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Help me find a book to cook through

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"Essentials" is not a straight-up reprint. Not only are some recipes missing, but I was recently reading that the editors of "Essentials" arbitrarily reduced the fat content of many of the recipes to comport with current health sensibilities.

Shocking news, this. But since getting used to each of her recipes starting with 1/3 cup of olive oil in "Italian Kitchen", I just add that to the pan now as a default. Nevertheless, it sounds like seeking out the original is worth it.

If I were to try to cook through a book I think my first choice would be Ad Hoc at Home.

Another great suggestion! I bought this in February with the intention of cooking through it, but have given up the project, as I can't get most of the ingredients - but if I could, I would definitely be working my way through it.

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Thanks for the discussion! I ordered Colicchio's book last week but it hasn't arrived yet. There are some wonderful suggestions above and I plan on checking out all of them. The reviews of the Edouard de Pomiane book are really delightful! I haven't seen Ad Hoc, or any of Keller's books actually, and I don't own any Marcella Hazan either. I will definitely go the Abebooks route on her older book. The reason I have so many books is I am an off and on again member of The Good Cook cookbook club (4 for $1 kind of deal). It is difficult to buy books from them though as they only carry new releases, and often I won't buy a book unseen until there is substantial experience with it in the ether. I am looking to fill certain niches now and need to pare down my collection. Many books will go as some new ones come in and the quality and meaning of my cookbooks increases.

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In case you're interested, Amazon just lowered the price on Ad Hoc At Home by about $4 today, making it 45% off and about equal to the used price online anywhere.

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I'd like to suggest "The Complete Robuchon" - a terrific book filled with basic, French home cooking recipes.

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I have many cookbooks - probably around 35 or so. Some books I use more than others, some I have just to read, and some for reference. I haven't cooked my way through an entire cookbook though which is something I would like to do. The books I have, for one reason or another, don't seem to be great candidates for cooking completely. Many are large recipe collections (like Bittman, Joy of Cooking, Martha Stewart). I want the book to teach me a way or style of cooking and give an education or flavor of the writer.

... I am a decent cook and a pretty lousy baker. If I could get suggestions for excellent, accessible cookbooks that would be a great candidate to cook through, I would greatly appreciate it.

... I haven't seen Ad Hoc, or any of Keller's books actually, ... I am looking to fill certain niches now and need to pare down my collection. Many books will go as some new ones come in and the quality and meaning of my cookbooks increases.

Ummm.

You have about 35 books, and want to pare down, yet fill niches?

Honestly, 35 isn't "many".

You don't have the same problem as the rest of us!

I think you need to choose a destination before the guide-book.

I'm not sure whether you are saying that you'd like to work on the baking area.

If you were looking for a seriously accessible bread book to work through, Bertinet's "Dough" springs to mind, but Dan Lepard's "Art of Handmade Bread" (its original UK version is called "The Handmade Loaf") would be a much more demanding, broad-ranging and worthwhile project. (And, in paperback, its easily affordable - as are the ingredients!)

Mary Berry's (BBC-published) "Foolproof Cakes" strikes me as the sort of cake book that would be helpful (IF ONLY it were easily available in the USA!) Shortish, with lots of helpful process illustrations (not just of the ideal end-product) and yet covering a fair range of different home-achievable cakes, pastries and biscuits.

And incidentally, Ad Hoc is surely the ONLY Keller book that any sane home cook might ever, even for a whimsical moment, consider cooking from cover to cover.

If you are looking to improve daily eating and move away from recipes as straitjackets, then I'd suggest having a look at Nigel Slater's "Appetite". Relaxed, simple and yet far from ordinary.

Me? I'd quite like to work right through Bertolli's "Cooking by Hand" ...


Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Some cookbooks I really like is these:

1. Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook: Home Collection

One of my most used books for thrustworthy recipes that really tastes great and give good results.

2. Giorgio Locatelli - Made In Italy: Food And Stories

3. Anna Teresa Callen - Food and Memories of Abruzzo: Italy's Pastoral Land

4. Andrew Carmelli - Urban Italy

Three very inspirational cookbooks with a lot of great recipes and a well of stories on the food, region and country. Some of the recipes might have some seasonal or hard to get ingredients.

5. Marcus Wareing - How To Cook The Perfect...

6. Kenny Shopsin - Eat Me

If you want to do some shorter, but very good cookbooks, these might be an alternative.


Edited by jostber (log)

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And incidentally, Ad Hoc is surely the ONLY Keller book that any sane home cook might ever, even for a whimsical moment, consider cooking from cover to cover.

If you are looking to improve daily eating and move away from recipes as straitjackets, then I'd suggest having a look at Nigel Slater's "Appetite". Relaxed, simple and yet far from ordinary.

Me? I'd quite like to work right through Bertolli's "Cooking by Hand" ...

Then we have this insane home cook :)

http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.com/

http://www.alineaathome.com/

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I have this and this and I'm cooking through them. At least I think its those, mine came from a used book store and in oversized print.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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And incidentally, Ad Hoc is surely the ONLY Keller book that any sane home cook might ever, even for a whimsical moment, consider cooking from cover to cover.

...

Then we have this insane home cook :)

http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.com/

http://www.alineaathome.com/

Indeed so.

Self-confessed on carolcookskeller ...

Anyone can cook from any cookbook out there, but it takes a special kind of nutjob to attempt every recipe in The French Laundry Cookbook.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Ummm.

You have about 35 books, and want to pare down, yet fill niches?

Honestly, 35 isn't "many".

You don't have the same problem as the rest of us!

I think you need to choose a destination before the guide-book.

To me it is. I have a limited amount of shelf space. I just counted - 38 cookbooks. To be honest, there are not that many that are awful books, just some I don't use much. I suppose what I meant is that am trying to keep the wheat and move out the chafe. There was an interesting article in a not too long ago issue of Art of Eating where Mr. Behr pared his cookbook collection down to 7 books that were most meaningful to him and wrote why. I don't think I could do the same thing right now. Since I have a good number of books, ones that I add in the future I want them to be good or meaningful to me. I mentioned this as membership in something like the Good Cook bookclub is all new releases. I don't like buying new release books site unseen unless I trust the author. Now, if they carried all cookbooks like a normal bookseller, I would be in a lot of trouble... :smile: The destination in this case is a book to cook through as I laid out above.

I'm not sure whether you are saying that you'd like to work on the baking area.

If you were looking for a seriously accessible bread book to work through, Bertinet's "Dough" springs to mind, but Dan Lepard's "Art of Handmade Bread" (its original UK version is called "The Handmade Loaf") would be a much more demanding, broad-ranging and worthwhile project. (And, in paperback, its easily affordable - as are the ingredients!)

Mary Berry's (BBC-published) "Foolproof Cakes" strikes me as the sort of cake book that would be helpful (IF ONLY it were easily available in the USA!) Shortish, with lots of helpful process illustrations (not just of the ideal end-product) and yet covering a fair range of different home-achievable cakes, pastries and biscuits.

I have a number of baking books - Baking by James Peterson, Bakewise by Shirley Corriher, Alton Brown's Baking book, and Peter Reinhart Bread Bakers Apprentice along with a pastry text by Bo Friberg. I am a scientist by training, but as my wife tells me, "You're a great cook, but you can't bake for crap." It is true, and I don't really know why. Baking seems totally logical to me - it is percentages and ratios and all the things I do at work. But it doesn't turn out. I can bake bread quite well (the Reinhart book is excellent!), but beyond that I have not had much luck nor have I tried to work at it extensively either. I just wanted to give a brief bio of my experience and base for anyone thinking of a book to suggest.

If you are looking to improve daily eating and move away from recipes as straitjackets, then I'd suggest having a look at Nigel Slater's "Appetite". Relaxed, simple and yet far from ordinary.

Me? I'd quite like to work right through Bertolli's "Cooking by Hand" ...

Excellent - thanks for those suggestions!

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I have a number of baking books - Baking by James Peterson, Bakewise by Shirley Corriher, Alton Brown's Baking book, and Peter Reinhart Bread Bakers Apprentice along with a pastry text by Bo Friberg.

For a home baking cookbook, I suggest: Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I've only cooked a handful of recipes from this book, but so far I've found the recipes to be very well-written, and even more important, well-tested. I like everything I've tried. This book is popular with other EGulleters and there's a big thread about it here:

This book is sizable, so it's probably not a candidate for you to cook through. I mention it as a baking book you could look at.

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Someone already suggested "Salsas That Cook", so I'll suggest another book by Rick Bayless. "Mexican Everyday"


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Of the 400 or so cookbooks I used to own, now pared down to about 150, I can say unequivocably that the ones that inspired me to cook through, and which I did at various times of my life, are:

--Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams--I treasure this book, and give it as a gift frequently.

--French Country Cooking by Charles Virion--if you can find it

--Lenotre Desserts and Pastries (even though you claim not to be a baker, if you're a scientist you probably just need

practice)

--Jim Fobel's Old Fashioned Baking Book

--Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy

--Fine Preserving by Katherine Plageman

--The Making of A Cook by Madeline Kamman

--The Cake Bible by Rose L Beranbaum

--Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein

I'll stop here for now, and will skip the Asian options. Every one of these books is worthy. And of course, you can't go wrong doing Hazan's Classic Italian, as has been said. Zuni Cafe Cookbook I believe has also been mentioned.

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--The Cake Bible by Rose L Beranbaum

One of my favorites...with a funny little story. Okay, maybe it's only funny to me. Way back when (that being the latish mid-eighties), I was attending culinary school in the morning while working in the Kennedy Center kitchen (five restaurants from cafeteria to fine dining...brilliant kitchen to learn in) afternoons and evenings, and filling every other hour of the day working at a kitchen retailer, Kitchen Bazaar on Connecticut Ave.

One of my jobs at Kitchen Bazaar was to do prep work for visiting cookbook authors. This could be anything from making dishes to simply unfolding chairs. This was a really fun job getting to meet and occasionally work for folks I really respected like Giulliano Bugiali, Jean Louis Paladin (he was there for SOS) and many, many more. This shop had at least one signing every month.

I don't think Rose Beranbaum did any demos when she came around to do a signing for The Cake Bible, but I remember I was assigned to shadow her all morning (must have been a Saturday). At the end of the day, when she signed my book, she signed it with my last name as my first name! Okay, maybe it's not that funny to me either. Must have made a great impression though.

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Still waiting on Colicchio to show up, but I also ordered the Marcella Hazan book from Abebooks. I'll check these 2 out and go from there.

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Made In Italy - Food and Stories - Giorgio Locatelli. A great book with incredibly detailed discussions of ingredients and great recipes. An enjoyable writing style and nice photography. One of the best Italian cookbooks I have ever seen.

I would also recommend The Cook's Book - a much more general cookbook covering Meat, Sauces, Knife Skills, Baking with contributiosn by Marcus Wearing, Feran Adria, Paul Gaylor. A quite basic but well written book.

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The Classic Italian Cook Book by Hazan arrived the other day (1973 version). All the classic recipes are there and not many ingredients. She certainly writes with authority. Definitely a keeper, uncertain if I want to cook through it. I need to spend some more armchair time with it. Back to perusing the suggestions and will update later - additional suggestions always welcome!

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The Classic Italian Cook Book by Hazan arrived the other day (1973 version). All the classic recipes are there and not many ingredients. She certainly writes with authority. Definitely a keeper, uncertain if I want to cook through it. I need to spend some more armchair time with it. Back to perusing the suggestions and will update later - additional suggestions always welcome!

It's true, you never get the sense she feels ambivalent about an ingredient or a procedure. If you do decide to cook through it, lay in a goodly supply of olive oil. You'll need it.

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Small update:

The Hazan and Colicchio books are both very good. I like the style of the Colicchio book but he features large sections of his book around things that can be hard to get a hold of or things not in my normal repertoire or budget - specialty mushrooms, ramps, lobster.

I checked out from the library Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertoli and Eduard de Pomaine's French Cooking in 10 Minutes. The EdP book was really delightful, but not what I am looking for. If I find a used copy of this book out and about, I will pick it up. The Bertoli book is also excellent and one of the better cookbooks I've seen in a stretch. Alas, it had to go back to the library but Grace Young's Breath of a Wok is coming in its place.

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With the key word 'accessible' from your original post, I thought about what I might want to cook through. The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook came to mind. No, no, not for the quality of the recipes (though I find them reliable), but for the breadth. It's not as big as, say, The Joy of Cooking. 100 pages of it are just picture of the dishes. But at 8 per page, that's still around 800. I suppose I could opt to ignore beverages, desserts, breads, or whatever.

My main thought is that if I were to commit to such a thing, I'd like to come out of it with a large repertoire - not necessarily of individual dishes - but of techniques and combinations and experiences - and generally a larger food vocabulary.

I might look for a similar but smaller book. I think I'd want some diversity. American Cuisine is generally safe for me but some might want to choose, say, Mediterranean or Asian cuisines. I think Julie and Julia is an example of this with French cuisine (but not just one, but two volumes - yikes).

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