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What ONE cookbook can you not live without?


Shamanjoe
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What ONE cookbook could you not do without? You may have 1,000+ cookbooks, but what is the one volume you keep going back to again and again. For me, it's the Joy of Cooking. There's just something about it that keeps me coming back. I know it's pretty standard, but that's just me.

So what about you? What's your one book?

(Oh, and if that book changes from time to time, feel free to update)

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France, hands down. I've cooked from that more than any other cookbook, and I often cook for French friends from it. They're universally blown away that an American can cook such authentic French food.
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CooksIllustrated.com. Or maybe Epicurious.

Seriously, if we're talking actual paper books, I dunno. I could narrow it down to five or six -- one or two French books, a Chinese book, an Indian book, a grill/bbq book, and a general book like Joy, maybe -- but I think my cooking is too eclectic these days to get much narrower than that.

The most tattered book on my most-used-cookbooks shelf is Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for whatever that's worth.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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TOUGH one. I think though, honestly, as much as I love so many of my books, I would have to go with Patricia Wells' Bistro cooking. As modern as I like to go when i'm at work, whenever I make food for people or myself at home, it's always simple bistro fare.

I don't really cook from my books much though, but if I did that would be the book. I think out of any of mine I poke around in that one more than most others.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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The cookbook I use the most is The Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America.

This book, more than giving recipes, has fantastic photos and illustrations for how-to help with techniques and processes in the kitchen. I use many other cookbooks for guidance and suggestions on ingredients, seasonings and general cooking ideas but this is the one book I go back to again and again.

I do, however, agree that The Joy of Cooking is truly an important and useful tool and I use this one often, as well.

I've got one body and one life, I'm going to take care of them.

I'm blogging as the Fabulous Food Fanatic here.

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Seriously, if we're talking actual paper books, I dunno. I could narrow it down to five or six...

I think that's a post for the thread about which cookbooks influenced us most. But I have to say, five or six was my first inclination here as well :wink: . Maybe just as an addendum to my original post? :biggrin:

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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I don't have a single favorite book (in any genre actually). So, for a deserted island I'd pick something that has lots of info in it, like Bittman. Useful to cook - well - anything, what ever I might come across on that island. Otherwise I'd probably pick the book I bought last (Thai Food by Thompson) or the book I'm currently reading through (Ad Hoc right now). I have very few, if any, favorite anythings in life, I never thought that way and also have the feeling it would limit me. Like if I'd have a favorite cook book, why buy others? Favorite pizza would keep me from eating all the other ones, favorite band would prevent me from hearing the gazillion others out there, and so on.

Amongst the 200+ cook books I have, there are some that I pick up first if I'm looking for a particular thing (bbq, Asian, fish, etc etc) but I can't say that there's one that I used a lot more than an other.

Maybe if I'd learned from a particular book, but I mostly learned at home from my mom and later on from cooking shows, so I'd probably have to pick the TV over there in the corner instead of a book :-)

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

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I'm not sure I could really narrow it down to one, but I can tell you the three I reach for when researching most recipes:

How To Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

The New Best Recipes from Cook's Illustrated

and believe it or not

Martha Stewart's Cooking School

Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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Mine is Joy of Cooking, The version from the 90's. Love it. Sometimes the recipes are a bit underspiced, but I keep notes and modify as I go. I also flip through The New Basics when I'm looking for a twist on an ingredient (like brussels sprouts) or a dish (chili). I want to get Bittman's Everything as a reference too. May ask for that for Christmas.

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Hi!

First post ever on a Society Forum, so hello everyone. :smile:

I would not call it a cookbook, but The French Laundry changed my whole vision of cooking. It is the reason I ended up joining this site. It is not thechnical, but it gives me all the inspiration I need. I don't know why, but it just changed my way of looking at food.

Who said you could not play with your food?

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Welcome Splat, and I fully agree with what you say, that book changed how I cook, how I eat, how I shop and what I buy. I was fortunate to eat there once and will have to go back some day. Also was lucky to meet Thomas Keller last night at a book signing in SF and told him the same. Was great to shake his and and meet in person, short as it was. Would love to just sit on a porch with him somewhere and pick his brains :laugh:

Check out Ad Hoc At Home, his new book. I like it a lot and things are a bit easier to make (and on the wallet) but very good. At the signing they offered little tastes of some of the tings in the book. I posted a little note about last night in the cook book section's Ad Hoc At Home thread.

I also can't explain why this book had such an effect on me, it just did.

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

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Good Housekeeping was always on my grandmother's kitchen counter. I always saw it there, but it was years before I ever actually opened it. I'm not sure if she ever did, but it was ALWAYS around. Still is, only on my bookshelf now :smile:

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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Like several other respondents I would have to take a small library of cookbooks and even though I own over a thousand and buy new ones every day I would take the old battered classics, the ones that have good food writing as well as good recipes -any cookbook or all the cookbooks by Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Alice Waters and Paula Woolfert (especially her Moroccan and Mediterranean books) Marcella Hazan for Italian, Julia Sahni for Indian, Diana Kennedy for Mexican food, and Irene Kuo for Chinese. These books date back to when I was learning. The recipes are in my bones. I have a slight feeling of betrayal when I cook from someone else's cookbook which I do all the time.

I've never been very good with general cookbooks. I relate strongly to the author/cook and how they write about a dish.

David Thompson would be my choice for Thai food.And, Miriam Cunningham's Breakfast Book for my favourite meal of the day and Patricia Wells Bistro cookbook and Chez Panisse for desserts. And as for a new well used book I would have to say Sara Jenkins "Olives and Oranges".

Then there are the books that make me hungry when I read them but from which I only cook infrequently, mostly British in fact but they write wonderfully about food - Simon Hopkinson, Nigel Slater and Tamasin Day Lewis.

Hardly what you would call "travelling light"!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have quite a few cookbooks that I bought used that and which have varying amounts of damage. Among those that I bought new, the one hardback with a spine broken into several chunks is Flatbreads and Flavors. It's also probably the most unique and diverse book I've got, with Sundays at the Moosewood (softcover, and also a bit worn) a close second. They're both books that have a lot of recipes I use repeatedly and haven't memorized and would have a hard time reproducing without the text in front of me.

There are others that I also use a lot, and still others that I am itching to get into more, but for the desert island, I want a book that covers a lot of ground--no single subject or single cuisine (and the flatbreads and flavors is not just about bread!), that has a sense of taste that I trust (ok, for the moosewood I always need to double or triple the spices, but that's easy enough to factor into my preparations), and yet still has more recipes that I haven't yet explored.

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