Thursday, April 24, 2008

Favorite Cookbooks

Mark Bittman of the New York Times is asking people to review their favorite cookbooks over at his blog.

I am a fairly recent serious cookbook buyer. I got my first cookbook when I was 11 years old. I bought a copy of the Moosewood Cookbook when I decided to become a vegetarian at 14, and received a copy of Joy of Cooking when I got married.

I had always been more of a baker. I had some favorite dishes, but was mostly a pasta maker, until about 3 years ago, when I first started to get serious about cooking. My problem was that I never really knew what to make.

A subscription to Cooking Light changed alot about the way I cook. I think it was because the recipes were in magazine form, they seemed less intimidating somehow, and helped me to branch out and get pretty good at cooking things with meat in them. Having been a vegetarian for most of my early adult years, I never learned how to cook meat (or how to tell when it was done). Every month, I had a bunch of new recipes to try, and, aside from one dish, they were all pretty good.

Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen have also been an immense help to me in the kitchen. I love reading this magazine and their cookbooks on lazy Sunday afternoons. I enjoy learning about the process of preparing the food and experimenting to find the perfect recipe.

So, here's my list of my favorite cookbooks at this time. I'm sure my collection will continue to grow. If you have any recommendations, I'd appreciate them.

The Joy of Cooking is a wonderful reference cookbook. Have some beets and need to know how to cook them? That's in here. No kitchen should be without this one.

America's Best New Recipes is written by the folks at Cook's Illustrated. Want the perfect Macaroni and Cheese recipe? Look no farther. It's another "must" for the cookbook shelf.

I really love the original Moosewood Cookbook, but I like this one better. I had the joy of eating at this restaurant a long time ago, and I still rank it as one of my top 5 lunches ever. I haven't read a Moosewood Cookbook I didn't like.

Everyday Italian is one of my favorite shows on the Food Network. It's also one of my favorite cookbooks. This isn't the most low-fat cookbook you'll ever buy, but the ingredient list for recipes is usually short, and it's simple to cook this food.

I just bought this book, but I'm including it here because it has alot of recipes I've loved from the magazine. I like this magazine and cookbook because it offers alternatives to dishes like fettuccine afredo and spinach/artichoke dip which are lighter than their full fat counterparts, but still taste yummy.

I have to admit that I mostly bought this book for the cover and the title. But, the recipes in here are fantastic, and are not your run-of-the-mill baking recipes. The Chocolate Hazelnut Torte is exceptional and the peanut butter bars taste alot like Reese's. The pictures in this book are also beautiful and make you want to bake everything.

The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook is my go-to book for baked goods. I have received nothing but the highest compliments when making anything out of this book. I like it too because it includes recipes for mostly old fashioned desserts, like yellow cake with butter cream icing, coconut cake, and hummingbird cake.

Books currently on my wish list:

The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook
The Martha Stewart Baking Cookbook
More from Magnolia
How to Cook Everything
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Anything by Dorie Greenspan
The Barefoot Contessa
Maida Heatter's Cakes
Maida Heatter's Cookies
Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food
Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts
The Gourmet Cookbook


Drew Kime said...

I guess my favorite cookbook would have to be mine: How To Cook Like Your Grandmother. But as for other people's books, I'd say my top one is I'm Just Here For The Food by Alton Brown. I like that it doesn't just list recipes but covers how to cook: why to choose different techniques for different cuts of meat, how to make cookies moister or crispier, etc.

How To Cook Like Your Grandmother

Lauren said...

Waters' Art of Simple Cooking is a winner. She's a little heavy on the salt (I usually half it for this book). The strengths are her baking recipes and the variations she provides at the end. The instructions aren't "normal"- they are a bit more in narrative form than in most books. However, it is worth overcoming.

Ditto on Alton Brown. He's a good teacher. There's nothing fancy but he covers some essential nuts and bolts.

Another addition would be "The Silver Spoon" aka the bible of Italian cooking.

K8teebug said...

I have the Silver Spoon, but I haven't really cooked out of it yet.

I like Alton Brown too. He's quirky :)

Julie said...

Martha Stewarts Baking book is terrific. I have loved everything I've made out of it. I am also in love with my Gourmet Cookbook. It is from Gourmet magazine, both edited by Ruth Reichl, my favorite food writer ever. She says in the introduction that their goal was to compile a cookbook that would have everything you could ask for in it. Reichl writes great chapter intros and each recipe has a note of origin or explanation. The recipes are culturally diverse and so, so, so yummy. Good balance of types of recipes... some easy, some challenging, etc. I LOVE IT!