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Her First Cookbook


hillvalley
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My sister just discovered cooking last week. So far she has made stir fry and tried her own tomato sauce, which she burned. She has announced to our family that I am allowed to buy her one cookbook for Channukah and that is it. My question is, which book should it be?

I am looking for a basic cookbook and am leaning towards Joy of Cooking. She needs a book that has the basics, like how to cook a potato, but has room to expand, should she feel so inclined. Thoughts, suggestions?

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman.

It's a sort of modern, much more selective and hipper Joy. Very approachable.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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SethG Posted on Nov 18 2003, 05:23 PM

  How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman.

It's a sort of modern, much more selective and hipper Joy. Very approachable.

I will second the motion for Bittman. Especially since, when I saw the title of the post, it was the first book I thought of.

I only own one "real" cookbook, and this is it. All of my recipes are in several binders, slowly being transfered to the computer.

While it may not be the fanciest cookbook around, it helps provide a solid foundation of the basics, and then expands from there.

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Diana was 10 when I went up to turn off her night light, and found her curled up in bed with Michael Field's "Cooking School."

Diana, at 13, is getting Julia's "Way to Cook" for Xmas. It was a great deal; mint condition, way cheap. I just may spring for Jacques "The Apprentice" for her. We read, aloud in the car on the way home from the cabin, one chapter, but it was due at the library and on hold so un-renewable.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman.

It's a sort of modern, much more selective and hipper Joy. Very approachable.

Would you recommend the Basics or Simple Recipes? They look like something that I should have in my own collection.

for all the hoopla, I still think Julia's "The Way To Cook" is pretty good too. Here are the master recipes, here's how to riff, go forth and cook.

Having suffered through countless boring Sundays where my mother and I were glued to the couch watching Julia on PBS, I am afraid that my sister will run away screaming. I however, love it dearly.

Diana was 10 when I went up to turn off her night light, and found her curled up in bed with Michael Field's "Cooking School."

Diana is my kind of girl. My mother never understood where her Bon Appetittes would disappear to until she caught me late one night with her stash. If she only knew what a great Christmas present she was getting.

Thanks for all the great advice. Keep it coming!

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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My sister just discovered cooking last week. So far she has made stir fry and tried her own tomato sauce, which she burned. She has announced to our family that I am allowed to buy her one cookbook for Channukah and that is it. My question is, which book should it be?

I am looking for a basic cookbook and am leaning towards Joy of Cooking. She needs a book that has the basics, like how to cook a potato, but has room to expand, should she feel so inclined. Thoughts, suggestions?

There's only one cookbook for your sister as far as I'm concerned. "The New Cook's Cookbook" by Carol Guilford. I buy it when anyone I know who doesn't know how to do anything except microwave popcorn start to learn how to cook. It has been out of print forever - but you can buy it on Alibris for perhaps $10-12. As it says on the dustjacket - "Whereas ordinary recipe collections automatically assume that the reader has some familiarity with the kitchen jungle, this book takes nothing for granted." Note that this is an understatement - the book starts with telling you how to shop for food (so you want to make lamb chops? - which ones should you buy) Highly recommended. Robyn

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The New Cook by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler (who happens to be a member of eG). This is a fabulous book for someone who knows absolutely NOTHING: it has color photos of every piece of equipment, every ingredient, every technique discussed. Very clear directions and explanations. Including how to peel potatoes, make a French omelet and salsa bolognese, prepare apples for pies -- all the really basic stuff that those other books describe well but don't actually show you. Just a wonderful, wonderful book.

I'm not familiar with the book Robyn mentioned (although now I want to see it), but this one also starts from zero -- and actually SHOWS the reader what everything should look like, every step of the way.

It was published by Dorling Kindersley (DK Publishing) in 1997, ISBN 0-7894-1996-3. You might be able to find it on Amazon; I think I got it through Jessica's Biscuit.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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At the risk of posting off-topic...

I've read many negative comments about Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Most have been about incorrect cooking times indicating that the recipes had not been thoroughly tested before being published. Of those of you who recommended this book, have you had similar results or has the book been fairly spot-on in your experience? Costco in my city has this book right now and I am tempted to buy it, but wanted more feedback before doing so.

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At the risk of posting off-topic...

I've read many negative comments about Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Most have been about incorrect cooking times indicating that the recipes had not been thoroughly tested before being published. Of those of you who recommended this book, have you had similar results or has the book been fairly spot-on in your experience? Costco in my city has this book right now and I am tempted to buy it, but wanted more feedback before doing so.

That's news to me. It seems like he has numerous fans here at the "G." I don't know whether his recipes are tested by others, but it seems to me from what I've read about Bittman that he's a very rigorous self-tester.

I often refer to HTCE just to check out Bittman's basic technique for cooking a particular item; I don't always use his recipes as written. And Bittman certainly wants the book to be used this way. He frequently provides numerous options within his recipes. When I have made the recipes from the book, I've had no failures.

What I like about him is that he doesn't assume the reader knows a lot, and he teaches a lot of technique. But he also provides recipes for very tasty food, within his simple-is-better aesthetic point of view.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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for all the hoopla, I still think Julia's "The Way To Cook" is pretty good too. Here are the master recipes, here's how to riff, go forth and cook.

i agree with pleiades, Julia Child's The Way to Cook--and if she's an internet devotee she can read an entire year's worth of the julie/julia experiement online to accompany the book... :smile:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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I'll second Seth on Bittman & cooking times. I haven't found much of a problem with cooking times with Bittman. (Of course, we've discussed one of his duck recipes & I believe he addressed this in his eGullet Q&A.)

Of course, all recipe cooking times are *suggestions* due to relative conditions.

Another book to consider is the recently released Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America.

I haven't cooked from it yet. However, paging through it, I am quite impressed by the techniques & tips--both in content & layout.

Of course, I'm waiting for SuzanneF to weigh in on this volume. :smile:

Edited by MatthewB (log)
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How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman.

It's a sort of modern, much more selective and hipper Joy. Very approachable.

Would you recommend the Basics or Simple Recipes? They look like something that I should have in my own collection.

I don't have any of the How to Cook Everything books, but my understanding is that How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food is the "master" volume that contains everything and the other books, including The Basics and Vegetarian Cooking, are more narrowly focused books comprised of appropriate selections from that master volume.

edited for grammar

Edited by iain (log)
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I don't have any of the How to Cook Everything books, but my understanding is that How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food is the "master" volume that contains everything and the other books, including The Basics and Vegetarian Cooking, are more narrowly focused books comprised of appropriate selections from that master volume.

edited for grammar

That's true.

Bittman himself said that somewhere--perhaps in his Q&A here?

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I suggest Nigella Lawson's first book, "How to Eat." It's a great read, and has sections on cooking in advance, simple dinner parties, and cooking for children. She has great ideas, lovely prose, and a practical vision of people who like to cook but don't *always* have a lot of time.

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I was wandering the aisles at Books A Million last night (Looking for a few gifts and deciding on what I was going to get myself for Christmas), and found some books that would fit the bill...

How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson (No, not that one) is exactly what you are after. It covers technique and some suggestions on flavoring. There are recipes, but she encourages some experimentation.

Flavors by Donna Hay - Not to be confused with the Rocco DiSpirito book of a similar name. It's just that. An introduction to a range of flavors, as part of simple recipes that lend themselves (I think) to reinterpretation and addition to other recipes. Also The New Cook by the same author. A good starting point.

Heirloom Recipes by Jennifer Rosenfeld Saltiel. It not only has the recipes, but a little history behind each. And it shows that cooking is more than technique and ingredients.

But, The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart is that one I would start with. But you know her skill level. Bread is a good place to start. It teaches patience, it uses the oven instead of the stovetop, and bread is good warm or the next day. Plus, she can use the bread in other recipes (bread pudding, croutons, bread crumbs, sandwiches, etc)

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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That's news to me. It seems like he has numerous fans here at the "G." I don't know whether his recipes are tested by others, but it seems to me from what I've read about Bittman that he's a very rigorous self-tester.

I often refer to HTCE just to check out Bittman's basic technique for cooking a particular item; I don't always use his recipes as written. And Bittman certainly wants the book to be used this way. He frequently provides numerous options within his recipes. When I have made the recipes from the book, I've had no failures.

What I like about him is that he doesn't assume the reader knows a lot, and he teaches a lot of technique. But he also provides recipes for very tasty food, within his simple-is-better aesthetic point of view.

The recipes I remember people mentioning were a prime rib recipe , a spatch-cocked chicken recipe, and one for a chicken and rice dish. All were very much underdone using the times given in the recipes and more than one person had the same result. For people who are experienced cooks, or who have meat thermometers, the times given in these recipes are not that important, but for new and inexperienced cooks they are often crucial to the success of a dish.

Another problem mentioned was that some of the instructions in the recipes would say "Add (ingredient) to (whatever)" but there would be no such ingredient listed.

I should also mention that the same people who made these comments liked the book very much. They said the recipes made very tasty food and they continued to use the book, despite the problems they had with some of the recipes. The French bread recipe was especially popular. I am in no way recommending against HTCE, I was just wondering if the comments I had read before were justified.

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I should also mention that the same people who made these comments liked the book very much. They said the recipes made very tasty food and they continued to use the book, despite the problems they had with some of the recipes. The French bread recipe was especially popular. I am in no way recommending against HTCE, I was just wondering if the comments I had read before were justified.

Hey, don't worry! Your comments are well within the realm of polite inquiry.

But in the spirit of courteous disagreement, I have made Bittman's spatchcocked chicken under a brick, and it came out done right on time for me. I think actual miles always vary, as MatthewB said above.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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How To Cook Everything was my first cookbook- I highly, highly recommend it for anyone's first cookbook. I had been an avid follower of the Minimalist columns before I bought it and I've never had a problem with his cooking times.

A New Way To Cook is my favorite cookbook, and I did just give it to a friend as a wedding present, but I don't know that I'd recommend it as much as an all purpose, how to cook everything kind of first book. (HTCE, though, lives up to its title.)

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The New Cook by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler (who happens to be a member of eG). This is a fabulous book for someone who knows absolutely NOTHING: it has color photos of every piece of equipment, every ingredient, every technique discussed. Very clear directions and explanations. Including how to peel potatoes, make a French omelet and salsa bolognese, prepare apples for pies -- all the really basic stuff that those other books describe well but don't actually show you. Just a wonderful, wonderful book.

I'm not familiar with the book Robyn mentioned (although now I want to see it), but this one also starts from zero -- and actually SHOWS the reader what everything should look like, every step of the way.

It was published by Dorling Kindersley (DK Publishing) in 1997, ISBN 0-7894-1996-3. You might be able to find it on Amazon; I think I got it through Jessica's Biscuit.

Do get a copy. Judging from the number of messages you've posted - you're not going to use it :). But it does make a nice gift for the right person. One interesting thing about the book is a lot of it is divided into chapters by cooking techniques - one chapter is "Broiling" - one is "Boiling and Simmering"; one is "Braising and Stewing" - etc. I have more sophisticated cookbooks arranged this way - like Julia Child's The Way to Cook. I think it's an intelligent way to approach learning how to cook.

By the way - the book is over 30 years old now - so some of the dishes may seem a bit dated. On the other hand - I don't know who was eating picadillo 30 years ago - except for the Cubans in Miami. Robyn

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I think a refreshing way to start someone into cooking can be found in Appetite by Nigel Slater. The only challenge may be the semi-British bent towards language and some recipes.

I like his approach to cooking: stop worrying about times and measurements. Take some stuff, cook for a while, eat. Learn and do again, but different.... The anti-Cook's Illustrated.

Anyone else read this book and find it refreshing and/or interesting?

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My sister just discovered cooking last week. So far she has made stir fry and tried her own tomato sauce, which she burned. She has announced to our family that I am allowed to buy her one cookbook for Channukah and that is it. My question is, which book should it be?

I am looking for a basic cookbook and am leaning towards Joy of Cooking. She needs a book that has the basics, like how to cook a potato, but has room to expand, should she feel so inclined. Thoughts, suggestions?

i'm giving the sil Cooking for Dummies and a gift certificate for 3 cooking lessons from me of her choice. while i wouldn't recommed this for most - i vote for bitman or julia - even those are beyond her.

she has decided to learn basic cookery at age 36 so i figured to really start her off slow. since, like her brother, she has a problem with fat and digesting lactose we are going to work with the slightly modified recipes i've developed over the last few years

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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