Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: 13 favorite cookbooks!

I've been wanting to do this list for Thursday Thirteen for some time.... I have masses of cookbooks (as you saw last week!), and love them all in their own way (even though I am willing to part with a few to blog-following friends, yes indeed).

Here are my top 13 cookbooks in no particular order (kind of...):

1. Think Like a Chef, Tom Colicchio. When I found this book seven or eight years ago, it completely changed the way I saw cooking and recipes and experimentation. I love his approach and finally felt like I had "permission" to play in the kitchen--not that I'd been holding back from playing before! Here's a great review of the book... OK, so maybe there's a reason this one is mentioned first. It is one of my all-time faves.

2. Whole Grain Baking, King Arthur Flour Co. I love baking and desserts, but also like knowing I can make them a big healthier if I want, as well.

3. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. Classic. Great for those old standbys/family favorites.

4. The New Best Recipe, The Best Light Recipe and Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook's Illustrated (I put these all together since they're very similar in bent/writing/style.) These guys know how to do it--they take the time to try out almost every conceiveable way to make something, and share how they arrived at the final recipe. Good reading to boot!

5. Brilliant, Food Tips and Cooking Tips. Technically not a cookbook per se, but a great reference. I turned to this book over and over again in my catering kitchen, and still do today. Conversions, substitutions, definitions, ratios... all there.

6. Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. Such a wonderful romp around the world. Many cookbooks by the Moosewood group are worth looking at; this one's my favorite. I have made the Pear-Almond Tart and the Cheeze Blintz Casserole (oh yum) many many times. And there's a very reliable pastry recipe too...

7. Barefoot Contessa Parties, Ina Garten. I have her whole series of cookbooks, but this is the one I use the most often. I'm not a fan of watching her on TV--too self-conscious for me, but I haven't watched her in a couple of years... maybe she's improved? Regardless, I very much enjoy her menu ideas and recipes. Yum.

8. The Dean and DeLuca Cookbook. This choice is a little sentimental, since I associate it completely with NYC and all that I love about visiting that city. And the food featured in the cookbook is exactly the kind of stuff I like to eat... simple, hearty salads, soups, sandwiches; not fussy but with great ingredients.

9. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman. I am a fan of Mark Bittman, very much. And thoroughly enjoyed his regular, meat-filled How to Cook Everything. But, since we are mostly meatless around here, this one gets more perusing and I love that he took the time to make an edition that skipped the meat. Kudos.

10. Happy in the Kitchen, Michel Richard. Who can't get behind a title like that? This is more of an inspirational, coffee-table book than a cook-from-it-daily kind of tome. But it's fresh and colorful and thoroughly enjoyable.

11. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. This one is a big favorite! My mom gave me her copy years ago, and it's old and tattered and the binding has broken and pages want to fall out. But I don't care and I turn to it probably more than any of the other cookbooks here for the things that are tried and true. Want a basic banana bread recipe? Got it. Custard, creme brulee? Absolutely. I will never part with this one!

12. Fields of Greens, Deborah Madison's cookbook from the much-celebrated vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. Some really great ideas and combinations. Sometimes the recipes are a little more complicated than I'm in the mood for, flavor-wise, but I am usually able to adapt to meet my palate's needs! A really great resource.

13. Food and Wine, best of... Their yearly cookbook is a real go-to for me. Time and again, great recipes and food ideas.

I have plenty of other cookbooks that I enjoy, but these ones stand out.

Just noticed, but wasn't surprised, that there's not a Martha cookbook in the lot... true story, as a good friend of mine likes to say. Martha's just too complicated. "How many MORE steps can I put in this recipe," I imagine her saying to herself some days... "It makes me look very accomplished to have so many unnecessary steps."

Happy TT! Now I'm in the mood to go browse the cookbooks! And cook, and eat...

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  1. I go to my Chatelaine Cookbook the most out of all the ones I own. It has many stains from the various recipes we followed.
    Happy T13!

  2. I'm going to get Think Like A Chef for my son. Thanks.

  3. Fannie Farmer's a favorite in our family too--for generations now! Some of my favorite cookbooks come from Williams-Sonoma--I love the beautiful photos.

  4. I love all the Cooks Illustrated books. Recipes always turn out great.

  5. Thank you for mentioning the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. This is a great list to be on. Joan@bakershotline

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  7. I totally agree with what you said in regards to Martha's cookbooks. They are so pretty to look at but that is usually as far as I get. I must say though, that I did enjoy her new cookie cookbook. I have used it several times.

  8. I was just walking through the cookbook aisle looking for the best one for the absolute beginner. Any suggestions? :)

    Happy TT


  9. Bittman's great, and I was glad to see you included two old standbys, Fannie Farmer and Better Homes & Gardens. Off to read about Think Like a Chef :-)

  10. Xakara, I think Bittman's How to Cook Everything is really appropriate for the beginning cook. It doesn't talk down to the cook, and really covers all the bases well.

    Thanks everyone for coming on by!


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