For some reason, last night it seemed like a great idea to organize my cookbooks. I need to do a little culling of the herd so I decided to finally get them in good order.
There are a lot of them. My father raised us to read cookbooks like novels–stories of flavor, technique and gathering those you love and feeding them. We all have a lot of them and we fiercely protect them–my sister and I have been stealing the Kathleen’s Bake Shop book from each other for years (for the record, I have it now) and I have a borrowed Craig Claiborne book that my dad calls about hourly.
I decided to organize into categories–magazine books, people, places, vintage (I’m looking at you Franklin Habit) and, my very favorite, community cookbooks. It seemed like a good idea to gather all my favorites into one shelf regardless of category which got me to thinking–what cookbook would make me go into a full out meltdown if the guy from Hoarders asked me get rid of it.
The answer was easy: The Silver Palate New Basics. It was a gift from a lovely woman (who was also a knitter) for my 27th birthday. Funny to see how food has changed. Ingredients that seemed so exotic or hard to get (goat cheese!) I can now buy in any old grocery store.
So what’s your favorite and why?
My grandmother taught me to read cookbooks the same way you learned. I don’t know that I have an actual favorite, but the one I reach for most is The Silver Spoon, a translation from Italian, sort of their “old standby” and recipes are sorted by ingredient, which makes it super useful.
There are a few that I will not part with, though the internet cookbooks are my go-to instant reference. There will be shelf space forever for the Moosewood cookbook (the original and it’s updated sister), a wonderful mennonite cookbook called Food that Really Schmecks, and a gathering of regional parish and congregation cookbooks from several states and provinces. I am also never parting with the years of Cooks’ Illustrated. These are in addition to the recipe collections of the family cooks who have moved on the Cooks’ Heaven.
Sometimes I cull the herd and sometimes I indulge the urge to acquire. But the cookbook of my desert island kitchen is - and has been for years - Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques.
It’s a menu book, dinner parties for eight. But homey Sunday supper parties! Organized by season. It’s a thing of beauty. Though not my copy, which is falling apart.
I especially recommend the torchio
Mine is one I received at my wedding shower from the author, who was a friend of my great grandmother. It’s called the Columbia Restaurant Recipes. It is a collection of the most popular recipes from the Ybor City restaurant that is very popular and has a few locations throughout Florida. It began in 1907 (I think) and is truly authentic. The cookbook has not just the actual recipes, but many original pictures of the famous people who have eaten there and memories of the original days of Ybor City when it was truly Cigar City and Jose Marti ruled the bodegas. Her father founded the restaurant and her sons and grandchildren run it today. I grew up eating Cuban food and all our family’s special occasions, including my engagement dinner and baby showers were held here. My children went to the elementary school a few blocks away, and the Gonzmart family would always donate a dinner for a fundraiser and they would always have the fifth grade banquet in their banquet room. I have fond memories of doing the Cupid Shuffle with a Croquettes de Jamon in each hand! Miss Adela, who was fairly infirm by then, commented that I had craved those while expecting said child, so I might as well indulge while dancing with her! And yes, the croquettes recipe, along with arroz con pollo and the famous paella is in there!
I have that cookbook! I love it!!! When we were little kids my grandparents moved to Long Boat Key, FL. To get there you go to Sarasota, cross Bird Key, cross St. Armand’s Key and then onto Long Boat Key. The other Columbia Restaurant is on the circle in St. Armand’s and my sister and I were absolutely fascinated by it!! We thought it was the height of tropical elegance and glamour! My sister’s husband is Australian so a few years ago and we all live in NY so a few years ago she they took a road trip through the South East and of course had to stop there for dinner. She brought me back the cookbook as the BEST souvenir!
My father gave me the Joy Of Cooking in college. He got it as a bonus from one of those book clubs that gave you free books as a perk for joining. Alot to learn in that book. I also still have Laurel’
s Kitchen from that era. You know you are old when your youth was an era.
I would have to take 3 to any desert or other island I plan to be stuck on.
(1) Bittman How to cook everything Down to earth, basic but with lots of variations, comprehensive (at least about the standard American diet), no la-di-dah embellishments.
(2) Even though I’m now mostly vegetarian I will always cherish Julia Child’s first Mastering . . . because she taught me how to cook.
(3) You wouldn’t believe how useful 150 Things to do with Roast Chicken by Tony Rosenfeld could be in a household that’s almost meatless. Many of the recipes focus on vegetables and flavoring rather than chicken, and they all WORK and are delicious.
I’ll have to say that my favorite cookbook is . . . mine. A clunky white 3-ring binder furnished with dimestore blue-lined paper–worth about $3.79 all told–is filled with recipes that I’ve clipped, recipes I’ve been given, recipes that are family traditions–and is a priceless treasure to me (and to the people I feed, too!).
The binder has gained a lot of weight, so it’s on a sort of recipe diet. I have three more binders, and new recipes start there. If they make the grade they graduate to the hallowed Mother Binder.
I’m aware that I could do all this very efficiently by storing everything on my laptop. But I don’t want to. I like the old, tattered, splotched-with-this-and-that, sometimes handwritten paper recipes.
I also have a book of recipes that I’ve collected in my 30, no, nearly 40 years of cooking. I have certainly culled a few over the years as our tastes and diets have changed.
Some are written out by my mother, my daughters, and many friends. It’s a treasure!
I go through love affairs with cookbooks, but the most torrid of them all has to have been the one I had with Didi Emmon’s Vegetarian Planet a number of years ago. I return to her every once in awhile with heady nostalgia for the first time I made almost every dish in that book. My favorite recipes remain her salad dressings and the vegetable pot pie. I am also very fond of my time with Jeffrey Alford’s Hot Sour Salty Sweet, but I have been flirting with Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem lately. Both of these two are not only delicious, they are gorgeous to look at too.
I like that too. The spills, the dog-ears, the random handwritten recipe. I have one in my binder that my grandmother wrote out for me. I love having that little bit of her with me in the kitchen.
I love my binder of random recipes. I also love The Joy of Cooking. And Pinterest of course. Pinterest is awesome. I just wish it was easier to find recipes once I’ve pinned them.
By Joe Yonan: Serve Yourself and Eat Your Vegetables. Both have recipes designed for one person (two meals for me though) and the latter is vegetarian with modifications for vegan. DH and I have different schedules and preferences, so we usually cook for ourselves, unless I do a Meat and Potatoes Extravaganza (his usual; my splurge) for the occasional Sunday supper.
Southern Biscuits is a fave. There are a few I make all the time, but my goal is to make every biscuit in the book. There are variants, too. The Lazy Girl Peach Cobbler is delicious. Active time is like 5 minutes. I’ve done it barely functioning, fresh out of bed.
Nigella’s How to Eat. Like Joe Yonan’s books, there are a lot of things you can do or improvise with things you have on hand.
And there’s the classic Joy of Cooking, either making a favorite dish for the umpteenth time, or consulting.
A couple years ago a knitting student taught me to make sauerkraut. That led me to the book by Sandor Ellix Katz: “Wild Fermentation” and now my kitchen is a zoo. Sauerkraut is just the beginning. With Katz’s guidance, it’s not much of a leap to sourdough breads, kimchi, kombucha and kefir - to mention just a few ferments. Look for the updated and revised 2016 edition.
I don’t follow a strictly vegetarian diet at all, but my favorite cookbook ever is Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. The hand lettering and drawings are so charming and inspiring, and the recipes are also delicious!
My favourite cookbook is Heart of the Home by Susan Branch. When I got it as a gift from my dear friend Pattie in about 1990 or 91 i went through a phase oftrying everything that sounded good. Every recipe is a keeper and very few havent been made in my house over and over. The lemon chicken is a big fave. I have all her books but this first book ahe did is my favorite for sure.
I love the Susan Branch cookbooks too. The turkey lasagna recipe in her Christmas cookbook is delicious. I’ve made that several times. I just looked at the lemon chicken recipe. Yum.
What a great thread, I use many cookbooks but my favourites are by Nigella Lawson in particular Express
An Australian chef who is prolific is Valli Little, I have several of her books and a lot of her recipes can be found on the site Delicious
I am going to look for this one for sure. I am not vegetarian but veggies are my favirite foods. Especially fresh tomatoes.
I meant the Enchanted Broccoli forest book