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What Is The Most Essential Book?

post #1 of 196
Thread Starter 
What book would you consider most essential for a home cook? Would it be Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia? Or another choice?
post #2 of 196
I don't know that I would consider Larousse to be the essential book for a home cook. Lots of info in there that a home cook would never use. My vote would have to be for "The Joy of Cooking". It's a well rounded book, with recipes for most every dish that I consider a home cook should know. And earlier editions have a great chapter on canning and preserving.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #3 of 196
Yep for the home cook larousse is way overkill.
Joy of cooking or the fannie farmer cookbook.
post #4 of 196
In a single book, Joy of Cooking. For a series, Best Recipes from Cook's Illustrated.

Phil
post #5 of 196
another vote for Joy c.1972-5. i don't think Larousse is so terribly overkill for a home cook, though. 'home' doesn't necessarily mean 'possum on the woodstove with laura ingalls-and 'cook' doesn't necessarily mean unadventurous, unread and limited to opening boxes. for example, since y'all folks turned me on to Escoffier (thanks, keeperofthegood!) i can't do without it.
post #6 of 196
Key words being home cook. Definitely The Joy of Cooking - yet another vote of confirmation.
post #7 of 196
I never said that a home cook wouldn't benefit from Larousse, I just think that "Joy" would get a ton more use. And it definately contains many more recipes that a home cook would need than Larousse ever would.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #8 of 196
Thread Starter 
I only threw Larousse out there because I thought it was a thorough, all-encompassing book. I'm not really familiar with its contents.

Seems like "Joy" is the way to go.

I guess I was just looking for something that gives more than just recipes. Sort of explanations of different cuts of meat, uses and types of spices, etc. More of a basic understanding of cooking in addition to just having recipes.

Thanks for all of your input though.
post #9 of 196
JOC Fanny Farmer vote
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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post #10 of 196
phatch-good call!-americas test kitchen! didnt even occur to me.
pete and mudbug-you have a point. now that i think about it i wouldnt give larousse or escoffier as a wedding gift.
post #11 of 196
hey! don't give up the possum :D That bugger is hard to get in and hard to get out of the pot.
Some of the most esquisite foods I have ever eaten have been made at home. I guarantee there is some sort of tied beef or fowl hanging in our uncle's fireplace in France right now, turning slowly.

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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post #12 of 196
The "average Joe or Jo" as the case may be, will have much better success with the Joy of Cooking or Fannie Farmer than anything else. I can't honestly think of anyone I know that even remotely likes to cook, that doesn't have the Joy of Cooking on their shelf.

While it wasn't my first cookbook, it's one that I regard as one fo the best ever in a collection of hundreds.
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Life without broccoli isn't really life, is it?
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post #13 of 196
Joy of Cooking was my first book (1975 edition) and although I refer to it less now than earlier in my career as an amateur cook it still has pride of place in my collection.

Another good beginner book is Madeline Kamman's Making of a Cook.

Jock
post #14 of 196
I'd give my vote to the Settlement Cookbook - it has everything a home cook needs from making soap :D to canning and freezing!
post #15 of 196
Even professionally I use Joy of Cooking as the proportion template in many cases and adapt....that's how the pecan meal jelly roll or the sweet potato jelly roll were adapted from plain old jelly roll. I've gotten rid of the newest Joy....it did not EVEN have lemon bars!!!!
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 196

Hard to answer

For recipes: Best Recipes from Cook's Illustrated or anything from these thorough Brookliners. Although Joy started me down the path; love it.
For fun: Steingarten
For not-so-fun but knowledge: Mcghee
For depth and passion: Brillat-Savarin & anything by Ed Behr.
For a pro: French I, II, and III

For a home cook, Mcghee will make you dangerously knowledgable and Cooks Illustrated will save you time.

Cheers,
Knightdo
post #17 of 196
If you can get it cooks companion by Stephanie Alexander is a must have!!
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Turn me over for I am cooked on this side.Saint Lawerence
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post #18 of 196
Most essential for what? for whom? :look:
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #19 of 196
I would make my vote for The Joy of Cooking, with the exception that I'm not all that wild about the newest version of it - it's gone a bit too "high-brow". My mother learned to cook by it, and both my sisters and I learned from it and my mother.

Honourable mention definately goes to Julia Child's The Way To Cook.

Another extremely good all purpose cookbook is the currently out-of-print, The American-International Encyclopedic Cookbook by Anne London. It's just chock-a-block full of very detailed information and has the flavour of a cooking-school text.
“Britain is the only country in the world where the food is more dangerous than the sex.” - Jackie Mason
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“Britain is the only country in the world where the food is more dangerous than the sex.” - Jackie Mason
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post #20 of 196
Yep, "Joy of Cooking" is the Encyclopedia Britannica of the kitchen. First published in 1931; we have the 1964 edition, which is about to disintegrate. I have the impression later, recent editions are not so well regarded, but no direct experience with these. Everything you need to know is in it.

HOWEVER, my number two pick is "James Beard's American Cookery". We have the 1972 first edition, also falling apart from constant use. It is completely exhaustive (how's that for redundancy!) and offers one of the best cookbook indexes I have ever seen.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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post #21 of 196
I like my Grand Livre de Cuisine by Alain Ducasse, it's got pretty much everything in there (although the organisation of it all is a lil different).
post #22 of 196
Another vote for The Joy of Cooking.... :D
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“Seeing is deceiving. It's eating that's believing.”
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post #23 of 196
Bubbamom, that's a good one! I have my mother-in-law's 1945 edition. It's a Milwaukee original, by the way. :D

For American home cooks with some background, Julia Child's "The Way to Cook" is good. I've referred to it for details and tried a few recipes. When given conflicting information, I always go for Julia.
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post #24 of 196
A couple of books come to mind. I have found no substitute for Craig Clairborne's New York Times cookbooks. I have several, and refer to them often.
Another exellent two volume set is Julie Child's (along with Louisette Bertholle and Simon Beck) Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not only do these volumes teach technique and vocabulary, they demonstrate that French Cooking is NOT difficult
:chef:
The various Joy of Cooking books are great, as is James Beard's "American Cookery".

If I had to go down to just one book, it would probably be Clairborne's.
post #25 of 196
Do not have any French cookbooks so to speak but I am leaning heavily toward French cusine, especially the desserts. Anyone know of a good French dessert cookbook.
post #26 of 196

Who's heard of this one?

Yes, Cooks Illustrated, James Beard, anything Jullia Child and Joy of Cooking are above an beyond wonderful. Lurousse? Very specialized and defineately for the experienced cook. I received a cook book as a 17 year old boy that has guided me into this buisness to the point where I answer only to my clients. Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet. Anyone got a copy of this? It's probably worth the two bucks you might pay for it. Jane's gotten me through alot of culinary quandries. Oh yeah, while I'm at it...Las Halle is a pretty good book to own if you're into classis French fare. It's Anthony Bourdain's compelation of recipes from the place he used tochef at. The book is well laid out and open for interpretation. God bless, Anthony...where ever you are.
post #27 of 196
Anybody know anything about the book "The French Laundry" ?
post #28 of 196
The French Laundry Cookbook is truly great. Not just for recipes but it really gives a good specialized education. But, quite advanced. JOC is a must, try to find an earlier edition.

Interesting that The Making of a cook by Madeliene Kamman was mentioned.It's a great book but I think it has become a bit dated. Very classical, and if you can cook your way through that it is a real accomplishment. But, since the time it was written, far more efficient techniques have come into use, and often techniques that , I think, give better results.

The Way to Cook, Julia Child. That is the way to go to become profiecient on all the basics of cooking. Managable and readable in the style only Julia and her staff seem to consistently accomplish.
post #29 of 196

The Professional Chef....

I just recently got this its a textbook from the CIA. Its a pretty good book with lots of recipes and tech advice. Its index is ok but I find some of the instructions a little unclear. "Like a couple drops of lemon juice" to me that could mean anything from 2 drops to 200. Anybody have any ideas on just what they mean?
post #30 of 196
Thats quite an impressive list I like your choices. I just recently ordered Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs cannot wait for it to get here.
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