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Thread: Getting disheartened with cookbooks

  1. #21
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    That pasta seems like it would be a nice light mild lunch, but it isn't a very complex dish flavor wise. If you were to make it again I would turn the basil into pesto and toss it all in that, but then again I'm not a fan of plain noodles. Also if your looking for some fun interesting recipies I have a blog for you. this it the ONLY blog I follow I like her that much. I like reading her blog because she is constantly experimenting with recipies and adapting them to her needs, if you look at it for nothing else she has some really creative and inspiring ideas. This is a link to one of her pasta dishes: http://greenlitebites.com/2010/10/26...e-and-spinach/

    She does focus on healthy food but she has NEVER sacrificed flavor. I have tried all kinds of new things because of her that I would never touch. Like kohlorabi, beets, kale, kiwi, and of course spinach.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by eflatminor View Post
    As a former chef, I often get asked by friends which cookbook is best. There are PLENTY out there will all kinds of recipes, some better than others. However, there is only one cookbook that really nails the basics of how to cook just about anything humans are willing to eat: The Joy of Cooking. It's been around forever and is constantly updated. It's the only one I bother to own. The reason is, once you learn to cook...anything, a duck....it then becomes easy to experiment with your own recipes, varying off the basics. Don't by The Joy of Cooking for recipes, buy it to learn to cook properly. The recipes that work for you will follow.
    Seems they keep changing the format and a lot of people were unhappy with the 1997 version. Even their own website says that it was a diversion from the traditional format. They claim the 2006 version is back to the old Joy style.
    Any idea if the latest version is OK, or is this yet another product where we need to hunt down vintage editions?
    Ray.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by rajagra View Post
    Seems they keep changing the format and a lot of people were unhappy with the 1997 version. Even their own website says that it was a diversion from the traditional format. They claim the 2006 version is back to the old Joy style.
    Any idea if the latest version is OK, or is this yet another product where we need to hunt down vintage editions?
    I have a copy of the 2006 version. I find it to be well written and I am quite happy with it.
    Another cookbook suggestion: Company's Coming. Any of the books from this series are worth having around.
    I sing while shaving.

  4. #24
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    The pasta dish has great ingredients. I pan fry rather than roast. Best to get close to an equal volume of veg vs. pasta. Ha . . .well to continue because I can't help myself. Olive oil in the pan. . . add chilli pepper flakes and gently heat . . . add the onions and garlic and continuing gently heat until onions are translucent. I like my peppers a bit crispy so I add them at this point. If I have some mushrooms . . . in they go too. If you like your peppers soft . . . a couple out of a jar of roasted red peppers are fair game.

    When everything is warm . . . add to the pasta. I prefer crumbled feta as the cheese but Parmesan will work too.

    Fusili is my pasta of choice for this. Is this the same recipe. . . maybe not . . . but let a cookbook recipe inspire you and add your own taste.
    Mike

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  5. #25
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    I think there may be only one recipe, ever, that I followed to the letter and loved it. The Macaroni Grill Penne' Rustica. I can eat a gallon of that stuff.
    Otherwise, recipes are just a starting point for me, and I always adjust to my taste. I didn't like cookbooks when I was young either. Also, With food like Battali likes to make, it is not what you are used to and may not meet expectations, even though the food is top-notch.
    Brent.
    I'm ready to spring...

  6. #26

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    May I suggest the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook ring bound. It is a low price no nonsense cook book that has all the basic recipes with out all the excess ingredients and other crap. Alton makes it complicated and emiril is always looking for bang. I have had my current one since 1990 and i had one before that even. I still use it. Straight forward and to the point. Remember that cooking requires three things. Good ingredients, good directions and good tools. Same as shaving. Just like a crappy pakastani straight, a crappy pan will make all you effort turn out poorly regardless of your cookbook or expensive ingredients. WEll that's my 2 cents anyway.

    http://www.amazon.com/Better-Homes-G...0653830&sr=8-9

  7. #27
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    Great suggestions from Carleylady and Alacrity59.

    I like the pesto suggestion, it will bring a ton of flavor to the dish.

    Mike your dish sounds like a fast, and delicious weeknight meal that I'll be making soon.
    Shawn

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    Quote Originally Posted by rajagra View Post
    Seems they keep changing the format and a lot of people were unhappy with the 1997 version. Even their own website says that it was a diversion from the traditional format. They claim the 2006 version is back to the old Joy style.
    Any idea if the latest version is OK, or is this yet another product where we need to hunt down vintage editions?
    No idea. I've had mine since the 70s

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by duotone View Post
    Thanks guys,

    Out of interest how do you fair with America's Test Kitchen recipes?
    Quite well, but with some caveats. The first one is that the "filler" text where they explain why every other version of the dish that they are about perfect sucks is so annoying that it makes me want to boil the books. Sometimes they throw in some good explanations of why and how, but most of it is drivel.

    Another is that I'm cooking for a family of four with two kids, and speed, ease and budget are certainly considerations. They have a lot of crossover between books, but they group the recipes around the themes pretty well. I like the skillet and thirty minute collections.

    I've gotten quite a few recipes from them that are now house staples, but once I've made them a time or two they get monkeyed with. They have recipes for Ropa Vieja and Carnitas that my family loves, but I find them a little bland and I ratchet up the amount of spices. Like any other source, not all of the recipes I've tried are winners, but I've yet to try one that was a real clunker.

    I like Alton Brown's stuff (but, once again, I'll skip stuff that seems too complex or spendy for my situation). I'd pay for his first book just to get that sweet and sour pork and 40 clove garlic chicken recipes. I'v gotten good mileage out of "Sauces, Rubs and Marinades" by Steven Raichlen. The "Joy of Cooking" is the fallback reference book at my place.

    I've had several guests rave over stuff I've made, mostly out of the ATK and AB books, but I think that's as much a comment on the general quality of home cooked meals that most folks get rather than my skills or the recipes from either being some sort of culinary masterpiece.
    "He must be a king. He hasn't got Williams all over 'im!" - cb91710
    I spend my knights at the Veg Table.

  10. #30
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    One thing I would like to add is the concept of supertasters. Some people (around 1 in 4) have a much more acute sense of taste/smell in regards to food than others. Its why some people can taste all sorts of complex notes in beer, wine etc... while many of us can't taste half of those subtle flavors in food. Its stands to reason that people who are supertasters would be more likely to become notable chefs. The problem is what is wonderfully complex and full of flavor for some people, can be bland to others who aren't sensitive to the flavors in a certain recipe.

    In general you want to learn the basics of cooking as mentioned because eventually you can develop flavors that suit your flavor profile.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarleyLady View Post
    Okay my question is what books are you using, what level are you cooking at, and what direction are you trying to expand your horizons? Are you thinking healthier, most international, more complex flavors or techniques? Mostly need to know where you're starting from.
    We think alike but I haven't looked through The Joy of Cooking. I usually recommend the CIA text book, I'm Just here for the Food by Alton Brown or On Cooking (another text book).

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChefJohnBoy-ardee View Post
    We think alike but I haven't looked through The Joy of Cooking. I usually recommend the CIA text book, I'm Just here for the Food by Alton Brown or On Cooking (another text book).
    CIA cookbook? Well, you told us. Now they have to kill you.
    [B]You are disoriented. Blackness swims toward you like a school of eels who have just seen something that eels like a lot.[/B]

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by slugg77 View Post
    CIA cookbook? Well, you told us. Now they have to kill you.
    I'm sorry CIA in the culinary world is Culinary Institute of America. Everyone in the kitchen just knows and I forget there are people that don't work in kitchens.

  14. #34
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    +100 for good 'ol AB( Alton Brown) wouldn't recommend him for a beginner but man does he cram a lot of knowledge into those books!

  15. #35

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    Thing is with recipes is that you can change it to your own preferences. Everyone's different, so you can personalize it. I like to make simpler dishes that don't have like a gazillion ingredients. My favorite pasta consists of sauteing some fresh garlic in some butter and EVOO, and then pouring this over cooked thin spaghetti and then sprinkling some fresh herbs, black and red pepper, and parmessan-reggiano cheese on top. But I have made it with a bottle of McCormick Italian Herbs on many occasions if I don't have fresh herbs.

    Essentially, you just want to learn basic cooking techniques and learn them well and not focus on a bunch of complicated recipes. Just have fun. A lot of these celebrity TV chefs are just constantly trying to come up with NEW recipes to sell cookbooks, but the classic recipes are usually better. They can't very well sell a new cookbook with classic recipes, so they change it all up so they can say: my recipes are "NEW" and "EXCITING".

  16. #36
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    Try Epicurious.com. I think it's the greatest food website around. They have all the recipes from Bon Appetit and other mags.

    The great thing about the website are the reviews. You'll get lots of great hints, like "Skip the Basil, use tarragon instead" or "Cut the soy sauce to 2 tbls instead of 3" or "This recipe sucks!!" It's always great to get another novice's opinion.
    Friends Don't Let Friends Shave with Williams.

  17. #37
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    This is "Healthy Vegitarian Pasta". There are several parts of that title that scream that taste is not necessairly the first consideration.

    The roasted veggies should have been seasoned well enough that they tasted fabulous without the pasta. The pasta should have been cooked in salted water (the cooking water should taste more like a broth than water). I would kick it up with some garlic and some chili flakes and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

    I admit that recipes sometimes disapoint, but you need to consider them guidelines and make seasoning adjustments if the final product is not to your taste.

    As an aside, I love cookbooks, but have cut way back on the number I buy, because it is easier to find recipies one at a time, on-line.

  18. #38
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    Call me a cynical old Hector, but I sometimes wonder if these celebrity chefs' cookbooks "accidentally" miss out a bit...
    Driving down the razor's edge 'tween the past and the future

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by goby View Post
    Try Epicurious.com. I think it's the greatest food website around. They have all the recipes from Bon Appetit and other mags.
    Thanks will have a look.

  20. #40
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    I've had very good luck following Alton Brown recipes from foodnetwork.com. They are free to print, and if you've seen the good eats episode corresponding, he talks about some techniques used. I especially liked the enchilada lasagna. The chipotle sauce was very good...better (and spicier) the second day.
    -Patrick-
    'Absorb what is useful; Discard what is not; Add what is uniquely your own.'

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