For a while, I was just grabbing any old book with a pretty cover. As I learned more about who I am in the kitchen and the foods I truly love, I started to become a little more selective. I'd like to share with you what I feel are a few essentials for the home cook and, in the next posts in this series, a few of my personal favorites. (I despise dust jackets and throw them in the trash as soon as I get a book home, so the covers may look a little different than what you will find in the stores)
|The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (mine's the 75th anniversary edition)|
|Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck|
|Baking with Julia by Julia Child, featuring a slew of famous chefs, bakers, and pastry chefs|
I didn't get a picture because my camera batteries died, but for extra credit you could grab a copy of Larousse Gastronomique. This book is for the pros, and the food geeks. It's a comprehensive dictionary/encyclopedia of cooking terms, techniques, ingredients, etc. My mom found me a copy from the 60's at a used bookstore for $15; brand new it's considerably more. I use it when people ask me a random food question, or if I'm unsure of a certain technique. It's also really hefty, so I may or may not use it to press flowers...
|Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page|
|Look who forgot to rotate the picture :)|
You don't have to get this specific one, but every home cook needs a little guide for substituting ingredients. Ever look at a recipe and think "man, I don't like/can't afford/can't find that ingredient...?" That's what books like this are for. Once I decide I want to make something, I don't want to have to give up on it just because I can't find (for example) juniper berries at the local grocery store. Thanks to a handy substitution guide I know I can toss a little gin in there and call it a day. Run out of baking powder? Well if you have baking soda and cream of tartar laying around, then you don't have to worry. Because this little book told you that would work.
So those are what I think some of the must-haves are- certainly not a comprehensive list...what do you think? Did I leave anything out? Is there a cookbook you couldn't live without? Next Tuesday I'll start sharing some of my favorites that, although not essential basics, I couldn't imagine my kitchen without them :)