Skip to main content

If you could only have 5 cookbooks.....

Here are my choices:

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Simone Beck

Review: Certainly the quintessential French cookbook for English speaking cooks. Thorough and detailed. If it's not in here, then the French probably don't or won't make it.

The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker

Review: Probably the best all around cookbook which basically tells you how to cook anything. The original and still the best.

Essentials of Classic Italian Cookery by Marcella Hazan

Review: When I want to go to the source, no one is better regarding Italian cooking than Marcella Hazan. This combines her first two books into one. The definitive work.

Arabesque by Claudia Roden

Review: This might seem a odd choice, as it is focused on the cuisines of Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey, but I adore this book. Claudia Roden is a genius and having read her other books, "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" and the classic "The Book Jewish Cooking", she is the real deal.

An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

Review: This is the one if you love Indian food. A classic since it was first published. Madhur takes the complexities of Indian cooking and makes it easy. Cook your way through this book and you will be quite knowledgeable on the main dishes and style of Northern Indian regional cooking.

Hint: Many if not all of these cookbooks can be found used for a fraction of their current price, and in some cases the recipes are more authentic and haven't been edited and adjusted. Not that this always an issue, but sometimes they change the recipe to suit  a perceived change in taste, so less oil, less butter etc. I like it in the original and then I can adjust to make it lighter if that's my desire.

Good Sources for Used Cookbooks:


Smice Family said…
We have 3 of the five - not being a "cook" I do refer to the Joy of Cooking often! This also remided me to ask Bill to cook some Indian food :)

Popular posts from this blog

Norfolk Style Seafood

This is such a good recipe and so simple to make. The story behind this recipe is interesting. When I was a young boy, we used to go to a seafood restaurant in Washington DC called O'Donnell's. They had wonderful food, and most importantly, they had Buck.

Buck was a gentle giant at 6' 2" and was always talking to me about his recipe. He had invented this style of cooking seafood and had even developed special pans which could be used over open flame and then it could be delivered to the tables still sizzling. He was rightfully very proud of this. 

After being there quite a few times, Buck shared his recipe with me and told me to keep it a secret. Since this was over 40 years ago, I guess I can reveal it now. 


1/2 lb Shrimp, Jumbo Lump Crab or Langoustines, raw and shelled
2 Tbsp Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
Dash of Old Bay Seasoning
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Few dashes of Tabasco
Splash of White Wine
Salt and Black Pepper

Heat your pan until fairly hot, then add butter an…

Turbot Poached In Puttanesca Sauce

I wanted to build on the puttanesca sauce I posted yesterday to show how a versatile sauce can be used to prepare multiple dishes.

I got the idea to poach some fish in the puttanesca sauce, as I found some really nice turbot at the market.

1 large finely chopped Onion 4 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped 2- 28 oz. cans of crushed or diced Tomatoes, or whole tomatoes that are lightly chopped in the processor.
3 Tbsp Olive Oil 3 tsp. Red Pepper flakes or a few whole red peppers
4 to 6 Anchovy filets ¼ cup of Capers, (Try to get the salted capers and prepare them by rinsing and then soaking for 30 minutes. it's worth the extra effort, as the flavor is vastly superior to the brined capers). ½ cup pitted Kalamata Olives Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 lb Turbot, cut into four pieces. You could substitute Cod, Hake or Monkfish.
Note: You will notice that there is no salt in this recipe. When you consider the olives, anchovies and capers, you really don't need additional salt. If you omit…

French Seafood Stew aka Bouillabaisse

I've always enjoyed bouillabaisse, but I've never tried making it. I assumed (wrongly) that it was very complicated. 

It is really simple to make and I have minimized the ingredients below, to make it even easier than a classical preparation. However, if you want a classic Bouillabaisse, just add in the optional ingredients listed below
Bouillabaisse is basically a fisherman's stew and reflects what seafood was caught fresh that day. There are many variations of this classic dish from Marseille.

I like to start with the classic preparations and then branch off from there. If you find a set of common ingredients, then you can start to craft your own recipe and make it your own. 
I love cookbooks and read them like novels. I always basically know the recipe I want to prepare, but I find that looking at multiple recipes and sources, gives me the best results. This is loosely based on Ina Garten’s Seafood Stew. 
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 large Onion, chopped  1 teas…