Top 10 Cooking / Recipe Books

Joined Oct 8, 2001
Can anyone name their top 10 choice of cooking / recipe books?

If you can't name 10 that does not matter - jsut name however many you have.

My current must have is Rick Stein's Seafood but, so soon after Christmas expenditure, at £25 will have to go on the wish list.
It really is the business in terms of everything to do with seafood from buying through preparation to cooking and beautifully illustrated so you cannot fail to know what is going on.

With this book one could become great!:chef:
Joined Jun 1, 2001
Do you mean working books, inspirational books, or reading books?

I like that.... "just name however many you have." Hee hee hee. We'd be here all day. I love my Wall o' Food Books. Hm. I love my Walls of Other Books. Think I just have a book problem. Better for the brain than cable, but demands more space and dusting.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Jacque Pepin's 'Celebrations'
'In the Sweet Kitchen'
Lydia Bastianich's 'Italian American Cooking' - I watch her on TV, and my mouth waters!
My OLD Joy of Cooking - threw the revised out - made 10 recipes, and none of them worked!!!!
Rick Bayless, ''Mexican Kitchen'
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream book
Vegetarian Cooking by Deborah Fields
New Making of a Cook, Madeline Kamman
From Julia's Kitchen
Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey
Cake Bible, Rose Levy Berenbaum
Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings - Brown
In Search of Excellence - Charlie Trotter's reflections on managing a restaurant and its people

I have to stop!!!!:bounce:
Joined Aug 14, 2000
I have decided that I would rather have books that can teach me how to do things rather than just collections of recipes. My Most Awesome Girlfriend gave me Larousse Gastronomique for Christmas. Also in that vain, and on my shelf...

New Making of a Cook, Madeline Kamman
Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
La Varenne Pratique by Anne Willan
Cooking Essentials for the New Prof. Chef - The Food & Bev. Inst.
CookWise, Shirley O. Corriher
The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart
The Taste of Bread by Raymond Calvel
The Bread Builders by Alan Scott and Daniel Wing
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Let's see... In no particular order of preference:

Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home
Nick Stellino's Glorious Italian Cooking
Joy of Cooking (1975)
Julia & Jaque Cooking at Home
Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible
Bradley Ogden's Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Julia's The French Chef Cookbook
Baking with Julia
Professional Baking
A tiny little book called Simply Scones

I gotta have close to a hundred books and it still doesn't seem to be enough. Not to mention the mags (mostly Bon Appetit.) I love 'em all.

Joined Jan 12, 2001
i was so glad to see from the last post that we can now say "bon appetit" without being censored.

anyway, here's my list:

evan jones--american food
felipe rojas-lombardy--the art of south american cooking
coleman andrews--catalan cusine
pelegrino artusi--the art of eating well
norman van aiken's new world cuisine
lolis lee eddy--smokestack lightening
william woys weaver--america eats
mark miller--great chile book, great salsa book
all those culinaria books published by konemann--france, italy, spain, etc...
Joined Dec 4, 2001
I must have missed something in the past.
What's the deal with Bon Appetit?

Joined Nov 29, 2001
In no particular order...

The Joy Of Cooking (First line of defense)
The Cake Bible (Anal retentive at times but priceless info)
Baking with Julia (Great source of multi-chef baking info)
The New Professional Chef (large quantities - overall cuisine)
Professional Pastry Chef (large quantity baking info)
The Canyon Ranch Cookbook (Incredible low-cal stuff)
The Cuisine of Armenia (Husband is Armenian)
Becoming A Chef (Multi-Chef, recipes and great stories)
Putting Food By (Encyclopaedia of anything you wanted to know about canning)
Bread Alone (Explains the living art of bread baking)

Useless Death of a Tree...How to Cook Everything
Joined Jul 6, 1999
HubUK I agree about the rick Stein book. I was in London for christmas and given this as a present, life could not have been better:)

My menu this year has been given an uplift already with a couple of his recipes.
Joined Oct 27, 2001
Eddie, Coleman Andrew's Catalan Cuisine was so highly thought of that they translated it into Catalan!
Joined Jun 20, 2006
Having been raised and traveled and currently live along the Pacific Rim, I favor books that represent the cultures at this confluence.

These are the volumes that I my fingers would fly to, if an immediate evacuation was needed. My pantry is always filled with the goods of Chinese, Korean, Thai, Filipino, Indian, and Mexican markets, and I would just as handily make Indian chicken livers with yogurt and cinnamon for a quick dinner, as Teochow fish porridge sprinkled with dried shrimps from memory-- since I have learned them from repeated preparation—but I would miss the other wonders from the books they were culled, I had not tried to sample yet.

(Most of these were mentioned on the post about my cookbook library.)

All the Donna Hay Cookbooks. She is from Australia and borrows liberally the foodstuffs and techniques of Asia. Italian cookery is also her touchstone. Very simple, modern and elegant.

The Complete Asian Cookbook by Terry Tan. His Singaporean recipes mostly reflect his Hokkien and Swatow Chinese background, but those of Malaysian and Indian are recognized too. This is the tome I reach for when I want Straits-born food that is fresh and tropical.

The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmane Solomon. I’ve worked out of her book for years, always delighted by my culinary journeys to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Korea, China, and other exotic ports of call. It is only in the Philippines, she lost her grip.

The Asian Cookbook edited by Jeni Wright. This is a good guide to Asian soul food, the kinds of dishes that rarely appear on restaurant menus. Recipes like Thai sticky rice and black beans endear it to me. It is good for everyday cooking.

The Recipes of the Philippines by Enriqueta David Perez, because Filipinos don’t believe in learning how to cook from cookbooks, or writing them, and this is one of the rare ones that channels the talented, mother-taught housewife back home.

Hawaii Filipino Favorite Recipes by the Filipino Women’s League. These are the kind of Filipino-Hawaiian foods that you would have in somebody’s backyard when they have invited all the neighbors and relations, and a few tourist for good measure. Filipinos are not big on opening restaurants, so this is close to a home cooked meal as one can get.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking and World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. Once I found her, I stopped buying all others. Warning: her Far Eastern Cookery is the work of a dilettante.

Diane Kennedy’s The Cuisine of Mexico and the Taste of Mexico by Patricia Quintana. What must be remembered that these are extremely complex and time consuming recipes, traditionally made by a household of women. I shop and eat in the deep Mexican parts of town, and these are the recipes, which are most reflective of those experiences.

These are the books of traditional cuisines, having survived centuries, for good reason: they are delicious.
Joined Jun 14, 2006
Something seems not quite right here. Such fulsome praise for one of Madhur Jaffrey's books and unexplained condemnation of another. Is it possible that you're confusing the word "dilettante" with some other?

dilettante: noun
An amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions

And, to respond to the thread, I think Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's "Meat" has to come high up in the top ten most influential books.
Joined Jun 20, 2006

Hi Risby,

Good of you to comment. I knew that when I wrote that opinion, I might be exciting controversy. And, I also should have explained myself better.

Jaffrey's two other books, in my estimation, are the work of a much-practiced art. These are the recipes she has codified for the reader as heirlooms. You could ply your craft through either one of these books, and be considered well versed in their themes.

In Far Eastern Cookery, which I believe was a companion to a television series, she attributes the recipes to others, and although making a record of another's accomplishments is an acceptable vocation, she does not fine-tune them. Regardless, all the recipes I have tried do not seem to ring true, and there is a lack of generational imperative, that these recipes are so good, that I must pass on to others, as gifts of food, or as recipes exchanged.

It is not a bad book, but it is not a virtuous book as her others. To me, it does not hold it up as a definitive course, but rather a light sojourn along those paths. I consider myself a dilettante too, in that my cookbook reviews are a stretch between casually pursued studies.

It can also be said that Jaffrey is also a dilettante, in the other meaning of the word, a lover of the fine art of Far Eastern cookery, because of her enthusiasm for her exploration.

Risby, did you find this trio equal in merit? Why is it hard to believe that this great cookbook writer was not superlative in all her endeavors? Or maybe it was because I was too passionate in my expression, either loving or hating?

You must pardon my way of expressing myself. I write literary fiction, and I use words with unfettered abandon, carelessly and indulgently.


Yvonne Ignacio

Joined Jun 14, 2006
I have this book but none of her others. It is one of my oldest books but not one that I use so much these days.

Indeed, it was the counterpoint of opinion without explanation that suggested, in my ignorance of your erudition, a malapropism.

D4mnation, Yvonne, now I must buy more infernal cook books. I have no room! When the shelf in my kitchen gave way I stored the eighty-odd books under a table at the end of my bed and all along the sill of my bedroom bay window. As you recommend these other two books as so much better than the one I have I really must get them to compare. Although Atul Kochhar has just been brought to my attention by the "Great British Menu" contest to find chef's to cook for the Queen's birthday celebration dinner. I'm going to have to buy his "Indian Essence" as well, as he received great acclaim from both the judges and fellow contestants.

May your grandiloquence prevail and persist. I have no wish to fetter you - unless, of course, you're into that sort of thing :smokin
Joined Feb 16, 2006
Cooking by Hand: Paul Bertoli
The French Laundry Cookbook: Thomas Keller
(if you can do everything in that book, then apply it to your own ideas, you are an artist.)
Bouchon: Thomas Keller

And, cautious praise for Ducasse's Encyclopedia. Possibly the worst and most boring cookbook ever published but if you have the patience to extract what is valuable in there (and it takes a lot of patience) it is the equivalent of 10 master classes in classical technique.
Joined Jun 29, 2004
Grand Livre de Cuisine - Ducasse
- Unusual organisation of recipes, hard to sort through everything, but second to none for sheer amount of info

Aquavit - Marcus Samuelsson
- Traditional ethnic cooking meets fine dining - I've got to applaud Marcus Samuelsson for taking his ethnic cuisine to the next level, he's a huge inspiration to me

Bras - Michel Bras
- Another chef I admire greatly - this book contains many solid recipes, as well as a huge bio section, many nice pictures - french only

Tetsuya - Tetsuya Wakuda
- Japanese/French food done in good taste - inspirational stories, solid recipes with wine pairings for every dish

Shunju - New Japanese Cuisine
- Contains everything you'd want to know about Japanese cooking, has pictures of techniques and very good descriptions, organised according to the seasons

ph10 - Pierre Hermé
- Every recipe I've used has been perfect, all the recipes are PH originals. Contains all the 'base' pastries, this is my 'go-to' pastry book - french only

Festive Ukrainian Cooking - Marta Pisetska Farley
- Lots of good traditional Ukrainian recipes, organised according to holidays/special events and the dishes that go with them

The Best of Ukrainian Cuisine - Bohdan Zahny
- A small encyclopedia of Ukrainian cuisine - translation is poor but the book gets high marks for sheer amount of information. Has a neat section in the back with translations of culinary terms (English/Ukrainian) - has the spelling in both english letters and cyrillic, as well as pronunciations

I've also got a few good books that are just for reading (no recipes):

La Cuisine - Pierre Gagnaire and Hervé This
- A mind-opening read, raises some very interesting questions and possibilities. Discusses food as art, as well as what makes people think of food as 'good' - french only

Reflections on Culinary Art - Pierre Gagnaire
- Beautiful pictures, very inspirational, contains a biography of Gagnaire's professional life

The Perfectionist - Rudolph Chelminski on Bernard Loiseau
- The story of Bernard Loiseau's rise and fall. Beautifully done, I think I actually shed a tear reading this

Molecular Gastronomy - Hervé This
- Much like La Cuisine, this book raises some very interesting possibilities relating to food. Also dispels many kitchen myths.

Books that didn't make the cut:

Thomas Kellers 2 books - needlessly complicated and overly contrived - seems taste takes a second seat to esthetics. These books have been gathering dust for a few years now

On Cooking - it's a textbook, a rather poor one... Everything in this book I can find in my other books, but better... Will be useful when I sell out and produce cafeteria-type food.

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