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little help from the noobs

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
OK, a little picking of the group brain here. I'm thinking about doing a column on books that are intended to help you learn to cook. This isn't really elementary cookbooks, like marcella, or really even old mass cookbooks like joy or fannie farmer. i'm thinking more along the lines of James Petersen's new "kitchen simple." i'm assuming that a lot of you are either in college or freshly out ... what books taught you the most? thanks!
post #2 of 21
Aside from Joy, it was mostly Dean & Deluca cookbook and a subscription to Everyday Food a couple years ago. Great idea by the way.

Edit: a couple of blogs helped too. 101 cookbooks for one. She recently released a book of vegetarian recipes.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
thanks. heidi is great.
eta: for a vegetarian.
post #4 of 21
The best cookbook I've used is foodwishes.com It's not exactly a book but I think Chef John is awesome and everything he does is approachable for intermediate cooks. Do you know him?
post #5 of 21
honestly, Ad Hoc has been the best for me. Some recipes can be a little involved, but you asked about books that helped one learn to cook that aren't really elementary. Second is the Complete Robuchon or a Batali book for Italian.

My brother got me Bittman's 'how to cook everything' for Christmas one year, and I have used it for one recipe to date. I like it for a reference, but not really a 'how to cook' book.

Also I am not that far out of college, if that helps.
post #6 of 21
Not really of use to many on your side of the globe, but when I was starting to get more serious about cooking, I liked the Japanese western-style cookbooks that all inevitably have recipes for things like stews, sautes, steak frites, chicken dishes, cooking vegetables, etc - they have pornographically detailed picture step by steps of all the important cooking techniques involved, and they usually cover the basic methods of cooking, knife cuts, etc, similar to as you would learn at a French-based culinary school. If you started knowing nothing, and then went through a good example of one of those books and mastered each of the techniques, you would have a really solid foundation, with dishes that would probably impress someone who cooks for a living, even.
post #7 of 21
Ad Hoc was probably the most helpful for me. The recipes can be complicated, but he explains the reasons behind everything in a way that's actually interesting to read. I think more important than recipes are explanations for techniques and ingredients.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post

I liked the Japanese western-style cookbooks that all inevitably have recipes for things like stews, sautes, steak frites, chicken dishes, cooking vegetables, etc - they have pornographically detailed picture step by steps of all the important cooking techniques involved, and they usually cover the basic methods of cooking, knife cuts, etc, similar to as you would learn at a French-based culinary school. If you started knowing nothing, and then went through a good example of one of those books and mastered each of the techniques, you would have a really solid foundation, with dishes that would probably impress someone who cooks for a living, even.

I find James Peterson's Cooking to be like this. It taught me a lot. Way more, in fact, than the CIA book The Professional Chef that I purchased expressly to learn.

I have two other Peterson books Sauces and Fish and Shellfish that are extremely good resources, but only if you know what you're looking for.

The first cookbook I ever bought was How to Grill by Steven Raichlen. I was 18-19 years old, my parents were out of town for a few weeks, I got sick of take out and needed to feed myself, and grilling seemed to be the most approachable way to start cooking. The first thing I ever cooked out of it was a butterflied pork loin, layered with an olive tapinade, rolled up, tied with butchers twine, and grilled. Looked something like this: 500
I'm sure it was overcooked and looked like shit, but it was sort of an epiphany, like "If I can cook this super fancy dish, I can make anything." A buddy and I worked our way through that book, making the different recipes, trying the different sauces, making a lot of stuff that was disappointing, but sometimes made something great.

Then there was a Food Network kick for a while, where I watched a lot of the shows and bought the chef's cookbooks. Nice to make dishes from, from time to time, but didn't teach me much other than learning from my mistakes.

Then I took Pepin's Fast Food My Way from my parent's house, and that opened my eyes to more traditional cooking. So I got The Joy of Cooking and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and like those when I want something traditional.
post #9 of 21
The first book I ever really used was called Le Cordon Bleu at Home. Pretty sure it isn't around anymore, and it certainly didn't have the pics you find in Peterson's books, but gave a great background.
post #10 of 21
Don't have that many. I like Marcella Hazan's Essentials of classic Italian cooking.. Also, Le Cordon Bleu's Complete Cooking Techniques seems useful. I also do like Alain Passard's collages et recettes, however you should definitely be capable of speaking some French when using it.
post #11 of 21
Although there are some great cookbooks out there for a beginner like myself (The Way to Cook comes to mind), foodwishes.com has been the best resource. Chef John breaks down intimidating techniques and ingredients so well, making all of his video recipes very easy to follow. For me, the hardest part about becoming comfortable in the kitchen was not being sure whether or not I was doing was correct. Since, the videos offer so much great detail all of the guesswork has been taken out.
post #12 of 21
I really don't know about Ad Hoc belonging here. It's obviously not the most technically challenging cookbook out there, but you do need to be absolutely obsessed with cooking to create a lot of the recipes from it as directed, if only for the time involved with a lot of the recipes. That beef stroganoff looks delicious, but fuck if I'd want to cook that according the recipe that seems like it'd take 2 days, with no guaranteed result. I also don't really feel like it teaches much in the way of classical cooking. It has lots of nice little TK techniques here and there that go with specific recipes, like the blowtorch prime rib roast and the 20-some ingredient brined fried chicken, but the takeaway doesn't seem to be that big.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
these are all great suggestions. i'll have to check out chef john. don't think i know him. thanks all! keep 'em coming if you think of them.
post #14 of 21
Chef John is cool. Funny videos and easy to do recipes.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post

I really don't know about Ad Hoc belonging here. It's obviously not the most technically challenging cookbook out there, but you do need to be absolutely obsessed with cooking to create a lot of the recipes from it as directed, if only for the time involved with a lot of the recipes. That beef stroganoff looks delicious, but fuck if I'd want to cook that according the recipe that seems like it'd take 2 days, with no guaranteed result. I also don't really feel like it teaches much in the way of classical cooking. It has lots of nice little TK techniques here and there that go with specific recipes, like the blowtorch prime rib roast and the 20-some ingredient brined fried chicken, but the takeaway doesn't seem to be that big.

post some names of the japanese books you mentioned.

the beef stroganoff recipe is really just a way to deal with left over braised short ribs, which imo is a fantastic idea to put in a cookbook (ie what to do with leftovers)


Ad hoc vote +1

colicchio's thinking like a chef

how to pick a peach (no dicksuck. god i love this book. learned so much about veggies)



I think we all know how to cook proteins, but whats difficult is trying to put together sauces and accoutrements with the proteins.

A column about simple sauces to make, how to put together seasonal ingredients, etc would be great. I really liked the studies in colicchio's books. He takes a few seasonal ingredients and has different recipes combining the ingredients in different ways.

I want to be able to go to a market and say those vegetables would go nicely with those ones, would make a good accompaniment for this protein. I realize this takes time and practice, but some kind of guide or long term study would help a lot for noob home chefs.
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