My favorite cookbooks, in order of how they affected my adventures in cooking:
This is the first cookbook I ever bought. I was a sophomore in college and looking for ways to cook good, but very healthy food. I bought it after we had a fire in our dorm, one that left my closest friends and me homeless. The first recipe I cooked from this book, I cooked for five people (something I do not recommend, it took f o r e v er). However, I still remember the meal: Chicken Rollatine. I also used this book for the first meal that I cooked for the woman who became my wife. The book is a bit dated, but a sentimental favorite.
This book is a monster (an a major investment I bought while still in college). However it is a fantastic source to learn the fundamentals (especially if you do not have time to go to the CIA). In 1992-1993, I spent a year going through the entire book, learning the new techniques and cooking from scratch every day: no left-overs, no prepared foods–even no microwave.
If you are Engineer or Scientist and like food you will love this book. I use this book when I teach kids to cook as it teaches chemistry, thermodynamics, and cooking at the same time. Essentially this is Alton Brown’s Good Eats show in book form. This book will let you explain why you use a salt like Kosher salt to season meat (and why you never touch it while it is in the pan)
This book is pure fun. It will also open your eyes to real life in cooking (and get you to appreciate any chef on any competition show even more). It is the one book on this list you can read on a Kindle.
Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking (Anthony Bourdain)
I thought I would put this together with the last. Not just a fun cookbook, but one that will get you to understand way to combine the best of French butchery with American farm ingredients. I actually used this, plus some tips on cooking rib eye steak to impress a profession French chef I had over one night for dinner (I admit, I practiced what I was cooking several times for the week before I had him over 😉
I bought this after watching Top Chef for awhile. It was a really important book for me as it actually gave me the gumption to start to put cookbooks down and create my own recipes. It also taught got me back into cooking lamb.
This book got me into cooking Vegetarian (and occasionally Vegan)–something I now do at least twice a week. Some amazing flavor combinations here.
More to come soon…