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apicius9

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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?

Stefan
 

heldentenor

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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.
 

phasedweasel

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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.
 

Eamon Burke

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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.
 

99Limited

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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.
 

EdipisReks

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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.
 

cnochef

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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
 

mhlee

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Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art.
The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller.
The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook
Commander's Kitchen
Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen

+1 to McGee.
 

cnochef

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Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art.
The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller.
The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook
Commander's Kitchen
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.
 

rahimlee54

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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.
 

EdipisReks

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i'm a big fan of Local Breads. a great book if you have some sourdough experience behind your belt.
 
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jonnachang

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As much as I love The French Laundry, Daniel,and Alinea I find that I actually do more cooking out of any of the books written by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid Hot Sour Salty Sweet on Southeast Asia is probably their best,even though Beyond the Great Wall is pretty good. Their books tell about the people as well as the food
 

cnochef

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As much as I love The French Laundry, Daniel,and Alinea I find that I actually do more cooking out of any of the books written by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid Hot Sour Salty Sweet on Southeast Asia is probably their best,even though Beyond the Great Wall is pretty good. Their books tell about the people as well as the food
Their cookbooks are spectacular, very anthropological. They live here in Toronto, not too far away from us actually!
 

steeley

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WOW nice picks everyone !
it is hard to pin down one or two books but Ma cuisine is one .
Alford and Duguid are a favorite I think they have a cooking school in thailand .
 

Citizen Snips

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ad hoc at home easily

i love the french laundry cookbook, bouchon, the flavor bible, momofuku, au pied de couchon, the fat duck, morimoto, and dessert forplay. a great drinking book is what to drink with what you eat. all those are great books but i find that the ad hoc is most used and home friendly
 

FryBoy

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I'm a cookbook collector, with well over 1000 titles covering all manner of cuisine (see HERE), so there are literally too many favorites to list. I guess my favorite "go to" book remains The Joy of Cooking, particularly the older editions. But I also like anything by Julia Child or James Beard. For Italian, I look at Marcella Hazan's books first. For Indian, those by Madhur Jaffrey. French, I look to Anthony Bourdain and a few others. Mexican means Barbara Hansen, although the Sunset books are actually quite good. Southern means Edna Lewis, but I also have the complete Southern Living series, also excellent. As for "American," I have the complete Farm Journal series, the complete Time Life series, and literally hundreds of other cookbooks filled with great recipes and interesting information, including several Amish and Mennonite cookbooks. For pressure cooking, Lorna Sass is queen. Chinese, I go to a little volume called The Good Food of Szechwan or those by Fuschia Dunlop. Baking -- I've got so many I can't pick (although my mom's recipes are great). I don't like The French Laundry Cookbook -- it's for show, not for cooking, a coffee table book.

But my most treasured cookbook is one I'll bet few here have ever heard of, The Epicurean by Charles Ranhoffer, the chef of Delmonico's in NYC, published in 1894, nine years before Escoffier's tome. I'm privileged to own a genuine first edition of the book in nearly pristine condition, as well as a copy of the 1921 edition and a much more recent edition that is not too valuable to read. I've never made a thing from it, but it's still my favorite cookbook -- as a collector and would-be food historian. Here's more on the book: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/html/books/book_47.cfm

 

EdipisReks

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as a fan of Caleb Carr's Laszlo Kreizler books, i'd love to make some Delonico's meals!
 

rysara

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Cookbooks aside, I still pick up Culinary Artistry. It's got a lot of information on technique and flavor profiles which can come in handy when preparing meals. :)
 

steeley

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Thanks for link FryBoy nice book by the way I like the history of cuisine and chefs . nothing like cooking over coal stove .
 

cnochef

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ad hoc at home easily

i love the french laundry cookbook, bouchon, the flavor bible, momofuku, au pied de couchon, the fat duck, morimoto, and dessert forplay. a great drinking book is what to drink with what you eat. all those are great books but i find that the ad hoc is most used and home friendly
Dang, I forgot about Au Pied de Cochon and I've eaten there! My favorite thing about that cookbook, apart from the mouthwatering food, is the hilarious illustrations. I can't remember the artist's name, but his twisted work totally reminds me of Ralph Steadman.
 

Citizen Snips

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Cookbooks aside, I still pick up Culinary Artistry. It's got a lot of information on technique and flavor profiles which can come in handy when preparing meals. :)
the flavor bible is the same book by the same two authors but is updated a bit. you should check it out :D
 

Citizen Snips

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Dang, I forgot about Au Pied de Cochon and I've eaten there! My favorite thing about that cookbook, apart from the mouthwatering food, is the hilarious illustrations. I can't remember the artist's name, but his twisted work totally reminds me of Ralph Steadman.
ive eaten at the french laundry, ad hoc, and bouchon and to be honest i enjoyed ad hoc the most. the laundry is and will always be one of the greatest memories in my life and i got to share it with my wonderful wife (also a very talented professional chef) on our honeymoon but the atmosphere is not what i like about going out to eat. that is why i can even compare the experience at ad hoc to that of the french laundry.

i feel that au pied de couchon would be just my place. that is how i cook and how i like to eat. rich, rich, rich...

hopefully i can get up there some day to taste picards food
 

jaybett

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The first cookbook that opened my eyes, about technique was, Shirley Corriher's "Cook Wise". John Thorne, a talented writer, shares his views on a variety of food topics, including recipes, in "Outlaw Cook". Alton Brown's work, t.v. shows and cook books, gives all sorts of insight on technique. Michael Ruhlman's "Ratio", has an interesting idea, that once you understand how the ratio between different ingredients work, you can work the ratio, until it meets your tastes. It's easier to write down or remember a ratio then it is a recipe. This stuff may be old news to people working pro kitchens, but its new to us home cooks.

Jay
 

bikehunter

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May not fit the definition of cook book, as there are no "recipes", but my favorite is "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking" by Michael Ruhlman. Rather than recipes for specific dishes, Ruhlman gives us the basic ratios at the root of cooking, and the relationships of the components. 5 parts flour, 3 parts water, a little salt and yeast, equals...Bread. 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar equals vinaigrette. After than you just add your seasonings and adjustments, according to your own experience and intuition. He does this for doughs (bread,pasta,cookie, etc.), batters, sauces, stocks, sausage, custards, et al.

I recently bought one of these for myself and one for my daughter (who cooks professionally), and we both love it. For those of you who are so experienced that you already hold all this in your head, it my be redundant, but for many of us, this book is a godsend , if one wants to be able to cook "by the seat of your pants". Pros might find it useful as well since, after all, Ruhlman collaborated with Keller (French Laundry Cookbook) and Ripert (Return to Cooking), Michael Symon on his first cookbook (Live to Cook), and others, so I assuming he knows *** he's talking about. <g> At least to a humble home cook, this book is worth many times the eight bucks, incl. shipping, from Amazon. Here's a good review which describes it far beyond my capability.
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/michael_ruhlman_-_ratio/
 

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I love cookbooks, have several hundred, & read them over & over-it's hard to single out favorites, but I'll try-Frog Commissary (one of my first, & favorites), 'Soul of a Chef'-Michael Ruhlman (I think I have most of his), southern-Frank Stitt, Louis Osteen, Bill Neal, Heritage of Southern Cooking, Thai-David Thompson, Kasma Loha-Unchit, John Thorne & Calvin Trillin, Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy, uh-oh-looking at my books, I can't even begin to break them down.

Ones that I'm looking at recently are 'Serious Barbeque'-Adam Perry Lang & 'BBQ Bible' & BBQ USA'-Raichlen, & 'Let the Flames Begin'-Schlesinger & Willoughby-I just got a Weber 22.5' Smokey Mt. smoker, & I'm trying to improve my smoked meats...

I have Keller's 'Bouchon', & have been going back & forth on 'Ad Hoc' for months, is it worth it?
 

bikehunter

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Ones that I'm looking at recently are 'Serious Barbeque'-Adam Perry Lang & 'BBQ Bible' & BBQ USA'-Raichlen,
Just discovered Adam Perry and have "Serious BBQ" on hold request at the library (which I always do before investing in a book due to S.S. income. ;-) Raichlen's condescending manner drives me crazy, especially when accompanied by his $20K worth of BBQ equip. and tools, not to mention his meal tips involving 150 bucks worth of lobster and tender loin....just add truffles. <g>
 

stereo.pete

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I know it has been mentioned before but I love the Ad Hoc cook book by Keller. Every recipe is relatively simple and very flavorful. He also includes a lot of tips and tricks that have helped me with my cooking over the last year and a half.
 

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Marcella Hazan - Marcella's Italian Kitchen
Lynne Rosetto-Kasper - The Splendid Table - Recipes from Emilia-Romagna and The Italian Country Table.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall - The River Cottage Cookbook
Darina Allen - Forgotten Skills of Cooking
Fuschia Dunlap - Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking

The aforementioned The Silver Spoon and Frank Stitt's Book are also great. I do love cookbooks.
 

apicius9

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Digging up an old thread... I have started reading books on the Ipad a while ago, and today I downloaded my first Kindle cookbook:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005LVR7GI/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

For under $10 that is quite a bargain IMHO as long as you are more interested in the recipes than the pictures. Also includes a dozen or so videos. Definitely recommended.

Stefan
 
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