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Best Cookbooks for Beginners

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Currently, for a 16 yo, something that has a video either connected to the book or on line will make a world of difference.

I believe that YouTube has a lot of videos regarding cooking. Mum and dad, or the daughter, could research videos to go with things she wants to try.

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At 16, she's undoubtedly more computer savvy than mom and dad (says mother of a 17 yo).

Let her look for videos of her favorites and go from there. She can burn a DVD and you can watch it together.


Edited by annabelle (log)

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You might consider a subscription to the full access to America's Test Kitchen - AFTER - giving her the opportunity to watch some of the videos that accompany the recipes.

A year or so ago I suggested this to a young woman, new bride, who had never cooked anything except microwave prepared stuff.

She is now a fine and adventurous cook who has gone on two "foodie vacations" with 3 and 5 day teaching events. Her dishes are popular at potluck dinners and she is going to the U.K. in January for a cooking and baking course for the "home cook." (The business she works for is closed for the entire month of January.)

She has said that the recipes are explained so well and demonstrated so completely - from how to handle poultry and meats to the rationale for turning pans of baked items in the oven - and learning one thing leads on to wanting to learn more. Also, the folks who present the recipes and techniques look like they are having a lot of fun.

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Wow, a great response from everybody. Thanks.

We are in Australia so does anybody have any Oz recomendations. Looking for you Skippys out there. She loves Sheperds Pie, all pies, Curried Sausages, Silverside, Meat and Veg, Rice Pudding, Pavlovas all the standard Aussie Fare Though Teaching her how to convert from US recipes to Metric ones will be a good skill. Nice to also getting her cooking some Vegies.

America's Kitchen videos is a good idea as I have a few of them hadn't thought of that.

As she has an iPad - I've asked her to install evernote to record her recipes. she could even take photos of recipes as she does them. We can share some of my recipes that way.

It seems that 'Joy of cooking' seems popular I wonder if there is an Australian equivalent. We have a ton of cookbooks at home from classics like Stephanie alexanders Cooks Companion through to Modernist Cuisine. So once we can teach her how to read a recipe and what each term means she should be OK. Maybe I could put together some Pictures and notes for all the steps myself.

Thanks for your suggestions and keep them coming. The thread that was pointed to early in the thread still assumes people no the difference between a simmer and a boil. Between Medium Heat and High Heat when frying etc. I think what she needs is something simpler. And I will take some time this weekend to look up your suggestions.

Kindest regards and thankyou EG community,

Vol

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You might consider a subscription to the full access to America's Test Kitchen - AFTER - giving her the opportunity to watch some of the videos that accompany the recipes.

A year or so ago I suggested this to a young woman, new bride, who had never cooked anything except microwave prepared stuff.

My dear FIL could hardly boil water when my my wonderful MIL passed 11 years ago. He subscribed to the Cooks Illustrated magazine and started watching some food-oriented TV. 11 years later he handles himself in the kitchen very well and wins prizes for his contributions to a monthly potluck that is part of the wine society that he is a member of.

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any of Jamie Oliver's books might be good too, well explained and his funny banter might just fit well with a teen. Anything I've ever made from the 4 books I have turned out really well. If she's confused about simmer vs boil, her smart phone is probably the quickest way to find an answer though. Or any of the results google gives for cooking terms explained, like this one http://www.d.umn.edu/~alphanu/cookery/glossary_cooking.html

I'd pick something that will offer lots of things she likes for starters. Like a pasta book or pizza or Mexican etc.

edit to add: youtube is also a great source for little instruction videos


Edited by OliverB (log)

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Rotuts has mentioned it several times, and I am going to chime in for emphasis...

Jacques Pépin's shows cannot be beaten for a beginner. I know because I was very recently a beginner. An absolute beginner. About 5 years ago, I had no idea what simmer meant. I knew it was less than a boil, but that's it. Now I know that simmer can mean different things depending on context. A simmer for my pasta sauce is very different from a simmer for my beans.

The beauty of Pépin's videos, IMO, is that you get to see in the video what he means by simmer for the dish he is working on. The type of pan. The amount of flame. What the contents of the pan are doing while they are simmering according to what is appropriate in his context. Obviously other techniques too. He does things in order so that the longer prep stuff is done by the time the shorter prep is ready. Everything is on display.

The only thing I found advanced in his videos was his knife work. Easy tasks, like chopping an onion, but he can dispatch it in seconds whereas I might need minutes. He teases his daughter several times for her slow skills, so it's part of the show. But it is inspiration.

The videos at the last time I checked are available to watch for free. Rotuts provides a link that I used.

I have several objections to the ATK shows but that's largely my own opinion. In comparison, I find Pépin's techniques more robust instead of "optimized" (according to ATK's criteria that might not be shared by all).

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Maybe Delia Smith's How to Cook could be useful?

Couldn't agree more. She is much derided these days (largely her own fault) but she has taught thousands how to cook and she covers the most basic things like how to boil an egg with total clarity, but then moves up, still with clarity, to some wonderful dishes which I make to this day.

Her website would be a good start to seeing if she suits.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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You might take a look at some of the suggestions here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/60219-cookbooks-for-beginners

I remember that thread fondly. Have referred to it many times over the years, for gifting nieces and nephews and grandchildren.

As for me, when I married, I could honestly cook absolutely nothing. I received, in a "kitchen shower" (do they still have those?), a copy of the Joy of Cooking. I wasn't very joyful about it at the time as it seemed so old-fashioned and stodgy, even then, but that book, now with pages full of notes and stains and splatters, still sits proudly on my shelf. It's been a dear and reliable friend thoughout the years.

Yes, I often found sexier and more interesting cookbook companions to join me in the kitchen as time passed. But, whenever I found that I had worked myself into some sort of messy cooking corner, the Joy of Cooking helped me find my way out.

And the Joy of Cooking provided a reliable basic formula for a dish, which was an absolute necessity for me when I wanted to experiment with other ingredients, which I almost always did. I was certain that the recipe would (most likely, anyway) "turn out," no matter what other ingredient, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, spices, etc., I added.

As I believe I said in that other thread, when it came time to gift a beginning cook, I'd usually buy one or two of whatever were the trendy cookbooks of the day, and then, also in the box, I'd add a copy of the Joy of Cooking.

Even recently, as the internet has taken over, I've found that, for beginning cooks especially, but for me as well, there's no inspiration whatsoever like leafing through a good cookbook.


Edited by Jaymes (log)
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I actually like the Martha Stewarts Cooking School book. Good pictures and pretty solid, easy recipes. For the iPad (and print) there's Bittman's How To Cook Everything.

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I bought one of my sons The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (the three ring binder with the ginger check cover) and the two volume set of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas last year, since he is living alone. I also tossed in a few 30 minute meal (not Rachael Ray's) cooking and one about pasta and sauces.

He's been cooking since he was about 15 and recently sent me a picture of some pasta with pesto he had made with his new immersion blender. My mother sent him a set of knives in a block (Wustoff, I believe) for his birthday, so he is building a decent batterie de cuisine.

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I bought "cook with Jamie" by Jamie Oliver for my son. It is a UK book so you'll avoid conversions.

Australian women's weekly has a beginner cookbook that would also be useful.

I'd avoid US cookbooks for a young Australian beginner because of their use of imperial measurements and cups/tablespoons, etc. Save these for a broadening of perspective later.

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When I started I got The Joy of Cooking. It was very useful to me because besides de recipes you can find comprehensive explanations about how to prepare it.

You will find some things quite obvious but, well, it is for beginners.

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OK, my suggestions:

Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" and James McNair's "Pizza" (I'l never,ever, use another pizza dough or sauce recipe than those from this book).

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Amazon Link

"My First Cookbook" was literally my first cookbook, completely wore out the binding and edges on it. Truly formative

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From Sydney, Australia -- I found a book which helped me greatly when I first started on my culinary adventure. I'm not sure it's the perfect thing for an absolute beginner, but I definitely think it is a good book for less experienced cooks. It's called Chef School: step-by-step techniques for culinary expertise. I found it in a bookshop in Sydney. I was unsure at first, but glad I ended up buying it. Lots of recipes and techniques and I use it like a reference book. It wasn't expensive.

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My beginner books were from Better Homes and Gardens. Lots of simple, tasty recipes.

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Jaques Pépin's "Cooking w/ Claudine" series is accessible and good.

Also Alice Water's "Art of Simple Food".

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"The Theory and Practice of Good Cooking" by James Beard.  First published in 1977, it remains my favorite basic cookbook.  We've worn out our first copy and continue to use the second copy.  It's far superior to the plethora of "basic" cookbooks that came out 10-15 years ago.

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The book that changed my game from stir-fried-whatever-veg-plus-boneless-chicken-breast to genuinely recognizable meals was Pierre Franey, "The 60-Minute Gourmet."  I have no idea whether it's still in print, or has been adapted to our retreat from butter in such doses; but my guess would be that the flavor principles hold, and you will finish the book knowing how to get a bona fide meal on the table, with no mail-order ingredients involved.  


Edited by SLB (log)
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Older version of Joy of Cooking is a great idea.  You can find a recipe in there for almost anything.   However, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned James Peterson's Cooking http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-James-Peterson/dp/1580087892/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425405334&sr=1-1&keywords=james+patterson+cooking

 

From a practical perspective, it has excellent and extensive illustrations and photographs for all sorts of techniques.  Check it out.  

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