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Best/ worst cookbooks you bought in 2007

Marie Louise's picture

I did my second annual tidying up/ donating cookbooks this weekend. (More on that here:

As I thought about my purchases this year, I was wondering about yours. What are the favorites you bought this year? (I still have room on my shelves, LOL.) What disappointed you that I should avoid?

My favorite cookbooks I bought this year are:

1) Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka. It was published in 2005, but it's new to me this year. Sigh, if only it was organized differently, I'd pick it up more often.

2) Cooking by James Peterson. I'm not his biggest fan (none of his other books survived last year's purge) but this one is a terrific coffee table read. The subtitle is "600 recipes, 1500 photographs, one kitchen education" and pretty much sums it up. Think The New Making of a Cook meets that old illustrated Good Housekeeping book.

3) Scharffenberger's Essence of Chocolate. A great read about chocolate & some fabulous recipes.

My favorite food-related book is Cecilia Chiang's autobiography, The Seventh Daughter. Highly recommended for inspiring and mouth-watering stories.

Most disappointing:

1) Jacques Pepin's new book. Almost impossible to use due to the type-setting.
2) Alice Water's new book. Such a disappointment after the fabulous Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. I find it hard to believe they were written by the same person.
3) Twist of the Wrist. The recipes looked better than they were.

Glenys's picture

(post #62892, reply #1 of 55)

I usually agree with you on books but I thought Vegetable Love was so lackluster. Oddly the format was nearly identical to Bittman's Vegetarian Cooking but his recipes were more inspired. Now follow-through, that's another thing.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62892, reply #4 of 55)

They've got a copy of Bittman's book for sale at The Pasta Shop; I'll have to take a look.

Kafka's recipes were very basic-but that's what I wanted. I've got Chez Panisse Vegetables for the weird stuff.

Glenys's picture

(post #62892, reply #5 of 55)

What bothered me was some vegetables, like eggplant, didn't end up with any better offerings than what we already know, the baba ganoush or parmigiana. The other oddity, at least to me, seemed that a dish that merely had a particular vegetable in it, although fundamentally a meat dish, qualified as a "way to cook it".

Gretchen's picture

(post #62892, reply #2 of 55)

I am beginning to think James Peterson is 'way too much. For anything.


Marie Louise's picture

(post #62892, reply #3 of 55)

The book is really beautiful-take a look next time you get to a bookstore. It is way too big to be useful in the kitchen, but the recipes look good.

CulinaryArtist's picture

(post #62892, reply #6 of 55)

I saw it on T-day, looks great, friend had bought it at Costco and was hoping to go back and get one for me!  Hope she can.






Regality's picture

(post #62892, reply #7 of 55)

I know everyone will find this shocking, but I bought no cookbooks this year.


“For me, patriotism is the love of one’s country, while nationalism is the hatred of other peoples.”–Dmitri Likhachev

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #62892, reply #8 of 55)

Congratulations to me.  I bought no cookbooks in 2007.

SallyBR1's picture

(post #62892, reply #9 of 55)

(Sally faints)



It is not gremolita, it is GREMOLATA!!!!

(October 2007)

SallyBR1's picture

(post #62892, reply #10 of 55)

I have been thinking about this

I did not buy too many cookbooks this year - maybe 8 - but I like them all. Vegetable Love was one of them, per your recommendation - and I am not disappointed.

One of my favorites from this past year had to be "Super Natural Cooking" - simply because it opened my horizons to different grains, "exotic" stuff that I would probably not even buy it before.

Another big winner in my opinion is "From Simple to Spectacular" - I love the concept and every single recipe I tried was good.

I guess it is a good year when you have no regrets about cookbooks. Let's ses what 2008 brings us!



It is not gremolita, it is GREMOLATA!!!!

(October 2007)

whatscooking's picture

(post #62892, reply #31 of 55)

Sally, Sally, what have you tried and loved from Simple to Spectac?  I'm always looking for someone to compare notes with on this book.  It is a favorite of mine, but I've had a few disappointments too. 

Whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the people of the Earth.
 Chief Seattle

Chicago-style deep-dish:  "Pizza for people who just aren't fat enough"
Anthony Bourdain

SallyBR1's picture

(post #62892, reply #32 of 55)

I don t have the book here with me to check which recipes I made - I know there were three, and another one was the 1 hour chicken stock (made with wings) - that I absolutely loved.

that will definitely be a regular appearance at our table

I doubt I will be able to check the book and post before leaving, but I promise to come back to the subject after we return, on Dec 9



It is not gremolita, it is GREMOLATA!!!!

(October 2007)

whatscooking's picture

(post #62892, reply #33 of 55)

I loved that chicken broth too and the classic vinaigrette.  I made the spinach cannelloni but didn't love the spinach filling.  The asparagus with mushroom cream sauce was really good, but with 1c cream to 20 asparagus, that's rich dinner party food.   I've done the provencal halibut, which was nothing spectacular but good.  I really want to make the mushroom springrolls, made with rolled phyllo.  They look great.  Also, I've tried a few of the "sauteed chicken chunk" preparations, none were that special.  But, I did love the thai-style chicken breasts in foil. 

One recipe I'm very unsure of is the slow-cooked salmon, where the salmon is cooked at 300* for around 12 minutes, or to a temp of 120.  I have a feeling I would be unhappy with this.  I have no problem with raw salmon as sashimi, but I just can't see this prep working.

 I have the book in front of me so I can come up with the recipe names easily.  Have a great trip and we'll talk more of this book in the future. :)

Whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the people of the Earth.
 Chief Seattle

Edited 11/28/2007 10:31 am by whatscooking

Chicago-style deep-dish:  "Pizza for people who just aren't fat enough"
Anthony Bourdain

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62892, reply #34 of 55)

Let's start a thread about this book. I too bought it on Sally's recommendation (IIRC, it was/is on clearance at Jessica's Biscuit.)

I've been busy at work, so put it on the shelf & never used it-time to change that!

ouzo's picture

(post #62892, reply #49 of 55)

..slow-cooked salmon, where the salmon is cooked at 300* for around 12 minutes..

Slow cook is a great method for salmon.  However, I cook at 250* for 45 minutes. 

  No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop, The Lion & the mouse

Wolvie's picture

(post #62892, reply #11 of 55)

this is terrible - I don't remember all the books I bought this year. Oh my. It wasn't that many, but ... there it is. LOL

I know I am using some of them - I peruse books in the evenings for ideas, then pretty much do my own thing. Hmmm.

I will have to look at the titles and figure out which one's were 07.

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


Jean's picture

(post #62892, reply #13 of 55)

I'm with you, I quickly forget. :) Nevertheless, all the books I bought  were from CT recommendations, so it's not my fault that I got them! They were all used so that makes them almost free,right?

Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
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Heather's picture

(post #62892, reply #12 of 55)

Do you have Vegetable Harvest? I'm wondering if that is better than Vegetable Love.

Glenys's picture

(post #62892, reply #15 of 55)

Vegetable Harvest leaves Vegetable Love in the dust, at least to me. Patricia has worked many if not all the recipes with a lighter hand (she ran the NY marathon on her 60th birthday) but they're beautiful and delicious but actually simple. When she was through in the spring I picked recipes from the book for her event and everything came out exactly to her liking (or we have the same tastebuds) and I've continued to make them and more. The truc are worth the book alone, like homeade lemon zest salt.

Heather's picture

(post #62892, reply #16 of 55)

I think I'll add it to my Christmas list--thanks!

slycat's picture

(post #62892, reply #18 of 55)

I have to agree. I had Veg. Harvest checked out of our library a couple of times and then bought my own copy. I like that it has nutritional info in it too. Everything I have done or tweaked has been great.

I purged cookbooks last year when we remodeled our kitchen. I gave most of them to my kids. I have been more picky about cookbooks this year, checking them out of the library a few times before I buy. So the ones I have bought have been all good.

Right now I have the new Peter Reinhart whole grain bread book checked out and while I have not made anything form it yet, it is going on my Christmas list for sure.

My one surprise I guess was At Home with Michael Chiarello. I got it on sale at some small bookstore on a whim and have used it tons.

Does this mean we have a new year coming and we can buy new cookbooks again??

I too look to all of you for great suggestions! Cathy

Gretchen's picture

(post #62892, reply #25 of 55)

The Peter Reinhart book will be wonderful. That was my baking class with him. MAKE the crackers!!


slycat's picture

(post #62892, reply #29 of 55)

I am so jealous! A class with him how wonderful! I saw your thread on this. What have you made??


Gretchen's picture

(post #62892, reply #30 of 55)

Nada. Been doing the reconstruction of the house and just can't get my mind around bread. I REally want to make the spent grain bread though, and may go down to Rock Bottom for some "stuff". It was TDF.


Lee's picture

(post #62892, reply #28 of 55)

ITA.  I've been enjoying Vegetable Harvest, but I'm a long-time fan of Pat Wells.

Marie Louise's picture

(post #62892, reply #17 of 55)

You know, I've picked it up half a dozen times, but for some reason, it never appealed.

I like Kafka's book because it has lots and lots of ideas. Basic, good, "duh" kind of recipes-but handy when you are trying to decide what to do w/ all that stuff you just bought, LOL.

Edited to add, now that I have read Glenys's recommendaton, I'll have to look at it again. I do like her Paris & her Bistro cookbooks.

Edited 11/26/2007 3:19 pm by Marie Louise

roz's picture

(post #62892, reply #14 of 55)

The only brand new, never-been-used cookbook I bought this year was Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads (along with an electric grain mill)...fabulous! I use this book every two to three days to bake bread and am still experimenting. Made two loaves of Anadama bread (made with honey, not molasses).

Other cookbooks I usually get are from and the postage is more than the book! But I have a terrible angst when parting with any cookbooks.

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz
Biscuit's picture

(post #62892, reply #19 of 55)

Honestly?  I only bought 2 this year, although I was gifted 2 others. 

The two I purchased was Crescent City Cooking by Susan Spicer and I haven't had a chance to cook from it yet since I only got it a week ago (g), although it looks fabulous and if it actually tastes like what she serves in her restaurant I'm going to be very happy.

The other one was Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, and - what can I say, I absolutely love it.  One of the best baking books I have.

I've become a lot more picky about the cookbooks I actually purchase.  9 times out of 10 I will get it from the library first before I decide if I'm going to buy it.

"Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store.  Maybe Chrismas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"  - The Grinch

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

debbypo's picture

(post #62892, reply #23 of 55)

Hi... I'm an experienced  cook with a passion for vegetables and for good coffee. I had a Krups electric coffeemeaker with a stainless carafe but it spurted coffee and grounds all over the counter one too many times. Does anyone have recommendations for a replacement... with a stainless carafe and timer? Thanks much. Also, which if any would you stay away from?

shoechick's picture

(post #62892, reply #24 of 55)

I just bought the 10 cup cuisinart with stainless carafe and with timer...Love it so far!!  It doesn't grind the beans though.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine