A FEW OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOKS
Years ago, I had set up a spare bedroom as a library. I have since downsized, but I still have two bookcases filled with cookbooks, plus my class material and recipes from culinary school.
While I do read books on Kindle, I have not made the switch with my cookbooks. There is just something about looking through a cookbook in print, and running my hand across the page, that allows me to connect to the recipe. Since I am always changing recipes, I make notes in the margin, which is easier with a printed version.
Some of these cookbooks are classics and some are older, but still worthy to keep in your cookbook collection.
Betty Crocker Cookbook
I received this cookbook as a bridal shower gift back in the late 70’s. I have used it so often that the spine of the book has fallen off. They are now on the 12th edition of this cookbook complete with new recipes and updated photos. While I will never part with the 1975 version, I have also have the latest version as well.
Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker, John Becker, Megan Scott
The cookbook that Julia Child called “a fundamental resource for any American cook”. A new, revised edition will be coming out in November 2019. No matter which version of this cookbook that you own, it is a classic with very clear instructions and precise information on how to prepare each recipe. I updated an older copy to the 1997 verion, The All New All Purpose: Joy of Cooking. I probably will update to the 2019 version as well.
The Know Your Ingredients chapter is a great reference. The Cooking Methods chapter shows cooks how to handle various cooking methods such as braising, steaming, roasting, etc.
The information covered in this cookbook helps the novice boil an egg and provides the more advanced chef with information on how to prepare Beef Wellington. If I could only own one cookbook, this would be it.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2-Volume Set), Julia Child
After attending culinary school in France, Julia Child brought French cuisine to the home chef in America. No more meatloaf and mashed potatoes! Precision techniques with step-by-step instructions. The recipes start out easy and become more advanced as you go. Like the movie, Julie and Julia, I have made many of the recipes in these two volumes. It just takes some planning ahead of time.
I have followed Martha Stewart ever since she started on Television in 1993. She came after Julia Child and brought the home cook simple, yet sophisticated recipes. I have many of her cookbooks and each is worthy of its own review. I will simply note a few that I reference on a regular basis.
- Martha Stewart’s Entertaining
- Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook
- Martha Stewart’s New Pies & Tarts: 150 Recipes for Old-Fashioned and Modern Favorites
- Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook
- Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
- Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share
- The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day
- The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics
The list goes on. What I really like about her cookbooks is that you can always find a standard recipe for something with clear, concise instructions.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Anniversary, Marion Cunningham
Another classic American cookbook with more than 1,990 recipes. Originally published in 1896 as The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer. The Anniversary edition has been completely updated. Plenty of tips and comments that will help any beginning home cook and inspire those more advanced. All the tried and true recipes are still included, along with new ethnic recipes that have recently made their way into American cooking.
Additionally, all the basics are still there – cooking terms explained, method of cooking, ingredients and basic equipment.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina Garten
Before Ina Garten became a beloved TV Chef, she owned a specialty food store called, The Barefoot Contessa. She has taken those recipes and brought the home cook a fresh, new perspective on how to host small dinner parties at home without much effort.
One thing I really enjoy about this cookbook are the 160 beautiful photographs that showcase these wonderful dishes. Her relaxed Hampton style and simple recipes make this one of my top cookbooks to own. I actually have most of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. This was the first one I purchased and have autographed. I still reach for this cookbook when I need a little inspiration.
Little Italy Cookbook, David Ruggerio and Melanie Acevedo
There have been many Italian Chefs on TV with Italian cookbooks over the years, but this cookbook is the closest to how we cook Italian food in our home. Chef David Ruggerio, returned to his roots to tour Little Italy in New York.
This cookbook is truly a celebration of traditional Italian-American family recipes. I love this cookbook because I am able to look at a recipe and see how close it is to our family recipes.
Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving 37th Edition, Ball
A very informative book on canning and preserving. Over 500 tested recipes that work. The information and instructions are very clear. This book explains everything regarding canning, preserving, high-acid and low-acid Foods, pickling, freezing and dehydration. A must have for anyone new to canning and preserving.
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Gide to Pairing Food with Wine, Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page and Michael Sofronski
This book is perfect for the home cook who is looking to understand how to pair wine with food. I took a wine class in culinary school and I have to say finding a wine that compliments the food, makes the meal memorable and brings out the flavor in the food.
This book shares stories from top Chefs and Sommeliers. It is very comprehensive and provides plenty of guidelines for pairings for both specific foods, food types, time of day, characteristics, season and mood. The book covers fast food, upscale food and ethnic food. It you want to know what to pair with Kentucky Fried Chicken or potato chips, you will find it in this book. The book also covers pairings for champagne, beer, spirits, coffee and tea.
My French Family Table: Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love and Joie de Vivre, Béatrice Peltre
Beatrice provides a refreshing, modern twist to classic French cooking, while creating healthy meals for her family. The book contains 120 gluten-free recipes and features whole grains, beautiful produce and spices. Beautifully styled and photographed each recipe is a celebration with bright colorful ingredients. Béatrice showcases pure ingredients at their finest.
The other aspect that I love about this cookbook is that Béatrice brings back the importance of family meals. The recipes are simple, yet inspiring. Her presentation will make every family member want to gather at the table.
Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering, Joanna Gaines
The reviews on this cookbook are mixed. The negative is that the book is huge and will not lay flat. You can weigh it down or try an acrylic stand. However, in my opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives. This cookbook brings Joanna Gaines’ warmth and style to the culinary world. These are the Gaines’ family recipes that mix Southern comfort food with several of her Syrian family recipes.
This cookbook includes 125 recipes that are a good selection of American classics and family favorites. I like that she incorporates homegrown ingredients from her garden.
The first recipe is Jojo’s biscuits and they are quite good. If you followed Chip and Joanna Gaines on Television, you will know how much time she put into developing this recipe.
The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel
If you have a family of gamers, this is the perfect cookbook for you. Now you can make all of the dishes found in Skyrim, Morrowind, and all of Tamriel based on the award-winning Elder Scrolls game series. Sixty fan-favorite recipes including Apple Cabbage Stew, Sunlight Souffle and Sweetrolls. Beautiful photographs throughout. Chelsea also several other cookbooks that you might enjoy, including World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook.
However, I will confess that I am not a gamer, but I love anything Renaissance, Medieval or has anything to do with folklore. I love finding unique cookbooks.
SHOUT OUT TO ONE OF MY MOTHER’S FAVORITE COOKBOOKS
The Antoinette Pope School Cookbook, Antoinette and Francois Pope
If you live in Chicago, then you may be familiar with the Antoinette Pope School of Fancy Cookery. The school was opened in 1930 and closed in 1971. The recipes at the school and in the cookbook were carefully tested.
“I remember once she cooked a California two-tone cheesecake 30 or 40 times to get it exactly the way she wanted it,” Frank says. “She didn’t want to leave anything to guesswork for her students.” Chicago Tribune Excerpt, May 27, 1993
In 1951, the school aired on television as the “Creative Cookery Television Show”, featuring Francois Pope and sons Frank and Robert. The show ran daily until 1963.
This cookbook is no longer in print, but was the standard for many home cooks for years. Some of the tips in this book are dated by today’s standards, and several recipes use ingredients like MSG, but this cookbook is a classic. The only negative is that are no photographs. However, if you collect cookbooks, this is one for you.
WHAT IS MY NEXT COOKBOOK PURCHASE?
Panama Chombo Style by Cuquita Arias De Calvo is one of my new favorite cookbooks. The books has recipes in both Spanish and English. Cuquita has a light, colorful style with her food. Very refreshing ingredients. Owner of Cuquita Cookita in Panama, she is a gourmet chef who loves to use pink. See her instagram page.
Finally, I have several Mary Berry cookbooks, the Martha Stewart of the UK. I also have several Paul Hollywood cookbooks. You might remember both Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from The Great British Baking Show.