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Best Cookbooks for Beginners

Cookbook Reference

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#1 Afterburner

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 08:10 AM

As some of you know, having doubtless hung upon my EVERY WORD with breathless excitement since my arrival here (:raz:), I am a total novice when it comes to cooking. It has only been within the past 45 days that I have moved past the "can boil water without being a danger to himself or to others" stage and on to actually making full meals.

(For those of you who haven't seen my other posts, back in early December, I decided that I was going to try to teach myself to cook homecooked meals, in order to save money, and in order to provide my newborn son with homecooked food when he gets old enough to eat it.)

In pursuing my education, I purchased (or received as a gift) the following books:

Cooking for Dummies by Bryan Miller and Marie Rama
I'm Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown
The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker
I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

And since I am completely new to this whole cooking thing, and since you more experienced foodies probably get a lot of friends pestering you about which is the best cookbook they should buy if they want to get into cooking, I figured I'd share my thoughts.

Cooking for Dummies -- Skip this one. Seriously. Technique-wise and ingredient-wise, there is absolutely nothing in this book that you can't learn from The Joy of Cooking, and there's a lot of info in TJoC that isn't in CFD. And TJoC only costs $15 more, and provides a vatload more info and recipes. (On the other hand, the first meal I made when I started down the path to being a home cook and foodie was the Shepherd's Pie recipe from this book. And it was pretty darned tasty once I doubled the amount of stock called for in the recipe. But, on the gripping hand, the Shepherd's Pie recipe in TJoC isn't significantly different from the one in Cooking for Dummies, so...)

I'm Just Here for the Food -- I got this one because I'm a geek, and Alton Brown is a geek, and I figured there'd be interesting tidbits and info contained within its pages. And I was right -- there's a lot of good info in this book. However, it's info of a trivial nature, telling you things about molecules and heat transfer and things of that nature. And while this is useful information to enhance your technique, as a novice cook I was looking more for "Here's how to debone a chicken" or "Here's how to cook vegetables." It's a good book, and I'm glad I bought it, but it would have been mostly useless to me without some other book to give me the broad foundation I needed to really get the best use out of what Alton was telling me.

The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking -- And, speaking of foundations, here it is. My mom got me this book for Christmas, and I read it cover to cover (only skipping the chapter on Candy, which just wasn't all that interesting to me). As far as "bang for my buck," TJoC has provided more info, both about ingredients and technique, than any other cookbook I've read. It has illustrations for many of the various types of greens, as well as mushrooms, pasta, chiles, fish, and cuts of meat. It explains cooking techniques in detail. It talks about meat and poultry in detail, and discusses how beef, pork, and chicken these days are a lot leaner than they were even 10 years ago, thus requiring changes in cooking technique. Additionally, it also contains interesting bits of food history, such as the likely origin of nachos, how sauces evolved, the competing accounts of how the reuben sandwich was invented, and so forth. It showcases all this information in a wonderful array of recipes, including a bunch of classic recipes from around the world, recipes for food that was considered "fine dining" in days gone by, and recipes for good, solid "blue collar" classics like the Hot Brown sandwich, the Muffaletta, and Brunswick stew.

I'm Just Here for More Food -- This is Alton Brown's baking book, and generally provides the same sort of info about baking that I'm Just Here for the Food provides about savory cooking, and the same remarks made for that book can also be made for this one. However, this book has already been useful to me for one tip: If the dough doesn't wanna roll out, let it sit a few minutes so the gluten can relax. The homemade "leftover" pizza I made last night ended up putting this particular bit of knowledge to good use.

How to Cook Everything -- I'm about halfway through this book. The blurb on the cover touts it as "a more hip version of The Joy of Cooking." While the tone of the writing is more modern, I would (so far, at least) tend to classify the book as "a lite version of The Joy of Cooking." The book does indeed provide useful info on technique and ingredients, but it seems overall less detailed than TJoC. The breadth of info is almost the same as TJoC, but the depth isn't. Also, as a matter of purely personal preference, I find the recipes in HtCE a bit...uninspiring. HtCE doesn't feature a lot of classic recipes, instead focusing on a more modern style of cooking. So the recipes all have names like "Chicken with thyme and pesto" or "Chicken with rice and mushrooms" or "Chicken with wine sauce and shallots," etc. These are names which just don't send my imagination soaring like, for example, "boeuf borguignonne" does.

However, HtCE serves as a fantastic complement to TJoC. My personal preferences on naming conventions aside, the emphasis on modern cuisine serves as a nice counterpoint to TJoC's more traditional approach. HtCE also acknowledges the fact that people these days buy food from supermarkets, and says "That's okay if you gotta." (TJoC's attitude to buying anything less than the best, freshest possible ingredients is a little more rigid.) HtCE also has a spiffy section on kitchen equipment, and what gear you will find most useful, a feature lacking in TJoC.

Based on my experiences in learning how to cook from books, if one of my friends asked me "I'd like to start learning how to cook. What books do you recommend?", I would say "Buy The Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything. Read the 'Equipment' section of HtCE first, then read TJoC cover-to-cover, then go back and read the rest of HtCE." That would, IMHO, provide a good start for anyone who wants to head down the road to becoming a foodie.
* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.
* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...
<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

#2 bleachboy

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 08:20 AM

I have both Joy of Cooking and How to Cook Everything. I must say, for recipes, I turn to How to Cook Everything much more frequently. However, if I am looking for a simple recipe for a simple food -- cinnamon rolls, say -- I'll often look at Joy of Cooking then look at other cookbooks and the Internet and attempt to come up with an ultimate recipe.

Another cookbook you really need to add to your library is Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, et. al. It's a classic reference. I rarely ever cook recipes from that book start-to-finish, but rather use it as a reference for French techniques.

I am sort of also interested in buying some of the Cooks Illustrated recipe books, since although their dishes are usually banal, that's also the type of food I usually cook, and most of the stuff I've tried from the magazine has turned out excellent.
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#3 Mabelline

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 08:21 AM

Afterburner, when you want to get into meat cooking, an excellent book is The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. Explains a lot, has interesting anecdotes, and really good recipes.

#4 ladyyoung98

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 08:39 AM

my fiance and i both have a large collection of cookbooks and while im sure that there are some recipes that may be duplicated in others....we have the wide collection we have simply because we enjoy cooking and like to thumb through them for ideas..bear in mind that not every cookbook has the recipe you are looking for..for instance one cookbook may have a recipe for coq au vin while another may not;..or one book may have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies while another may not...cookbooks do vary to some degree in what recipes may actually be contained within their pages and variety is interesting....
and while i do realize you are just starting out in your culinary adventures...keep in mind that a recipe is merely a suggestion..you may take from or add to a recipe to make it your own creation...and by the looks of what you did with the sheperds pie with the stock...id say you are learning that part already..... welcome to the joy that is cooking and may your journey be filled with success

edited to add...

oops i just went back and looked again and i think i may have got the shepherds pie thing from another post i read earlier.....lol...however...i think you may get the idea

Edited by ladyyoung98, 23 January 2005 - 08:46 AM.

a recipe is merely a suggestion

#5 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 09:29 AM

Welcome! As someone who has been cooking for a good long while, I have several well-worn copies of basic books, including JOC, HCE, The NYT Cookbook, McCalls, Fannie Farmer, CIA's Professional Chef, the new Gourmet Cookbook, and a few others that I use less often. (John Thorne's books, starting with Simple Cooking, also are well worth your checking out, I will add, particularly if you are interested to have, say, twelve different corn cake recipes in your repertoire -- :biggrin:)

At this point, I've tried lots and lots of recipes in each, and have a list in my head of where to turn for the ones that work best for me. So, I use the waffle recipe in JOC, the chocolate ice cream recipe in NYT, the meat ball recipe in HCE, and so on. I bet that most eGullet regulars have the same relationship to their well-thumbed tomes.

Afterburner, why don't you share with us your insights as you start cooking with these books, and give us a sense of what you think works and doesn't? I'd be much obliged to see, for example, if you find a better waffle recipe (and, I will confess, I probably wil trust your judgment more than that of Christopher Kimball and his, or should I say, "America's," Test Kitchen). Photos, of course, always are swell -- :wink:!
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#6 slbunge

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 09:44 AM

I don't have How to Cook Everything but I can say that with tons of recipe sources that we use here, Joy of Cooking is always at the ready and is used regularly. Neither I nor my wife have read it cover to cover but we constantly consult it when we need to confirm quantities or want to step a bit away from a recipe gleaned from an online source.

Another great thing about it is that is has so many classic recipes. Not many other cookbooks have recipes for dead-simple french dressing or the classic sand tarts and sometimes that is just what you need to bring a meal of 'updated' recipes back from the brink of confusion.

If for nothing else, the kitchen testing that went into that book and all of it's editions dwarfs what you might find in a newer book. I've never had a clunker from that book.
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#7 JAZ

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 09:58 AM

I think it's worthwhile to note that there are really two Joy of Cooking books out there: the original one, revised several times; and the New Joy of Cooking, which was substantially rewritten several years ago, with many new recipes and techniques and much of the older recipes modified to fit into "today's" cooking habits.

I've never done a page by page comparison, but from what I've seen, they're very different books.

#8 Dani Mc

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 10:01 AM

I started cooking with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. Julia's is fantastic if you want to learn the classics, and start learning your technique, but Nigella is wonderful for recipies. They aren't difficult or fussy, the ingredients are easily found, and there are great sections on cooking for kids, and what she calls 'Temple Food' (I call it 'who ate all the pies?' food).

I'm also a fan of The New James Beard. I don't know if its still in print, but you could easily find it on ebay or at a used bookstore. His recipes are lighter in this book and easy to replicate at home.


I love the Alton Brown books. What recipies have you tried? I did his banana bread, and the lemon curd from the 'More Food' book. I haven't used the first one as anything other than a 'why things work the way they do' kind of reference, but if you've had any successes, I'd love to hear them.

#9 Dani Mc

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 10:04 AM

I think it's worthwhile to note that there are really two Joy of Cooking books out there: the original one, revised several times; and the New Joy of Cooking, which was substantially rewritten several years ago, with many new recipes and techniques and much of the older recipes modified to fit into "today's" cooking habits.

I've never done a page by page comparison, but from what I've seen, they're very different books.

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Jaz, from what I've been told, there is more humor in the writing of the original, and they have a large chapter on canning.

I've also heard a rumour that several of the regional recipies (such as squirrel stew) were cut in favor of a more 'international' line up in the second book. I've always got an eye out for the original when I'm in used book stores. It sounds very interesting.

#10 slbunge

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 10:13 AM

I've also heard a rumour that several of the regional recipies (such as squirrel stew) were cut in favor of a more 'international' line up in the second book.  I've always got an eye out for the original when I'm in used book stores.  It sounds very interesting.

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I think what we have is a late edition of the original and while there isn't 'squirrel stew' there is a section about game. The chapter has a number of recipes and prep methods for rabbit (or hare) as well as suggestions for preparing squirrel (including drawings of how to skin), opossum, porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver (and beaver tail), armadillo, deer (moose and elk), bear, peccary(?), and wild boar. It is a short but fascinating chapter.
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#11 RETREVR

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 10:50 AM

I have never been a home cook so here is a thought from a different prespective. I was in the bookstore the other day and saw a used copy of the CIA textbook. It is really a reference and "cooking amnual for dummies".

#12 Marmish

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 10:58 AM

Afterburner, when you want to get into meat cooking, an excellent book is The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. Explains a lot, has interesting anecdotes, and really good recipes.

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I'll second that one. I really found the charts of different names for the same cuts, and appropriate cooking methods useful, and I refer to it often. I also like the variety of spice rubs and brines included. The pot roast recipe is the best I ever found, and so is, of all things, the cole slaw.

#13 MarketStEl

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 11:02 AM

I've also heard a rumour that several of the regional recipies (such as squirrel stew) were cut in favor of a more 'international' line up in the second book.  I've always got an eye out for the original when I'm in used book stores.  It sounds very interesting.

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I think what we have is a late edition of the original and while there isn't 'squirrel stew' there is a section about game. The chapter has a number of recipes and prep methods for rabbit (or hare) as well as suggestions for preparing squirrel (including drawings of how to skin), opossum, porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver (and beaver tail), armadillo, deer (moose and elk), bear, peccary(?), and wild boar. It is a short but fascinating chapter.

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I think the last revised edition of the original Joy of Cooking was published in 1978. I had--and subsequently lost--a copy of it; I now have a copy of the 1965 revision in my collection.

The significant changes in tone, mix of recipes, and organization come from Marion Rombauer Becker's son Ethan, who brought Joy into the postmodern era.

There was a rather widely-reviewed biography of Erma Rombauer, the upper-class St. Louis housewife who brought Joy to the world, published a few years ago. The title, I believe, was "Stand Facing the Stove."

Besides Joy, the other general-purpose cookbook (set) I have is one of those supermarket-serial cookbooks, the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, which my father bought for me. It has a surprisingly wide variety of recipes, but nothing on technique and only the basics on ingredients.
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#14 Afterburner

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 11:12 AM

my fiance  and i  both have  a large  collection of  cookbooks and  while im sure  that  there are  some  recipes  that may  be  duplicated in others....we have  the  wide  collection we have simply because  we enjoy  cooking  and like to  thumb through them for ideas..bear in mind  that not every cookbook  has the recipe you are looking  for..

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Well, it's not so much the recipes as the...erm...

Hrm.

Before I started down this path to madness, I would go to the grocery store and wander up and down the aisles and not really understand what I was seeing. I mean, I knew there were spices and meats and vegetables and so forth. But I had no clue what to do with them. And following recipes doesn't provide any insight or understanding into what to do with them except in a very limited fashion.

Example: I started baking cookies regularly starting back in August (read more about my cookie baking adventures in this thread), and I can cook a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie. But all that baking of cookies gave me no insight into the nature of dough.

The Joy of Cooking (and yes, this is the recently revised 1997 edition -- the one without the squirrel recipes) gave me that understanding in a small way. I've got a lot more to learn, obviously, but going to the produce section of Whole Foods after reading the vegetable and salad chapters of TJoC was quite an education.

If you were to remove all of the recipes from TJoC and just leave behind the expository text describing techniques, processes, ingredients, and so on, I would still find it an invaluable book for the rank beginner (though, perhaps, less useful for advanced cooks, which is why they probably include the recipes in the first place).

The same thing is true (but less so) for How to Cook Everything. HtCE tells you how to make stock. TCoJ gives you an understanding of what stock is, why bones in the stock contribute body, and so forth. HtCE tells you about fish, and what types of fish can be substituted for other types. TCoJ gives you a fish-by-fish breakdown.



oops  i just  went  back  and looked again and i think i may  have  got the  shepherds pie  thing  from another post i read  earlier.....lol...however...i think  you may get the idea

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Nope, that was me. I made shepherd's pie with twice the amount of stock and the flavor was noticably improved. (Also added some 3-year-old aged gouda to the taters.)
* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.
* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...
<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

#15 birder53

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 07:25 PM

I rarely use JOC for the recipes, but find it to be en excellent reference book.
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#16 Fritz Brenner

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 12:29 PM

Nice post-- thanks for your thoughts. Although I don't have the Alton Brown books, and I'm not very familiar with him, I've found it really useful to learn some of the chemistry that goes on while we cook. Brown may not be good for recipies and such (I have no idea), but as a companion to books that you really like to use, like JOC and HtCE, food science is something I've started to learn and find extremely helpful. I have Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen," and it's an awesome reference (you can find lots on him, and a Q&A, on this site)-- now, when I screw something up (all the time), I can look in McGee and know a little more about why, chemically, these things happen. Likewise, when I'm curious about why something works well, I can do the same. So, Alton may end up being one of those cookbooks that you read in bed and harvest interesting information from that will supplement the recipies you get from other books.

Just my opinion. Congratulations on beginning to cook! :smile:
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#17 baranoouji

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 12:40 PM

I have both TJoC and HTCE, presents from my sister a few years back when I moved into bonafide kitchens with more than secret hot plates.

I follow TJoC religiously when it comes to techniques (taking apart a whole chicken is much cheaper than buying in parts, but without an explanation, seems impossible!) and I like HTCE for the concept of "here's the basic recipe, here's the flavor variations." For all my other needs, I borrow my sister's cookbooks (I cribbed her copy of Amanda Hesser for almond cake the other week) or I look at epicurious.com.

#18 pam claughton

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 12:45 PM

Another really good, basic cookbook is Christopher Kimballs Cook's Illustrated, The Best Recipe. My sister is a beginning cook, and has used this one extensively for basics like meatballs, roast chicken, etc. I have as well, and like that they explain the 'why' behind the recipe, and how they came to this final version.

Another great little cookbook is Julia Child's Kitchen Wisdom. It's small, but is right next to my stove, and is a quick reference on anything, especially for vinegraitte's.

#19 wkl

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 01:04 PM

I think a great book for starting out and also for the experienced home cook is Appetite, by Nigel Slater.The emphasis is on comfort foods and there are suggestions on altering recipies for different flavors.It also spends time on what to have in your kitchen in terms of equipment and ingredients (I think, I'm going by memory).Regardless, this is an excellent cookbook that is also a very good read, as Slater is a top notch writer.I highly recommend it.

#20 slkinsey

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 01:30 PM

I see several recommendations for the Child/Bertholle/Beck Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I am rather of the opinion that these are not particularly useful books for beginning cooks, and especially those who do not have a strong interest in French cuisine.

The book to which I turn the most often for advice is Julia Child's The Way to Cook. This book offers well-illustrated techniques on how to prepare just about any kind of food. It focuses on the techniques rather than specific recipes, but also provides certain "master recipes" for classic dishes or uses for classic preparations that the cook can use as a jumping-off point.
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#21 fimbul

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 01:53 PM

I have Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen," and it's an awesome reference (you can find lots on him, and a Q&A, on this site)-- now, when I screw something up (all the time), I can look in McGee and know a little more about why, chemically, these things happen.  Likewise, when I'm curious about why something works well, I can do the same.  So, Alton may end up being one of those cookbooks that you read in bed and harvest interesting information from that will supplement the recipies you get from other books. 

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You know, it's true. I think I've learned more chemistry and physics learning to cook over the past couple than I ever learned in highschool or college. It's rather embarrassing that I'm just now discovering that science can be fun.

On the other hand, it's had its pitfalls. Never, ever let yourself get stuck explaining induction burners to a physicist. :unsure:
A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

#22 Malawry

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 05:29 PM

I tend to agree with Sam concerning Child's Mastering the Art. Though there are some techniques in there that are so well-illustrated and described (like how to make an omelet) that the book can be useful for some neophytes.

I am a huge fan of both HTCE and JOC. I often purchase HTCE for friends interested in cooking as a gift, because I think it's more accessible than JOC. I love Bittman's minimal approach, and his references of "dishes that reheat well," "things to add to chicken soup" etc encourage the experimentation that new cooks tend to shy away from.

However, I use JOC much more often--I keep it at work even. Its reference information is far more detailed, and its just a longer book than HTCE so it covers more. I read its recipes when trying something new for my girls (I rarely cook from non-pastry recipes, but JOC is so comprehensive that I know I can find a version to work from of anything). I use lots of the pastry recipes religiously--including the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Basic Pancakes. I love the red ribbon page marker, which more books should have IMO. And finally, it's a treasure trove of menu ideas for somebody like me who makes mostly classic American food for ordinary eaters on a daily basis.

If I could only have one, I'd buy JOC. Ironically, until I took the job at the sorority, I preferred HTCE and rarely touched JOC. So these things can change.

#23 Viola da gamba

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 05:41 PM

This may be a particularly Canadian point of view - but having looked at both Joy of Cooking & the others mentioned, I still prefer my old stand-by - the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book - absolutely basic, very easy to follow, and it's got all of the equivalence measures which are so useful if going from British to US to Australian recipes.

Sadly out of print is the Sunset Basic Cookery book - one of the best I've ever found for such helpful hints as to how to deal with a split hollandaise.

I also put forward Larousse as an option? Still working my way through the "eggs" section ...

Congratulations! And welcome to a new addiction - cookery books are a wonderful way to spend money. Now just wait until you discover Donna Hay ...

#24 Exotic Mushroom

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 05:56 PM

I have never been a home cook so here is a thought from a different prespective.  I was in the bookstore the other day and saw a used copy of the CIA textbook.  It is really a reference and "cooking amnual for dummies".

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I don't really think that culinary textbooks would be very useful for a home cook trying to learn. For starters, the recipe quantities are simply too large. I know they can be scaled down, but I think that a beginning is best served using a book with quantities they can use.

More importantly, culinary textbooks place emphasis on different skills than a home cook needs. If you tried to learn from a culinary textbook by reading from the beginning, you would only be making stocks and sauces for weeks before you created a single dinner. These are an important foundation for professionals, but I think of these as advanced skills for a home cook.

The most important thing for a home cook who is just learning is to start with simple complete meals. Something like baked chicken with rice and broccoli.

#25 Afterburner

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 10:22 PM

I have Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen," and it's an awesome reference (you can find lots on him, and a Q&A, on this site)


Yep, I got this book as well. (I signed up for the Good Cook Book-of-the-Month club. On Food and Cooking was one of my first four selections.) It's pretty nifty.



So, Alton may end up being one of those cookbooks that you read in bed and harvest interesting information from that will supplement the recipies you get from other books. 


Yep, so far he has provided some key tidbits of info, such as "salt stuff before cooking" and "let the dough rest for a minute to let the gluten relax." His anatomy of a frying french fry was also interesting.
* AB drinks one of those "Guiness Pub Draught" beers, with the nitrogen cannister in the bottom of the can.
* AB wonders what Budweiser would taste like with one of those...
<AB> . o O (Like shit, still, I should think.)

#26 LittleChef22

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 02:21 PM

Does anyone have a good recommendation for a beginner level cookbook? Thanks!

#27 eskay

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 05:04 PM

How do these Tome-o'-Knowledge type cookbooks fit into the internet age, where I can google 'cornbread' and get five thousand different recipes? I suspect that the recipes as a whole are probably of a higher quality, having been more extensively tested...would you agree with this? Or is it more the advantage of having one go-to recipe, and not needing to wade through the aforementioned five thousand to find one you like.
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#28 plk

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 05:43 PM

I think it's good to have one of those encyclopedic cookbooks like Joy of Cooking so that you know that whatever it is you want to make, you have easy access to a version that works. It might not be the best possible version, but it probably will turn out right. You can find amazing recipes on the Internet, but it takes a certain familiarity with either the recipe or the author to wade through the junk, and novices by definition don't really have that yet.

That said, the Joy of Cooking is definitely one of my least-used cookbooks. My favorite cookbooks (like Bouchon) have color photographs of the food, and I think that's really useful when you're first learning. The JOC's black and white drawings don't always quite do it. I don't know if Bouchon is beginner-level, but it sure is pretty, and has several really basic recipes, like how to roast a chicken. You won't find recipes for everything you would possibly ever want to eat in a book like that, though.

Also, this isn't exactly a cookbook recommendation, but for a beginner, I would consider subscribing to Cook's Illustrated. It's very explanation-heavy and has big pictures and recommendations on tools and techniques. Their recipes aren't necessarily the most authentic version of whatever it is being made, but they definitely work and they do try to make sure that you can get everything in their recipes at your "average" chain supermarket.

#29 SundaySous

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 06:30 PM

If your interested in a career in cooking you can get a pretty good idea of what is expected from the Cullinary Institute of America. You can find downloads for study guides for ASSESSMENTS AND EXAMS. These are not educational but they do give you an idea of what you need to know. I'm using them as a source of direction.

A few sources for internet videos: google, Imcooked, and Ifood.
"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats


#30 NimaCooks

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 08:44 PM

Besides Joy and the Alton Brown books, here are some suggestions...

While it isn't really the greatest cookbook overall, one of my first books was "Young & Hungry" by Dave Lieberman. It's mostly recipes that are very easy to prepare, and the target audience is early 20s crowd who haven't spent much time in the kitchen. But it has good instruction on a few techniques and the results are usually pretty tasty. I also really enjoyed Giada's first book "Everyday Italian". It's a simple introduction to Italian cooking that isn't too indepth or overwhelming.

I would say recommend to start cooking food that you really enjoy and are pretty experienced eating so you know what to expect and can get encouraged as you progress. Happy Cooking.
"In a perfect world, cooks who abuse fine cutlery would be locked in a pillory and pelted with McNuggets."
- Anthony Bourdain





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