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General technique cookbooks


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I'm considering buying a book or books that teach techniques of pretty much everything. The books I'm thinking of are:

Petersons Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making

Julia Childs Mastering the Art of French Cooking

CIA, The Proffesional Chef

I'm pretty much sold on Peterson's Sauces book but not sure which book to get between the other two. I want to make this purchase to learn professional techniques and I've heard that Julia's book is THE one to get but I came across the CIA book and am wondering which is better.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

Cheers,

Bob

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I'm considering buying a book or books that teach techniques of pretty much everything.  The books I'm thinking of are:

Petersons Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making

Julia Childs Mastering the Art of French Cooking

CIA, The Proffesional Chef

I'm pretty much sold on Peterson's Sauces book but not sure which book to get between the other two.  I want to make this purchase to learn professional techniques and I've heard that Julia's book is THE one to get but I came across the CIA book and am wondering which is better. 

Thoughts?

Thanks!

Cheers,

Bob

My favorites for technique:

1) The Professional Chef, CIA

This was my first cooking book and I've never regretted it. I consider it basic training.

2) Complete Techniques, Jacques Pepin

This is the Master applying the above. This is a compilation of two earlier books which may be better to have but I don't know.

3) Sauces, James Peterson

I can't imagine not having this one. It does a good job of explaining not only the basic stocks and sauces but how they have evolved. Escoffier is nice but who cooks like that now?

Honorable mention goes to The New Making of a Cook by Madeleine Kamman. Her I-know-more-than-you-so-you-listen-to-me tone gets annoying though. Especially when she's wrong. :biggrin:

After that, I'd say buy something that fits with what you are trying to cook. The best ones I have:

French: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1

Japanese: Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji

Italian: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazen

Chinese: The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp

That covers the four Iron Chef, and therefore, important, cuisines. :raz:

Edited by esvoboda (log)
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You may want to take a look too at Peterson's Essentials of Cooking. It's less formal in tone than the CIA thing, but it covers much of what you need.

iirc, eGulleteer Suzanne F did a review of the CIA cookbook a while back that you might want to read before you pick it up. It's around here somewhere.

edit: Aha!

Edited by fimbul (log)

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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I own all three of the ones you are considering, and agree that the Peterson is essential. Between the other two, it's hard to choose, but I think the best way to go is to begin by evaluating what would be most useful to you. The CIA book was one of the first cookbooks I ever bought. It helped me a lot with basic techniques and other pieces of information. It's a very good overview of cooking. I( don't really love the recipes in it anymore because they are very basic and require me to do too much math to break them down for less than 10 people - I'm not a big fan of math :raz: ).

I didn't come around to the Julia book until a couple of years ago. It also is a very good for building technique, although by definition it is French technique. Overall, I actually find the Julia book to have had more impact on my skill level. I think it's more friendly to the home cook in that it doesn't assume you have the most advanced equipment or that you need to be able to pound a given recipe for two dozen people. I also find the recipes to be more enticing. The down-side is that even though it helps you to build on techniques in a logical way, it does assume at least some knowledge - that and there's a lot of butter, and cream, and did I mention butter?

IMHO, I think you should eventually have both. If I had to pick one for somebody, I would pick Julia because I think it's more fun on a day-to-day basis. That said, the CIA is such a valuable resource. I don't envy you the choice, but Good Luck and Bon Appetit!

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I would add my agreement to Ed's choices. My mother first bought Chef Pepin's La Technique for me as a kid more desirous of cooking cream puff swans and butchering a lamb saddle than attending 5:00 a.m. swim workouts. It was my bible then, the first of its kind to teach the classics of French technique to the masses, and it has held me in good stead since. Complete Techniques is a great value, now, being the combination of La Methode and La Technique.

I have long worn through CIA's book, as well as Madeleine Kamman's book. Of the two, I probably prefer Kamman's book for its look at the history, and chemistry, of cuisine, as well as its milieu of "Frenchness," (its author being French) all my personal interests; though agree with Ed that she tends to annoyingly pronounce dogma from on high from time to time; but behind the tone I discern a master, and a woman who successfully navigated a lifetime in a profession where she likely had to fight tooth and nail for the respect she deserved.

Had I not been steeped on La Technique, I would likely have benefited more from the CIA's book, as its breakdown of technique (e.g., butchery of flatfish, etc.) is more fully described and illustrated.

If you want pure technique, I don't think you can go wrong with Pepin's Complete Techniques. Exhaust this book, rigorously practice everything in it, and you will have a solid foundation for further study. Peterson's Sauces is indeed a wonderful resource.

Paul

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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2) Complete Techniques, Jacques Pepin

This is the Master applying the above. This is a compilation of two earlier books which may be better to have but I don't know.

The photo reproduction in the compilation is not as good the original editions--the illustrations are photo-reduced from printed copies of the original books.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Moopheus, that's true, but it's still great at explaining how to do things. I've got one of the original two, and don't feel the essence is lost.

And another vote for Peterson's Essentials of Cooking]/i]. The man is a born teacher, and it comes through far better here than in any of his other books.

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You should also consider Madelenine Kamman's The New Making of a Cook, the art, techniques, and science of good cooking.

It's very worth while and will guide you along in the right direction.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Hi eG’s

After months of reading over your shoulders, a question re: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art finally gets me to post…

Octaveman, yours is an interesting question. Great cookbooks—those that truly teach—aren’t just descriptive in technique. I’m sure that for most people reading this forum there’s a cookbook or two (or three) that proved influential in both how they cook as well as how they think about food. That question would be worthy of a post in its own right! For me, as for so many others, that was Julia’s MTA. I could go on, but I can still say that almost 20 yrs since I first read it, I still turn to it as the baseline for many techniques and recipes. Yes, the culinary world has changed immeasurably since it was written. But the fundamentals of French cooking are endlessly useful and not just for French cuisine. And Julia’s literary voice is a joy to read. That as much as the clarity of her recipes is reason enough to own Mastering the Art of French Cooking. You will never regret having it on your shelf.

As to your other choices, I own and use Peterson’s Sauces, it’s encyclopedic and reliable. I don’t have the CIA book—should I? Esvoboda’s recommendations are all solid, though personally I use Marcella’s Italian Kitchen more frequently than Classics.


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Another vote for Pépin- techniques. I cut my teeth on it and still think it to be a useful, marvelous thing.

MAFC you should definitely have and you made the right choice on Peterson.

I don't know how or I'd post a link to Amazon :sad:

i also have Modern French Culinary Art by Henri-Paul Pellaprat and I find it useful also but not enough to forego the above mentioned.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Julia's Way to Cook is no slouch, either. My 14 year old daugther Diana wanted a "cookbook" (as opposed to a "recipe" book -- her words), and Julia's book is very nice. Seemed just more approachable and friendly for a young lass.

And, I second the recommendation of the late, great Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. The most dogeared, grease splattered book in my collection.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I'm surprised that so many of you find Kamman overbearing and dogmatic. My reaction to reading The New Making of a Cook was that she was refreshingly *undogmatic*, saying several times (I paraphrase) that, "this is how I like it, but if you prefer a different way then by all means do it that way."

I had a minor epiphany one night after reading that book. I was sitting up late watching the Flash tutorial on Gary Danko's website about how he did his seared foie gras dish. It occurred to me that, while Danko had been to the CIA, it was Kamman who really ignited his imagination ("The CIA made me a cook...studying with Madeleine made me a chef"). Kamman had apprenticed with a friend of her aunt's, just after WWII. This woman had learned her trade in a private kitchen, a chateau, around the turn of the century. The chef she'd learned from had been the last apprentice of the legendary Careme.

Me=>Danko=>Kamman=>Aunt's friend=>last apprentice=>Careme. It may have been the lateness of the hour and the inherent lack of sleep, but I felt a degree of connectedness that defies articulation.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I'm surprised that so many of you find Kamman overbearing and dogmatic.  My reaction to reading The New Making of a Cook was that she was refreshingly *undogmatic*, saying several times (I paraphrase) that, "this is how I like it, but if you prefer a different way then by all means do it that way."

I had a minor epiphany one night after reading that book.  I was sitting up late watching the Flash tutorial on Gary Danko's website about how he did his seared foie gras dish.  It occurred to me that, while Danko had been to the CIA, it was Kamman who really ignited his imagination ("The CIA made me a cook...studying with Madeleine made me a chef").  Kamman had apprenticed with a friend of her aunt's, just after WWII.  This woman had learned her trade in a private kitchen, a chateau, around the turn of the century.  The chef she'd learned from had been the last apprentice of the legendary Careme.

Me=>Danko=>Kamman=>Aunt's friend=>last apprentice=>Careme.  It may have been the lateness of the hour and the inherent lack of sleep, but I felt a degree of connectedness that defies articulation.

One example is early in the book where she describes how to use a chef's knife. She describes how to hold a knife only by the handle and never mentions that a knife may also be held in a pinch grip. "Resist the impulse to extend your index finger onto the blade; it may look chic, but it is unsafe." The adjacent illustration shows only the one method of holding the knife completely by the handle, labeled "Right way to hold a knife...," and not the pinch grip. Another illustration, labeled, "Wrong way to hold a knife" shows an index finger on top of the spine.

Meanwhile, four of the first six photos in the "Holding the Knife" section of Complete Techniques show Jacques Pepin holding the knife precisely in this "wrong way."

There are plenty of photos in the Pepin book where you can see the grip changing depending on the situation. The same goes with the CIA book. The Kamman book only has a limited number of illustrations and you never get the idea that it's ok to change your grip. One is left with the impression that there is only one way.

This kind of thing repeats itself throughout the Kamman book. I'd like to give more examples but frankly this isn't one of my go-to books so it's not so fresh in my memory. I have read it cover-to-cover and found lots of valuable information and wisdom. There's no question in my mind that she's brilliant. But I think her book leaves something to be desired in making sure that the various alternative ways of doing things are covered.

Edited by esvoboda (log)
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2) Complete Techniques, Jacques Pepin

This is the Master applying the above. This is a compilation of two earlier books which may be better to have but I don't know.

The photo reproduction in the compilation is not as good the original editions--the illustrations are photo-reduced from printed copies of the original books.

The photo's in this book are HORRIBLE. I am sorry I spent money on this book. It is in my garage now.

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

*****

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Such a range of opinions!

Regarding Complete Techniques, I can't see what people are talking about re: the quality of the pictures. Granted, I first obtained La Technique when it first came out, what, nearly 30 years ago, so don't have in mind an exact image of the pictures then. But the illustrations in Complete Techniques are eminently clear, teaching photographs. They are black and white, and wouldn't win any Food Art awards, but pedagogically, they are in my view the best of their kind.

Regarding Madeleine Kamman, let me state clearly that I do not find her overbearing or dogmatic, as a whole, and she has been a big part of my own education. Speaking for myself, I was referring to statements made throughout the book which declared a "right way" of doing something, and, if this way was not followed, it was stated one was clearly in error. Ed pointed out one example. Another, and forgive the horrible paraphrase, is the statement that no "Chef of any repute in France uses tomato in making a brown veal stock" (my copy is not here at the moment, so someone please check me for accuracy). However you feel about the method (personally, I have worked on my demi glace for years, and her "classic" method of 'golden veal stock'-Sauce Espagnole-demi glace framed everything I used to do; now, I have generally relied on tomato and reduction a la Thomas Keller's ideas), I venture one would be hard pressed to find such a blanket statement holding universal sway in France, much less everywhere else.

But this is a very minor quibble of mine with an important, gifted, and tireless teacher and Chef. Madeleine Kamman is owed all the respect in the world.

Paul

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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