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Cookbook Recommendations

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am very new to cooking and am looking for something that will serve as an all purpose first cookbook. I was thinking about Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child because it seems to be held in high regard by members of this forum, but I thought it may be to specific or advanced for my needs. Does anyone have any suggestions?
post #2 of 17
There was a thread about this before. On hearing "Joy of Cooking" lauded in it, I went ahead and bought it. Now I have recipies for all kinds of shit I never even heard of.

If you check it out, get the one with the 1931 original copyright, not the newer one.
post #3 of 17
America's Test Kitchen Cookbook - tons of great recipes, good pictures, explanations. Relatively simple, common ingredients, with taste tests.

For more on the stories behind the recipes, try the New Best Recipe (Cooks Illustrated) They'll tell you the reasons behind some of the choices they made as far as techniques and ingredients, and will sometimes mention substutites.
post #4 of 17
You need only one: Anne Willan's "La Varenne Pratique." It has recipes, but the selling point is the large, full-color pictures that illustrate most every cooking technique you could ever need.

America's Test Kitchen succeeds because its recipes appeal to the widest possible range of palates. But that has a downside, too. It's safe, but never adventurous.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
America's Test Kitchen succeeds because its recipes appeal to the widest possible range of palates. But that has a downside, too. It's safe, but never adventurous.

Fair enough, but for a first book I like safety. I also like being able to find every ingredient at the local store. The Mrs just subscribed me to Bon Appetit and I marvel at all the things I have never before seen, and do not have the confidence or patience to cook (yet). Cooks made me realize that I can, in fact, cook. If I had received Bon Appetit first instead of Cooks Illustrated, I would have given up on cooking before I got started.

That said, it's probably time to branch out of my protective Cooks shell...
post #6 of 17
What are the best cookbooks for someone to learn technique from? I am a college student and would like to learn to cook. I can mess around a little bit in the kitchen but I can't do anything too complicated.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas
Fair enough, but for a first book I like safety. I also like being able to find every ingredient at the local store. The Mrs just subscribed me to Bon Appetit and I marvel at all the things I have never before seen, and do not have the confidence or patience to cook (yet). Cooks made me realize that I can, in fact, cook. If I had received Bon Appetit first instead of Cooks Illustrated, I would have given up on cooking before I got started.

That said, it's probably time to branch out of my protective Cooks shell...

I'm afraid my comment comes off as more negative than I meant it to. I have one of their sauces books, and I like it very much. Sometimes a good, comfortable meal is just what's called for. And such recipes can be helpful for dinner parties with picky eaters, too.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by raley
What are the best cookbooks for someone to learn technique from? I am a college student and would like to learn to cook. I can mess around a little bit in the kitchen but I can't do anything too complicated.



Fair warning: I'm gonna flog this thing like I flog Corneliani. I can't give it enough praise.
post #9 of 17
I have to disagree with DocHolliday who says they are not adventurous. Their Shrimp Fra Diavolo is killer. So is their roasted whole tenderloin. Pumpkin Cheesecake, everyone will fight over the last piece. You may not become Thomas Keller or Nobu, but you will be the best home cook you know. I highly recommend their most up to date "Best Recipe" book. You should have more than one cookbook, and the Revised "Joy of Cooking" is a must have, because they have a recipe for just about anything. As an accompaniment I also have Mark Bitmans "How to Cook Everything", which is not as good as "Joy of Cooking". The key for developing as a cook is to master the basics of the saute pan, develop good and confident knife skills, and develop patience. I have Julia Child's "The Way to Cook". It is too traditional, so I never use it. I bought it on the recommendation of a friend who taught me a lot about cooking. Jacques Pepin "Fast Food My Way" is one I am considering. I have wathced his series on PBS and his techniques are easy to pick-up on. At home I want flavorful meals, if I want something exotic and really complicated I go out. If you master the basics of cooking, you can throw a great meal that will satisfy your guests. Most will be wowed because most people can't even make a grilled cheese sandwich. We have friends and family whose idea of cooking is to reheat frozen foods from the grocery store. All you ever taste is salt or some undetermined chemical. Lastly, a subscription to "Cooks Illustrated" magazine will go a long way. Although I love "Saveuer", which is like any other type of porn, all I ever do is look at the pictures.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to the bookstore sometime this week and I'm definitely going to check all these out and see what I like.
post #11 of 17
You are starting with a true classic.

My Mum gave me' Mastering The Art' when I was just starting out as an Apprentice Chef (25 years ago) and it served me well.

Work your way to a thorough understanding of the fundamentals:

Stocks
Sauces (Hot & Cold)
Butchery (how to break down a Chicken)
Pastry work etc.

When you are feeling confident, cook for your friends to gain further experience.
Start with the basics (French Onion Soup, Coq au Vin, Lemon Tart)...

Good luck and enjoy
post #12 of 17
I only have 2 cookbooks, Best New Recipe and a 90s edition of Joy of Cooking and they cover all my bases.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
Fair warning: I'm gonna flog this thing like I flog Corneliani. I can't give it enough praise.

If you hold this book in the same esteem as Corneliani, then it's worth having, tout court. Must check with Amazon later today.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas
If you hold this book in the same esteem as Corneliani, then it's worth having, tout court. Must check with Amazon later today.
La Varenne Practique is a fantastic book for technique. If you want a book from which to learn classic Frence recipies, I would get Le Cordon Bleu at Home. Even better is Escoffier. Personally, I am really not that interested in cooking classic cuisine at home any more. Perhaps once in awhile I will make an old favorite, but I am partial to fresher, lighter ways of cooking. Julia Childs Mastering the Art is, IMO, far overrated.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Just picked up The New Best Recipe and love it, can't believe how huge it is. I'm going to try out one of these recipes tonight.
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