Book recommendations for the home chef?

Joined Dec 9, 2010
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.
Joined Nov 5, 2009
Which is the best printing to buy? 
Being a foodie and a techie, I usally wind up looking up most things online  (from Food Network chefs to forums) but as far as a reference book for the kitchen, there is only one in mine ... The Joy of Cooking!
Joined Dec 9, 2010
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.
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Joined Nov 3, 2012
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.
Joined Dec 15, 2012
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. 
Joined Feb 3, 2013
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.
Joined Jan 31, 2013
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.
Joined Sep 6, 2012
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.
Joined Oct 23, 2012
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.
Joined Oct 24, 2010
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... 
Joined Feb 7, 2013
Hey, TKChef.  That's what I do.  A library full of lovely cookbooks and family recipes, and inevitably I hit the Internet to compare 4 or 5 versions of a recipe and tweek them as inspired.  I'm strictly a home cook, new to this site, love the discussions.
Joined Feb 12, 2013
Hello, Everyone.

I'm a newbie who has been enjoying this forum as a lurker, but today I joined. Also today I purchased "The Flavor Bible" and "The Ratio Book" based upon your recommendations. Thank you so much for taking the time to make those..

I already own Mark Bittman's book and one by Peterson.

I love this forum and hope to learn a lot here. I am a very good home cook but am having to learn how to cook for a low-carb lifestyle due to my husband's diabetes, so I need to know WHY in order to develop my own recipes.
Joined Feb 12, 2013
Many of the books listed are ones that pros are particulary fond of.   You sound like a very experienced "home cook" so you may be fine with some of those.

I agree...anything from James Peterson is great for technique. Michael Ruhlmans books are all good reads and the library has many of them.

The CIA has some really nice books besides the Professional Chef text. One I use a lot is Gourmet Meals in Minutes.

The library near me does have many CIA books available which gives you a chance to look through them and see if they are what you

re looking for before buying.
Joined Feb 12, 2013
the CIA has a book called the Techniques of Healthy Cooking. It explains a lot about whats healthy and why... solid recipes that are tasty and healthy.
Joined Mar 12, 2013
Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
Twenty by Michael Ruhlman
Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish
Ideas in Food by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot
Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio
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Joined Feb 25, 2013
Question for those that have Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques.

I own :

Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Larousse Gastronomique (quick reference for ingredients, basic methods/recipes to compare)

Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques (wife went to school there)

Cordon Bleu at Home

Michel Richard Happy in the Kitchen (which I recommend highly)

an old version of the Joy of Cooking

Among many, many others, but, how is Complete Techniques going to supplement? Will it just be redundant? It's not like I don't have reference on how to truss a chicken/beef or make demi glace. Although I must say his older vids on how to butcher meat/poultry or make basic dishes are excellent (I don't really like his forays into food that isn't french or traditional, though). Does his book have good step by step photos? I've read reviews suggesting they are of poor quality also.
Joined Feb 21, 2013
The one great reference that I use when building out menus is, Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page.

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