Cookbooks

DannyL

Wild Horses
Any faves or not bothered/would rather improvise, cooking with the Dinner of the Day thread open in one hand, pulling shit out the fridge with the other?

I like cookbooks 'cos I just like reading about food. I have a tiny collection, largely from looking in charity shops as a a consolation prize for never finding any records.

This is a current fave



I found it in a giveaway books thing near the end of our street. He's a chef who now with a couple of restaurants near to here, but this loads of great recipes that aren't too difficult, and the way he presents them, they're just kind of embedded into his life. Memories, posh dinners, random snacks, cakes and ice creams. I like the fact that it isn't themed It isn't really themed or aspiring to teach you anything, just lots of fun with cooking, "this is some stuff I like to eat".

I've made from this cherry focaccia, a chickpea curry with chapatis, an artichoke pilaf , ajo blanco (chilled almond soup) annnnnnnd cacio e pepe (pasta with pepper), all of which were delicious.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
I like them and I own a few but living alone on a budget you don't do that kind of cooking really. What I've found with my books is I will try obe recipe out of them and it will become part of my repertoire and I'll never open the book again. I don't know why
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
If a recipe demands buying things I wouldn't usually use, even if it's just an 80p spice I won't ususlly bother. They just clutter up the cupboards and depress me.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I've had to change it up a fair bit since the missus went veggie. I tend to invite people around and cook meat then. I do the occasionally cheffy thing for myself but not as much as if she were eating meat still. It's encouraging me to be a better vegetarian cook which is no bad thing.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
I improvise quite a lot when I'm cooking, but I do like to have a lot of cookbooks.

For me, the challenge is spotting which ones are actually going to see regular use, and which look tempting but are actually going to be dead weight because nothing's ever quite practical to cook right now. I've mostly found restaurant cookbooks to be in the latter category, or anything too broad ranging. Books from stylistically focused home cooks are generally where it's at.

I might add some specifics when I get home and have my shelves in front of me.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Example of one that I don't get on with - the Prashad cookbook. It looks beautiful and I'm sure a lot of the recipes are great, but it's half full of street food and starters, mostly fiddly deep fried things, which probably go down brilliantly in a restaurant but aren't the kind of thing that I've often got time for as part of a Tuesday night dinner for two. A lot of the main courses and sides also feel optimised for restaurant cooking - there are quite often a lot of steps, half of which would probably be done in bulk in advance in a commercial kitchen but which become much more of a pain in the arse when you have to crank through all of them sequentially for one dish.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Generally if I'm looking at a cookbook in a shop, unless I'm really trying to expand my horizons in some direction I find it quite useful to apply a test of "can I see multiple recipes that I'd actually cook tonight" before buying it. That doesn't just mean recipes where the end result sounds like something that I'd want to eat, but ones where I've got all the kit that I'd need, would be able and willing to buy any ingredients that I haven't already got, wouldn't need to take the afternoon off to get it all done, can see how it'd fit into a balanced meal and so on.
 

Leo

Well-known member
modern cook books are largely responsible for food porn photography, I love to page through them and want to eat everything I see. less interested in refined imagery of haute cuisine French dishes, the best are the more rustic shots of broiled foods that are slightly messy and a bit charred. the rich, hearty textures of a pan of well-roasted Brussel sprouts. what a contrast to images in my mom's cook books from 40 years ago, everything clean and perfectly placed.

my wife is a good cook and we have a dozen or so cook books but she actually gets most of her recipes and ideas from online sources: ny times cooking, guardian, some cooking blogs. cook books have become the vinyl of the cooking world, the old-school keeper for serious cooks versus the streaming equivalent of online sources.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I tend to keep ones that are somehow informative about the culture or background of the cuisine or similar. That are kind of achievements in themselves, that I very well might not cook from. David Thompson's massive book on Thai cooking is one like this. I have used it but I've only made like 3 things and it took all fucking day. But I like it as a book and document of insane levels of research.

For the everyday stuff, I think Nigel Slater is the master. Someone once said of him, "he makes you feel like a genius" which I think is true. Great recipes with lots of lassitude for creativity but really satisfying to cook and not too stupidly cheffy. No 10 hour reductions of veal stock needed.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I really like David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, which is very chef-in-pro-kitchen at points - am I ever going to make frozen and shaved foie gras? I doubt it. The recipe for his take on bowl of noodles is 15 pages long. But weirdly, I've used it - made pork belly rolls (didn't bake the rolls myself though), kimchee a bunch of times and a kimchee stew once. I wish Katie was not veggie 'cos I'd like to cook this again, very soon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ0gxH5jiZo
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
modern cook books are largely responsible for food porn photography, I love to page through them and want to eat everything I see. less interested in refined imagery of haute cuisine French dishes, the best are the more rustic shots of broiled foods that are slightly messy and a bit charred. the rich, hearty textures of a pan of well-roasted Brussel sprouts. what a contrast to images in my mom's cook books from 40 years ago, everything clean and perfectly placed.
There's that Bourdain one where he really played up to the whole culinary HST thing, had Steadman do the cover and had the food looking a mess.

636124854091447447-IMG-8402-1-.JPG3MFvoBP.jpg
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
More photos would be good for this thread. Those noodles are a mess. YOU'RE FIRED! *wrong show but...*

Never got around to reading Bourdain but I should, probably?
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
I tend to keep ones that are somehow informative about the culture or background of the cuisine or similar. That are kind of achievements in themselves, that I very well might not cook from. David Thompson's massive book on Thai cooking is one like this. I have used it but I've only made like 3 things and it took all fucking day. But I like it as a book and document of insane levels of research.
That's true.

My most used books tend to be basically collections of recipes, albeit often with some sort of unifying theme or philosophy, some context and so on. So I use Meera Sodha's Fresh India a lot, and Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour. Also Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cooking by Arto Der Haroutunian (which is a bit old and doesn't look much but is actually fantastic) and Silk Road Cooking by Najmieh Batmanglij. Oh and the inevitable Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop and Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

The Flavour Thesaurus and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat are nice for general principles. And McGee. And Philip Harben's Grammar of Cookery, which is a sort of proto-McGee.

I don't really have anything that cheffy, though. I'd kind of be interested to get into something more contemporary but I've also got a vegetarian partner, so the options are kind of limited for anything that I'd actually want to cook from.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes

Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants. Despite all of these positive qualities, semen remains neglected as a food. This book hopes to change that. Once you overcome any initial hesitation, you will be surprised to learn how wonderful semen is in the kitchen. Semen is an exciting ingredient that can give every dish you make an interesting twist. If you are a passionate cook and are not afraid to experiment with new ingredients - you will love this cook book!
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Surely "sourcing" it in sufficient quantities to cook with would be tough? Unless you had all the male guests induldge in some kitchen based bukkake?
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
That's true.

My most used books tend to be basically collections of recipes, albeit often with some sort of unifying theme or philosophy, some context and so on. So I use Meera Sodha's Fresh India a lot, and Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour. Also Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cooking by Arto Der Haroutunian (which is a bit old and doesn't look much but is actually fantastic) and Silk Road Cooking by Najmieh Batmanglij. Oh and the inevitable Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop and Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

The Flavour Thesaurus and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat are nice for general principles. And McGee. And Philip Harben's Grammar of Cookery, which is a sort of proto-McGee.

I don't really have anything that cheffy, though. I'd kind of be interested to get into something more contemporary but I've also got a vegetarian partner, so the options are kind of limited for anything that I'd actually want to cook from.
I thought the spicing in Fresh India was a bit disappointing? I got it out the library so maybe I'm wrong here, but it seemed to be the same spicings mostly?

I would welcome vegetarian cookbooks recommmendations for aforementioned partner reasons. I'll check out the one you mentioned.

Great podcast with Fuschia Dunlop here: https://conversationswithtyler.com/episodes/fuchsia-dunlop-2/
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
Surely "sourcing" it in sufficient quantities to cook with would be tough? Unless you had all the male guests induldge in some kitchen based bukkake?
There's this too.

Semenology - The Semen Bartender's Handbook

This is the ultimate handbook for mixologists looking for ingredients that go beyond exotic fruit juices and rare spirits. Driven by a commitment and passion for the freshly harvested ingredient, Semenology pushes the limits of classic bartending. Semen is often freshly available behind most bar counters and adds a personal touch to any cocktail. The connoisseur will appreciate learning how to mix selected spirits to enhance the delicate flavors of semen. The book provides useful tips that cover every detail of Semenology, from mixing and presentation to harvesting and storage advice.

17703289.jpg
 

catalog

Well-known member
A few of my friends who don't read much otherwise have loads of cookbooks on display in their lounges, or kitchen cum lounges. Proudly on display, like they are classics.

Rarely actually cook from them, cos it's all such a ballache.

I think cookbooks are an aspirational signifier.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
I thought the spicing in Fresh India was a bit disappointing? I got it out the library so maybe I'm wrong here, but it seemed to be the same spicings mostly?
Since I cooked from it tonight... I mean yeah, I think there's a reasonable variety but it's not a deep dive into the subtle and ancient arts of Indian spicing. What I like about it is that it's got quite a lot of variety in the ways that dishes are put together, where a lot of Indian-centred books that I've used previously have tended to stick fairly solidly to fries, braises and stews.

For a preposterously big stack of Indian veggie stuff, have you seen Veg Recipes of India online?
https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/
It seems to be basically the work of one Indian woman, it's bafflingly huge - it claims to have 1800 recipes amassed over about ten years - but I think that everything I've tried from it so far has been good.
 
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