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Do you need cookbooks? - Page 2

post #31 of 41

There is a lot of very good information to learn from cookbooks regardless of your skill levels. I also believe there are hidden gems on the internet, but you have to be willing to sift thru mountains of random, inconclusive, and sometimes dangerous recipes that someone may try to recreate from a youtube video and post on their blog :/


I have been in the culinary field for a worthwhile amount of time, so I know how to cook the proteins, I know how to work with a wide range of vegetables, starches, fruits, grains, etc., so I take a different approach to the recipes I am either trying to make or flavor combos I'd like to acheive. When I look at a new recipe that a friend or family member brings me, I look at the cooking method used, the spice blends (paying attention to the ratio), and any specifics that make this recipe different. I can't remember the last time I literally followed step 1, step 2, and so forth, unless it was a baking recipe (baking is a different ball game, I'm a savory chef).


A lot of cookbooks I've come across tend to tone down the flavors, and I continuously would add a tablespoon more of this, a teaspoon of that, in an effort to make the food pop and not just settle for satisfactory. Learn to cook the proteins correctly (so you don't die or kill the wife/husband), be mindful of cross contamination, and above all else... taste, season, taste. Part of being a great cook is knowing how to correct the balance between the bitter, sour, sweet, salty and the goal is the umami.


Books and the internet are great for learning plate presentations and exploring new garnish ideas. When I'm going to grab a book or two to help brainstorm something new, I lean towards the following (not a conclusive list, but some good ones):


The Flavor Bible
International Cuisine
Complete Book of Sauces


If I'd like some plating ideas, I'll look through a number of pictures online. When plating, I make sure I have an excellent sauce, a strong protein cooked to temp, crisp vegetables, full flavor starch, and other key variables to include are texture, height, color, and functional garnish (i.e. don't throw a twig of rosemary on my steak or stab my chicken with lemongrass for the height).


In summary, there are a lot of good resources out there, but everyone's palate is different. The key to excellent cooking is simple, use your senses. Does it smell good? Did you taste it and make adjustments? Is it visually appealing? I may be a chef, but I am a cook first, and a lifetime student. There is a wealth of knowledge in books, online, and from everyday cooks you come across in life. Be open to learning from everywhere, but use common sense as there is good AND bad information out there. In the end, it's YOUR plate, make it special.

Edited by jcmochef - 1/8/15 at 8:42am
post #32 of 41

well said

post #33 of 41
Time to purge. I have over 1000 cookbooks (they have their own room) and 1400 plus e cookbooks. My dad is terminally I'll and my mom has dementia. I have to sell my house and go home. The agony of selecting which ones to keep. If you were stranded on a deserted island and had only 5 cookbooks with you, which ones would they be and why?
post #34 of 41

By the book Umami the Fifth Taste, forwarded by Thomas Keller and Harold McGee, and you'll see why cook books are better than the internet in some cases

post #35 of 41
Originally Posted by Krys View Post

Time to purge. I have over 1000 cookbooks (they have their own room) and 1400 plus e cookbooks. My dad is terminally I'll and my mom has dementia. I have to sell my house and go home. The agony of selecting which ones to keep. If you were stranded on a deserted island and had only 5 cookbooks with you, which ones would they be and why?

Take them with you, put them in storage. They seem important to you and you shouldn't handle it this way necessarily. 


As you put them in storage, inventory them with some automated tools, usually as simple as scanning the bar code with your smart phone. 


Book Catalogue is a good one but more suited to keeping your books. You could note which box which books are going into. I know this runs on Android but I don't know if there's an iOS port. 


For a more sales oriented approach, their are some books sales apps, though I have no experience with any of them. 


Me, i'd go Book Catalogue and and store them and simultaneously a book sales app. This would be easiest with two devices so you didn't have to switch back and forth between apps.  This gives me the option to sell at my leisure and with consideration. Plus be able to find the books readily in storage for selling or for your own use.


You might consider taking a photo of your needed recipes while you do this so you can transcribe them or OCR them later as well. 


As to which 5 to keep, I couldn't keep just 5. But it would be heavily informed by the kind of cooking I'd be doing with two ailing parents taking up my time. So think of things for fast quality cooking. Pepin's two volumes of Fast Food My Way,  Weeknight Cooking by Cook's Illustrated, Skillet Dinners by Cook's Illustrated, Joy of Cooking just for it's complete reference. That's 5, but I'd have to take probably 10 more ethnic cookbooks to satisfy my ethnic eating habits. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #36 of 41

Only 5? Oh, the horror.


If someone put a gun to my head the 5 would probably be:


Joy of Cooking--Because it covers so much basic ground. You'd be surprised at how far this one book gets you.


James Peterson's Essentials of Cooking--Just about any technique you might need is painstakingly illustrated in this book.


The Flavor Bible--Flavor profiles and affinities from around the world that can be applied to just about any raw ingredients.


On Food and Cooking--The whys and hows of the science of cooking.


Ratio--Basic formulas for all manor of building block recipes. Intended to be "blank slates" that may be riffed on at will.


If this were truly a desert island situation, I think a well-rounded set of good culinary skills could be preserved and passed on using just these 5 books.


I'm with Phatch, though. I would terribly miss my large collection of ethnic cookbooks if I had to give them up. 

post #37 of 41
I don't have to take JOC, my mom has the same edition that I have. I don't usually follow a recipe. I start with the flavor profile for the protein and carry it through. I will bring Professional Chef and Nutrition for Food Service & Culinary Pros (I imagine I will reference it often). I probably will bring 25. I will bring some of those regional church/Jr league CBS for "down home comfort food." I can't get too fancy with them. I won't be able to çook spicy so no red curries. I might get away with fish tacos. They live in an Internet free zone and no gourmet food shops. Hence, the deserted. I would not do this for any other reason.
post #38 of 41
I find cookbooks to be excellent for basic technique and reference. I have a heavy pastry focus, so I like to poke around the Internet for flavor ideas, but usually stick to classic textbook techniques. High altitude makes things a bit more interesting.
post #39 of 41
Never said anything about not missing my cookbooks...They are a prominent part of my decor. I usually have at least 15 one my desk when I am researching new techniques or looking for inspiration.
post #40 of 41

If you asked me this question years ago I would say no but the more I cooked recopies from the internet the more angry I got. I believe the internet is the "best" source of information but we all know what type of recopies you end up finding and how easily one can adept bad habits. But over a year ago I started buying cookbooks and I simply love them. First of all there is a certain consistency in the style you cook when using a book ... I do not know how I can explain this but you can easily see it from one book to an other even if they have similar recipes. Also if the book is of a great chef most of the time he will explain more than just the recipe .. most will go in great detail about the ingredients and the concept/purpose of the dish I believe this will give one great insight what he is cooking and knowledge.


What one must keep in mind is that cookbooks are by no means a "fact" ... one should feel free to explore and cook whatever comes to mind.

post #41 of 41

No but I do use magazines for ideas and for presentation ideas.​

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