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onehsancare

Cookbook Recommendations?

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My son (31, some but not extensive experience cooking) asked for cookbooks this year, identifying types of food but not specific books. Top of his list was Southwestern cooking.

What books do you recommend? What books do you recommend avoiding? Why?


Life is short. Eat the roasted cauliflower first.

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...Top of his list was Southwestern cooking.

What books do you recommend?  What books do you recommend avoiding?  Why?

Oh! What a cool question!

I've had most of my Southwestern cookbooks for more than 20 years, so many of them are bound to be out of print. Or no longer as nifty as they were when they were new. Both of those apply to Jane Butel's Tex-Mex cookbook; it shows its age, but several of the pages are food-stained, especially her recipe for chiles rellenos. (I also have her "Hotter Than Hell" cookbook, but it's on my "eh" list. Sounds like fun, but I never found anything in that book I wanted to cook.)

In going through my (200-or-so) cookbooks, I realize that I don't have many "southwestern" cookbooks. Mostly, I have Mexican cookbooks, but that isn't what your son is asking for. I do have Cafe Pasqual's cookbook from Santa Fe (I love the book, but I never end up cooking anything from it), and a *very* nice "The Southwestern Grill," by Michael McLaughlin, which also has the virtue of being inexpensive. I've cooked more than a few of THOSE recipes, and I definitely recommend the grilled margarita chicken (which gives you a good excuse to drink margaritas).

For a present, though, I might choose Southwest : The Beautiful Cookbook, even though I think Barbara Fenzl's cooking is good rather than great. It's certainly pretty and inspirational.

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I would recommend Rick Bayless' "One Plate at a Time". The dishes are authentic Mexican but the recipes are easier than in his other cookbooks.

If by "Southwestern" he means more Tex Mex than real Mexican, there is "The Tex Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos" which has all great reviews on Amazon.

I would avoid Diana Kennedy's books for someone not that experienced in cooking and also not located in the Yucatan peninsula for finding ingredients.


*****

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

*****

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I have a great many southwest cookbooks - there are various regional/ethnic divisions in the southwest, however there are a few books that I feel cover the essentials well in addition to having a flair for entertaining the reader.

At the top of my list are:

Coyote Cafe and Coyote's Pantry by Mark Miller and the Food of Santa Fe cookbook by Dave Dewitt and Nancy Gerlach.

I don't think you can go wrong with these.

I have been cooking things from Coyote Cafe for 16 years - it was published in 1989 and has become a classic and was recently re-released because it has been such a top seller.

the "Pantry" book is more recent and in addition to great recipes has excellent explanations why some things are combined with others to get a particular flavor, texture or even ambience.

It is not just a list of ingredients, and it too is a great read, in addition to being a terrific cookbook.

Dave Dewitt has done a great deal to promote understanding and popularity of chile peppers, not only in the US, but all over the world. He founded Chile Pepper magazine (and I have every issue) and has written a great many books, all have been excellent but I favor the Santa Fe cookbook because it encompasses so much of the culture as well as the recipes. You can tell he is passionate about the subject.

Food of Santa Fe

Coyote Cafe

Dave Dewitt bio


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Sorry I missed your post in time for the holidays, onehsancare. But here are some suggestions for the future or for others.

I really like the "Cafe Pasqual cookbook" that estherschindler mentioned earlier. I have cooked quite a bit out of it and everything has been very good.

A great book on traditional New Mexican cuisine is: "Feast of Santa Fe" by Huntley Dent.

A smaller book called "Classic Southwest Cooking" by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger has a nice mix of traditional and more 'nouveau' recipes. The main emphasis here, is on cuisine from or inspired from New Mexico. I would see this as an add-on to "The Feast of Santa Fe".

I also like "Southwest Tastes" by Ellen Brown. This has recipes from the PBS series, "Great Chefs of the West" and features some more traditional recipes but also newer creations by top chefs from the SWest. The recipes are well written and not difficult.

There is also a pretty good cookbook series on Santa Fe cooking put out by Tierra Publications. The one I have is "Santa Fe: Lite and Spicy" by Joan Stromquist. Don't let the name scare you off; the recipes are lighter than some of the traditional recipes but they are far from diet food. The recipes are from various Santa Fe chefs (early 90's) and there are lots of good recipes in there.

"The Border Cookbook" by Jamison and Jamison has lots of great, more traditional recipes from Arizone, Texas, southern CA and Texas.

"TexMex Cookbook by Robb Walsh. Excellent recipes and cultural history of TexMex cuisine.

"Cuisine of the American Southwest" by Anne Lindsay Greer. Large picture book but good basic recipes including stuff like chimichangas, chalupas, jalepeno jelly, etc

"The El Paso Chile Company's Burning Desires" by W. Park Kerr I haven't cooked much out of this yet but the recipes look good. They are newer dishes like Tequila Shrimp, Grilled Country Spareribs in Chipotle-Orange Marinade, BBQ Tuna Steaks with Roasted Corn Vinagrette, etc.

"Cakes and Cowpokes" by Wayne Harley Brochman (all desserts, but lots of interesting original SW-inspired recipes, some with chiles, for cakes, pies, ice creams, etc).

If someone wanted more traditional recipes, I'd go with "Feast of Santa Fe" and "The Border Cookbook" and Robb Walsh's "TexMex Cookbook".

If one wanted newer recipes being featured in SW restaurants I'd go with "Cafe Pasqual", "Southwest Tastes", or "Santa Fe:Lite and Spicy" or as mentioned earlier by andiesenji, "The Coyote Cafe" cookbooks. (I haven't cooked from "Burning Desires" )

I need to check out the "Food of Santa Fe" cookbook by Gerlach and DeWitt.

Did you end up deciding on some books for gifts, onehsancare?


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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andiesenji, I bought Coyote Cafe, used, and to be honest some of the recipes are a bit intimidating. [sorry about the bold font; the 'B' icon doesn't seem to control it]

May I ask which are your favorite recipes from Coyote Cafe?

Also, have you found any of the recipes to be tricky?

Thanks.

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Baselerd, I think you maybe were replying to me?

I see that Bobby Flay's cookbook gets excellent reviews on amazon.

I'll put it on my list to consider, although I seem to get a lot of recommendations for cookbooks and I don't want to build up too large a library of unused cookbooks, if you know what I mean.

Thanks for the reply.

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I actually didn't realize this was a zombie thread. My bad - still a good cookbook :)

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Hi,



I would like to build up a nice collection (non-digital) but I have some questions, would appreciate some answers/opinions.



1. I notice on Amazon, often the latest version of a book is considerably more expensive. So I then read the reviews and Google search the two editions and nothing conclusive comes up. So I'm naturally left wondering, should I spend eight more bucks on the 2002 version as compared to the price of the 1996 version. Are corrections often made in later editions?? I don't mean any one book in particular, just in general.



2. There are a lot of restaurant cookbooks, what are your thoughts on those? do they REALLY give their real recipes? in their entirety? I can't help but wonder if places like Brennan's and Antoine's in New Orleans for example really give you their real recipes. Seems it would be very easy to leave out a few details to sell you a book and get you back in there.



3. I've heard that sometimes even well known and renowned chefs don't give out the real deal on their recipes in their books, is this true? where can I find out so I can be sure avoid their books? anyone care to post? if not pm to me who they are that commit this fraud.



Thanks.


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You should probably read this NYT article on cookbook ghostwriters. I wouldn't trust most celebrity cookbooks nowadays. My exceptions are: Raymond Blanc, Hervé This, The Ideas in Food team, the Adrias.

This all depends on what you're interested in, but, I'd say get a grounding in the basics first. You can pick up perfectly usable reprints of Escoffier (although watch out some of his are condensed editions), Ranhofer, Soyer, etc. Also pick up one of the CIA or LCB's basic texts on cooking. They will take you through material a bit more in-depth than Julia did. Older editions of these are mostly fine. There are a few occasions when a scientific discovery makes a procedure obsolete. (for example, modern pasteurization makes scalding milk unnecessary for use in bread doughs) Honestly, you'll do fine at first with a $10 copy of Professional Cooking that's 9 years old. New versions come out every 2-3 years, so, you'll be ready to buy a newer one maybe in 5 years. Anyway, I am always amazed at how many recipes I see in celebrity cookbooks that are just basics that could be found anywhere.

I now mostly focus on in-depth books on world cuisines and confectionery, in both cases I look for those aimed at a professional audience; I don't need to be told how to make a basic roux or ganache.

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I cook extensively for cheffy books and never had issues with recipes not working. Current favourite is Eleven Madison Park, but I've cooked from many. I think one can never expect to reproduce restaurant results for full 100%, simply because the ingredients we use are different, our burners, pans & pots are different and all that influences the end result.<br /><br />That said, I get really amazing dishes out of my kitchen. Big objection I have about Eleven Madison park is the imprecise imperial measures in recipes. In some cases, esp in the desserts sections, I create my own formulas using the recipe taste profiles. I'd not make their ice creams because I am almost sure they are formulated for Paco Jet. Here I use Corvitto's book and principles to create my own ice creams. I do similar things whenever I think that my approach would give me better results - sometimes recipes call for pan - oven combination for meat, I do pan - sous vide - pan. In general, I approach books for inspiration and rough guidelines that something that should fully be followed.<br /><br />For pastry, I can recommend Bouchon Bakery and Elements of Dessert, Jeni's splendid ice creams. I also love Ideas in Food, mentioned Eleven Madison Park, Square and (Beyond) Essence.

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Hey thanks for the help here. Lisa, what are your favorite professional texts? and your favorite confections and world cuisine books? I'm interested in learning more about Japanese and Chinese cooking since I notice Anthony Bourdain and his buddy David Chang hold those two in such high regard, but then I wonder are ingredients hard to find in the US? I imagine with the internet, you can find most anything needed??? thanks!!

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In terms of New Orleans Cookbooks, I can tell you that Galatoire's cookbook is on point and the recipes are really nice. I also have breakfast at Brennan's which is a really nice book.


“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted" JK

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Find your local used bookstore(s). Cookbooks are frequently given as gifts and end up at used bookstores. You can spend pennies on the dollar and build up a nice collection in no time. Use Amazon or Good Reads to figure out which editions have legitimate changes and which are simply minor retools. Also use your local library's cookbook collection as a research tool--before you buy, check it out or request it through Interlibrary Loan (free). You can cook out of it for a few weeks before deciding to add it to your collection.

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Totally agree about library and used book stores. One of the saddest things about the death of bookstores is how I used to buy cookbooks. More than any other type of book I might want to own, I need to peruse a cookbook thoroughly before plunking down money. My worst wastes of money on cookbooks have happened because I got excited about one and ordering it without seeing it first. My most successful purchases have been books I have looked at carefully and then found a cheap source on line (like Bookfinders.com) or used on eBay. If a cookbook is well-bound a lightly used one shouldn't be a problem.

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I have only purchased a single cookbook in e-format. I like to annotate my cookbooks, and if there is an easy way to mark up/make notes in e-books, I haven't found it. So I'm still buying physical cookbooks.

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Hi,

I would like to build up a nice collection (non-digital) but I have some questions, would appreciate some answers/opinions.

1. I notice on Amazon, often the latest version of a book is considerably more expensive. So I then read the reviews and Google search the two editions and nothing conclusive comes up. So I'm naturally left wondering, should I spend eight more bucks on the 2002 version as compared to the price of the 1996 version. Are corrections often made in later editions?? I don't mean any one book in particular, just in general.

This is difficult to answer generally. For some of the "standby" cookbooks, like the Joy of Cooking for example (which is an excellent basic skills book for American and Canadian dishes as well as a good example of what I'm talking about) later editions are considerably less comprehensive than earlier ones, which included sections on game, preserving, and other "traditional" skills that are being lost today and which have been omitted from newer editions because technology has made them "obsolete" (although they're still of interest to those of us who are cooking in the third world). For these books, it's worthwhile to look at the comments sections on Amazon to see what people have to say before choosing an edition - for the Joy itself, look for the editions published in the 60's and 70's for the most comprehensive version of the book; this is the one that both James Beard and Craig Claiborne praise highly.

In general, though the differences between editions of generalized cookbooks are normally additions or subtractions, but rarely corrections unless something really egregious has been printed - most cookbooks go through a vigorous vetting process before they're published.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Hey thanks for the help here. Lisa, what are your favorite professional texts? and your favorite confections and world cuisine books? I'm interested in learning more about Japanese and Chinese cooking since I notice Anthony Bourdain and his buddy David Chang hold those two in such high regard, but then I wonder are ingredients hard to find in the US? I imagine with the internet, you can find most anything needed??? thanks!!

I imagine that certain fresh ingredients might be difficult to procure via the 'net, but that certainly shouldn't stop you. (I assume there are no East Asian-type food stores within reasonable driving distance.)

I'm sure that other eG'ers can recommend other books, but for Japanese cooking, I recommend "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art," by Shizuo Tsuji (or, being linguistically correct, Tsuji Shizuo). Apropos your post, the newest edition is US$27+; there are used copies of the 1997 printing on Amazon for less than half of that. I haven't seen the new edition, so I don't know if the additional material is valuable enough to recommend it over the previous one.

Here's a good thread about Chinese cookbooks.


"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Plenty of books to recommend and there are plenty of threads recommending them in the Cookbooks and References forum.

For very excellent prices on used cookbooks, check out half.com. If you order a number of books from the same seller, the shipping can be combined. There's a hardcover Joy for under $1.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Hi,

I would like to build up a nice collection (non-digital) but I have some questions, would appreciate some answers/opinions.

1. I notice on Amazon, often the latest version of a book is considerably more expensive. So I then read the reviews and Google search the two editions and nothing conclusive comes up. So I'm naturally left wondering, should I spend eight more bucks on the 2002 version as compared to the price of the 1996 version. Are corrections often made in later editions?? I don't mean any one book in particular, just in general.

2. There are a lot of restaurant cookbooks, what are your thoughts on those? do they REALLY give their real recipes? in their entirety? I can't help but wonder if places like Brennan's and Antoine's in New Orleans for example really give you their real recipes. Seems it would be very easy to leave out a few details to sell you a book and get you back in there.

3. I've heard that sometimes even well known and renowned chefs don't give out the real deal on their recipes in their books, is this true? where can I find out so I can be sure avoid their books? anyone care to post? if not pm to me who they are that commit this fraud.

Thanks.

I can't speak to the second and third issues, since I don't have definitive, personal knowledge, but I will say that depending on the restaurant, if you read their recipes, you'll easily find out why they're not afraid to give their recipes out. For example, I love one of the desserts that Boulevard put in their cookbook. But start reading it, and its basically a one or two day project. Its a helluva lot of steps, and a lot of work. Not so much of a problem if you have a kitchen staff, much more problematic for the home cook. Most people are unwilling to go to those lengths for a dessert, and will shrug their shoulders and decide its easier to go down to the restaurant and order it instead. If anything will convince you that an "overpriced" dessert isn't really overpriced, its seeing all the work that goes into it.

As to your first question, you have to be really careful about that. For example, one of my favorite bread books is The Italian Baker. Within the last couple of years they released a "revised" edition, with some revisions and "new recipes". I compared a library copy of the new version against the old in a good amount of detail. Now I didn't read every line of every recipe, so I don't know how much revising was done to the recipes, and they added some color photos which was nice (the old version had nothing but the cover, IIRC), but some of the recipes were "renamed" which makes it harder to figure out what's new and what's not. And there were precisely TWO new recipes in the book, no doubt there were TWO so they could honestly claim there were "new recipes" (plural). Is it worth paying full price for an updated version, that's highly dependent on individual circumstances. If I were trying to build a cookbook library, and cost were a factor, I'd buy the older version in a heartbeat.

BTW, if you're building a library and concerned about cost, recommend you check out BookCloseouts.com -- they sell remaindered cookbooks that retail stores have returned to the publishers, and the publishers need to get them off their shelves, so they mark them and sell them into the remainder market. They are new, though they probably have been handled in the bookstore, but usually new cookbooks (at least the ones sold in great numbers) will show up there a couple of months later, once the stores have stopped promoting them.

I have only purchased a single cookbook in e-format. I like to annotate my cookbooks, and if there is an easy way to mark up/make notes in e-books, I haven't found it. So I'm still buying physical cookbooks.

Hungry, there's an easy way to make notes, if you're using Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac. Open up your ebook, and wherever you want to leave a note, right click, and the menu will ask you what you want to do, and you can highlight, you can add notes, etc. I have peppered my ebook copy of The Flavor Bible with highlighting and notes, and I *love* the fact that I can run a computer search if I can't find something alphabetically.

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It's horrible to have en e-cookbook.

I not only use to annotate my cookbooks, but I also put little sheets with other recipes between their pages.

Try to slip a sheet between INTO an iPad!

Ebay is more modern, but garage sales are wonderful to find cheap cookbooks.

If you are very, very lucky you can also find handwritten family cookbooks.


My Italian Homemade Liqueurs and Pastries recipes at: http://italianliqueurs.blogspot.com.es

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One of the saddest things about the death of bookstores is how I used to buy cookbooks...My most successful purchases have been books I have looked at carefully and then found a cheap source on line (like Bookfinders.com) or used on eBay.

Maybe so many people doing this is the reason for the death of bookstores?

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