My Favorite Cookbooks

I am not a book reviewer. I am not an expert in cooking. So take this as a layman’s take on a few cookbooks, and nothing more. I collect cookbooks. I recently drove over an hour to pick up some cookbooks my in-laws were getting rid of. My favorite section in any bookstore is the cooking section. I don’t have all the classic “must-haves”, though I am getting there. I bought volume 2 of The Art of French Cooking while in Paris, however cliche that might sound. They sadly didn’t have volume 1, but I later found it in a used bookstore in Chicago. I always have a wishlist of cookbooks saved on my phone.

On The Art of French Cooking, I have mixed reviews. I made the croissants. It took two days. I have not done it again. They were delicious, but man, that was a lot of work. But there is an excellent recipe for fruit bread, which is an amazing, delicious breakfast or dessert item. It’s basicaly a pound cake with a layer of fruit filling in the center. I haven’t yet gone all Julie & Julia with volume 1, but there are some amazing looking recipes in there.

One of my favorite cookbooks these days is How to Eat Like a Gilmore. In this adorable cookbook, the author attempts to recreate some of the dishes seen on Gilmore Girls. She categorizes them mostly on where they are seen in the show. Obviously, since these were made up on a fictional TV show, we can never really know if they are what was imagined by the show’s writers, but so far, most of the dishes are amazing, especially Suki’s Magic Risotto. I have not made, nor do I imagine I ever will, the Santa Burger and I did not care for Luke’s Chili (I don’t like cinnomon in chili at all), but the muffin recipes are awesome, and I’m dying to try the Parker House Dinner Rolls. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Macaroni and Cheese recipe. Delicious!

A cookbook I would never have bought, but have found very good is the Pioneer Woman Cooks – Come and Get It! by Ree Drummond. No offense to her, but I’ve just never been a big fan of her show. But I got the cookbook as a gift and decided to try it out. Her Veggie Tortellini Soup is a big hit in my household. I do make a cheater version in which I use store bought creamy tomatoe soup instead of making my own sometimes, but I’d still credit her with the recipe. Her sheet pan dishes are also super simple and delicious.

Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites is incredible, though sometimes a bit of an expensive and time consuming endeavor. My husband made his Macaroni and Cheese recipe for a holiday dinner, and it was a huge success. I made the Osso Bucco, but was sadley dissappointed in the dish. I don’t necessarily think this was his fault, and you can read my take on making “classics” you have never had before. I don’t know if I don’t like the dish, don’t like his recipe, or just messed it up because I had no idea what I was doing, but I did not think the meal lived up to my expectations. His Meat Loaf with Mushroom Gravy is incredible, but expect to spend a few hours making it, so it’s not your weeknight meatloaf. At some point, I will splurge and try making his Clam Chowder.

All things done by the America’s Test Kitchen folks are good. We have the Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2014. I constantly have to resist picking up the latest version of this one. I could not possibly list all the recipes I’ve tried from this book. I love that they add explanations as to how and why certain techniques or products add to the dish. I recently made the Black Bean Soup and it was a huge success. Our little one even discovered she likes sour cream, at least in this soup. And there’s a blue-cheese chive butter compound for topping steaks that I would put on almost anything! I recently picked up their “The Make Ahead Cookbook,” which is more like a magazine, but has an amazing Indian Style Vegetable Curry dish.

The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook also has some amazing gems. Yes, I own three of the America’s Test Kitchen books. If you haven’t spent time watching their shows, you should. The Olive Oil Potato Gratin is amazing and has inspired several variations. And our little one loves the Pasta with Mushroom Sauce. And while the little vegetarian didn’t particularly love it, my husband and I loved the Spinach and Tomato Lasagna.

One of my favorite and oldest cookbooks is also one of the most basic. It’s Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook, copyright 1996. Mine is falling apart, but as hard as I’ve looked, finding another copy of that exact edition has proven more challenging that I would have thought. I’ve looked at other editions, and they just aren’t the same. I started with this cookbook many, many years ago when I could barely make toast. It was my foundation for learning to cook, so I’ll keep it around, even if I have to buy a box to put the pages in. The zucchini recipe is the foundation of my Morning Glory Muffins. The hollindaise sauce and alfredo sauce recipes are committed to memory. The bread and cake sections have completely fallen apart, and the pages are loosely shoved back into the book.

I recently receive a Jacque Pepin cookbook. I have only made one recipe and it was delicious, but I look forward to exploring the book more. My favorite part is that it came with a DVD of tutorial videos. I’ve watched them all at least once, some twice so far. I haven’t mastered his knife skills, but I’ll keep trying!

These are just a few of many cookbooks I own, but currently, they are my main go-to guides. As mentioned, I have a list of additional cookbooks I’m looking to purchase. I do have a few that I almost never use. I have been disappointed with some. And I know that with the internet, it seems like a waste of space and money. But I like having the physical cookbooks. Using the internet is a pain because my phone goes to sleep, or I get food on it, and I never have figured out how to bookmark them right to be able to find the recipe again later. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I love books. I like that you can find that favorite recipe because you’ve dropped so many ingredients on the page that it’s permanently “bookmarked.” So maybe I’ll go see what the selection looks like at my local bookshop!

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