Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Open Thread: 5 Dessert Island Cookbooks

Well, maybe not dessert island since you'd just have crab and lime and coconut milk and really, you'd just need to make some fish sauce, but let's say you could only have five cookbooks -- ever -- for the kind of cooking *you* do. What are the five most used cookbooks in your library? What are the five you couldn't live without?


braingirl said...

*Bittman's How to Cook Everything *Breakaway Japanese (Eric Gower)
*Cowboy in the Kitchen (Grady Spears)
*(Simple to Spectacular (Bittman/Vongerichten)

Aaaannd, I'm embarassed to say something like The Cake Mix Doctor versus something like Chez Panisse Desserts or Baking with Julia. (I'm so not a baker/dessert maker.)

Anonymous said...

New Basics (rosso and lukens)
Yellow Farm House Cookbook (Kimball)
French Laundry Cookbook (Keller)
Joy of Cooking (rombauer, becker)
Vegetarian Epicure (Thomas)

John Ferringer said...

- The Barbecue Bible by Steve Raichlen
- Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison
- Healthy Cooking: For People Who Don't Have Time To Cook by Jeanne Jones
- Complete Grilling Cookbook by Williams-Sonoma
- My wife's grandmother's handwritten notebook of German family recipes...this one's priceless!

Needless to say I'm chomping at the bit until the weather is nice enough to be able to grill and BBQ every night, it can't come soon enough!

Brendan said...

Surely you mean desert island, right?

In any case:
1) How to Cook Everything
2) Shiok!
3) Lord Krishna's Art of Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
4) Classic Indian Cooking
5) Joy of Cooking

What I love about all of these books is not so much the recipes (especially true of Joy of Cooking, since I have the wretched 1971 edition), but that they are all technique-focused in a way that allows for great improvisational range. Some of the methods of making sauces from Lord Krishna in particular have informed even my non-Asian-inspired cooking.

If my better half were writing this list, I know New Basics would appear, but for some reason I have trouble warming up to it.

braingirl said...

Brendan, I know what you mean about having a good book with the basics so you can get the idea and then improvise. I never bonded with Joy, that way, but it's the way I use "the Bittman Book" (How to Cook Everything.) I was hoping the International Bittman would be the same, but it hasn't been for me.

Is the Yellow Farm House book Christopher Kimball of Cook's Illustrated? I find that I tire of his lectures in the magazine. Then I get frustrated when the techniques vary wildly by author in the other books.

Brendan said...

With you on International Bittman. I never bought it, because I looked up a few classic Indian and Singaporean recipes I know well and found some shortcuts that I could already see were destined to cause disappointment. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is a mixed bag; from it, I have learned that much as Bittman tries sometimes, soy sauce is just no substitute for fish sauce. But I have also learned about the miracle of seitan, a bizarre but really fun ingredient that everyone should make at home at least once.

indieats said...

On a desert island, I'd assume I'd have a lot of time, so I'd pick:

Simple French Food (Richard Olney)
Crescent City Cooking (Susan Spicer)
The Key to Chinese Cooking (Irene Kuo)
Lost Recipes (Marion Cunnigham)
Cooking Across America (Bernard Clayton)