1. And... we're back. You'll notice that all of your images are back as well, as are our beloved emoticons, including the infamous :foo: We have also worked with our server folks and developers to fix the issues that were slowing down the site.

    There is still work to be done - the images in existing sigs are not yet linked, for example, and we are working on a way to get the images to load faster - which will improve the performance of the site, especially on the pages with a ton of images, and we will continue to work diligently on that and keep you updated.

    Cheers,

    Fok on behalf of the entire Styleforum team
    Dismiss Notice

Cookbook Recommendations

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Calden, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. Calden

    Calden Senior member

    Messages:
    308
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Location:
    Duckburg
    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?
     
  2. javyn

    javyn Senior member

    Messages:
    16,747
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    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.
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

    Messages:
    29,119
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Texas
    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.
     
  4. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    16,118
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Tombstone
    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.
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

    Messages:
    29,119
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Texas
    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...
     
  6. raley

    raley Senior member

    Messages:
    781
    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    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.
     
  7. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    16,118
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Tombstone
    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.
     
  8. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    16,118
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2005
    Location:
    Tombstone
    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.

    [​IMG]

    Fair warning: I'm gonna flog this thing like I flog Corneliani. I can't give it enough praise.
     
  9. Carey

    Carey Senior member

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    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.
     
  10. Calden

    Calden Senior member

    Messages:
    308
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Location:
    Duckburg
    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.
     
  11. earthdragon

    earthdragon Senior member

    Messages:
    2,729
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    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
     
  12. Get Smart

    Get Smart Senior member

    Messages:
    12,158
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2004
    Location:
    A town called Malice
    I only have 2 cookbooks, Best New Recipe and a 90s edition of Joy of Cooking and they cover all my bases.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

    Messages:
    29,119
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Texas
    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.
     
  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    14,384
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    Location:
    The wild and the pure.
    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.
     
  15. Calden

    Calden Senior member

    Messages:
    308
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Location:
    Duckburg
    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.
     
  16. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

    Messages:
    17,933
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2002
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Julia Childs Mastering the Art is, IMO, far overrated.

    Of course, the scope of my knowledge is still fairly limited at this point, but I really don't think that Mastering is overrated. I've been cooking from it for a couple of weeks now and while i'll admit it's perhaps not the best cookbook for people with slow metabolisms, the recipes are simple and delicious. What's most important to me is not even the recipes, but the invaluable explanations you get when following any of the main recipes. I think it forms a good base upon which your cooking skills can improve.

    For example, even just the little things like making sure your mushrooms or veal are dry before tossing them in the saute pan are very useful for someone that's starting from scratch. I think that's what makes the book valuable.

    My experience in the kitchen was close to nil when I began (I've eaten out every day for the last 2-3 years), but i'm becoming competant quite quickly. I'm sure I'll eventually move on to more healthy forms of cooking for my day to day meals, but this has definitely provided a quick road to competancy.

    For the OP: What I've been doing is going through each section and doing all the recipes in it. So I started off with beef week and I'm now on to veal week. The repetition really helps because it's the tiny things that make the difference between an ok meal and a great one. By cooking the same thing for a week, you learn the ideal settings on your stove, exactly how long to cook things for, etc. If you go a week or two between cooking any particular thing, the chances of you forgetting the exact settings, cooking times, or other little pearls of wisdom increases. This is particularly important for people with electric stoves, as they are slow to respond to changes in temperature. Getting to know your equipment in a systematic way is perhaps one of the most important things you can do when learning how to cook.
     
  17. ChicagoRon

    ChicagoRon Senior member

    Messages:
    6,217
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2007
    Location:
    Chicago, IL

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by