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What ONE cookbook can you not live without?


Shamanjoe
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I can't wait to go out and buy all these wonderful suggestions!

"...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 actually didn't think I had one, but over the weekend, as I was doing early prep-work for Christmas and Christmas Eve, I realized that since I bought it about 2 years ago or so, I have come to completely rely on the last edition of "The 150 Best American Recipes". This is the edition published in 2006, with a forward by Rick Bayless.

I would say I've made a higher percentage of recipes from this book than any other that I own, and I own A LOT. Maybe, maybe Paul Prudhomme's "Louisianna Kitchen" wins, but just slightly, and only when I want to make that style of food. "150 Best" has a great variety of techniques and cuisines, and just seems to be the one I reach for more often than not. Only one recipe I've made from it was a dud, and I think that was operator error, not a poor recipe. And most of the ones I've made, I've made over and over.

I seriously can't recommend this book enough. It's a true gem.

--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 actually didn't think I had one, but over the weekend, as I was doing early prep-work for Christmas and Christmas Eve, I realized that since I bought it about 2 years ago or so, I have come to completely rely on the last edition of "The 150 Best American Recipes". This is the edition published in 2006, with a forward by Rick Bayless.

. . . .

Have to say that this is a book I would be very, very reluctant to relinquish! Not sure it's the ONE but it's right up there with books I don't want to live without.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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This is such a good question, and in fact this post serves as a reference point for what the best cookbooks are... Like many of the respondents here, I too have a shelf-full of cookbooks, some of which have been mentioned here. In fact as I type I'm preparing a beef/venison stock based on the recipe in Thomas Keller's 'The French Laundry' cookbook.

Nonetheless, there is ONE book that I do keep coming back to: Leith's Cookery Bible. This is for me a standard reference book. If there's a recipe that I need, I can almost guarantee that it will be in there. Leith's is probably more more well known in Britain than it is the States, but this shouldn't stop anyone checking it out. I really couldn't do without it!

I'd be interested to hear other opinions about this book...

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We have 90-some-odd cookbooks but the go-to cookbook for basic recipes here is Fanny Farmer. we are on our second copy - the first copy got used until it fell apart. I consulted it just about 4 hours ago for it's take on an English Trifle. Wasn't what I was looking for.

We don't have many of the newer books mentioned in this thread but I would also hate to part with our collection of Julia Child cookbooks. She may not be contemporary any more but for us she is far from gone and forgotten.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Hmmm. This is much harder than I thought it would be.

When I am looking for inspiration for a dessert menu, I reach for whatever I've just bought - Johnny Iuzzini's book, Claudia Fleming, Ann Amernick ...

But cooking from..... I had to think back on what I did when I was newly married and cooking on a daily basis. My favorite book was The Way To Cook by Julia Child. Whenever we'd have a dinner party or a larger party, I'd reach for the Silver Palate cookbooks for appetizer ideas. My mother and husband started in on me at Thanksgiving with when was I going to make the Sausage Bread (it's a ring, actually) from Silver Palate (it's been a holiday favorite for 20 years)/

But what I read on a regular basis (over and over again!) is Laurie Colwin's essays, which do contain recipes (and they work!). So while I don't cook from it the way I do Julia or the Silver Palate girls, it's (two) the book I don't want to be without!

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Possibly On Food and Cooking (though not strictly a cookbook). Close second is Peterson's Sauces (though I'm starting to find it dated).

In general I value cookbooks for what I'm able to absorb from them, and incorporate into my own recipes. Once I've done that, I may only refer to the original book a couple of times a year ... so in a sense I can live without all of them. Even though they might have been indispensable for what I learned from them initially.

Notes from the underbelly

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Joy of Cooking replaced McCalls a couple decades back.

Good 'how to' instructions & info on the concepts that adapt to most any recipe variants.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I know these two have gotten some love on here already, and I'm one of those whose top picks aren't traditional cookbooks.

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is my constant go-to. Every time I'm trying something new in the kitchen, or even presenting something I know for guests (in short, any meal other than the quick throw-togethers for myself) I go to The Book of Harold on all the techniques and ingredients I'll be using. I've reread so many sections so many times, but checking each one out in the context of the meal to come is always useful.

CIA's Pro Chef is another go-to. I'm a big fan of experimentation, and in my dreams everything I cook is some sort of brand-new dish, but there's just no getting around the crucial role of traditional technique. One of my favorites in Pro Chef is the baguette recipe - I've tried maybe a dozen in different bread books, but somehow this one stands out as my favorite.

The Flavor Bible is a new edition to my arsenal. I'd be using the tables in "Culinary Artistry" for a long time, so frankly, I was a bit let down by how little new stuff there is in The Flavor Bible for me. That being said, the little bit of extra detail it has can really make a meal. I tend to use both this and Culinary Artistry side by side, less because they're different, and more because skimming through two books for the same thing increases the chances I'll land on a wrong page and end up with a wonderful happy accident.

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Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook....absolutely fabulous. Every basic recipe you need to start out.

I'm with BC cook on this one. A solid, basic cookbook that is available in used bookstores for a right price. This has my go to prime rib recipe that I've used for years.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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I actually didn't think I had one, but over the weekend, as I was doing early prep-work for Christmas and Christmas Eve, I realized that since I bought it about 2 years ago or so, I have come to completely rely on the last edition of "The 150 Best American Recipes". This is the edition published in 2006, with a forward by Rick Bayless.

. . . .

Have to say that this is a book I would be very, very reluctant to relinquish! Not sure it's the ONE but it's right up there with books I don't want to live without.

Hi Pierogi and Anna --

On reading this I took the book out of the library... Just wondering what your favorites from it have been? Looking forward to trying some of them...

Emily

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I'm not much of a cook. When at home my go-to books, when really at a loss, are The Joy of Cooking, Julia Child, and that Cook's Illustrated best of whatever book.

We were away the last six months, and our fully furnished house was, oddly enough, totally stocked with great cookbooks and cooking gear. But no Joy, Julia, or CI. But I did have Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, and used it a lot. Now I am home, I kind of miss that book.

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I actually didn't think I had one, but over the weekend, as I was doing early prep-work for Christmas and Christmas Eve, I realized that since I bought it about 2 years ago or so, I have come to completely rely on the last edition of "The 150 Best American Recipes". This is the edition published in 2006, with a forward by Rick Bayless.

. . . .

Have to say that this is a book I would be very, very reluctant to relinquish! Not sure it's the ONE but it's right up there with books I don't want to live without.

Hi Pierogi and Anna --

On reading this I took the book out of the library... Just wondering what your favorites from it have been? Looking forward to trying some of them...

Emily

Hmmmmm, off the top of my head, without actually looking at the book in front of me (or the TofC, yes, I'm too lazy this late to get myself up to get it...) I'd say the slow-roasted pork shoulder (this actually was a revelation to me, it was the first time I'd cooked a shoulder, now it's my favorite cut), the roasted Italian sausages and grapes (with the mashed potatoes), the slow-roasted cherry tomatoes for a pasta sauce (ohhhhhhh, yum), the lemon curd cookie sandwiches, the brownies, the scones, the crab cakes, the pork and green chile stew (its a 2 Hot Tamales recipe, I think they may call it posole, although it's not really), Alice Water's coleslaw, the shrimp and grits.....

The one dud I hit was the panzanella made with cornbread. It was "gluggy"...heavy and not good, but I think the fault lay with the cornbread I used. And possibly the sausage. I want to try it again with homemade cornbread and higher quality sausage, and see if it's better, because the recipe still sounds awesome.

I'm sure there are others I've made and liked, but the ones above are the ones I make over and over because they are so, so good. That pork shoulder.....man, to die for. I really need to make that again soon. It's awesome the day of, in the tacos as the book suggests. Then I've taken some of the leftovers and reheated them in BBQ sauce for some mighty fine pulled pork sandwiches.

--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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. . . . .

Hi Pierogi and Anna --

On reading this I took the book out of the library... Just wondering what your favorites from it have been? Looking forward to trying some of them...

Emily

Recipes from The 150 Best American Recipes

Phyllo Cheese Straws – easy appetizer

Vodka spiked cherry tomatoes – a bit fussy because you need to peel the tomatoes but so worth it.

Crimped shrimp

Roasted asparagus with panko bread crumbs

Roasted butternut squash soup with bacon

Sicilian slow-roasted onion salad – a Paula Wolfert recipe

Spaghetti with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese

Sear-roasted salmon fillets with lemon-ginger butter

The amazing five-hour roast duck

High-temperature rib roast of beef – the only way I now cook a rib roast

Pan-roasted carrots

Party potatoes – a mashed potato dish that can be made 2 days ahead!

Lemon posset – I am not a dessert person so dessert has to be easy and fast – this one fits the bill and tastes fabulous too.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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PH10 by Pierre Hermé. I would never use another chef's recipe top to bottom, but he has some amazing base recipes, and gives a good starting point for later modification. Not to mention the technique descriptions are very good.

And lets be honest, very few pastry chefs use 100% their own recipes, we all use someone else's recipe or a modification of it for stuff like puff pastry, pastry cream, etc...

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Anna and Pierogie -- thank you both for your replies! The duck, the pork shoulder, the pork and tomatillo stew, and the sausages with grapes were all recipes that had caught my eye, so its great to hear they have been tried and true. Will report back!

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I love 150 Best American Recipes, too. I'd add the rigatoni alla toto to the recipes already mentioned. It was so much better than I expected it to be. Also the Italian shortbread with almonds and jam, Kona Inn banana muffins. The pecan praline french toast is to-die-for.

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Hey folks --

Just wanted to report back that I made the slow-roasted pork shoulder from the 150 Best Recipes, and it was to die for. And so simple -- Just ground chipotles and salt! That said, I did cut the amount of salt in half (recipe called for 2 Tbs kosher salt to 1 Tbs chipotle, and the 1 Tbs kosher salt I used was PLENTY)... Made my own flour tortillas for the first time, and served the pork in tacos with some homemade tomatillo salsa and a squirt of lime. Among the best tacos I've ever put in my mouth.

Can't wait to try more recipes... Thanks everyone!

Em

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Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook....absolutely fabulous. Every basic recipe you need to start out.

Can't agree more. It was my first cook book and I just used it this weekend for lamb stew. Tweeked it a little and it came out great.

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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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 like The Professional Chef as well, although it is far from my favorite. That title is reserved for Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Cookbook. His artistry in the kitchen and laboratory is remarkable. Ahhh, the science behind it all sucks me in like a sous vide foie gras! :raz: How I love learning! &on top of that, his prose flows eloquently from line to line, page to page. (*a phonetically fickle foodie does appreciate a well written work :raz: )

then again, I am only a high school kid, and my collection is far from extensive. :) Fat Duck Cookbook = Chores for a reader of my age; my affinity for this book probably stems pride of purchase, to some extent. :raz:

Edited by clove2873 (log)
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Escoffier, translated into English.

Professional Cooking 6th edition by Gisslen.

Professional Baking 4th edition by Gisslen.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison.

"It is easy in the world to follow the worlds opinions,It is easy in solitude to follow your own, but,the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude" Ralph Waldo Emmerson

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