't figure out where to start and have not made anything out of it yet!

                                                                    1. re: emily

                                                                      I had that problem when I first bought it as well. The layout is just overwhelming at first. I think it sat on my shelf unused for at least six months, but now it's my standard go-to when we have people over for dinner. We even used it for our welcome dinner for out-of-town guests at our wedding.

                                                                      Some simple recipes that might get you started:
                                                                      Cardamom-Scented Chicken with Ginger and Garlic
                                                                      Cashew Chicken with a Cilantro Sauce
                                                                      Lamb-Almond Dumplings in a Tomato Cream Sauce
                                                                      Yogurt-Marinated Lamb with Ginger and Garlic
                                                                      Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion

                                                                      1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                        Thank you - I was hoping for some recommendations.

                                                                        1. re: emily

                                                                          Check out the COTM threads, too - you'll see definite favorites emerge, with lots of great notes on preparation and substitutions as well.

                                                                        2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                          thanks for this list! i don't use this book nearly as much as i should so i appreciate this little list of t&t faves.

                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                            You're welcome! I should add the basil and peanut pesto shrimp recipe to that list as well. And now for some reason I'm craving Indian food.

                                                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                              You've convinced me that I at least need to look into this book (I must have been away when it was COTM - don't even remember thinking about buying it).

                                                                    2. I tend to get ahold of the book after the month has ended so I don't participate as much as I follow along afterwards and soak up the wisdom. That said, the ones I've used the most are, in order:

                                                                      666 Curries
                                                                      Grace Young's books

                                                                      Need to check out Melissa Clark. I love her NYT videos.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                                        666 Curries, you only cook the devilishly hot and spicy recipes? :)

                                                                        I have twice-owned 660 Curries and twice given it away. I've just always found it too daunting. But threads like this make me twinge'ishly regret having unloaded this book, twice. On the other hand, I don't cook lamb (and I see TxInMtl notes a couple of lamb recipes from the book that are outstanding) and Indian spices in general (namely cardamom and tumeric) don't go over well with the other parties in my household, so I'm not prone to experimenting with Indian cuisine much, alas.


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I just spice 'em into submission. The others in my house, I mean.

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            I subbed beef into a lot of the lamb recipes with great success. Maybe not 100% traditional, but delicious.

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              I've had good luck with the chicken and seafood dishes as well, but for some reason I always find myself drawn to the lamb. Without the cardamom and turmeric though, the options get a little limited. My mom can no longer have cardamom or cumin along with a very long list of other ingredients, so Indian is definitely off the list for the next time my parents visit (which is sad because it worked well with my dad's need to have gluten-free food!).

                                                                          2. I've only been an active COTM participant in the last couple of years. I don't participate every month but I try to do so as often as possible. The ones that have been the best for me are:

                                                                            Cook This Now
                                                                            Mediterranean Harvest
                                                                            Every Grain of Rice/Dunlop (I like the older threads too even though I wasn't a participant at that time).

                                                                            Then there are a bunch of older ones that I do like to keep up with, including Zuni, Sunday Suppers and Marcella's Essentials.

                                                                            I've really been meaning to delve into the Vietnamese books -- I bought Pham's book but have never used it -- I think these flavors would really work for my family but I just haven't had time to focus on it yet.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                              I will say the great thing about VIetnamese cuisine is that once your pantry is stocked, there are a lot of dishes that are very quick and easy to prepare. Light, too.


                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                Absolutely, great point. Once your pantry is well stocked, it is an easy cuisine to rely on.

                                                                                Vietnamese food has now taken over almost half of my dinners at home. So quick, easy, healthy, and fresh tasting. Addictive!

                                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                                  You know, what's so sad is I think my pantry is already stocked! I mean, I have the fish sauce and whatnot already. I just need to look at the book and select some recipes to try.

                                                                            2. Ya'll are killing me. I just ordered Burma and Eat This Now.
                                                                              I have spent the better half of my morning going thru the COTM threads for these two books and marking down the " must make" recipes.
                                                                              Now I am waiting VERY impatiently for these books to arrive!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: EAH

                                                                                Amazing how different we all are! I was never tempted by Burma and gave away Eat This Now :)

                                                                              2. I've only been participating in COTM since last summer, but I have really enjoyed going through the old posts.

                                                                                Over the last 6 months, I've gradually been checking various former COTMs out of the library and trying them out. Some of them were immediate winners and I ended up buying them. Among the books I've bought are:

                                                                                -Land of Plenty (as soon as I made the Gong Bao chicken, I knew I had to own this book)
                                                                                -Every Grain of Rice
                                                                                -Fish without a Doubt
                                                                                -Into the Vietnamese Kitchen
                                                                                -150 Best American Recipes

                                                                                I already had a number of the COTMs. Among my favorites are all three Ottolenghi books and Around My French Table.

                                                                                I still have many more COTMs to test drive, but I really have enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

                                                                                1. Sunday Suppers at Lucques (all recipes come out perfectly)
                                                                                  Zuni Cafe (gets my cooking juices flowing)
                                                                                  Around My French Table (surprised me)
                                                                                  The Splendid Table (all the recipes are treasures)
                                                                                  Moro (surprised me and gets my cooking juices flowing)

                                                                                  I absolutely love COTM and look forward to the discussion and the new book every month, but I have to admit that all the books I've listed are books I either previously owned and loved before they became a COTM, or are titles I would have eventually found on my own. I guess I am a creature of habit.

                                                                                  So many others, that did not make the list are books I turn to often such as Patricia Wells, Ina Garten, Jamie Oliver, and Mario Batali, 150, and Bistro Cooking.

                                                                                  1. The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

                                                                                    1. So. . . . arriving late to the party, but this is such a great topic and I loved reading everyone's list. Here're my five choices so far, in no particular order, taken from the months when I was able to participate:

                                                                                      Fish Without a Doubt
                                                                                      Mediterranean Harvest
                                                                                      All About Roasting
                                                                                      The Olive and the Caper, tied with The Splendid Table (okay; that's six!)

                                                                                      I suppose I was most surprised by the fact that some others of you also listed The Olive and the Caper.

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                                                        We really liked everything we made from TOATC. I had my first taste of goat during that month. I should return to it during this Summer.

                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                          LOL Not sure how I forgot TOATC since I nominated it and it's one of my favorite cookbooks but yes add that to my list.

                                                                                        2. re: Goblin

                                                                                          This thread always makes me worry that I have somehow left out one of my favorites.

                                                                                          My mother was in town last week, and mentioned that she couldn't seem to find a way to get enough fish/seafood into her diet. I bet you all know what I did ... Yep, a copy of Fish Without a Doubt arrived at her house on Tuesday. If she gets even half as much enjoyment/use from it as most of us did, I will be so happy.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            What a nice gift for your mom. I know she will appreciate that book. The genius of FWAD is the arrangement by "methods"--and the very generous list of substitute fish for every recipe.

                                                                                            1. re: Goblin

                                                                                              I remember as a child watching her curl up with a cookbook, so I hope she's enjoying it right now with a drink in hand (chances of this second are pretttttty high). I do hope she'll find a few things that she likes and is comfortable making.

                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                Oh, I like your mom's style!!

                                                                                                Maybe your mom might like a list of some of the real winners from FWAD? Sometimes when I send a special cookbook (often a COTM) to special friends, I also send or e-mail a list of favorite recipes from it that I have made and liked and/or that people have really loved from the relevant COTM board.

                                                                                                Maybe it is kinda bossy. . .I am an oldest child.