Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Lori needs cookbooks!

Urgent appeal to all "Three Tarts" readers....my friend Lori in Japan wants to do more in the kitchen and is looking for recommendations for good cookbooks. She's already a fan of the updated Joy of Cooking. Which ones can you not live without?

I'll get the ball rolling by saying anything by Cook's Illustrated because the recipes are practical and the descriptions and rationales are fascinating to read.

What do y'all love, love, love?

11 Comments:

Blogger Lisa B. said...

I have only had it for a bit, but I'm finding the Ruth Reichl Gourmet cookbook endlessly useful. I also use all of Deborah Madison's cookbooks a lot, especially Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

8:33 PM  
Blogger lis said...

The recent Gourment cookbook is excellent (except for the annoying yellow type). For Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan in a must; I have Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and everything in it turns out perfectly. Many of the recipes are easy, but the flavors are always complex. And for really basic things, I like my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook--I know, I know. But I'm telling you, it's a great resource. I've used my paperback copy so much that the spine broke.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Lisa B. said...

Let me add that I loved my Betty Crocker, the one I got when I went off to college, more than life itself (cookbooks with photos are a guilty pleasure of mine). I learned how to make many basic things from it. Inexplicably, I lost it in a divorce (how? how?). To buy a new one would be useless, because mine was of a certain cultural moment--now, no one would include some of the old ingredients. I still miss the photo of the Black Forest Cake, which I used to gaze at and dream of making but never did.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous TBTAM said...

These are the cookbooks I;ve referenced most often:
-The Frog Commisary Cookbook (I'm originally from Philly, and the Frog was a restaurant there. I think I've made most of the recipes in this book by now)
-The Moosewood Cookbooks (I have 2 of them)
-Joy of Cooking
- I use the Professional Chef, the Culinary Institute of America's textbook, on a very frequent basis as a reference for everything.
-Julia child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
-Maida Heater's Chocolate cookbook

6:14 PM  
Blogger tara said...

Two of my three kitchen staples have been already mentioned: the big yellow Gourmet cookbook and Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." I also like Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything."

6:08 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Either of the Herbfarm cookbooks. The new one is more approachable, but the first has lots of herb growing info if she's into that.

Breadbaker's Apprentice by Rinehart rocks and is useful to bakers at all levels. Good theoretical discussion about how bread works that I just loved.

Cookwise? Either Alton Brown book?

What sort of approach is she comfortable with? Technical, hand-holding, humorous?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

kitchenmage--I'm not sure what approach! Her husband is an experienced cook and I get the impression she's still figuring out what works best. Lori, chime in and let us know!

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Thanks everyone!!! Your suggestions are very welcome. I'm particullarly glad to here a vegetarian cookbook being recommended more than once. Thanks for giving me a lot of ideas. Right now I am in need of a hand-holding approach. My husband, an ex-baker and restaurant cook, has given me a lot of advice when I've needed it, but I'm trying to get away from that now by learning different techniques and about many ingredients. I'm using the Moosewood Low-Fat cookbook often, but still don't understand some of the terms that may be taken for granted by more experienced cooks. For example, when I was making the tamale pie, which called for beaten egg whites, I just beat them for a few minutes not realizing that I needed to keep beating them until they were fluffy. Luckily, when I told this to my husband, he explained why the dish didn't come out as expected and showed me what to do in my second attempt. He seemed a little mischevious as he held the bowl over my head to test that the egg whites were ready. And, luckily for him, they were. Yet, I'd like to get away from depending on him and I would like to impress his family with some ability. They all have either culinary education or restaurant experience, so when they banter around terms like quinoa and bechamele, I wonder what country they are talking about. I'm most interested in dishes with lots of veggies and a one-pot approach, such as stews, casseroles, etc. I also often give my husband cookbooks as gifts, so he can use less directive cookbooks, such as Jamie Oliver's. He is interested in using a lot of herbs with fish dishes. Thanks, your comments are very helpful!

6:25 PM  
Anonymous lori said...

Oops - I mean "hear" or actually "see"

3:44 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I just bought "Best American Recipes 2003" at a used book store, and it looks pretty good. It's part of a series whose editors pick recipes from magazines, newspapers, Internet, and the backs of packages from the store. According to the introduction, they try to find ones that either do something entirely new or do something traditional in a new way. Lori, there are enough "high-falooting" sounding recipes that you could impress your quinoa-quoting in-laws, but there's stuff that Amelia might eat too!

Anyone else have insights about this series?

9:21 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Lori, you might want to look at Cook's Illustrated "Best..." books because they explain a lot of *why* they suggest doing something a particular way. I don't cook from them all that often, but I use them as a reference source all the time. It helps me to understand the effect of certain ingredients and techniques on a particular dish, which helps streamline my work when I am creating new recipes. I think the same data would help you to understand some of what you would have learned at someone's shoulder, had you such a shoulder around.

Is there a used bookstore around? Go in someday with some time to spend and browse. Compare the same recipe across several books. A recipe you'd use a lot. The side-by-side comparison will make a lot of your choices clearer.

3:03 PM  

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