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Best American Regional Cookbooks


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I just got back from my first visit to New Orleans. This is what I like about life, something unexpected comes out of nowhere and you're in love: Creole food.

I asked a bookseller there what he thought the definitive Creole/Cajun cookbook was and he said Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. Do you agree?

This opened up another appetite for me -- I've already built a library of classic cookbooks, but now I can relive the joy by building a library of American Regional Classic Cookbooks.

Another example: Charleston Receipts.

So here's some ideas: Hawaiian, New England, Californian, Southwest, Southern.

Any candidates?

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I just got back from my first visit to New Orleans.  This is what I like about life, something unexpected comes out of nowhere and you're in love:  Creole food.

I asked a bookseller there what he thought the definitive Creole/Cajun cookbook was and he said Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.  Do you agree?

This opened up another appetite for me -- I've already built a library of classic cookbooks, but now I can relive the joy by building a library of American Regional Classic Cookbooks.

Another example:  Charleston Receipts. 

So here's some ideas:  Hawaiian, New England, Californian, Southwest, Southern.

Any candidates?

for cajun and creole, i have two books to recommend:

1) the prudhomme book you listed

2) the encyclopedia of cajun and creole cuisine

the encyclopedia of cajun and creole cuisine by john d. folse

as for other regional books:

low country cooking

chesapeake bay cooking

tex-mex

red and green chile cookbooks (the red one is linked on this page)

also, check out jasper white books for new england food.

while not necessarily encyclopedic in nature, i've enjoyed a number of junior league books - namely the junior league of covington, louisiana's roux to do.

hopefully that will get you started.

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I've cooked from The Border Cookbook, by Bill and Cheryl Jamison for years. It's Mexican American home cooking from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Really terrific recipes.

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For Hawaii:

Ethnic Foods of Hawaii by Ann Condo Corum is a gem. Not a cookbook per se, it's a primer on the different ethnic groups that have contributed to Hawaii's melting pot. The recipes are simple and representative of each group's typical home-cooked dishes. Highly recommended for a look at how people really eat in Hawaii.

For trendier "Hawaii Regional Cuisine," I'd recommend Roy's Feasts from Hawaii by celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi. The book is gorgeous, and the recipes are do-able.

You might also check out some of the cookbooks by Hawaii's other famous chefs, including Sam Choy, Alan Wong, and Jean-Marie Josselin.

Edited by SuzySushi (log)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Excellent! Thank you, all good tips.

I saw that amazing encyclopedia of Cajan and Creole food in NO, and didn't want to lug it home. What a beauty!

I did find a good thread in the Louisiana regional about cookbooks, some good tips there.

Thanks for the Hawaii leads -- I was in Hawaii earlier this year, and just loved, loved, loved the food. My third trip, and somehow the food this time just was superior, down to the mac nut pie from Costco.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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  • 1 month later...

For anyone in New York or passing through, Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks has several shelves devoted to American Regional Cooking.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I quite like the Zuni Cafe cookbook for Californian cooking. Alice Waters' book would be the obvious choice.

Wolfgang Puck's books are also pretty decent from my own perspective.

Can't say if you can define a "native" New York cuisine though. There are excellent French and Italian cuisines, and of course other ethnic cuisines, but there is nothing in New York that approaches the "native" type of food as you get Neil Perry at Sydney standing for Australian cooking.

Same for Chicago. It is now like a second New York on everything such that Charlie Trotter's cookbooks, goodas they are, aren't really "New Midwestern cooking".

I second that John Folse book on Louisiana cooking. I think Lagasse's cookbooks are acceptable but Folse's work is definitely without rival.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I just got back from my first visit to New Orleans.  This is what I like about life, something unexpected comes out of nowhere and you're in love:  Creole food.

I asked a bookseller there what he thought the definitive Creole/Cajun cookbook was and he said Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.  Do you agree?

This opened up another appetite for me -- I've already built a library of classic cookbooks, but now I can relive the joy by building a library of American Regional Classic Cookbooks.

Another example:  Charleston Receipts. 

So here's some ideas:  Hawaiian, New England, Californian, Southwest, Southern.

Any candidates?

for cajun and creole, i have two books to recommend:

1) the prudhomme book you listed

2) the encyclopedia of cajun and creole cuisine

the encyclopedia of cajun and creole cuisine by john d. folse

as for other regional books:

low country cooking

chesapeake bay cooking

tex-mex

red and green chile cookbooks (the red one is linked on this page)

also, check out jasper white books for new england food.

while not necessarily encyclopedic in nature, i've enjoyed a number of junior league books - namely the junior league of covington, louisiana's roux to do.

hopefully that will get you started.

Lindacakes, definitely order The New Orleans Cookbook by Richard and Rima Collin. It has a few quirks (calls for water when stock would be better) but it is full of great recipes and the instructions are very detailed. I like the the Paul Prudhomme book too, but it's not traditional at all, so I think the Collins' book is a better place to start. Another good one is La Bouche Creole by Leon Soniat. The instructions are unclear at times and I think some of his recipes are too heavy on tomatoes, but there are some great recipes in that book.

I don't really like the Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine. It's padded with too many (bad) pictures, repeated recipes, etc. I'm sure there are good recipes in that book but a lot of them look weird to me. For example, his gumbo recipes call for a ton of roux and he calls for brandy in crawfish etouffee.

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For a slightly dated but still comprehensive set of American regional cookbooks, it would be hard to beat the relevant volumes from the out of print (but still widely available in used bookshops and on eBay) Time-Life 'Foods of the World' series. They are:

American Cooking

American Cooking: The Northwest

American Cooking: Creole and Acadian

American Cooking: Southern Style

American Cooking: The Great West

American Cooking: The Melting Pot

American Cooking: The Eastern Heartland

American Cooking: New England

My favorite Cajun/Creole reference isn't a cookbook, it's a website:

http://www.gumbopages.com/recipe-page.html

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Marsha Adams "Cooking from the heartland" is the best midwest cookbook I've ever seen.

I'm in Ohio, and we eat her recipes all the time. She does a great job of representing the foods we grow locally.

---------------------------------------

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For trendier "Hawaii Regional Cuisine," I'd recommend Roy's Feasts from Hawaii by celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi. The book is gorgeous, and the recipes are do-able.

I second this book by Roy Yamaguchi (no relation to me by the way :biggrin: ) I have been using it for over 10 years and some of my staple sauces are from here. I rarely cook the full recipes as written but pull out the bits and pieces that I want. His peanut sauce is the best and I have been making it exclusively for over 10 years. This can be found on page 20, Crisp Vegetable sushi with Thai peanut dip. His Caesar salad dressing is also the best the I have ever made, pg 62.

For mainland regional I really like the Jamison's books. I use The Border Cookbook (as mentioned above) and just this summer picked up American Home Cooking. I have dog eared numerous pages from this one and once I actually finish unpacking (broght back 11 bags from the US this year) I am going to start cooking.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Don't forget the Penn Dutch as a unique culinary culture. I don't know what books I'd suggest, though, does anybody have any ideas?

There's got to be a Head Cheese for Dummies, dontcha think? :laugh:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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  • 5 months later...

On the topic of creole vs cajun, there is a large difference between the two. Cajun tends to be south central, south western Louisiana and creole tends to be the New Orleans area.

Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen is of course a great source of information on cajun cooking. Anything by John Folse is great also.

I don't know if it is still in print, but The Picayune's Creole Cook Book is an excellent source for great New Orleans creole cooking

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In addition to the Time-Life series noted above, the other giant of regional cookbook series is Knopf Cooks American. This series was the brainchild of Judith Jones, perhaps the most important cookbook editor of modern times. If you go to Amazon and search for "Knopf Cooks American," you can see the range of the titles in that series, which was published over a period of a decade (I think all the ones I have were published in the 1990s) or maybe more.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I quite like "River Road Recipes".

Yeah, me, too. Talk about a classic. For decades, nobody got married in the south without getting a copy of "River Roads" as a present.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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On the topic of creole vs cajun, there is a large difference between the two. Cajun tends to be south central, south western Louisiana and creole tends to be the New Orleans area.

Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen is of course a great source of information on cajun cooking. Anything by John Folse is great also.

I don't know if it is still in print, but The Picayune's Creole Cook Book is an excellent source for great New Orleans creole cooking

we must've been separated at birth--I have these three in steady rotation during winter mos.!

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Marsha Adams "Cooking from the heartland" is the best midwest cookbook I've ever seen.

I'm in Ohio, and we eat her recipes all the time. She does a great job of representing the foods we grow locally.

I agree.

I recommend Adams's "Cooking from Quilt Country," that explores the cuisine of the Indiana Amish. It's in my Top Ten cookbook recommendations, and we use it all the time, despite being neither Hoosier nor Amish.

Edited by maggiethecat (log)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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My local Goodwill is sometimes the source of some of my most surprising and best loved cookbook classics. Over the past several years i have picked up copies of Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen (last month), the aforementioned River Road Recipes (My second copy which will be going to NWKid when he leaves home), Julia Child's Vol 2 Mastering the Art of French Cooking and several classics by James Beard, Pierre Franey, Diana Kennedy and Lynne Rosetto Kasper.

But I digress.

Last fall, I picked up a copy of "It's All American Food" by David Rosengarten which is kind of a collection of classics from across America with selctions sorted both regionally and by ethnic cuisine. Surprisingly good with well-explained background and delicious recipes!

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For low country cookin, nothin tops The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. 600 pages of southern classics to warm your soul.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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  • 4 years later...

I'll be relocating to Dallas within the year, and want to learn something re the local food/ingredients/farmers' markets. I've looked through this thread--are Robb Walsh's "Tex Mex" and Bill and Cheryl Jamison's "Border Cookbook" still the best and most representative available?

I'm fond of the "chattiness" of good regional cookbooks, and have cooked a lot from Jasper White's "Summer Shack Cookbook" and Kathy Gunst's "Notes from a Maine Kitchen".

Any other suggestions for something similar for Dallas/Texas in general?

Thanks,

Veil

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I'll be relocating to Dallas within the year, and want to learn something re the local food/ingredients/farmers' markets. I've looked through this thread--are Robb Walsh's "Tex Mex" and Bill and Cheryl Jamison's "Border Cookbook" still the best and most representative available?

I'm fond of the "chattiness" of good regional cookbooks, and have cooked a lot from Jasper White's "Summer Shack Cookbook" and Kathy Gunst's "Notes from a Maine Kitchen".

Any other suggestions for something similar for Dallas/Texas in general?

Thanks,

Veil

I grew up in Texas, and have a fondness for Texas/Mexican cooking. For Texas style cooking, check out the Homesick Texan blog

http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/

and possibly the book if you are interested. Definitely chatty. Classic Tex-Mex.

For Texas country cooking, try "Texas Table" by Larry Ross. Very simple, but classic dishes.

One of my favorites is "Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert" by Melissa Guerra, who also has (had) a blog.

For more Mexican-oriented food, the Rick Bayless books are fantastic, each in their own way. Also check out his PBS show "Mexico One Plate at a Time."

Also, Hugo Ortega's book "Street Food of Mexico" is good, but I think largely subsumed by the others unless you are into tongue (tacos de lengua), cheeks, etc.

I love all of Roberto Santibanez's books.

I have all of Robb Walsh's books (unless he published more in the two weeks I forgot to check), but for some reason I don't use them all that much. I value them, however, for the background they provide.

This is just the stuff I like. Texas has a varied culinary culture. Many are surprised for instance that it has a strong native German cuisine since Germans were among the earliest settlers.

I am envious that you are moving to Texas!

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