Cookbook Corner: Back to Culinary School

In honor of our Books, Spice, and Everything Nice theme (and spice club!), we’ll be doing a monthly round-up of our cookbooks. We have a really nice and extensive collection, but it’s easy to get lost in the sheer number of them. Hopefully these posts help! Not so much due to our monthly spice fenugreek as our local kids going back to school this month, for August, we’ll be focusing on comprehensive cookbooks that you can use as your own personal culinary textbooks.

If you want a literal cooking school:

Martha Stewart’s Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook (2008)

Intended as a how-to book that can aid the complete beginner to more experienced chefs, home maven Martha Stewart breaks down basic recipes, cooking techniques, and equipment in this comprehensive guide that will teach everything from how to make pie crust to how to prep veggies to how to make basic stocks.

If you are looking for a science-based approach:

J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (2015)

Though Kenji has an MIT degree in architecture, he’s made his living as a chef and food writer, and his simple but effective science-based approach to cooking can help you up your cooking game, regardless of how skilled and experienced you are in the kitchen. This book isn’t particularly interested in baking, but it focuses on how to make hundreds of classic American dishes, from mac n cheese to roast turkey.

If you are in search of an old classic:

Irma S. Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking (1975)

Generations of Americans have learned to cook through Joy of Cooking, and it truly does aspire to be comprehensive. Loaded with thousands of recipes, for everything from simple classics to more complicated treats, and advice on entertaining and preserving foods, it’s a great cooking overview. And due to the book’s popularity since the 1930s, it’s also a great potential source for tracking down lost family favorite recipes.

If you need baking guidance:

Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours (2006)

Dorie Greenspan presents an in-depth look at baking in her trademark warm, inviting style in this book. Beyond providing hundreds of recipes for everything from cakes to cookies to tarts, she also does a deep dive into the necessary equipment and techniques for first-class baking.

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible (1988)

If your baking ambitions are limited to the wonderful world of cakes, this book is a must read. Beyond recipes on all manner of cakes (layer cakes, wedding cakes, pancakes, health-conscious cakes, etc.), it also covers the art of cake decorating.

If you prefer DVDs:

Cook’s Country season 1 (2008)

The gang at America’s Test Kitchen have been helping home chefs via public television for years, reviewing products, testing techniques, and perfecting recipes. We have a number of their cookbooks in the system, but we also have the first season of their regional cuisine-focused Cook’s Country. In it, the America’s Test Kitchen crew explore Southern and Midwestern delicacies, as well as delve into steakhouse and diner favorites and more.

We also have a range of food magazines for your perusal, including Food and Wine, Food Network, Magnolia, Pioneer Woman, and Taste of Home.

What’s your favorite comprehensive cookbook? What’s your favorite cookbook for beginner cooks? What are you cooking in August? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.


Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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