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Your 10 Favorite Cookbooks


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Are you familiar with The Silver Spoon? It is the most complete book on Italian cooking on this,or any other planet :cool:

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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A few years back I was loaned an Indian cookbook that had been in my friend's family. It was stained and falling apart. Also out of print. I was about to start copying recipes when I went to Powell's Books online and found a copy. It's quite worthwhile to track down.

"Indian Cookery" by Mrs. Balbir Singh

I also like "Indian Home Cooking" by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.

"Moroccan Modern" by Hassan M'Souli is very good as well.

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Indian Cookbooks:

Cooking at Home with Pedatha by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain - mentioned this in another post - really great recipes and layout,

a nice change from the typical Northern Indian cookbooks

A second vote for Mrs Balbir Singh's Indian Cookery

Maya Kaimal's Savoring the Spice Coast of India and Curried Flavors

Ajanta by Lachu Moorjani

Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan for vegetarian South Indian

Food of India from Foods of the World Time Life series

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Paul Wolfert, Mediterranean Cooking, Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Mediterranean Grains and Greens

Gerald Hirigoyen, Bistro: The Best of Casual French Cooking

Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food


These cookbooks are by Australian authors, and I think they match just as good as anything that has come out of Europe or the United States.

For Middle Eastern food, try these books by Greg and Lucy Malouf:

"Arabesque" - set out by ingredients, and it is as good as any work by Paula Wolfert or Claudia Roden. If you only wanted one book by the Maloufs, this is the one to get.

"Moorish" - a smaller cookbook that covers, naturally, Moorish food.

"Saha" - more a coffee table book, similar in feel to the books produced by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

For French cookbooks, try:

"My Vue" by Shannon Bennett. It covers his take on haute French cuisine.

"French" by Damien Pignolet. This is probably the best French cookbook by an Australian author.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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I have the Rick Bayless book and remember it being pretty good, haven't looked in it for a few years. Never seen the others so I can't comment on them.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Patricia Quintana, The Taste of Mexico, Mexico's Feasts of Life

Rick Bayless, Authentic Mexican

I have both the Quintana books and all of Rick Bayless' books.

The original/first edition of The Taste of Mexico was not particularly well edited and there are numerous errors. Some you can catch just because the recipe or instructions don't exactly make sense. At one time I had a list of errata and corrections but no longer do. I believe - but am not sure - that the errors were corrected in later editions. I think Mexico's Feasts of Life is a better book anyway. It's more approachable and easier to cook from.

Authentic Mexican was Rick's first cookbook and it is very good. the recipes are traditional, cooking techniques are well and clearly explained. I have an original edition with the red dust cover. I believe it has been reissued and is currently being used in conjunction with his PBS series. I haven't seen the newer edition(s) so I can't comment on how much re-editing might have been done. Rick's recipes are generally pretty accurate and the resulting dish pretty tasty. If you're looking for a Rick Bayless cookbook I prefer his 2nd book Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen and Salsas That Cook. If you're simply looking for a Mexican cookbook go with Diana Kennedy, either My Mexico or The Art of Mexican Cooking.

Edited by kalypso (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

A working kitchen is one of the worst places to keep cookbooks. The humidity, the heat, the aerosolized grease, the hydrophilic nature of paper itself allow books to suck up odors all conspire to shorten the lives of books. On top of that, there's potential to harm books in the process of cooking – spills and burns in particular. Yet there have always been a few cookery books that stay in my kitchen. Some – such as the River Cottage Meat Book, the Barbecue Bible, Moro, the Splendid Table, Tarantino's Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes, the Cake Bible, etc – come in and out as I work on various projects, but a few live in the kitchen year-round.

My "kitchen copies" form a core of what others would call "reading copies" – second copies and backups of books I already own in my library, but I don't mind if they get scuffed, burned, spilled on, etc.

Keep in mind that mine is not a professional kitchen, but the titles that always have a place in it are;

1) Southern Food by John Egerton. Found a slightly worn copy in Chapel Hill, NC for fifty cents. Rarely actually cook out of it, but what a goldmine of inspiration. After a Colombian friend of mine disparaged American cookery, I made a whole meal of Southern foods, including cornbread. I was never allowed to make dinner for him after that without making "arepas americanas."

2) The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook. Pay attention to what Matt and Ted have to say about Southern cookery (my blood orange variant of their pickled shrimp was a huge hit with my gym buddies, who asked if I could make it every day. Nix).

3) The Silver Palette Cookbook. Dated, yes, I know. And I'd be bummed if I went to a restaurant that served nothing but its yuppie cuisine. But some of that 80's cooking was great and thumbing through its pages has often given me ideas for a slightly different take on dinner.

4) Barbecue Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades by Steven Raichlen. In Philly where outdoor space was tight, this was not a kitchen copy, but now that I live in southern California and our grill is big enough to do an actual pig pickin', I find myself picking through it for ideas once a week or so.

So, what's in your kitchen? And why?

~ Matthew

Matthew B. Rowley

Rowley's Whiskey Forge, a blog of drinks, food, and the making thereof

Author of Moonshine! (ISBN: 1579906486)

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Chez Panisse Vegetables:

I rarely use any recipes, and most of the good tips do not have scaled recipes, but it is a vital companion for selecting and cooking all things vegetable.

Madeleine Kammen's "The Making of a Cook"

A little of everything in one book, again I use it more for reference than recipes, but it gives great guidelines to many classical dishes.

Besides thumbing through "On Food and Cooking", these are my only day in day out references. All my other books are pulled out for a brief inspiration when I want to make a new recipe or tweak an old one.

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After dining there and for the stories...I browse through my French Laundry cookbook first...then my Charlie Trotter, el Bulli, Rob Feenie and Michel Bras books. Access to local regional/seasonal ingredients will provide our guests with.......

I'd rather live in a world without truffles than in a world without onions.

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It is not actually a cookbook that I am most often opening, but it is about food...

The New Food Lover's Companion and the late, great Alan Davidson's The Penguin Companion to Food.

I guess the cookbook that I open most is Pierre Gagnaire's Reflections on Culinary Artistry(again, no recipes, but a beautiful book of food).

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i refer to multiple books and almost none of it are recipe books.. i agree with kpzachary about the "food lovers companion", i like afew others too like "on food and cooking" by harold mcgee, "meat buyer's guide", "herb and spices", and my most recent purchase is "charcuterie". might have a few others but have to go through my collection... oh i have "the book of ingredient's" too....

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La Cuisine (c'est de l'amour, de l'art, de la technique) - Pierre Gagnaire and Hervé This

Lucide et Ludique - Pierre Gagnaire

L'Encyclopédie culinaire du XXIe siècle - Marc Veyrat

As well as various other books by Fredy Girardet, Alain Ducasse, and even some American barbeque books...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I like to consult "The New Best Recipe" by cook's illustrated for most recipes.

If they're not in there I usually look online :biggrin:

For Italian, it has to be Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian cooking".

Everything comes out PERFECT, and usually the technique is somewhat involved but simple at the same time, if that makes sense.

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  • 2 years later...

I'm a student chef right now, I just started a week ago and I'm into searching reference books that will enhance my learning. Any books that you guys can recommend? The only reference book I know so far is Larousse Gastronomique, our chef told us it's a good one. Hope you guys can contribute what you know! I'd appreciate online references too. Thanks! :smile:

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If you get the Larousse in English, try to get the 1961 edition, printed from 1961-1987. I prefer that version since it has more detail and depth. Some beginner topics are not covered very well, for example, you need to know what they mean by a 'fold' when reading the croissant procedure. But, they cover a lot more of the old-school dishes and practices.

I like:

The Pastry Chef's Companion: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for the Baking and Pastry Professional by Glenn Rinsky & Laura Halpin Rinsky

The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst (or their older version, The Food Lover's Companion)

Other than those, I have a couple of copies of various Escoffier books, but, do not know them well enough to say which is best. If you read French, seek them out in French.

I also have some very specific books for reference on commercial candymaking, ice cream manufacture, and other niche topics. There are great books on many very specific topics, the trick is to figure our what you are interested in and then ask what the standard reference is for that specialty.

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  • 4 months later...

I would like to here peoples opinions of what the best cookbooks or books about food that they own. I currently own The French LAundry, Under Pressure Cooking SOus Vide, My New Orleans Cookbook, Alinea COokbook, Babbo Cookbook, Cafe Boulud Cookbook, Kaiseki Cookbook, Desser Fourplay, Charlie Trotter's Cookbook, On the Line by Eric Ripert, How to Roast a Lamb, Momofuku, Elements of COoking, Letters to a young Chef, Kichen Confedential, The Reach of a chef, Knives at Dawn, SOul of a CHef, Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This, A cooks tour, The Making of a Chef, A day at El bulli, and the Fat Duck Coocbook. Thank YOu

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OK, as an avid reader and user of cookbooks in my library (and many are found in used bookstores) I would like to jump in with my list of favorites...in any order:

1. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison

2. Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni

3. The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, Rosso/Lukins

4. The New Basics Cookbook, Rosso/Lukins

5. The Enchanted Forest, Katzen (plus other titles by Katzen)

6. Everyday Mexican, Bayless

7. Barbeque Bible, Raicheln

8. Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay (plus other titles)

9. Barefoot Contessa back to basics, Ina Garten

10. herbs & spices, Jill Norman (great reference)

I haven't counted the titles in my library and am more discriminating with purchases these days, but I refer also to some older titles for certain recipes i like: Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith, Louisiana Cajun cooking, Paul Prudhomme.


'Variety is the spice of life'

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow. I just read this entire thread from start to finish. My Amazon cookbook wish has grown from 74 to 103 titles and I ordered four that I must have immediately. I currently have about 80 cookbooks, the vast majority of which are well represented in the thread I'm glad to say; I do my research before I deem a cookbook worthy. I'm certain anything that could even be considered “the best” has already been listed, but here are a few others I reach for quite often that I don’t think have been mentioned:

A Passion for Baking - Marcy Goldman

Pure Dessert - Alice Medrich

Perfect Scoop - David Lebovitz

Amuse-Bouche - Rick Tramonto

Peace, Love, and Barbecue - Mike Mills

Fairly specific subject matter but great volumes none-the-less.

I thoroughly disapprove of duels...If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet retired spot...and kill him. ~Mark Twain

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