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JAZ

The cookbooks that made you the cook you are

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Over here, we're talking about all the cookbooks we have that we don't use. But in this topic, I want to talk about the books that we not only use but that were crucial to our development as the cooks we are today.

I started thinking about this a while back when I was looking over a friend's cookbook collection. We both have a lot of books, but oddly, very few in common. Except for The Frog/Commissary Cookbook, which I noticed for two reasons: first, because his copy was just as stained, creased and warped as mine was, and second, because I thought I was the only person outside of Philadelphia (where the Frog and Commissary restaurants were located) who owned it.

It turned out that we were both given the book at a time in our cooking lives when it spoke to us. I used it often back when I got it -- not only for the formal recipes, but for the lists of simple ideas in many of sections (25 quick hors d'oeuvres and appetizers, for instance) that inspired me to experiment in a way I hadn't before. It wasn't the first cookbook I owned, nor was it the "best" -- and honestly, I rarely actually cook from it these days -- but it was a big influence.

When I thought more about it, I realized that at various points in my life, there were a handful of books that for whatever reasons were enormously influential in the way I learned to cook. Some were from very early on, but others came later.

So, here's my annotated list (in chronological order):

1. Cooking with Spices and Herbs (Sunset Books)

One of the first cookbooks I owned, this gave me a grounding in, well, spices and herbs. To this day, there are still a few recipes I go back to -- lamb curry, garlic creamed spinach, summer slaw and clove butter cookies.

2. Cook Book of Breads (also from Sunset Books)

How I learned to bake breads of all kinds: yeasted, quick breads, biscuits, rolls. You name it, I made it. I've gotten more sophisticated bread books over the years, but this was my start.

3. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1 and 2

My first "serious" cookbooks, from which I picked up technique as well as recipes. Still frequently consulted.

4. The Frog/Commissary Cookbook

See above.

5. Real Beer and Good Eats by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly.

Given to me when I was living with a homebrewer. Taught me a lot about beer, and provided great recipes. Come to think of it, I still consult this one a lot, too. Mostly rustic food, it taught me a lot about balancing acid and fat, and bold but not overdone flavor combinations.

6. Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless

I've always liked Mexican food, but never approached it systematically until very recently. This is the first book in years that I've actually cooked recipes from as written.

Finally: Cocktail: A Drinks Bible for the 21st Century by Paul Harrington

Yes, I know I said cookbooks, but this changed my way of thinking about cocktails at least as much as any of the others changed my cooking life. Maybe it didn't make me the cook I am, but it made me the cocktail enthusiast that I am.

So, there are mine. What are yours? No more than ten books allowed. Five would be preferable, but obviously I couldn't make it, so you shouldn't have to either.

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1. Joy of cooking was the first book I every used and was great for a young person with little experience

2. Julia Child and Company-Because I used to watch her on t.v. and she inspired me to make full dinners without fear

3. Mastering the art of French cooking 1&3-introduced me to the basic concepts of cooking nad epecially french cooking

4. Beard on Bread by James Beard- I made 90% of the breads in this book, and this was my first love of baking

5. Lenotre's Desserts and Pastries, and Lenotre's Ice Cream and Candies- This was my own personal course on fine baking and ice cream making

6. The Frog Comissary cookbook (funny huh?)- I love this book, it inspired me to have fun in the kitchen

7. The Silver Palate cookbook- Helped me learn about managing my dinner parties

Hard to limit myself to 5 I forced myself to stop at 7

Sorry about the lack of annotation, but I think they are all fairly well known


Edited by Jacquester (log)

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”

W.C. Fields

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1. The Farm Journal "Let's Start to Cook." My very first cookbook, aimed at kids. Circa 1966. It was a from-scratch book aimed at kids, complete with diagrams of where the meat comes from on different animals.

2. The Farm Journal "Best Ever Pie Cookbook." Enough said. I'm a pie, not a cake person.

3. The Farm Journal "Freezing and Canning Cookbook." Enough said.

These Farm Journal Cookbooks are from my grandmother, and they are worthy of shelf space. All sorts of wisdom from all sorts of farm wives -- no waste from what they harvested. And, a kid's cookbook that didn't talk down to the kids.

4. The masterful "Modern Art of Chinese Cooking" by the late and great Barbara Tropp. Full of technique and drawings. I own many other Asian cookbooks, but this is the most stained and for cook reason.

5. Maida Heatter's Great Book of Cookies. No one does a better job of tellng you just how the dough should be, or what the cookies should be like when they are done and ready to be pulled from the oven.

This represents the most stained and well-used books on my shelves. The ones I can't be without. The ones that taught me how to cook (and take a deer from animal to well-labeled packages of meat).

(Oh, and there's my book on butchering vensioon, but it's not a recipe book).

  • Like 1

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I started to say it wasn't cookbooks that got me started, and made me the cook I am, but rather it was my mother, and then I realized that the maternal influence was supplemented by two of her cookbooks. I used to read them for fun when I was bored, and didn't have anything else to read (I was a voracious reader when I was a kid). I would read these books over and over, even though I pretty much knew the contents backwards and forwards:

#1 - "Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans" copyright 1948 by the Polanie Publishing Company, of the Polanie Club in Minneapolis. Mom's edition is ©1954, and she got it for a wedding present. It's a gem. Not only are there true "old country" recipes (there's a cake in here you bake on a spit, in front of an open fire, that uses 40 eggs and 2 pounds EACH of butter, sugar and flour. You pour the batter over a rod, turn the rod, and just keep building up the layers. It doesn't say how long it takes, but I'm guessing a day or so), but interspersed in the recipes are Polish proverbs, and each of the chapters has an introduction that gives you the background behind the traditions and the dishes. There are also chapters that discuss the traditions surrounding Easter, Christmas, the harvest and so on. It's my absolute treasure, and still the source for my pierogi and pierogi filling recipes. Also my signature Christmas cookies, Polish Tea Cakes.

#2 - The 9th Edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, ©1951. Also a wedding present. Although Fannie is still listed as the nominal author, Wilma Lord Perkins is described as having "completely revised" the 9th edition. My copy is held together with duct tape. Mom always said that she learned how to cook from this book. I can't think of anything I make from it any longer, but having pulled it out to get the publishing details, I think I'll take a cruise through it again to see what I can see. I do know Mom's pineapple upside down cake came from this book. Just seeing the cover and opening it gave me such a rush of......being....I can't describe it.

That both of the books have annotations in Mom's handwriting don't lessen the value, for sure.

Of the ones that *I* purchased, I'd say:

#1 - Paul Prudhomme's "Louisianna Kitchen". This and the Polish cookbook are the ones I'd rescue if the house was on fire.

#2 - An entire series of the Sunset cookbooks (JAZ, I was so happy to see you cite 2 of them. They were such a wonderful resource). Probably the ones I used most were their Mexican, salad, and one called "Cooking for Two". They were very basic, and I've moved beyond them for the most part, but they were great teachers. The Mexican one is surprisingly authentic, probably because Sunset is a California publication.

#3 - Julia Child's "The Way To Cook". As a reference and as an inspiration.

Thanks, JAZ, for making me pull out the Fannie Farmer. :wub:


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I owe a lot to Martin Yan. I have always loved Chinese food and that was the first cookbook I sought out. The plus was watching the shows of the recipes and meeting him on demo tours. Still have them all, oily, stained unbound etc. One went with the daughter to college.

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I think all of the books mentioned so far are new to me, thanks for sharing!

I've always been really keen to make food taste like it does when I eat out. The two books that have had the most influence on that so far are:

1. Secrets of the red lantern: stories and vietnamese recipes from the heart - Pauline Nguyen

Every dish I've tried from this book has been sensational, including the bun bo hue soup which is pretty hit and miss even in restaurants here.

2. Chinese cookery secrets: How to cook chinese restaurant food at home - De-ta hsiung

It's so simple! : ) Lots of really useful tips and insights. This one's probably made the most difference overall.

3. Essentials of cooking - James Peterson

This is the book that showed me the techniques I needed to learn. From this one I got the initial confidence to tackle whatever comes up.

Edit: Added book 3 (cooking essentials)


Edited by Snorlax (log)

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I learned to cook mainly from my father, so I've never accumulated cookbooks, though I have lots of other kinds of books, but if there's one I learned from and always keep on hand it's James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking--few recipes, mostly technique. While I do look at other books to find out about new things and techniques that I haven't tried, my general approach to cooking is to start from what looks good in the market and go from there.

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I'm really more a baker than a cook, going back to the very first book on the list here. Started out baking cookies from the family index card file--most from cookbooks mom got before her wedding. I used those, but just for recipes I already knew.

The first cookbook I went adventuring in was Farm Journal's Cookie book--those browsings led to some great discoveries, and some not so great; but the abundance of different people's takes on the same basic recipe got me started on the idea of reading recipes with an eye to comparing them, and learning to anticipate flavors/textures from particular ratios or ingredients, key lessons that I use now to create new recipes of my own.

The Laurel's Kitchen Breadbook--opened up the idea of whole grain without compromise of texture or flavor, with a goal of good taste, not just 'healthfulness' that so many other whole-grain cookbooks made the main focus. I was already milling my wheat, and this book helped keep me on track.

The Breads of France by Bernard Clayton--I treasure it not so much for recipes I use over and over (though there are a few) as for the idea that limited ingredients used with diverse techniques can yield an infinite variety of results.

The Greens Cookbook--the introductory chapter about stocks is tremendous, giving principles for the use of different vegetables in stocks that are as useful to meat stocks as vegetable stocks. These are base recipes I still use today for my vegetable stocks, and they make my soups, meat based or otherwise, stand out from the ordinary; and other recipes introduce the idea of separately cooking ingredients to be combined later, which has vastly improved some of my cooking.

Flatbreads and Flavors--has an amazing diversity of recipes and ingredients: searching out exotic spices (e.g., mahleb) and learning to use them has really added interest to my cooking; it also gave me confidence while working with breads that aren't all about oven spring; and I still have more favorite recipes per page than any other of my cookbooks. It's the only one whose spine is really broken from heavy use.

The Complete Book of Spices by Jill Norman--is a well illustrated and remarkably comprehensive little book.  I got it because it talked about spices I could find no information on in many another similar book, the mahleb I mentioned above, and it in turn led me to using whole mace and cassia buds and szechuan peppers and especially long peppers, going well beyond the basic supermarket spices.

I have a longer version of cookbooks and why I keep them on my web site here (no adds, just me rambling on)

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Yay Sunset! Books AND mag. For Western U.S.ers, a great resource, esp. years ago. Helen Evans Brown notwithstanding.

For me the most influential books early on, still influencing to this day, are the 4-volume Craig Claiborne's Favorites, (collected NYT columns from the 1970s), and Madeleine Kamman's books, notably the original Making of a Cook, but also her later works.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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My first two cookbooks were

1. a book which is missing all provenance. It has no covers (they were green). It begins at p.65 and ends with frostings and fillings. The index is gone. It was a compendium of booklets which were available in the 50s. (yes, I am very old. 50 years married this coming March.)

2. The original edition of Joy of Cooking. printed 1962

Along the way and before three years ago when I finally realized I wanted to cook:

3. Regional Cooking of China. Margaret Gin. 1975.

4. A Book of Middle Eastern Food. Claudia Roden.1968

5. The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking. Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.1967

Since 2006 or so, my cookbook collection has soared and the most important books are:

1. David Lebovitz. The Perfect Scoop.

2. Chocolates & Confections. Peter Greweling.

3. Candymaking. Ruth Kendrick & Pauline Atkinson

4. Cookwise. Shirley Corriher

5. Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East & North Africa. Habeeb Salloum


Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I learned from my mom and her books and she learned from her mom, that was my initial education.

But as for books that influenced me the most, two come to mind:

Thailand, the beautiful cookbook, which introduced me to all kinds of new and foreign things. Before I moved to the US I never even ate let a lone saw a Thai restaurant. Nor had I ever heard of a wok and oyster sauce was something to eat oysters with.

The French Laundry Cookbook, as it opened my eyes to what pains these cooks go through to make every single tiny bit of something as perfect as can be. I've not cooked much from it, but I learned a lot about the philosophy behind these restaurants and that has changed how I work with my food. And where I buy my food.

Most recent and current influence would be Charcuterie, Seven Fires, and Japanese Food and Cooking which sells for a silly 5.99 at Borders.

Now I just need to build a curing chamber, a smoker, and learn how to read the Japanese (and Chinese and Thai and....) labels in the Asian supermarket and I'm all set :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was what I really learned to cook from. She has a distinctive attitude and voice that's both opinionated and reassuring; the long middle section broken down alphabetically by vegetable was what really taught me lots. Each entry describes (a limited selection of) varieties, storage, good spice/herb pairings and complementary foods, as well as basic cooking technique. A few more detailed recipes follow.

Between that A-Z section and her recipe for mayonnaise, I was pretty set. :)

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I mostly read cookbooks from cover to cover and then cook stuff loosely based on what I've read. The first cookbook I remember devouring in that way was James Beard's American Cookery. Other books that stuck with me over the years are the Silver Palate cookbooks, and Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase (a co-writer on the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook).


Kathy

Minxeats
http://www.foodloversguidetobaltimore.com/'>Food Lovers' Guide to Baltimore

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My early education was at the kitchen counter as a helper, but the books that opened me up and pushed me forward were:

1. The Betty Crocker Cookbook- It was a binder with metal rings so you could add your recipe cards. The sections ranged from Appetizers to Dessert, had narrative, lot of pictures, and provided the basics.

2. A book of country fair winner recipes that I got through a cookbook club at age 13. It really got me started baking in the American tradition. Favorites I recall are cheese bread and carrot cake.

3. Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 & 2 (a solid education)

4. (A bit of a cheat here...) The entire Time Life Foods of the World series. I went around the world in my tiny apartment, started to explore ethnic markets, and learned valuable lessons about other cultures. Even today, many many years later, I will comment on something relatively obscure to someone from another country or culture, and they will ask with a surprised expression "How do you know that". Thank you Time Life.

5. When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman. I read this at least once a year. It makes me appreciate local, seasonal bounty, and the pleasure of using every last bit of things in creative ways.

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My first two cookbooks were

1. a book which is missing all provenance. It has no covers (they were green). It begins at p.65 and ends with frostings and fillings. The index is gone. It was a compendium of booklets which were available in the 50s. (yes, I am very old. 50 years married this coming March.)

Darienne, perhaps your "green" cookbook was by Meta Given? My parents, married in '59, had a 2-volume set of her "Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking", which is filled with wonderful things--all your basic, middle-American, mid-20th century foods, plus charts & tables & confectionary techniques, etc. My brother and I used to kid my mother that we'd fight over it after she died, so she'd better specify who'd get "the green cookbooks" in her will. I unearthed a pristine pair when cleaning out my M-in-L's house a year and a half ago. So I guess Meta Given is partly responsible for my love of detailed, process-oriented cookbooks.

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Dear Hungry C,

You are brilliant! :smile: I googled the title and went to Images and there it was in all its green glory. What a hoot! Thanks.


Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I learned the basics and beyond from my mom (she was a professional pastry chef) but if I had to pick a book as my number one most influential book it would probably be McGee's On Food and Cooking. It didn't really have a lot to do with my overall development and didn't steer me in any particular direction but it answers most of the questions the voices in my head come up with. They're a curious bunch. :raz:


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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I guess another one I should mention is the Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery in 12 volumes starting A-Bea, Bea-Cas, Cat-Cre, etc., which I don't own, but that I grew up with and that we seemed to consult whenever we wanted to try something new or were unsure about the proportions for a recipe. When I was little, I remember looking at the sections by Helen Evans Brown featuring some special technique like aspics, called "How to cook superbly" and wondering what "superbly" was, and if it was tasty, and why it needed so many different discussions in separate volumes. My father and I joked about when we would eventually get around to making "Hoppin' John," which we never did. There were also features by James Beard.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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Craig Claiborne the New York Times Cookbook a very early serious cookbook for home cooks. Although I now have several shelves of books I often go back to Claiborne for reference and still use some of the recipes over and over. I own two different editions and use them both.


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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4. (A bit of a cheat here...) The entire Time Life Foods of the World series. I went around the world in my tiny apartment, started to explore ethnic markets, and learned valuable lessons about other cultures. Even today, many many years later, I will comment on something relatively obscure to someone from another country or culture, and they will ask with a surprised expression "How do you know that". Thank you Time Life.

1)Heidi, that series is a masterpiece, and I still cook from the books on a regular basis. I encourage all eGulls to look for them in second hand bookshops.

2) The old "Joy." Until I was nine I'd devoted myself to baking, and I made my first savory dish from "Joy" when I was eleven -- Country Captain. It gave me huge confidence to know I could make family dinner from a book.

3) "Mastering the Art," both volumes. Oddly, what I took away from them first and foremost was baking: Dacquoise, Paris-Brest, puff pastry, brioche, baguettes. The recipes work.

4) Madhur Jaffrey's "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking." This choice may be a surprise to people who know my carnivorous nature, but this book rocks because it introduces the reader to cooking from Asia, India and the Middle East.

5)Francoise Bernard's "Les Recettes Faciles." Bourgeois French cooking from a bourgeiose Frencwoman.


Edited by maggiethecat (log)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

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I guess another one I should mention is the Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery in 12 volumes starting A-Bea, Bea-Cas, Cat-Cre, etc., which I don't own, but that I grew up with and that we seemed to consult whenever we wanted to try something new or were unsure about the proportions for a recipe.

Oh Lord, yes. In a similar vein, "Family Circle's Illustrated Library of Cooking". This one's 16 volumes. It was given away as a premium at one of the local grocery chains in the early 70's. (Remember grocery premiums....? Trading stamps? Corning ware? Tumblers? Oy, that's another memory lane.) Mom had all 16 volumes, and that set was another one of my summer reading rotation. By this time, I had actually become interested in cooking, so the recipes were even more interesting. Have these, too, and probably need to cruise through them when I'm done with revisiting Fannie Farmer.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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When I was fifteen years old a friend's mother who ran a catering business recommended a set of cooking books to me with the phrase "they're really good for men who cook as they tell you why you do things, not just what to do."

Accepting the advice, I purchased all eighteen Cordon Bleu monthly cookery course volumes (plus two additional extra volumes) at a rate of one per month. The UK price was 1 pound per volume; I don't remember what the Australian equivalent was. Each went through four lessons (the first volume contained elements such as grilling, roasting, making stocks, cooking casseroles and making pastry). I worked through all elements of eighteen volumes sequentially (one volume per month).

I still have the books and, perhaps more importantly, all the basic and advanced skills that I taught myself from books thirty-six years ago. Suppose that goes some way towards explaining my obsession with cooking principles and techniques.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Such an interesting question. Really sends one down memory lane....

Early 1980s: was the go-to book for me and a couple of roommates in college. Between the three of us we probably cooked everything in the book twice. Learned how to saute, what a shallot was, how to blanch, basic pan sauces....

Mid-1980s: Got all cajun with [amazon=]Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, from which I have cooked dozens, maybe hundreds, of meals over the years. Growing up in a New England Yankee household, this was my introduction to big flavors, and I didn't turn back. (I also smoked out at least three different apartments in Providence and Brooklyn making blackened something-or-other and got roux burns the size of figs on the backs of my hands.)

Late 1980s: Got a book I don't see mentioned much anywhere, Cooking with the New American Chefs, and made about three quarters of the stuff in it. It was my introduction to the world of top-tier US restaurant cooking at the time, with sections on Marcel Desaulniers, Lawrence Forgione, Mark Miller, Bradley Ogden, Jean-Louis Palladin, Richard Perry, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Roberts, Lydia Shire, Jeremiah Tower, Barbara Tropp, Jonathan Waxman, Jasper White and Barry Wine, among others. I remember devoting an entire weekend to two different seafood sausages (Palladin and someone else, I think). Around that time I also got my first , the 1986 edition, which I read like a novel and cooked from now and then.

1990s: I devoted a lot of time and energy to cuisines that were neglected by the largely European/American bent of the above list, with the big three authors being Diana Kennedy ([amazon=0553057065]Art of Mexican Cooking), both of Barbara Tropp's books (China Moon Cookbook & Modern Art of Chinese Cooking), and especially Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook, which I'd have to say probably belongs at the top of my list. Its breadth and depth, its ability to capture complex cuisines in ways that were meaningful to me, its design: it all had a profound impact on my ability to experience food that I otherwise would never have known about. If you take away any other single book, I'm basically the same cook. Take that away and I'm not.

2000s: Though my collection expanded rapidly, there probably should be only two here: Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie and David Thompson's Thai Food, my obsessions with which I've blathered extensively about around here.

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Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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This is a great thread.

For me:

#1: The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This was the first "serious" cookbook I bought, and I was still very much a neophyte at that point. Barbecue (true barbecue, 250 degrees, wood fire, dry rubs, all that jazz) was about the only thing I knew how to cook beyond one or two recipes from my mom (carrot cake, chili). Weight measures, the expoundings upon theory and practice, all of the information, the stuff about sourdough... I've made about 40% of the breads in here, and it without a doubt got me started as a serious cook. Ironically, I don't eat much bread any more (Health reasons, I'm basically following something like the paleo diet 80% of the time).

#2: The Professional Chef. I don't know that I've made a single recipe from here and frankly most of them look sort of cafeteria-ish, but I've read most of it at least twice. And their thing on roast chicken with jus lie (or maybe it was pork, don't remember) is the foundation for the ol' thanksgiving turkey and gravy.

#3: Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. This book is where I learned the basic idea behind stocks and sauces. I'd made stock before, but I only knew to use it as a soup base or for making thanksgiving gravy. The whole stock reduction / deglaze / monter au buerre thing was quite the revelation. As was "how to roast a damn chicken, numbnuts". Coq au vin from here was the most ambitious thing I'd made to that point. And it may be the best thing I've ever made, subsequent attempts were not as good as I remember that first one being, sadly.

#4: The French Laundry Cookbook. It's aspirational, and I've had a couple of disasters from this one (goat cheese never-formed-a-mousse, English pea puree on the walls soup), but it's bad ass. And if nothing else, I no longer see straining things as a pain in the ass, it's automatic. See also Big Pot Blanching.

#5: Tartine. This one got me into real cakes. I still haven't made a 100% perfect genoise, but I got about 95% of it last try. And their strawberry bavarian cake is the best cake I've eaten, much less made. And thanks to making a whole lot of gallettes this summer with farmer's market fruit, I'm starting to get the hang of pie crust. The last 3-4 pies I've made have been OMG good, and the pumpkin pie I made a few weeks ago was perfect in every way, even in terms of appearance, having a gorgeous ruffle and not a single patch or crack :) I think it boils down to "don't be scared to knead it a bit" and "don't be afraid to put in too much water" and "don't be afraid of cutting the fat too small". All the recipes out there advising caution and terror on these points did me a great disservice and resulted in crust with big hunks of butter that wasn't fully hydrated, that wasn't mixed properly, and that basically turned into a crumbly broken mess or else required me to add so much extra water that it shrank, got tough, etc.

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#4: The French Laundry Cookbook. It's aspirational, and I've had a couple of disasters from this one (goat cheese never-formed-a-mousse, English pea puree on the walls soup), but it's bad ass.

Goat cheese never-formed-a-mousse I understand...but English per puree on the walls soup must have a good story behind it????? :raz:


Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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      The Title
      Because this book was never sold in the west, the cover, and thus title, were never translated to English. Because of this, when you search for this book, it'll have several different names. These are just some versions I've found online - typos included.
      Sichuan (China) Cuisine in Both Chinese and English Si Chuan(China) Cuisinein (In English & Chinese) China Sichuan Cuisine (in Chinese and English) Chengdu China: Si Chuan Ke Xue Ji Shu Chu Ban She Si Chuan(China) Cuisinein (Chinese and English bilingual) 中国川菜:中英文标准对照版 For the sake of convenience, I'll be referring to the cookbook as Sichuan Cuisine from now on.

       
      Versions
      There are two versions of Sichuan Cuisine. The first came out in 2010 and the second in 2014. In an interview from Flavor & Fortune, a (now defunct) Chinese cooking
      magazine, the author clarifies the differences.
      That is all of the information I could find on the differences. Nothing besides that offhanded remark. The 2014 edition seems to be harder to source and, when available, more expensive.
       
      Author(s)

      In the last section, I mentioned an interview with the author. That was somewhat incorrect. There are two authors!
      Lu Yi (卢一) President of Sichuan Tourism College, Vice Chairman of Sichuan Nutrition Society, Chairman of Sichuan Food Fermentation Society, Chairman of Sichuan Leisure Sports Management Society Du Li (杜莉) Master of Arts, Professor of Sichuan Institute of Tourism, Director of Sichuan Cultural Development Research Center, Sichuan Humanities and Social Sciences Key Research Base, Sichuan Provincial Department of Education, and member of the International Food Culture Research Association of the World Chinese Culinary Federation Along with the principal authors, two famous chefs checked the English translations.
      Fuchsia Dunlop - of Land of Plenty fame Professor Shirley Cheng - of Hyde Park New York's Culinary Institute of America Fuchsia Dunlop was actually the first (and to my knowledge, only) Western graduate from the school that produced the book.
       

      Recipes
      Here are screenshots of the table of contents.  It has some recipes I'm a big fan of.
       
      ISBN
      ISBN 10: 7536469640   ISBN 13: 9787536469648 As far as I can tell, the first and second edition have the same ISBN #'s. I'm no librarian, so if anyone knows more about how ISBN #'s relate to re-releases and editions, feel free to chime in.
       
      Publisher
      Sichuan Science and Technology Press 四川科学技术出版社  
      Cover
      Okay... so this book has a lot of covers.
      The common cover A red cover A white cover A white version of the common cover An ornate and shiny cover  There may or may not be a "Box set." At first, I thought this was a difference in book editions, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As far as covers go, I'm at a loss. If anybody has more info, I'm all ears.
       
      Buying the book
      Alright, so I've hunted down many sites that used to sell it and a few who still have it in stock. Most of them are priced exorbitantly.
       
      AbeBooks.com ($160 + $15 shipping) Ebay.com - used ($140 + $4 shipping) PurpleCulture.net ($50 + $22 shipping) Amazon.com ($300 + $5 shipping + $19 tax) A few other sites in Chinese  
      I bought a copy off of PurpleCuture.net on April 14th. When I purchased Sichuan Cuisine, it said there was only one copy left. That seems to be a lie to create false urgency for the buyer. My order never updated past processing, but after emailing them, I was given a tracking code. It has since landed in America and is in customs. I'll try to update this thread when (if) it is delivered.
       
      Closing thoughts
      This book is probably not worth all the effort that I've put into finding it. But what is worth effort, is preserving knowledge. It turns my gut to think that this book will never be accessible to chefs that have a passion for learning real Sichuan food. As we get inundated with awful recipes from Simple and quick blogs, it becomes vital to keep these authentic sources available. As the internet chugs along, more and more recipes like these will be lost. 
       
      You'd expect the internet to keep information alive, but in many ways, it does the opposite. In societies search for quick and easy recipes, a type of evolutionary pressure is forming. It's a pressure that mutates recipes to simpler and simpler versions of themselves. They warp and change under consumer pressure till they're a bastardized copy of the original that anyone can cook in 15 minutes. The worse part is that these new, worse recipes wear the same name as the original recipe. Before long, it becomes harder to find the original recipe than the new one. 
       
      In this sense, the internet hides information. 
       
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By K8CanCook
      Update!! --- the sale is still going on at Amazon as of Sunday (11/24) at 11:15am EST
      ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
       
      Did anyone note the sale price on Modernist Cuisine today (maybe yesterday)? Amazon and Target dropped the set of tomes to $379!!!
       
      This price looks like it will change after today...so get it ASAP!!!

      https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0982761007?pf_rd_p=183f5289-9dc0-416f-942e-e8f213ef368b&pf_rd_r=SRFCHFB5EFTGAA8AZHJX
      -or-
      https://www.target.com/p/modernist-cuisine-by-nathan-myhrvold-chris-young-maxime-bilet-hardcover/-/A-77279948
    • By Bollo
      I need a book on the application of rotavapor machine. I've searched something on web but i can't find something strictly professional for the kitchen please help me. To improve the research. 
    • By Smokeydoke
      After a delightful brunch at Koslow's Sqirl restaurant in Los Angeles, I've decided to attempt to cook through her cookbook. I'll post my results here.
       
      Please follow along and join in, if you're so inclined. Her food is wonderful, but I will surmise that her true deliciousness comes from using the best and freshest ingredients. I'll do my best to recreate the magic I felt at Sqirl.
       
      Here's the link to her book at Eat Your Books.
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