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basic cookbook for a gift

litlfilly's picture

So...I need to get a cookbook for my stepdaughter who shadowed me and was my sous chef for Thanksgiving and would like to get her a first cookbook with some good basics.  Any ideas?  She is 20 years old, so I would like to get a really good foundational cookbook-ya know?  Thanks...

SallyBR1's picture

(post #36819, reply #1 of 70)

at the risk of getting a lot of eye-rolling to the ceiling, I would recommend the "Joy of Cooking"

wonka's picture

(post #36819, reply #16 of 70)

That's what I bought for my 20 year old step daughter. It's a great basic starting out book.

cook1928's picture

(post #36819, reply #2 of 70)

Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything has served me well for years as a basic go-to cookbook. There is a new revised edition which I just ordered for my 20 year old daughter who asked for her first cookbook.

fitchy's picture

(post #36819, reply #25 of 70)

I have to agree.  As a collector of cookbooks, and one who really uses them, I love Mark Bittman's How to cook everything.

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #36819, reply #3 of 70)

Julia Child's The Way to Cook.

JillElise's picture

(post #36819, reply #4 of 70)

Another vote for Julia Child's The Way to Cook.

Frankie's picture

(post #36819, reply #5 of 70)

If she is a knowledgeable cook then the Bittman book is great.

If she wants to learn technique and methods, you cannot go wrong with Julia's The Way To Cook. It's brilliant.

If she is just getting her feet wet, she may benefit by an all-around introduction to cooking which would be Alice Waters' The Art Of Simple Food. Explanations, recipes, stories -- the basics.

Frankie


Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt.
Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon.
Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi.

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh


Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi.

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh


litlfilly's picture

(post #36819, reply #9 of 70)

Thanks for all of the input-she is truly a beginner, to answer that inquiry from some of the posts.  It is difficult for me to remember what I would need at that point (since I'm old)!  I think I may get her 2 books.  I'm a fan of Alice Waters and Julia Child.  Rachael Ray isn't a bad choice for something contemporary.  Ina Garten just plain annoys me, but I haven't looked at her book.  :)

SusanCooks's picture

(post #36819, reply #10 of 70)

I would vote against a Rachel Ray book. Her recipes are just not that great. I do like the Ina Garten books. And don't forget a subscription to Fine Cooking or Bon Apetit.


Susan

litlfilly's picture

(post #36819, reply #14 of 70)

Do Ina Garten's books have any pictures?  I really do think that helps with a someone just learning-

SusanCooks's picture

(post #36819, reply #15 of 70)

Her books don't have pictures for all the recipes, but they do have quite a few pictures. She also has great tips on putting menus together & setting the table.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #36819, reply #6 of 70)

A dissenting view on The Way to Cook. It was a good book for its time-which was 1990. Now I think it is just dated, and missing a lot of the foods that a 20 year old would want to learn to cook.

Bittman would be a better choice, as would Joy of Cooking. There used to be a fabulous beginner's cookbook by Marion Cunningham, but I think it is out of print now.

If she's not a total beginner, then I would buy this James Peterson book that came out last year: http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-James-Peterson/dp/1580087892/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=booksqid=1229267968&sr=8-1

I really, really like it.

MadMom's picture

(post #36819, reply #7 of 70)

Sorry, but I can't stand Bittman, and would probably never buy a cookbook with that title.  I always recommend Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without a Book.  Good food, a lot of basics, and it teaches beginning cooks that recipes are merely a guideline, it's technique that is important.



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Glenys's picture

(post #36819, reply #11 of 70)

As much as I love Pam Anderson, I think that book only works for people who think in a certain frame of style. Maybe I'm wrong, I'll pull it off the shelf and look again.

MadMom's picture

(post #36819, reply #19 of 70)

Maybe I just think that way?  I think the great thing about the book is that she doesn't just give a recipe for pork.  She gives a recipe and pork is one of the many meats you can choose.  Then she gives a list of herbs, and you choose one or two, and perhaps vegetables, etc.  It gives you the freedom to try different things without wondering "how much would I add of this?"  I know that my younger daughter loves it, because that is also the way she cooks.  Perhaps it is just perfect for some of us but not for others.   



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

wonka's picture

(post #36819, reply #22 of 70)

I have a number of friends that have to follow a recipe exactly. If the recipe is too vague or gives them too many choices, they just can't do it.

thecooktoo's picture

(post #36819, reply #23 of 70)

That is really common.  Measure the salt to an 1/8 of a tsp.


I started offering a three session class a year ago (once a quarter) on cooking without a recipe.  I expected to get 5 or 6 to sign up (max is 12), and every single class has been sold out with a waiting list.  There are a lot of people out there that want to cook better, they just don't know how.


Jim

wonka's picture

(post #36819, reply #17 of 70)

...and that is the other book that I bought for my 20 year old step daughter.

TracyK's picture

(post #36819, reply #8 of 70)

Personally, I love Joy of Cooking, but I'd only recommend it as a companion to another cookbook. The format can be a little off-putting, and the fact that it's SO voluminous and there aren't any pictures doesn't exactly inspire one to greatness.


For her age and experience level, one of the Rachael Ray books would be good, or perhaps Ina Garten's "Back to Basics." Or the FC "Cooking New American" book, or a subscription to FC.



"The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back. He'll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and adorable daughters."                          -- Garrison Keilor

Glenys's picture

(post #36819, reply #12 of 70)

I used Back to Basics for a class, as requested by the organiser, and I have to say it would be a great basic book for many. Her notes at the beginning were about ingredients etc were very well written.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #36819, reply #13 of 70)

Anyone looked through Martha's new book, called Cooking School or something like that?

bookwyrm73's picture

(post #36819, reply #18 of 70)

I love my Joy of Cooking.  It's a great reference book and every recipe I've ever made from it has been perfect.

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

thecooktoo's picture

(post #36819, reply #20 of 70)

I would stick with Joy of Cooking.  It's basic, is a great reference book after you gain more experience.  I have a copy we bought as a wedding gift three or four years ago and the wedding was called off...so I kept the book.  Use it frequently as a reference...looking for a simple recipe, even weights and measures.  I think it's a great book for new, inexperienced cooks.  Although all the others are good books, I'm not sure they are meant for people with no cooking experience at all.


Also, don't forget "The Better Homes and Gardens" cookbook.  EXcellent for new cooks.  We still have the one we got as a wedding gift more than 48 years ago, and still use it occasionally.  Of course, we ignore the items about stoking the wood stove, shoveling the coal, trimming the oil lamp wicks and making candles.  I do try to emphasize to my wife occasionally that she still needs to meet me at the door with my slippers and a martini...but I have failed misably at that as well.


Jim

teebee's picture

(post #36819, reply #21 of 70)

I would second Tracy's suggestion of a FC subscription. There are a lot of "how-to" articles, plus all of the information is about food, cooking, or kitchen equipment (no travel or restaurant reviews). I usually buy the current issue (or one of the special issues--there's usually lots of good info in those) and wrap it up with a note about the subscription.

Another plus of a subscription is that is only comes 6 times a year, so it's not overwhelming like a thick cookbook might be.

kersey's picture

(post #36819, reply #24 of 70)

I give Cook's Illustrated "Best Recipes" to new cooks.  They can learn the science behind cooking and hone thier basic skills.  All while eating pretty good food.  My personal favorite cookbook is Paul Prudhomme's "Louisiana Kitchen".  I'm on my second copy after my first disintegrated with use. 

thedessertlady's picture

(post #36819, reply #26 of 70)

Bittman for sure. No pictures but the recipes always turn out well and it has everything. Way better than Joy of Cooking.

Gretchen's picture

(post #36819, reply #27 of 70)

Could you go to Bittman's book and find a spritz cookie recipe? 1,2,3,4 cake?  I don't know, but I know you could go to the Joy and look for ANYthing. Even after cooking for 50 years, I can still find what I might need to fix or more importantly, perhaps, ask and find a reference.


I have more often heard it said of his book, "I want to cook something and it isn't in there".  Just another opinion.


the Joy edition needs to be the very last one.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Marie Louise's picture

(post #36819, reply #28 of 70)

No, there's no spritz cookie recipe in there, but chances are that a beginning 20 year old cook would not want that. There's no 1-2-3-4 cake in there either, at least under that name, but there is an olive oil cake, something a 20-year old might want to make after eating it in a restaurant. Joy of Cooking has all the basics, but I'm not so sure that is where young cooks want to start.

I have Bittman's vegetarian cookbook, and have made some great recipes from it. After reading the reviews, I may buy this as a reference for me! Personally, I like him-and his style-but as I have said before, I'm married to a New York Jew, so I'm favorably disposed to like him. And I think his recipes are good.

You can look inside to see what it does include.

http://www.amazon.com/Cook-Everything-Completely-Revised-Anniversary/dp/0764578650/ref=si3_rdr_bb_product

dorcast's picture

(post #36819, reply #29 of 70)

"Personally, I like him-and his style-but as I have said before, I'm married to a New York Jew, so I'm favorably disposed to like him."

Is that why I don't mind him? I've never known why everyone here hates him so much.

Gretchen's picture

(post #36819, reply #30 of 70)

And I didn't even bring in that poinnt!  ;o)  I was truly trying to comment on cookbooks, and what I have heard about the lack of breadth of "Everything".


I agree with ML, that maybe that is true about desire to cook like a restaurant menu.


We are piffed at him for his TOTALLY dismissive attitude toward Julia when she died. His interview statement that "well, perhaps she did have "some" effect on the world of cuisine" in a totally condescending tone of voice (as if , well, now, I (really big "I") truly DO have this total effect, was so over the top.


Gretchen
Gretchen