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What "I" want in a cookbook....

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I'd like to find a book that is almost like a class.......that you go through from start to finish that concentrates on techniques.

For instance, there is a chapter about techniques, then 5 different recipes that utilize that technique...and not just 5 recipes, but 5 "meals"or that say, I can do 1 chapter a week, and cook maybe 3 full meals that utilize those specific skills, techniques.

then the next chapter builds on the last, and the menus get more that by the time I get to the end, I have learned "this this and this" and I've made these menus....

This sounds almost school textbook like, for say, like a math class, where you can't just skip to the end, and do the "problems"

I mean, it's hard to fit everything into 1 book, but perhaps there is a "series" would be better.

I wish I could give some examples of techniques and then a few sample "menus" that correspond, but I guess that's what I'm looking for in a cookbook. maybe the closest is something like an Alton Brown (eh) style DVD set/book?
post #2 of 34
That would be awesome! Wayne Gisslen's "Professional Cooking" textbook comes close, but that's more classified like "meat" "veg" "breads" etc. and techniques to cook and handle each item.
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post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
yeah, Julia Childs Mastering the setup similarly too, and is a great book, but not so much what I'm after.
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
anyone have experience with La Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Cooking

I read a blog called The Amateur Gourmet and saw it mentioned few times.
post #5 of 34
Maybe we all at ChefTalk should work on compiling one??? There are enough people here, with enough experience and original recipes, that we could probably get it done!
For the best cakes in Spokane (and all the "weird" designs that other bakers won't do) visit !
For the best cakes in Spokane (and all the "weird" designs that other bakers won't do) visit !
post #6 of 34
Yes, I'm familiar with La Technique. The chef is one of the greats of the modern era, the photography is excellent, the writing is not. I'm not sure how to describe its utility, it won't take you from zero to medium, it probably works better for someone who already has a pretty an idea of what to do, and knows he's doing something wrong, than for someone who's purely clueless. Pepin's later books are more helpful; he learned a lot from Sophie. Their collaboration may be his teaching effort.

For what it's worth, the book I'm working on is very technique oriented. One of the problems I'm having is organizing it so that it's very modular and progresses smoothly from very simple to more complex. Part of this is my own confusion and part is the nature of the beast. Techniques may be independent, but most interesting recipes are inter-dynamic and rely on several fundamental techniques.

My original idea was to organize the book into several sections, each stressing a particular set of techniques, and each section including "teaching" recipes -- with very complete "how to" descriptions of the particular techniques; about 30 teaching recipes in all, to cover all the basic techniques. And another 150 or so recipes that are simply recipes -- breakfast, lunch, dinner, salads, starters, desserts, from several different cultures. But, I'm having trouble fitting the material into this kind of organization. It's a struggle.

"Plating," menu organization, party organization, recipe writing, recipe improvisation, besides things like searing, sauteing, bread-baking, etc., will be among the techniques taught. I'll also write a very strong section on outdoor cooking -- including grilling and smoking.

At this time, the overall style is "New American Bistro," because it expands to include a variety of ethnic and regional cuisines, elevates the familiar, stresses thematic simplicity; and for the way it uses highly adaptable "French" technique to achieve it all. The overarching goals are to teach culinary confidence and competence. And fun.

The target audience is the home cook who wants to be able to produce restaurant quality food and have fun doing it. No level of competence is presumed. I believe that anyone who likes to eat can learn to cook well, no matter how little they know -- without being a slave to a recipe and a set of measuring spoons. I plan to stress that my ways are not the only ways and to encourage exploration and creativity. And, naturally, to include the usual corny stories and tangential trivia.

You've all seen some of my "teaching" recipes (the very long ones with lots of explanation and description of technique). What do you think? What would you like me to change in the way I write them?

It would be very helpful if you could tell me as specifically as possible what you'd like to learn from a cookbook. What techniques? What recipes? What about buying guides? What intimidates you? What do you wish you could do?

"Input. Need input."

Thanks in advance,
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

I like your writing. Tonight I had a dinner party (nothing special just the inlaws) and made 2 dinners actually (mom is one of "them" that we don't speak of!) and followed you're steak recipe again. Let me actually put some more thought into it tomorrow and jot down a few more details of what I'm looking for that may be helpful to you.
post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 
OK, so to elaborate more (and to give BDL "5" his input!), most cookbooks, of the techniques kind, not a "recipe book" aren't really "useful" in every day practice, because no one wants to just "practice" techniques. They want to cook food.

Heck, I'd love to dive into say....mastering the art of french cooking and make every sauce then move on to spending a week just cooking eggs, but that is just not practical.

Take me, a typical guy, 9-5 job. I try to REALLY cook at least 3 nights a week. and learn while doing it.

I'm not sure how you would separate the "curriculum" but I can see if I can give you an example......

knife skills:
Explain a-z knife skills, heck, break it up into numerous parts.....for each part have 3 complete meal recipes that utilize the skills learned in that section. to start off, the recipes would have to be basic, but build on the techniques over time.

Maybe another section is saute'ing. So at the end, you can have a meal that uses Tourined (sp) Carrots (from the knife skills section) and so on.

You don't have to keep building on techniques, but if chapter 1 is on knife skills, the recipes shouldn't be to flambe or make a soufflé if you get my drift.

And for the recipes, make them more...."challenges" and maybe rate them.....

so say you have a knife skills chapter.....

have 5 complete menus (each with an appi, main, a side or 2, and maybe even a dessert) rated from easy to difficult....

want to appeal to a wide audience? make 1 of those 1..."master challenge" that is the most difficult of the knife skills tought in that chapter. it gives the reader confidence that he has a good handle on knife skills if he can apply it and some chef that wrote the book says "if ya can swing this menu you are pretty **** good at knife skills"


make it fun, have "challenges"

but in the mean time....the guy or girl who is reading the book, has a good meal as a result of learning as the MAIN reason a lot of us (and ALL of us home cooks) cook, is...well....heck, we need to eat!

Heck do it as a multibook series. DVD's, webcasts, what have you....

but set it up like a mathbook. or better suited....a "chemistry" book.

Call it the "Chemistry of Cooking" series........make each section an "Element"

have a neat periodic table with cooking stuff in it..maybe herbs/spices/proteins/veggies....

I don't know what techniques I need to know and in which order I should learn them I can't elaborate on that much.

Let's face it....with the media and TV and the internet...EVERYONE wants to be a chef. Top Chef, Kitchen Nightmares, the Food Network, etc....but not all of us can up and enroll in the CIA....a book series would satisfy a lot of the wannabes and be useful to the serious wannabes.
post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 
Agreed, but thats the challenge, to put together meals at the end of each technique that employ that technique and make the rest of the meal, somewhat easy. But build on them.

which is why I can't buy that book off amazon right's a tough one to write.

sounds good

that should ONLY be assumed before page 1. Afterwords you should PRESUME and make it a POINT to presume, that the cook KNOWS everything/techniques, etc. Like a mathbook.....turn to chapter 5. it PRESUMES you know chapter 1 2 3 and 4...but not 6. because 6 is no problems with 6 in chapter 1. Now...I'm not saying if the first section is knife skills that you ONLY employ knife skills in a meal....thats silly, but let's not make soufles in chapter 1.

I'm tired of seeing books broken down by "beef, poultry, veggies, pork"

I wanna see things like: (in no particular order)

knife skills,
preparing meats
preparing vegetables
plate presentation
menu design

go julia childs in depth,

so chapter have a menu that employs the toughest knife skills, with some pretty complex sauces.

I think this is a very tough book to do, but broken down, its really 2 books. a techniques book......then a recipe book.

now put 100 recipes on 1 side and 25 techniques on the other, and draw lines matching each with each, and lay it out in a logical fashion in a book.

Ill also add, a lot of people don't realize that you can apply techniques to various foods....proteins. etc. they see a recipe for braised pork, but would be dumbfounded if you asked them without researching to jot down a quick recipe for braised beef...(maybe a bad example but you get what I'm saying) I may be generalizing but in my opinion a lot of people I know, don't learn cooking, they learn "recipes"
post #10 of 34

You know what you need to read. The Julie/Julia Project.

Its about a chic who does MTAOFC (mastering the art of french cooking) in 1 year. ITs actually becoming a movie right now. Itsa good read. and she learned alot so maybe try that.

Other then that. I think some culinary school text books might help you out. While experience and pressional training cant come from a book it can help or at least get you in the right direction.
post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
That looks interesting. It seems there are 2 books on Amazon, both seem the same, but different titles?
post #12 of 34
"On Cooking" by Labensky & Hause. Chapter by chapter will have it's subject, then have recipes at the end of each chapter.

post #13 of 34
I want to walk away, with a skill I did not have or know before I read the book. Very simple
post #14 of 34

Yo Boar d laz

How about doing a video cook book with all the techniques used in prep
food that uses that particular tech. Yo Yo Yo u could be the rappin chef lol
post #15 of 34
911 -- thanks for the shout out!

I don't know about a video. After seeing some of the stuff RPMcMurphy has done with food and pictures, I like the idea of "students" doing the visuals rather than someone who's done it a thousand times and looks like it.

Also -- I've finally figured how to organize the darn thing. What a relief, it's been driving me batty. I'll blog it next week. If you haven't read the first entry (in four parts) take a look at it and let me know what you think.

Input. Must have input,
post #16 of 34
I'm a bit interested in this topic, as here it is August already and I have to get started on my cookbook. Not a "real" cookbook project, but last year at Christmas I made some comments to a few friends and family about how it would be nice to put together a collection of recipes and cooking tips into a little book to hand out as holiday gifts,
maybe a few dozen copies run off at Kinkos or whatever.

The target audience is my wife's family for the most part. These folks eat lots of canned veggies, instant mashed potatoes, the few spice jars in the kitchen have a six month ( at least ) patina of dust on them. They think places like Applebees and Olive Garden are the height of culinary delights. They aren't foodies, but these are the sort of folks I have in mind, though a few intended receipients actually do appreciate and enjoy cooking.

I don't want to scare them away with too complicated recipes, I don't want to offend them by dumbing it down too far and making them feel like I consider them idiots. Just a little something to kind of prod them down the path of good, fresh food. What to put in, what to leave out, how to organize, lots of unknowns at the moment. So while I work out some of that stuff, I'll just be content to coast along on BDL's coat tails, see if any comments regarding his book might be applicable to my situation.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #17 of 34
something i think that would be good in a cook book, and it would have to be an insert added by the country its printed/published /sold in is a whats in season guide, so it would have be specific to the region that the book is being read in
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
Na....take a look at some of the "self publishing" companies out download software, write the book, and then just order copies for 25$ a piece or so on an as-needed basis. pretty neat. I've done it with some trips I've taken to make into coffee table books .
post #19 of 34
It's a terrific idea, a really good one. How doable is it, though? I mean in the sense that it's so much information it's practically a book in itself; and I don't know enough about other places to know the ins and outs of what's seasonal and available -- and what the substitutes are. If and when I find a publisher I'll ask about it.

If you don't mind me saying so, I really admire your approach to cooking. The way you think things out, your precision, your level of detail, and the way you keep the totality in view. It's not just that in a million years I couldn't do pastry the way you do. That's part of it, but not the whole. You always want to find a way to make the food better. The word "chef," leaps to mind.

post #20 of 34
Interesting thought. For now, the plan is to get about half the text done before the end of the year and start looking for a traditional publisher.

ON EDIT: The problem with working through the email notifications backward is that you miss some context. Duh. The message was for Team whose message i just read. There's a word for people like me, but I can't use it on a family forum.
post #21 of 34
Dont change your style of writing. Someone suggested 2 books.I think I tend to agree. Recipes, there are thousands but how to and why are many times lacking.Also maybe consider a section on purchasing, as many purveyors try every trick in the book to cheat you. Notice I dont say all. Also the chemical input that you give I believe is very good. Seems like you really have your hands full. I always wanted to write an expose of the catering business up north, but was afraid I would be knocked off.
post #22 of 34
Thread Starter 
Lot's of people do the self publishing of a few copies, just to sent out to the publishers and shop around. Makes it look mucho professional.
post #23 of 34
A lot of the same challenges, for sure.

RPM's self-publishing idea seems like a great idea for the Holidays.

Any ideas you have -- don't be shy! Share.

As I said in an earlier post, I finally figured out how to organize what is essentially a "technique" book -- and that's a heck of a relief. Unfortunately, the particular organization probably won't apply to what you're trying to do.

post #24 of 34
Thread Starter 
if you guys need help with the self publishing look into LuLu is a popular the software, mess with it....BDL feel free to use my images, (and email me for which ones to use so I can send you magazine/book resolution)

the thing about self publishing is NO OVERHEAD WHAT SO EVER. customers order the book through LuLu and its printed for them. Sure, it raises the cost a little and your profit margin isn't big, but you can see initial interest before shopping it around.
post #25 of 34
Not a bad idea at all. Long way to go before getting close enough to that bridge to burn it.

post #26 of 34
What was your experience with LuLu? How did the finished product look? Since you mentioned pictures I am assuming that you had full color, how did that affect the cost? Did you worry about an ISBN number? If so what is their process?
I write a weekly column for a newspaper and have had readers repeatedly ask for a book version with some of my “better” columns and some new stuff added in. I have a market, albeit limited, and have been looking into self-publishing for over a year. Life happens and every time I get close to going through with it something comes up.
Now I’m getting super inspired by BDL and others here and since I have recently become syndicated in a small fashion I’m starting to put more thought to it. I’m not shot in the rear end with the service that Amazon/Booksurge or whatever it is offers. I only briefly looked at LuLu and had thought that I would go with a smaller company I found on-line, but couldn’t get enough background from them.
I don’t need to sell thousands, I’ll settle for the couple of hundred that I can easily sell in my market. Heck, it might even pay for Christmas... of next year.:rolleyes:
post #27 of 34
ohhh Thanks BDL :blush:
thats such a lovely compliment , Im so passionate about working with food and i just love all that goes with it

RP a really great cookbook in the style your looking for is the essentials of cooking by jim patterson
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #28 of 34
as this thread has developed, methinks you are not looking for "a cookbook" but rather a book on "how to cook"

not a "bad" thought at all - whole institutions are devoted to teaching that.
post #29 of 34
Thread Starter 
like everyone mentioned, its great for gifts. but your profit margin isn't great if you're looking to make "real" money. However, the quality is really, really good, providing you have good quality pictures (high-res and high DPI)

also you can even get an ISBN number if you like
post #30 of 34
How about a On line video culinary school. I am sure you could put together
couses that once completed with home study,video critque of dish students make and charge a nominal fee. once student finished he would have enough chops to get a decent job some where.If it was laid out in a gradient manner
easy to hard with some food science thrown in **** dude you could be the dean of boar d laz international school of fine cuizine.
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