I don’t own a lot of cookbooks, but I am going to list those that I do; I think each of them is useful in its own right, which I will try to point out in each instance.

– Better Homes & Gardens, eds.  Lunches and Brunches.  Meredith Press.  1963.

– Better Homes & Gardens, eds.  Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  Meredith Press.  2002.

– Barnard, Melanie.  Everybody Loves Meatloaf: More Than 100 Recipes for Loaves and Fixings.  Harper.  1997.

My dear friend Michael gave this book to me years ago and I still return to it every fall, winter, and spring.  Besides being a great basic guide for making traditional meatloaf, it also is a creative and exhaustive guide to all possible loafs, from seafood to poultry to veggie options.  Recipes are clear and simple, and rarely use hard-to-find ingredients.  I think this might be out of print, but it is a must for those of you who love your meatloaf.

– Child, Julia.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Alfred A. Knopf (40 Anv ed.)  2001.

– Child, Julia.  Julia Child & More Company.  Alfred A. Knopf.  1979.

– Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, eds. Best International Recipe.  America’s Test Kitchen.  2007.

– Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, eds.  Best Slow and Easy Recipes: More than 250 Foolproof, Flavor-Packed Roasts, Stews, and Braises that let the Oven Do the Work (Best Recipe Classics).  America’s Test Kitchen.  2008.

– Denevan, Jim. Outstanding in the Field: a Farm to Table Cookbook. Clarkson Potter. 2008.

Aaron gave me this book for my 32nd birthday, and I just love it. Jim Denevan is a pretty interesting character, who created the dinner series, “Outstanding in the Field,” which is linked on the right. The book really feels accessible, and it’s promotion of food awareness (where it came from, who produced it) is not heavy-handed or preachy. It is simply and beautifully constructed, with gorgeous photos.

– Erlewein, Eugenie.  Hauswirtschaftslehre.  Oberwimmer & Co.  1952.

– Fraser, Linda and Gray, Emma, eds.  Mediterranean:  Over 300 sun-drenched recipes.  Lorenz.  1999.

I classify this cookbook as one of the “beauties,” as it is filled with beautiful, full-color pictures of the end result of the recipes, and some recipes that include step-by-step photos, as well. Though sometimes redundant, this is one of my favorite books to refer to, especially in the summer, when we have lots of fresh tomatoes and herbs. This one may not be in print anymore, but it is worth seeking out at or at your local used bookstore. I have Christine to thank for this one, and I am forever grateful!

– Harris, Andy;  Madison, Deborah; Vongerichten Jean-Georges, et al.  The Best of Taste (Williams-Sonoma).  Weldon Owen.  2001.

– Jaffrey, Madhur.  From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail.  Clarkson Potter.  2003.

This is the first of what will be many Madhur Jaffrey books in my collection. Her recipes are very good, set amongst sidebars of historical and anecdotal information, which lend a personal and cultural tone to the book. The photography is gorgeous. Her writing is elegant without being fussy, often funny, and always full of joie de vivre.

– Jenkins, Bettina.  Soups: 100 recipes from classic to contemporary.  Landsdowne.  2005.

– Lieberman, David.  Dave’s Dinners: A Fresh Approach to Home-Cooked Meals. Hyperion.  2006.

– Lord, Tony, with Cox, Jill.  Boozy Food.  Headline Book Publishing.  1994.

– McBride, Mary Margaret.  The Encyclopedia of Cooking:  Volume 1.  Homemakers Research Insistute.  1958.

My big go-to cookbook as a kid was the full-sized version of the Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking, which my mother kept in a drawer far away fro the kitchen. I am not sure if she just decided to stop using cookbooks altogether, or that one in particular. Though she has offered to hand her copy over to me numerous times, I never seem to be able to fit it in my suitcase. The funny thing about her copy is that it is missing a good portion of the first chapters, which is why, when I saw this newer copy of “Volume 1” at a yard sale on Peak’s Island, Maine, I decided it was serendipity. I love cookbooks from the mid-20th century because they are so very terrible (see the BH&G Lunches & Brunches, too!).

– Morris, Sallie and Hsiung, Deh-Ta.  The Practical Encyclopedia of Asian Cooking.  Lorenz.  1999.

– Rombauer, Irma; Rombauer Becker, Marion; Becker, Ethan.  Joy of Cooking.  Scribner. 1997.

Joy of Cooking is probably my most useful go-to cookbook. I like the way the recipes are written, and try to emulate the format throughout Shallots Web. One of the things that distinguishes this book from other cookbooks is the “about” sections for ingredients or recipes, which often put the subject into historical context. I find this helpful in understanding the process of not only making food, but eating it, as well.

– Stewart, Martha.  Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2004.  Oxmoor House.  2004

– Stewart, Martha.  Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Clarkson Potter.  2005.

– Swanson, Heidi.  Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways To Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking.  Celestial Arts.  2007.

– Tanis, David.  A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes.  Artisan.  2008.

– Wolf-Cohen, Elizabeth.  Rice & Risotto.  Paragon Publishing.  2001.


4 thoughts on “Cookbooks

  1. Lively personal list for a book lover and food lover. Thank you.

  2. norma goehring says:

    I have a copy of the Mary Margaret Mcbride Encylopedia of Cooking , Deluxe Illustrated Edition (Copyright 1963). It is in excellent condition. Would you be interested in purchasing it..?

    • Fignatius says:

      Norma – Here it is 5 years later and I am seeing if your copy is still available. Let me know whenever you might have a chance, even if it is another 5 years from now. =)

  3. You’ve got great insights about cook books, cooking, keep up the good work!

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