Your favorite cookbook?
I was just reading through the recipe thread, but I had wanted to ask this anyway, so here is a new thread. What is your favorite cookbook - and why? Can be different things, a book that opened the door to a new ethnic cuisine or style of cooking for you, a book that provides comfort because it has some special meaning for you etc. I'd really like to hear more about your personal connection to a book than about 'the best book for Japanese cuisine is...'.
I have a bunch of cook books, gave about 100 or so away before I moved to the US and still took a few hundred with me. When I was thinking about this question, I just went to my shelf and realized how many books there are that I didn't even remember I had. I even found a few still in their wrapper. But there are also a few that are well worn, even though I am not a person who strictly follows recipes. My favorite is probably a small paperback by Eckart Witzigmann, an Austrian cook who is one of the few 'cooks of the century' in Europe. He rose with the 'nouvelle cuisine' in the 70s, but has developed beyond that. The book is called something like 'My 100 home recipes' ('Meine hundert Hausrezepte' in German), published in the 90s, I think. I love how the recipes are creative but very down to earth at the same time. Most are very 'simple' and defined by the quality of the ingredients and the history or region where they come from. For me, this had something very comforting, the thought that you can cook some very basic but good food that is satisfying on many different levels, but you do not need 12 cooks behind you to prepare things, there don't have to be 17 different colors on the plate to make it a dish good, you don't have to (my pet peeve) built little towers of food in the middle of your plate. It's the food that a cook of the century, who could do all kinds of things, would cook for his family at home. Other books I read in amazement and admire the skills and creativity (e.g. just went through Morimoto's book the other day with a new understanding after I ate at his place out here) but the little Witzigmann book is still the one i look into most often, when I need a bit of inspiration about what to actually cook. Of course, I am just a lowly home cook, so this may be very different for any pro.
So, what's your favorite cookbook?
I'm not in your league in terms of numbers of books, Stefan, but I do have a shelf full of them. My favorite remains Keith McNally and Reid Nasr's Balthazar Cookbook, because it's an accessible and solid guide to the cooking I do most, French bouchon-style. I've since acquired more technical and sophisticated guides to French cuisine, but Balthazar is usually the one I open first.
Since I was given it as a gift, I've been really enjoying Frank Stitt's Southern Table. It's a good reference for many basics and whatnot (vinaigrette, homemade mayo etc), but has excellent Southern-inspired dishes with more classical elegance. Also, it has a large focus on fresh, local produce, and living in the South next to a huge farmers' market (or three!), I'm always looking for ways to use what's seasonal.
On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee. May be wordy for some, but that book never fails to make me HUNGRY and inspired.
For recipes, Dave Pasternack's The Young Man and the Sea is unfailing, even though most of the recipes are fairly similar in methodology. We have made things in there before that made me do a face like Collette in Rattatouille, "I don't know zis one, but it's Gusteau's...so..."
When I was a kid, my mom had a bajillion cookbooks, but I liked Wenzel's Menu Maker, and the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook the best.
I like Williams-Sonoma's Savoring series of cookbooks. I'm not sure you can still get these any more. I have the Indian, Mexican, Tuscany and Spain & Portugal books. Besides having tasty recipes they include several pages preceding each section of history of the cuisine. They also have excellent photography which makes the books a pleasure to look at.
i've recently made a bunch of great meals out of Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table. The Silver Spoon is probably my favorite cookbook, though.
I keep coming back to Paul Bertolli's Cooking By Hand, read it and you'll gain a whole new appreciation of Italian food.:headbang:
Other current favorites in my collection include:
Bouchon and Ad Hoc cookbooks by Thomas Keller
Real Cajun by Donald Link
The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson
Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman
Serious Barbecue by Adam Perry Lang
Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art.
The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller.
The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook
Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
+1 to McGee.
Paul Prudomme's Louisiana Kitchen was the first cookbook I ever bought, my copy must be 25 years old. BTW, My wife and I will be in NOLA Apr10-91 and have a reso at K-Pauls.
Originally Posted by mhlee
I recently got the ad hoc and french laudry cookbooks what would you guys recommend from it I have tried a few things here and there but nothing I am in love with yet besides the sweet potatoes. I haven't really cooked to much from either though, as the weather outside has been pretty good and I have been grilling and such.