Please recommend some cookbooks (or websites, YT etc)

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Triggaaar

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So I've got some really nice knives.
I've bought some nice fresh food and cut it up into tiny pieces.

Now what do I do?


My current level of cooking talent:
I can take some meat and veg and make it hot and guests can eat it without grimacing or getting food poisoning. Perhaps I could make a couple of things that average people would describe as nice. That's about it.

Cookbook style:
Photos are good - given my low talent level
Basic - I'm not looking to prepare something fancy for Masterchef, I just want it to taste nice. Ideally the meals won't take too long to make, although I don't mind if they're in the oven for some time, or need to be prepared in advance and marinated.
Main meal - I'm not wanting to do starters or deserts, just main meals.
No seafood - DW doesn't like seafood, so I have it at restaurants and don't want to learn to cook it.

Asian - my experience of Asian food is that it tends to have lots of flavour, which is great, so Asian food that appeals to westerners is good. Fast stir frying is also good. I saw the recommendation for 'Every grain of rice' from Fuscia Dunlop, I may give that a go.

Any other styles of full flavour food would be welcome - maybe Cajun, Caribbean, Mexican?

Italian - always a winner, learning to do it better would be good.


Thank you :)
 

daveb

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I like eGullet and spend some time browsing there. https://forums.egullet.org/ A lot of genuine, nice folks who are to food what we crazies are to knives. I like the way different cookbooks are discussed and people relate their experiences with recipes. And a lot of discussion is about technique - which for the most part is a lost pursuit. It's only in the knife discussions that they go a bit off the rails.....:cool2:
 

DamageInc

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I always recommend Chef John of Food Wishes for beginner cooks. John was a line cook and a culinary instructor but has been doing YouTube videos for a decade now. Videos are clear, to the point, and focus on the food, rather than the cook. Great stuff, and over 1000 recipes that can be made at home. You could make a different recipe of his every night for more than two years. That'll fast track you real quick.

[video=youtube;y0CAG_zeaTw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0CAG_zeaTw[/video]

For desserts and some great french main courses, check out Bruno Albouze. Once you get over the accent and the cheesy editing, you will find some absolutely amazing recipes from a 3 michelin star pastry chef.

[video=youtube;lrFN1xdS4kM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrFN1xdS4kM[/video]
 

LifeByA1000Cuts

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Websites...

Chinese and chinese fusion: Woks of Life, The Mala Project . Also, strictlydumpling YT channel.

Thai: highheelgourmet.com for all the in depth info. Also, the hot thai kitchen YT channel.

Indian: The Youtube channels of Harpal Singh Sookhi and Sanjay Thumma (Some content by these authors is in english, some in Hindi. With Thumma, the most recent stuff is uninteresting though...)

Korean: Maangchi's site, YT channel and book

Just interesting approaches: YT channels Vegan Black Metal Chef (warning: Recipes are recited as actual black metal music, extremely competently played actually. but please, somebody make that man a knife in his style that actually cuts well all the time :) ), Peaceful Cuisine
 

Jovidah

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Alongside the stuff already mentioned I found Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course surprisingly useful... it's also his best program by far IMO - because he isn't trying to act like a cursing pirate all the time. You should be able to find it on youtube, and the accompanying book on shady Russian websites... ;)
 

chinacats

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If you'd like to give cajun a go is recommend watching some Justin Wilson videos...highly entertaining and you may learn something.
 

Nemo

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I'm a guy who likes to understand what's going on in the food, so I like books that focus on technique and theory as well as giving actual recipees. I'm also an amateur, so hopefully can offer you an amateur's perspective. However, I am an Aussie, so you're gonna get an Aussie perspective from me.

Two of my most used cookbooks come from Neil Perry. (An Aussie who runs a series of high end restaurants). Balance and Harmony deals with Asian (mostly Chinese) food. The Food I Love deals with modern Western food. Not sure how available they are in UK. Note that while both have a bit of seafood, there are generous sections on other ingredients as well. Both of the books give a useful guide to techniques at the start of each chapter (as well as little tips in each recipee) that can be the difference between zero and hero. Maybe not much use to a pro but gold for an amateur. The recipees are pretty good too.

I found Heston's Heston at Home to be really interesting. The first part of the book goes into the science of flavour, taste and texture, and how to achieve each. There are a few pages at the start of each section describing how variations in technique affect the end resul. In the Heston style, the recipees are completely impractical for everyday use (I have made a few and they are great but be prepared for a loooot of work) but they demonstrate the techniques very well and the techniques can be adapted to everyday use.

I have recently been enjoying Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat which goes into how variations in each of these elemets of cooking affect different ingredients. Only a few recipees but a fascinating take on the alchemy of cooking.

One of my first serious cookbooks, and still a favourite, is Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion. It is organised by ingredient, so is sorta like an encyclopedia of food. A couple of pages at the start of each ingredient describes production and selection of the ingredient and cooking techniques. Then there are a series of recipees (many are her take on classics) which are generally not super complex but very nice to eat. I find it really useful when trying a new ingredient for the first time. Maybe a little too much from the Aussie point of view for use in the UK- not sure.
 

LifeByA1000Cuts

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Also, watch comedy cooking channels (eg Regular Ordinary Swedish Mealtime, Cooking Hostile, Boring Kitchen ... ) ... there are some cooking truths hidden in them, and the memorization effect can be really good :)
 

5698k

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You said no seafood, but are ok with Cajun, that’s kinda tough. Look up Chef John Folse. He’s produced at least 4 large, colorful, very informative cookbooks that are beautiful books in their own right, besides being excellent cookbooks.
 

RonB

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I suggest https://amazingribs.com/ .It used to be one of the top ten food sites, but now it is only the number 1 bbq site. The site has a ton of recipes from easy to challenging and is definitely slanted towards grillin' and smokin', but much of the info is easily translatable to "regular" cooking. There is a section on myth busting that will steer you away from many bad techniques. And all the info is backed by science.
At the top of the linked page is a link to the table of contents - start there.
 

Paraffin

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Home cook here. If I had a family member who was just starting out to learn cooking and set up a kitchen, I'd recommend these books below. YouTube channels are good too, but I like sitting back with a good book, and these are classics:

  • On Food and Cooking - Harold McGee -- basic science background on how stuff works. Indespinsable for learning.

  • Joy of Cooking. When you have to make a meatloaf or mac and cheese in a hurry? I think this book and McGee would be the first two I'd send someone for the basics. At least the American-centric basics.

  • The Professional Chef -- Culinary Institute of America. Probably more than you want to know, and very Euro-centric, but over the years this has been a great reference book for remembering how to make a bechamel sauce or a French Onion soup. Ignore the more complex stuff, and get a feel for the basic ideas behind the techniques.

  • Every Grain of Rice -- Fuschia Dunlop. I'm on another Asian cooking binge now, and this book (and her other ones) are great, because they avoid the typically suger and cornstarch-laden Cantonese style of expat restaurants.
 

Triggaaar

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Thank you all for the suggestions (plenty more still to come I hope), I'm on it.
I always recommend Chef John of Food Wishes for beginner cooks.
Right, I've started here. OMG his presentation style (talking) is annoying. His pitch is all over the place as if he's trying to stop himself sounding monotonous. That apart, the food looks good and I like his jokes etc, so I shall have a go.
 

McMan

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A few oldies but goodies:
--"The Silver Spoon" for Italian
--"Authentic Mexican" and "The Essential Cuisines of Mexico" for Mexican
--"1080 Recipes" for Spanish
 

Bill13

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Ad Hoc at Home
Union Square Cafe
The Breakfast Book
Pepin New Complete Techniques
Staff Meals
Meat -A Kitchen Education
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
The Food Lab - This is my newest and I like the recipes but sometimes find his directions are not intuitive
 

Paraffin

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The Food Lab - This is my newest and I like the recipes but sometimes find his directions are not intuitive
I almost added "The Food Lab" to the list I posted above, but hesitated. There is a lot of great information in that book, but it's presented in that annoying "Cooks Illustrated sciency kitchen" style. Experiments are done with different approaches, and then the one "perfect" method is demonstrated. As if that's the only way to do it.

When it's a type of meal I've never tackled before, that presentation is a good entry point. But I sometimes find myself disagreeing with Kenji's conclusions, because I've done it in a way that I think works better. And then it gets annoying. I think it's just the presentation style that rubs me the wrong way, here and there in the book. I don't get that same feeling from other cookbook authors, so maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I don't regret buying the book. I've learned some things in areas I wasn't that familiar with, and the recipes I've tried have a pretty good success ratio. For a beginner especially, this would be a good one to have in the library. Just don't take everything he writes as Gospel.
 

HRC_64

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flavour bible, the book of yields, and Ratio
are probably worthy additions to any startup library shelf
 

LifeByA1000Cuts

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Definitely "On food and cooking".

"Ratio" I personally found disappointing, too focused on western cooking with animal ingredients :)
 

daveb

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Definitely "On food and cooking".

"Ratio" I personally found disappointing, too focused on western cooking with animal ingredients :)
Dead animals at that[emoji41]
 

Jovidah

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Well there's a reason I was born with incisor teeth... and it wasn't to chew soy products...
 

mille162

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The Silver Spoon. Its the bible of Italian cooking

CooksIllustrated.com. It was a monthly printed magazine, but now the app/website has all their past info. The subscription was worth it just to forever know how to make the perfect soft boiled egg everytime (and foolproof). Search by dish name, ingredient name, etc. pics and video’s to go along with the recipes.

Watch old Nigela Lawson cooking videos on youtube. Equal entertainment and cooking instruction (and created the term “food porn”)

Epic meal time channel on youtube, because, well, its just damn entertaining, lol
 

LifeByA1000Cuts

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The disappointment was more about the western focus :) But then I guess I am a hipster in these things :)
 

Jovidah

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No that's not hipsterish. I'm also open to any cuisine as long as it includes animal ingredients!
 

Casaluz

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a couple of my favorites and books I know you can find in the UK
- Japanese: "Japan: The Cookbook" by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
- Spanish (Spain): "Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen" by Nieves Barragan Mohacho (by the way, the restaurant is in London and it is fantastic, I was there a week and a half ago)
 

LostHighway

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Many of my suggestions have already been noted but I'll give this a shot by author. These are places to start not necessarily comprehensive.
Mexican: Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless
China: Fushia Dunlop, Grace Young, or Carolyn Phillips
Nouveau Mideastern: Yotam Ottolenghi
Japan: Shizuo Tsuji or Elizabeth Andoh
Thailand: David Thompson
Italy: Marcella Hazen
India: probably Monisha Bharadwaj for now

I tend to like the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstahl River Cottage books too

Edit: Looking back further Elizabeth David, Waverly Root (not cookbooks per se), and Julia Child deserve a shout out. It is easy forget from the vantage point of the 21ts C how dire the food scene in North America and the U.K. generally was from the end of WWII until the late 60s/early '70s when things finally started to turn around. These people, among others, greased the wheels for that turn.
 
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