Top 3 Book Picks

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Jacob Burton's picture
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Top 3 Book Picks
Simple question: What are your three favorite culinary related books?
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I have many cookbooks.  The top 3, my "go to" books, are:

1.  Jaques Pepin's Complete Techniques

2.  Culinary Artistry

3.  Larousse Gastronomique

I like many of the others but...
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Why 3... why not 4?  I might not be able to survive without Michel Suas' Complete Bread and Pastry.

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My current top three for the foods I'm working with now:

The Flavor Bible
Crust and Crumb
Veganomicon

But for the emotional punch of wonderful memories, and the world of cooking just starting to open:

The Joy of Cooking - my mom's main reference, and my first cookbook

Time-Life world cookbook series (especially France and Germany) - for adventures with my mom and sister

Beard on Bread - early steps alone on a lifelong passionate exploration of plain, old bread
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   1.  The Flavor Bible
   2. The Louisiana Kitchen
  #3 is up in the air  I could go with the Joy of Cooking, The Best Recipes........... I just don't know! 

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1. Ratio - Michael Ruhlman

This book completely revolutionized the way that I cook and think about cooking. Everything can be broken down into 3 sheets of paper. Everything.

2. The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart

It takes you into the science of baking bread as well as providing a ton of recipes.

3. On Food and Cooking - Harold McGee

This is literally the culinary dictionary of exactly what is happening to food, and why it happens. Want to know the science behind cheese melting, he has the answer. What are the different thickening properties of flour, cornstarch, etc. It has the specifics. Any time you have a question of why something happens, it's in there.
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AS a Physics major at Cambridge England,  I love Ruhlman's quantified appoach.
Michael Ruhlman, Ratio.

As a bread and butter lover, Peter Reinhart's, Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Again for science, McGee


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I recently got a copy of "On Food and Cooking" and Love it...but haven't been diving into it much since I'm busy aborbing all of the content here.  I have Rhulman's "Ratio's" on my wish list and based on feedback here I'll be moving it up on the list.  :-) 

One of the highest rated books on Amazon I've been looking at is "On Cooking" by Labensky.  I find it interesting it's highly rated there but not mentioned here.  Does anyone have any feedback on this book?  Is it worth the high price of $90? 

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Any thoughts about The Professional Chef, from the C.I.A.?  I just bought this text and started to get into it.  Thanks
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The Professional Chef is an excellent book, especially for reference. I recommend it to anyone who wants a great "Culinary Textbook."
Bigeasy-T
My favorite book is 300 years of Carolina cooking but am hoping to recieve a copy of the professional Chef for Christmas
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Does "Modernist Cuisine" count as one book?
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For the sake of this forum thread, I'd say modernist cuisine can count as one book.
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What is it about modernist cuisine that makes it worth $450?  That's quite an investment.
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Modernist Cuisine is the first book to really put all of the modern techniques in one place, explaining and demonstrating their uses in a coherent manner. While it's not exhaustive (mainly because the modernist movement is constantly evolving), it's a great resource for professionals and food science geeks alike. It also explores the science behind classic cooking techniques, has a great section on the history of of different culinary movements spanning back about 150 years and some amazing photos.

Honestly, the book is a lot of info to work through if you don't have an interest in food science or modern cuisine, but I find the book absolutely fascinating. Not to mention it is just simply an impressive work; the book's binding is thick, the paper is sturdy and of high quality, the photos are absolutely true works of art.

If you're a professional chef and don't have at least a rudimentary understanding of the topics covered in this book you will be left behind.
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Interesting, thanks Chef.  That sounds like a good item for my somday list.
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We have a copy of "Modernist Cuisine" in the cooking school kitchen at my store. I have been working my way through it when I can. Gonna to pick up my own very soon.  I love the science aspect of it. As i have never taken any culinary classes, it is a resource that makes me feel like i am learning about what goes on while I cook. The book and the Stella culinary podcasts together have really changed the way I approach cooking. Now I feel more like I can move outside of recipes and kind fix some things when they go wrong.

The other two books?

Well Jim Lahey's "My Bread" has really helped me up my bread baking game. It has inspired me to try different flour combinations and loading some breads with different ingredients such as roasted red peppers.

Third is my mother's copy of the "Betty Crocker Cookbook". Of course the cookbook itself is pretty basic and is recipe focused as opposed to technique focused, but it has 25 years worth of my mother's notes, changes, thoughts on recipes, and "recipe grades" scribbled all over inside. That has been very helpful indeed.
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Of course the "Modernist Cuisine" cookbook is all but forcing me to pick up a Sous Vide Supreme which is gonna seriously compromise my free counterspace, so the book is not all fun and games.  :P
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I get all of my recipes online nowadays. Or I use a cooking app on my iPad.
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La Technique
The Flavor Bible
Larousse Gastronomique
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If I can add a 4th it would definitely be the Professional Chef. There is now an app on the Ipad for The Professional Chef. It is outstanding

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Nice, I didn't know that they had an App. I love that book, I'll have to check out the App. Thanks for the heads up.
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1.  Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison- this book has taught me a great deal about coaxing flavor out of ingredients we take for granted without relying on flavor rich meats.

2.  The Professional Chef by Culinary Institute of America- my go-to book for basic techniques that aren't dumbed down.

3.  Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless- great resource for REAL mexican cooking, not the Americanized flour tortilla/ refried bean/ giant stuffed burrito we're used to.

3.1  The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan- basically the same book as above for Italian cooking.
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I recently picked up The Art of Roasting and The Art of Braising, both by Molly Stevens.  Both excellent books on two of my favorite cooking techniques.
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1. The Louisiana Kitchen (my copy is a mess from years of overuse!)

 

2. Wenzel's Menu Maker (encyclopedia of recipes with servings of 25, 50 and 100, great for planning events)

 

3. True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking

 

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Hands down. 
Culinary Artistry.
Larousse Gastronomique
Chez Jacque. 

 

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I really only have two cooking books

 

Sauces by James Peterson

 

and Culinary Artistry

 

I have been thinking about getting On Food and Cooking but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

 

It's not exactly a cooking book but What to Drink with What you Eat is really good for planning a complete meal.  It is by the same authors as culinary artistry

Wisconsin Limey

Their next book "The Flavor Bible" is invaluable.

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1. Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook

2. Modernist Cuisine, like others have mentioned. I have the "At Home" version. I haven't really gotten into it yet, but the content seems fascinating.

3. Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference by Jill Norman

 

There's a whole interesting world of herbs and spices out there to explore, and most cooks, including myself, neglect it too often, besides the ones we're comfortable using and combining.

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Good Morning Jacob,

 

Wow, this is a very difficult question ... I house almost 500 in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French and one in German.

 

I shall state, that by breaking them down in categories:

 

CATEGORY - INFORMATIVE BIBLES ...

 

1) The Flavour Bible