Top 5 Reference Cookbooks

From carrie — Blog by
March 9, 2009

These are the books I grab when I want to know how long to cook a chicken, prepare grains and vegetables, turn a seasonal fruit into dessert, contemplate the rise (or fall) of bread, or simply need a good, basic recipe:

1. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Marion Cunningham
2. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison
3. Chez Panisse Desserts, Lindsey Remolif Shere
4. On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee
5. How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

I still grab Joy of Cooking, every-now-and-then, when I’m contemplating skinning a squirrel or making some Cockaigne dish. (For you die-hard Joy fans, I have the 1975 edition, which is why this is my go-to book for retro/childhood favorites like canapes, meatloaf and cornmeal pancakes.)

What are your favorite kitchen reference books?

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1. by Kim on Mar 10, 2009 at 10:50 AM PDT

I go to the Joy of Cooking — both the old one and the new one (not the really old one, but the newer old one). And sometimes to The New Basics, although it’s spotty as a reference. Bittman and Madison always. I don’t own Fannie Farmer, though I should!

My husband likes Cookwise by Shirley Corriher.

2. by JeanE23 on Mar 11, 2009 at 4:46 PM PDT

I also use the 1975 “Joy of Cooking” as a cooking reference for things like icings and basic sauces. I refer to the “Know Your Ingredients” section often for equivalencies and substitutions. My other bible is “The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition” (UC Berkeley). It tells you how to buy, store and prepare just about every fresh food item. It became really indispensable when we joined a CSA and encountered produce we’d never seen before!

3. by Caroline Cummins on Mar 11, 2009 at 5:24 PM PDT

1) Joy of Cooking (the 1990s edition, the so-called “foodie” one; great definitions and info about nearly every food item)
2) How to Cook Everything (although I’m often frustrated because, really, it DOESN’T tell you how to cook everything)
3) Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (because of its great basic instructions for cooking pretty much every type of grain or vegetable
4) On Food and Cooking (OK, the science can make me sleepy, and often I’m left with more questions than I started out with, but it’s compelling)
5) um, actually, I don’t have a fifth one ....

4. by jesswil28 on Mar 14, 2009 at 9:38 AM PDT

Definitely Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and I just recently purchased On Food and Cooking, but another I use often for reference is the giant Gourmet Cookbook.

5. by Caroline Cummins on Mar 14, 2009 at 12:16 PM PDT

Caleb thinks you should have subsets, like Top 5 Ice Cream Books or Top 5 Bread Baking Books ...

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Carrie Floyd

carrie — Blog

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