If you visit your favorite bookstore, you will probably be overwhelmed or overjoyed at the number of cookbooks available. I am looking for classics, and books that will "take me to the next level" in my understanding of food and kitchen technique. Some books are just collections of recipes, and those won't find space here.
My prices are taken from Amazon.com. I find that I can save at least $10.00 on any given cookbook (a list price of $35 sells for $23 typically) ordering from them. Mall stores charge full price. If I buy more than one, I get free shipping, and I can read the online reviews before buying instead of buying a book based on looks and general hunches.
The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition by Cooks Illustrated Magazine
This gets almost universal rave reviews, so I bought a copy. I am very pleased with it. I particularly like the way they discuss the development of a recipe, what worked and what did not, and what they were aiming for. This lets me know what is vital in a recipe I want to use and clues me in on important procedures to follow. I like the short essays that the book is abundantly full of. $23.00
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
This is a well rated and reviewed cookbook. The author has a whole solar system of spin off cookbooks as well, but this seems to be the "generalist" volume. So I got a copy and like it so far. He has a clean, no nonsense approach. The book has a nice introduction with a discussion of utensils and methods that I find useful at my stage of learning. $23.00
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
This book gets rave reviews and the expected comment "The Julia Child of Italy". Many people warn that her cooking times and ingredient measurements should be taken with caution. $23.00
The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl
"A major effort by the leading culinary magazine in the country" Lots of complaints about unreadable yellow type used for recipe titles, but people also say to look beyond that silly mistake. Reviews are a bit harsh, but that is the nature of a "gourmet" audience I guess. $26.00
Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice L. Waters
Not the first cookbook to get, but might be a good one to add later. $24.00
The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Apparently "Americas Test Kitchen" is a PBS series (who would have guessed?) This book targets the same market as the old standbyes in this section and is a highly recommended modern replacement. $23.07
The Joy of Cooking
2006 gave us the 75th Anniversary Edition of this classic. A worthwhile reference, some people prefer older editions. $23.10
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
A good everyday guide. You can pick from a number of older editions or get the latest. $20.00
Betty Crockers Cookbook
Now in the 50th year and 10th edition. Well regarded, but some say the new edition has fewer recipes and has gone downhill. Geared for the busy person who really doesn't want to get into cooking. Get the Better Homes and Garden book instead, or something else. $12.00
The bread makers apprentice
by Peter Reinhart. I saw this book in the bookstore and it looked good, the reviews look good too, so I ordered it. It is a very good book. The same author did another book "Crust and Crumb", but this one improves on it. $22.00
by Maggie Glezer. I bought this book before the bread makers apprentice book. Most of the book is a tour of a large number of artisan bakeries, giving 3-4 pages to each bakery. There is lots of great stuff in the book, but the "apprentice" book was really more what I was looking for.
The Bread Builders, Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens
by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The only recipe in the book if for Pain au LeVain and will make 370 pounds of dough, but still highly recommended. This will be the next bread book I get. $23
Bread Matters, The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley Highly recommended, with a lot of bad news about commercial bread.
Beard on Bread
by James Beard. Anything about food by James Beard is worth a look. Recommended as an excellent introduction to non-sourdough bread.
Great Whole-grain Breads
by Beatrice Ojakangas One of the best reference books on whole grain breads and baking.
The Taste of Bread
by Raymond Calvel Professor Calvel restored bread baking in France to its prior high standards after World War II. The book is expensive ($75 is a good price) in the English tranlation, but recommended.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
by Julia Child and Simone Beck
May as well order her autobiography along with these two books. And there is a companion book "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom". What can be said, everyone knows these books are in a class by themselves. Volume 2 covers (among many other things) soups and baked goods. Volume 1 (hardcover) $24.00, Volume 2 (paperback) $20.00
Barefoot in Paris, Easty French Food you can make at home
by Ina Garten ("Barefoot Contessa")
A sometimes highly rated alternative to Julia Child's French Cooking. She has a galaxy of "Barefoot Contessa" cookbooks, and does a TV show. People either seem to adore or hate this book. $22.00
What's a Cook to Do?
Martha Stewart Cooking School
A Collection of the very finest recipes ever assembled into one cookbook
Tom's Culinary Resources / firstname.lastname@example.org