Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #21 - My Favorite Cookbooks

Many of you already know that I love cooking (or more precisely I love eating good food and am happy willing to cook it to get it) and that I collect cookbooks, often bringing one back as a souvenir of my travels. This week I'm going to share 13 of my favorites with you. They're not all the most sophisticated. In fact, some are pretty basic, but they're all tried and true standbyes that I can turn to and feel confident of finding delicious to eat.

1. Sheila Lukins' USA Cook Book - this one was a real find. It was in an odds and ends bin in a small bookstore I just happened to stumble into in a small city in Israel. I got it for about $5 and it became an instant favorite. All those great American standards, but with loads of interesting twists. And, it has my favorite chocolate brownie recipe.

2. The New Pillsbury Family Cookbook, 1975 edition - this one was my grandmother's, which makes it all the more special now that she's gone. It's ancient and battered and completely outdated (recipes say things like "use 1 can of mushrooms (ok to substitute fresh)", but for the basics it can't be beat. Whether it's finding out how long to roast a stuffed turkey or finding the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, this one gets the job done. As long as you only use it for the standards it serves just fine, just don't look here for anything more exotic than a salad, unless you want it covered in aspic LOL!

3. Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook - The bible for healthier vegetarian cooking, but not just for vegetarians. After more than 15 years with this book I still find new discoveries. You can tell my favorites by the number of stains on the page. Be forewarned though, vegetarian food is not necessarily diet food!

4. New York Cookbook, Molly O'Neill - a taste of home on every page, in all it's multicultural glory.

5. Gloria Bey Miller's The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook - the absolute must-have handbook for anyone who wants to learn to cook Chinese food. I don't refer to it that much anymore, but it's served me long and well and still retains pride of place as a reference book.

6. 100 Fast Noodles, John Midgley - many of my very favorite noodle recipes come from here, including mango chicken, pepper chicken, and the ever-popular cold sesame noodles

7. Marcella Hazan, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (the one that got my husband started making homemade pastas and pizzas!). Marcella NEVER takes shortcuts. She can be an incredible pain in the ass, but she knows her stuff. The gold standard for classic Italian cooking.

8. A Taste of the Caribbean, by Angela Spenceley - a vacation in a book! This one even has cocktail recipes. Every time I cook something from this book I imagine myself sailing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean again.

9. Gap's Cooking School Thai cookbook - poorly printed and chock full of MAJOR mistakes, but a great souvenir from a fun day in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It's even a good cookbook guideline if you remember to use common sense when the recipe says something ridiculous (like an entire CUP of chili paste! My god, that would singe your eyebrows off!).

10. Mevashlim, Haim Cohen - an Israeli cookbook (in Hebrew) by one of Israel's favorite chefs. What makes this one unique is that it's arranged by ingredient, rather than by course, so if you go to the greengrocers and find that the asparagus, or cherries, or broad beans look great you can snap them up and then come home and easily find inspiration for what to do with them.

11. My birthday cake books. I'll lump all these together. I have four or five books just on decorating birthday cakes. My kids pore over them for weeks before their birthdays, heck months even, trying to decide which cakes they want that year. And since each birthday needs at least 3 different cakes (friends party, afternoon program, and family party) that means I've generally got my work cut out for me.

12. The Northwest Best Places Cookbook. Another vacation souvenir, from an earlier trip. It's got amazing, albeit fairly complex and time-consuming recipes.

13. Pasta e Verdura, Jack Bishop. An entire book of vegetable-based pasta sauces. Always something fun in there.

Whew. That was tough. So many great cookbooks to choose from... So, what are some of YOUR favorites?

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Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful list (but um 1975 is not "ancient!"). I love those old Pillsbury cookbooks. I'm going to be using some of your vegetarian recipes this weekend (my son is in town and he didn't inherit his mother's love of bacon!). I'll let you know which ones I picked...

Anonymous said...

I love cookbooks! Aren't the recipes great? Lovely list.

Anonymous said...

I don't cook much at all because I'm not a great cook and most especially, because I live alone. But when I do, I like Rachel Ray's '30 Minute Meals' cookbooks and also her show on the Food Network. Great TT list.

Suprina said...

Robin-Collecting Cookbooks is one of my hobbies. Eric alwasy get so annoyied everytime I bring home a new one.
Awesome Thursday Thirteen!

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! I love cooking and collecting cook books too. I just bought "Timeless Recipe for All Occassions", from recipes by Jean Pare. It is such a gem, particularly since I got it at a reduced price at a clearance sale!

Happy TT. =D

Mom not Mum (Sandy) said...

Some of those look great!! Now I'm hungry.

Gattina said...

I loved to cook in the past but after 30 years I am fat up and don't cook anymore or just a little !

Unknown said...

The problem with reading these lists is that I always get hungry. maybe that is a good cue to skidoo into the kitchen and whip up let's say, a nice cake???

Anyhow, these are great resources. I'll be checking back again and hopefully by then, I'll be really motivated to cook.

btw, did you ever use any recipes from Julia Child?

(completely way off topic: I was an officer in the Nahal brigade to answer your question, completely voluntary. I tried to respond directly from my other blog, but couldn't get through)

Anonymous said...

What a fun TT. It feels almost like peeking in someone's closet--so what do you have in there? LOL! My shelves are heavy on Italian cookbooks, though I don't think I have the ones you mentioned.

And Moosehead cookbook brings back memories of college. My roommates loved that book and used it often.

Happy TT!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

For a cookbook, 1975 is ancient all right. Aspic??? WOW!!

Our favorite cookbooks are by Nina Simonds. She writes Asian cooking; she had an Asian Noodles book that's just amazing. Not a clunker in the lot.

Lori said...

I dont like to cook...maybe I'll pick one up for my DBF:) Happy TT.

Janet said...

OH, I have so many! Chiang Mai, how ironic you mention that...I was sending an email to someone there for work yesterday!

Mercy's Maid said...

I have a great Nestle cookbook with lots of great cookie and dessert recipes. That's probably my favorite.

Anonymous said...

I'm with 'eclectic' on 1975 not being ancient. Because then that would make me...erm....really ancient! :o) I LOVE cookbooks as well. Best of Bridges and Ina Garten are just two of the many many cookbooks I enjoy. Great list!

Anonymous said...

Great list, but now I'm hungry! I love Marcella Hazan's book - especially the lentil soup recipe!

L^2 said...

I'll have to check some of these out. I don't have very many cookbooks (but I bet my Mom has some of these - she has tons!).

Thanks for visiting my list. :-)

Anonymous said...

You know I love,love,love recipes. I'll have to get that Caribbean one.

Brilliant list. One can never have too many cookbooks! :)

Happy TT!

Nancy said...

Really good list here.

I will have to check out the 100 Fast Noodles for my daughter. A Taste of the Caribbean looks like one I'd like too.

Just D said...

I am definately not a cook but some of those sound like something my daughter would love to have!

Robin said...

Not to worry, 1975 is definitely not ancient for a person, just for a cookbook. Culinarily, the 70's were all about canned vegetables and bland, overcooked everything. You should see some of the recipes in this thing. I wasn't kidding about the aspic. That, and about 27 different kinds of jello salad! They did do the basics like roast meats and cookies darn well though.

To paraphrase, we've come a long way baby.

Tink said...

I'm not much of a cook, but I like cookbooks. :-)
Thanks for visiting my essentials TT!

Lisa said...

My favorite cookbook is the one my church published in 1990- favorite because it has all of my mom and grandma's best recipes in it!

Happy Thursday, my list is up too.

Eimi said...

I wish I loved to cook! Cause I do love to eat!!

Scribbit said...

I really need to update my cookbooks--throw out the ones I don't use and get some new ones. I have a Sheila Lukins book that I use from time to time but the rest are new to me.

The pasta books sound wonderful though.

Andi said...

Right now your linky is not working for some reason.

I am going to start reading through "Cooking with Regis & Kathy Lee." Sorry, if I spelled Kathy Lee wrong. :-)

Martha said...

Moosewood cookbooks is great, however, it's more for "inspiration" (I have never liked any of the recipes "as is", however, all that I have tried have been FABULOUS with just a few adjustments.
I own "the Settlement cookbook" - the way to a man's heart, a boon for the bride. I've never used it. It's "ancient" (circa 1944 for the 26th edition - the recipes are off b/c of the changes in technology. sounds odd. but it's quite true).
Better Homes and Gardens is another classes (ole red and white checks)