Part of an occasional series about what cookbooks we use (and why we use them), plus volumes we're drooling after.
Also on Our Shelves
Over the years, in addition to our Our Top 12 Cookbook Workhorses, Jodie and I have acquired 16 more cookbooks. Not used as often, these volumes are our auxiliaries, turned to on occasion, for fresh ideas, or for seasonal cooking.
They're not the only auxiliary cookbooks to have come our way, either. We used to have more than these, and other cookbooks have come and gone over the years. Not every cookbook fits our cooking style and tastes, just as not every cookbook will suit yours. These are the ones that have made the cut, but what makes them important to us and to how we cook?
Our 16 Auxiliary Cookbooks
- The Great Big Cookie Book
- Cook's Illustrated 2000
- Cook's Illustrated 2001
- Williams-Sonoma Savoring Meat & Poultry
- 30-Minute Thai
- Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook
- The Dreaded Broccoli Cookbook
- I Heart Spice
- Latin, Elisabeth Luard
- 20-Minutes Meals, Marian Burros
- Fondues from Around the World, Eva and Ulrich Klever
- Confessions of a Butcher, John Smith
- Nanny Ogg's Cookbook
- World Food India
- Cookshelf Baking
- Cookshelf Chinese
Reasons These Cookbooks Are Useful
Here's how these each break down for our 16 auxiliary cookbooks.
The Great Big Cookie Book: Over 200 Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Scones, Bars and Biscuits
Jodie does the bulk of the baking in our home, and this oversized book is a long-standing favorite. Despite the title, it's also not just cookies, but also crackers and quick breads. We've cranked out tasty treats both sweet and savory, and anytime we have baking to do, this book comes out.
Cook's Illustrated 2001 Annual and Cook's Illustrated Annual 2000
A friend turned us on to Cooks Illustrated (CI) a few years ago, and its trial-and-error, meticulous approach makes the revered cooking magazine one of our favorites. Even better is that CI anthologizes each year's editions into a handy hard-back volume. Another friend gave us these particular editions, and I turn to them often for their insight into technique and food chemistry.
Williams-Sonoma Savoring Meat & Poultry
So far, I use this old Christmas gift more for reference and ideas than for following recipes. As we tuck into another winter's cooking, though, that may change. For a range of meat dishes from a variety of culinary traditions, this is a good one to have.
30-Minute Thai Cooking
As much as I love Thai cooking, I prefer modern efficiencies to step-by-step, never-leave-the-kitchen prep. 30-Minute Thai gives just that: authentic flavor, with faster production. It's handy for whipping together a quick Thai dish, with plenty of time in the evening for other pursuits.
Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook: Recipes for Cooking Together
This wedding gift has been a lot of fun. From entertaining guidelines and, stocking a kitchen, to a range of casual and formal recipes, this Williams-Sonoma cookbook is helpful for the couple figuring out how to cook together. The wine pairing section is incomplete without a beer pairing section, but nobody's perfect.
Dreaded Broccoli Cookbook: A Good-Natured Guide to Healthful Eating, With 100 Recipes
Found years ago in a discount bin at the UO bookstore, I love the flip, approachable style of Dreaded Broccoli mom-and-daughter authors Barbara Haspel and Tamar Haspel. Making the most of flavor and texture while keeping food healthy, Dreaded Broccoli is proof-positive that eating healthy does not have to lack in flavor or be packed with pretentiousness. The authors also make it clear throughout that much of what they present is just a jumping-off point. This is especially useful for anyone trying to wrap their heads around cutting down cooking oil, or sussing out how to make their own stock at home. Their discussions of ingredients, such as grains or beans, are informative, approachable and hilarious.
I Love Spice: Over 100 Recipes for People Who Like It Hot
Now this is my idea of a stocking stuffer. One lazy Saturday, I whipped up the falafel in this book. The fond, spicy memories of this fried goodness shall accompany me to the hereafter, where there will be falafel and spicy dip sauces as far as angels can fly. If you need zip, heat and spice, this book is a must-have. Note that it was prepared for a more, shall we say, British mild palate, so feel free to increase the spice accordingly.
Latin: A Culinary Journey of Discovery (Love Food)
While my palate tends more to Asian than to Latin American cuisines, this book makes me hanker for more Latin American dishes. While also providing handy, easy-to-make recipes accordingly, I haven't yet made anything from this Christmas gift. Still, it's excellent inspiration, and if it doesn't get you drooling, you must lack saliva glands.
Twenty-Minute Menus: Time-Wise Recipes & Strategic Plans for Freshly Cooked Meals Every Day
Jodie and I are no stranger to the packed schedule or the challenge of putting together a tasty, healthy meal that also takes less time than most commercial breaks nowadays. 20-Minute Meals is a helpful reminder than good does not equal complex or time-consuming — you just need some essentials, some good flavor, and a little time.
Fondues from Around the World, Eva and Ulrich Klever
Jodie has had this book for ages, and I feel ashamed to admit that we've never made a single fondue from it. Nonetheless, the recipes within are comprehensive, from savory to sweet, and will set you up for success for any fondue night. Just typing this guilts and inspires me into wanting to dig out the fondue sets and try out some of these…
Confessions of a Butcher, John Smith (previously reviewed on Antsaint)
Buying meat is as much about understanding marketing as it is understanding what cut is right for what preparation. John Smith takes his 31 years experience as a cook in the Marines and as a professional butcher, and helps you make the most of both your meat budget and that tasty cut of protein in your shopping bag. I've found this book most helpful for our food budget, and it has never steered me wrong.
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (Discworld Series)
I have yet to cook from this, but as a fanboy of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, I dearly love this book. A great smile-producing gift for anyone who likes their kitchen like they like their world: flat, and on the back of 4 elephants standing on a giant, cosmic turtle.
Lonely Planet World Food India (Lonely Planet World Food Guides)
A much better travel book than cookbook, this is nonetheless the only Indian cookbook currently on our shelves. I got this years ago in preparation for a trip to India, and keep it mostly for nostalgia, and for the occasional reference for a particular ingredient or style of Indian cuisine. (Jodie is adamant that this thing needs to be moved from the recipe books to the travel books, but more on that another time…)
This little book is one we have mixed feelings about. Many of the recipes are tasty, but some we've found inaccurate or had poor results. However, it's handy to flip through for ideas, for that we currently allow it shelf space.
Similar to the Cookshelf Baking, but a little less used. This one may wind up in the thrift store pile, as we don't use it much. The recipes are so-so, but nothing inspiring.
Whether a casual or hard-core cook, over time the cookbooks in your kitchen reflect your strengths, weaknesses, interests and available shelf space. While our Top 12 Cookbook Workhorses are the tomes we turn to the most, our auxiliaries greatly enhance our learning and cooking.
Our Cookbooks is an occasional series on Antsaint. Upcoming posts include cookbooks we're drooling after, reviews of individual volumes, and some recent acquisitions. What are your favorite cookbooks?