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Cooking techniques - Book


Tjex
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Hello everyone!

I need your advice, or for that matter any input of the following books.

Have you used them? What did you like or did not like. Do you still use any?

I've been cooking for year and want to improve my skills. I am looking for a book that will grow with me. I would love to take some professional courses eventually when work/life isn't as busy.

So, this is the list I've gathered so far, please pass on you reviews.

-The Cook's Book, by Jill Norman

-I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking, by Alton Brown

-On Cooking: Techniques From Expert Chefs, by Sarah R. Labensky

-Essentials of Professional Cooking, by Wayne Gisslen

-La Varenne Pratique,by Anne Willan

-The Professional Chef, Seventh Edition, by Culinary Institute of America

-Professional Cooking, by Wayne Gisslen

Of course, feel free to suggest any other book.

Thanks in advance

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On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

Roasting by Barbara Kafka (although several on eGullet do not agree)

The Joy of Cooking by Erma Rombauer and mumble Becker

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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The 'La varenne' book by A Willan is an excellent reference book, for everything from ingredients to techniques. The kind of book you turn to over the years, for all kinds of info. However I am not sure if it is still available. It seems that it was not reedited, what a shame!

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I like Simple French Food by Richard Olney. Its not a technical manual, but in terms of setting up approaches and philosophies its brilliant. The intro to the chapter on meat braises/daubes is worth the price of the book alone. Definitely one that you can grow with.

Raj

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Hello everyone!

I need your advice, or for that matter any input of the following books.

Have you used them? What did you like or did not like. Do you still use any?

I've been cooking for year and want to improve my skills. I am looking for a book that will grow with me. I would love to take some professional courses eventually when work/life isn't as busy.

So, this is the list I've gathered so far, please pass on you reviews.

-The Cook's Book, by Jill Norman

-I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking, by Alton Brown

-On Cooking: Techniques From Expert Chefs, by Sarah R. Labensky

-Essentials of Professional Cooking, by Wayne Gisslen

-La Varenne Pratique,by Anne Willan

-The Professional Chef, Seventh Edition, by Culinary Institute of America

-Professional Cooking, by Wayne Gisslen

Of course, feel free to suggest any other book.

Thanks in advance

It may help us to make useful suggestions if you can tell us more about what types of cooking you want to learn more about and what your goals are? Cooking in a restaurant? Cooking at home? What skills are you most interested in improving?

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Well, I would like to learn more about European cooking, mostly French. I am not an amateur cook and I can do most recipes with no problem but would like to move past just following a list of to-do's. What I'm looking for is restaurant type of dishes with great presentations for dinner parties and so on

I would love to learn more about the fundamentals so it makes it easier to figure out what dish will work with what side etc... Basically to start creating and thinking like a chef.

I hope I'm making sense.

Edited by Tjex (log)
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I highly suggest Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques by Jacques Pépin. I took a class at FCI and this book is similar to the class and materials in La Technique (which I took). Even though my books have lots of information, this book helps remember some techniques (and the french terms) with some excelent photos. It convers the basic techniques of french cooking.

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I've read reviews on this forum that said that the book was too hard to follow. Wasn't well organized either. Do you find that to be a problem?

Pépin's Complete Techniques? The organization could be better and there are some things which I don't think most people would have opportunity to try (e.g. prepping a bunny starting with the fur) but it's actually quite easy to follow.

Since you're also interested in plating techniques, might I also suggest the eGCI Plating and Presentation course. There are many other eGCI courses which offer a wealth of information too.

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Well, I would like to learn more about European cooking, mostly French. I am not an amateur cook and I can do most recipes with no problem but would like to move past just following a list of to-do's. What I'm looking for is restaurant type of dishes with great presentations for dinner parties and so on

I would love to learn more about the fundamentals so it makes it easier to figure out what dish will work with what side etc... Basically to start creating and thinking like a chef.

I hope I'm making sense.

This helps narrow it down a little. My understanding from what you have said so far is that you are an advanced home cook, not a professional, and would like to expand and develope your fundamental skills and knowledge of European cooking --- especially of French cooking techniques.

So help us help you by narrowing it down a little further. Do you already make your own stocks and sauces? What kinds of cooking do you already do that you enjoy the most? Can you tell us any French dishes or chefs you are particularly interested in? Any general types of French techniques? Any region of France in particular? Can you describe any examples of plating in books or magazines that have impressed you?

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The eGCI courses are really great! And to be honest, it is what got me more interested in learning more about cooking. The plating course was fantastic, I found the section on presenting a salad very interesting and helpful. I'm fascinated on how plating can make the food look and 'taste' better. Nothing is more exiting that serving a dish and having a 'wow' effect.

As for narrowing it down, I have done mostly seafood stocks from shrimp shells. I don't eat much meat in my house, so when a recipe calls for a stock I use a cube. I usually cook a full dinner about once or twice a week, the other days that don't have any leftovers, I do something simple.

Most of my cookbooks are from the westcoast. Such a Feenie's books and some other local chefs such as John Bishop. Once in a while I'll try a ethnic recipe or if I feel like a certain dish, I'll use epicurious. The reason I mentioned French cooking is because I love the taste, my mom is French and I grew up on the traditional foods. I love it, must be all that butter and cream they use in their sauces. No specific regions though.

Other examples of books in my library:

- New Fast Food (Donna Hay), good but I find the taste to be sometimes a little too simplistic.

- Bob Bloomer - All of his stuff (well other than the last one)

- Jamie Oliver - A have a couple, but to be honest, I haven't really gotten into his stuff....

- The Taste of France - This book I love, it has some really great recipes in them though the instructions could be a little better.

So this brings me to where I am today. Looking at expanding what I've learned so far through just cooking at home. Learning the fundamentals as well, such as why do certain things, what works best, etc.

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