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Book recommendations for the home chef?

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 

Greetings everyone,

 

I'm looking for a set of recommendations for books that will be of great value to the home chef.  Something that gives a solid foundation to everything, perhaps along the lines of Larousse Gastronimique.  What other "Bibles" are there?

 

A few things about me:  I cook almost entirely vegetarian (primarily for the wife, as I am not a vegetarian).  I'm very proficient in Indian, Thai, Italian and New American styles.  I have a good foundation of skills already and can recreate most things without a recipe.

 

Since I am not professionally trained, I simply want to identify if I have any holes in my knowledge.

 

Also, specifically, there was a book that I remember that listed almost every type of ingredient available and then what paired well with it.  Can you please tell me what the name of that book is?

Thanks everyone!

post #2 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadwick View Post
Also, specifically, there was a book that I remember that listed almost every type of ingredient available and then what paired well with it.  Can you please tell me what the name of that book is?


Thanks everyone!



The Flavor Bible: http://www.amazon.com/Flavor-Bible-Essential-Creativity-Imaginative/dp/0316118400

post #3 of 52

It's difficult to recommend books, when those of us outwith the USA have different opinions about what constitutes a great cookbook!

post #4 of 52

"Ratio, The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", Michael Ruhlman, Scribner, ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6611-3

 

"Culinary Artistry", Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-28785-7

 

"Complete Techniques", Jacques Pépin, Black Dog & Leventhal, ISBN 1-57912-165-9 (paperback) 1-57912-220-5 (harscover)

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 52
Thread Starter 

@French Fries - That's it, thanks!

 

@Ishbel - Not looking for a cookbook really, but more of a fundamentals book.  

 

@PeteMccracken - Perfection, thanks!  The Ratio book will be a great addition as that's what I tend to look for (and most home cooks tend to ignore, I think).  

post #6 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadwick View Post

I simply want to identify if I have any holes in my knowledge.


We ALL have holes in our knowledge. Some holes are big enough to drive a truckload of Chef Boy-ar-dee canned goods through them, others are fine enough to strain a stock.

I'll recommend two books. The Joy of Cooking is a classic work with tons of information and recipes covering a very wide range of ingredients, techniques and tips. The second book I recommend is very limited, covering a single subject : Sauces by James Peterson. Don't be fooled by the "limited' and "single subject" tags - the book has a vast wealth of information about sauces, their ingredients, techniques, how they are used and so on. Think of it in terms of architecture - the book tells you how to put two bricks together with the proper mortar. Building the skyscraper is up to you.

Oh, a very honorable mention to Julia Childs and Mastering the Art of French Cooking

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #7 of 52

I recently bought The Flavor Bible.  It is an incredible book!

 

I also have "The Professional Chef" 

 

I was recently shown the book Think Like a Chef.  It looks like another great book.  Unfortunately I haven't bought it yet.  I guess I need to wait for Christmas. Lol.

post #8 of 52

 

 

Quote:
Also, specifically, there was a book that I remember that listed almost every type of ingredient available and then what paired well with it.  Can you please tell me what the name of that book is?

I believe you are thinking of Culinary Artistry, as previously mentioned. I do not own The Flavor Bible, but they are by the same authors so I do not doubt that it also describes the similar ideas.

 

In my opinion, Professional Chef is more aimed for the professional kitchen setting although with a little bit of adjustment it makes a great reference book, especially it does not concentrate on specific type of cuisine.

 

Each cuisines has different fundamentals of techniques, a lot of times it's just different names for the very similar things.  One book I CAN suggest for French cuisine fundamental technique is Le guide Culinaire by Escoffier the English translation version of it. My cooking foundation is based on French cooking techniques and the book for me is a must-have.  As you have described of your need, it's not a recipe book but a reference "bible" of the nouvelle cuisine.

post #9 of 52

There are a lot of great suggestions from all the above posters.  If you want more suggestions use the search feature on this site and you will come up with a number of questions similar to yours.  All of those threads have lots more great suggestions for beginner cookbooks.  Good luck!!!!

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 #10 of 52

A thread like this should not be closed without mention of 'Il Cucchiaio d'Argento" - the Italian kitchen bible since 1950. Translated to English in 2005 and published by Phaidon press (www.phaidon.com) it is now avialable as "The Silver Spoon". Looking at regional recipes, techniques and preferences throughout the country, it also gives a comprehensive overview of cooking equipment, ingedients, sauces, and histories of how the modern Italian cuisine evolved. This is the definitive Italian cookbook.

post #11 of 52
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone.  Looks like I'm going to have a lot more books to buy!

post #12 of 52

I would recommend a website, Rouxbe.com...those folks are centered on technique, rather than just recipes. they are awesome.

post #13 of 52

check out mark bitman, moosewood, fanny farmer , 

t

post #14 of 52

i like alton brown on line

post #15 of 52

The only book I think is a must have is The Food Lovers Companion. It is basically a culinary dictionary with terms/terminology etc. All "food lovers" should have one on hand.

post #16 of 52

I like Mark Bittman's "How to cook everything"It starts with a basic idea and then gives tonnes of variations .....

It's actually very close to the way I cook.

Think what you want to make, substitute whatever you don't have for something else and go ahead

 

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Life is too short to drink bad wine
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post #17 of 52

Chadwick:

Many of the aforementioned books are good books, as I own some of them already.

If you are seeking textbooks, these are the most commonly used textbooks in many Culinary Arts, and Baking and Pastry Arts programs:

On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals

On Baking: A Texbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals

ACF Culinary Fundamentals

Baking Fundamentals

The Art and Science of Culinary Preparation [Home Study Course]

The Professional Chef

Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft

Professional Cooking

Professional Baking

The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef

The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry

chef.gif


Edited by TheUnknownCook - 12/7/10 at 10:31am
Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
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Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
Reply
post #18 of 52

i like any book by jane brody, her "good food book" is my favorite.

 

she makes nutrition a primary consideration, and works backwards.  turns out that eating healthy is usually cheaper, too.

post #19 of 52

I have a very large cookbook collection (754 books at last count) and there is one book which has probably been used more than any other over the years.  It is "The Complete Asian Cookbook" by Charmaine Solomon who is a Sri Lankan living in Australia.  Here's a link: http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781904010180/The-Complete-Asian-Cookbook?utm_medium=api&utm_campaign=usbooko&a_aid=booko&utm_term=9781904010180&utm_source=book_link&utm_content=The-Complete-Asian-Cookbook

 

I have had my copy since the late 1970's, and the one in the link above is a new revised one which was published on the 25th anniversary of the first edition.  The book covers all Asian countries and has an extensive glossary giving the various names for the ingredients from the various countries.

 

I have cooked >100 recipes from the book and never had a failure.  The recipes are well described and any "new" techniques or methods are well explained.

 

For anyone wishing to experiment with the various Asian cuisines this is the best place to start.

 

Cheers,

 

Peter.

post #20 of 52

Being a foodie and a techie, I usally wind up looking up most things online  (from Food Network chefs to cheftalk.com forums) but as far as a reference book for the kitchen, there is only one in mine ... The Joy of Cooking!

post #21 of 52

I agree that Bittmans "How to Cook Everything" is likely the finest HOME cook book. I learn something every time I open it and have used it to teach my kids not just how how to cook, but how to think about cooking. He de-mystifies techniques and ingredients makes great cooking very accessible.

"Food Lovers Companion"  is probabaly the most aptly named book in the English language. My original copy is almost 20 years old and is still vital to my daily work and home food planning and exploration.

"The Professional Chef" in an interesting read, but I don't see it for home, regular use. I not found "The Joy of Cooking"  to be very easy to work with.

post #22 of 52

Which is the best printing to buy? 

Quote:
Originally Posted by linny29 View Post

Being a foodie and a techie, I usally wind up looking up most things online  (from Food Network chefs to cheftalk.com forums) but as far as a reference book for the kitchen, there is only one in mine ... The Joy of Cooking!

post #23 of 52

Jame's Peterson book "sauces" was mentioned above. If you're looking for books you can learn some techniques from, I encourage you to look at more of his books.

post #24 of 52

I am a big fan of Hervé This, and would recommend any of his books for anyone interested in the science of cooking. Particularly, Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism.

post #25 of 52

James Peterson's Cooking is my number one favorite cookbook.  I've been cooking for over 50 years and have lots of cookbooks but "Cooking" is my goto cookbook. 

post #26 of 52

The people before me have made some great suggestions, I.E. I've used my Pro Chef for years and wouldn't be without it, however it has very little in it that veg*n and most of the other suggestions are the same, no matter how good they are otherwise.

I'm not a vegetarian but I've cooked in a university town for many years, and many of the students are, so I've learned to prepare for them and I've adopted some of their foods for myself.

 

By Isa Chandra Moskowitz:

Vegan with a Vengeance

Veganomicon, with Terry Hope Romero

Appetite for Reduction

 

Appetite for Reduction was my first veg*n cookbook and is still one of my favorites, and the Veganomicon is considered the Veg*n Gastronimique by many people.

 

The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking) by Mollie Katzen and

The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen by Edward Espe Brown are both good veg*n cookbooks.

post #27 of 52

The Joy of Cooking has been our family bible for three generations. I managed to get a copy with metric measurements, which is convenient, depending on which side of the pond you live.

post #28 of 52

Plus one here on several suggestions: (OBTW, this is my very first post here)

  When considering going to culinary school and as a veteran vegetarian of over 30 years I thought I'd just get the textbooks typically used in Culinary Schools, spend gobs of money on professional kitchen tools instead, I'm glad I did.

 

On Cooking, can't be without this one.  Though it's not a vegetarian book the things you really need to cook like a pro are all in here as well as all the techniques.

On Baking, same as above  

I can't say that I'm in love with "The New Larousse Gastronomiques" but it's certainly a handy reference.

The Flavor Bible

Culinary Artistry

The Pasta Bible

Mastering Knife Skills,  another book you shouldn't pass over while not an actual cooking book it certainly helps

The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest, while you might consider this a "Cookbook" I consider it a workbook on vegetarian and vegan cooking.  I wore out the original and replaced it with this one.

The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine, Elliot, Outstanding

I have numerous other books and cherish both of my Rick Bayless books which I highly recommend as his knowledge of spices is delightful.  I tweak all of his recipes for our vegetarian needs.

Laurels Kitchen

There are several cookbooks on Indian foods that are worth looking into as well as considering belonging to your local Indian Center.  Their foods are among the tastiest in the world and the whole country is like 80% vegetarian.   If you can get to a Hare Krisna (now ISKCON) group they have a Vegetarian dinner open to the public every Sunday and it's well worth the trip no matter how far.  They typically grow all of their own food, really fresh, all organic.  Mexican, South American and Caribbean are delicious as well and all of them lend themselves to vegetarian versions.  Good luck.

post #29 of 52

If I were to give a Christmas gift to an aspiring home cook, I would give two books only: Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson and Ruhlman's Twenty by Michael Ruhlman.  With the use of over 1,000 color photos and very clear, patient text, Peterson takes you through every conceivable kitchen technique; on page two, he demonstrates peeling asparagus, on page 200 he demonstrates the making of pot-au-feu.  Ruhlman divides the world of cooking into twenty arbitrary but valid and useful compartments (Soup/Egg/Braise) and he explains and demonstrates in a very clear and generous way (and with 100 recipes) what and how and why.

 

With all due respect, this ChefTalk gang is a pretty high-powered bunch, and you are being tossed some pretty advanced and esoteric books.  Flavor Bible and Culinary Artistry, for instance, are pure Inside Baseball books which allow you to listen in on world class chefs gabbing about some of the amazing concoctions they've concocted. Sorta like spending an afternoon in the Jockey's Room at Churchill Downs when you are trying to learn how to mount the horse.
 

post #30 of 52

Recently, after owning most of these above books that have been recommended, I simply find myself going online and reading a half dozen recipes for a dish that received five stars from those that have tried them.  For example, I made salmon cakes last night, and after reading several reviews, made a concoction of what sounded best to me, along with my own twist (being a food chemist first, I like to consider the variabilities).  It saves time, inspires creativity, and is 99% something that is simply delicious.  When my friends and family who are the complete food critics say, "menu item!", I know I hit a home run.

I recently read where a famous French chef committed suicide because he lost a Michelin star.  Some say that he has lost his vision while other say that he lost his inspiration. I know I will always attempt new variations, such as adding cinnamon and crisped seasoned potato flakes in addition to my, "mirepoix dan la variation" to my salmon cakes to keep it fresh... 

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