Inspirational cookery writers


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Inspirational cookery writers

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Maio 13, 2014, 3:57 am

To all those in the Cookbookers group, I'd be interested to know whose cookery books you buy (have bought) and why.

Editado: Set 18, 2014, 10:01 am

I usually buy cookbooks based on the style of cooking, as much as the author. I learned about Dorie Greenspan via Tuesdays with Dorie; and bought Baking: From My Home to Yours. I learned about David Lebovitz via his blog; and bought The Perfect Scoop. When I buy based on style, it's usually something that calls to me (chocolate, desserts, hosting parties) or pictures. I love love love cookbooks with gorgeous photos of the food, the table settings, the steps, etc.

ETA: Will add touchstones later. It's only been four months since I was supposed to add touchstones!

Editado: Maio 14, 2014, 1:45 pm

I'm not sure about inspirational cookbook authors, but this question inspired me to buy yet another cookbook this afternoon. Okay, I lied, I'd have bought it anyway.

I buy older cookbooks, and much prefer the approach to cooking and to food in those earlier times. Today's book is Good Housekeeping Cook Book (the 1955 edition). The spine needs a bit of TLC, and some favorite recipes from a previous owner have been marked in pink highlighter (gently, not obscuring the text, thank goodness), but it's in very good condition, and it looks like hours and even days of fun.

Editado: Maio 13, 2014, 8:45 pm

I don't buy many anymore (no one to cook for but myself, and I already have a lot of cookbooks), but I have a special fondness for what I call "church lady" recipe collections, especially ethnic ones. The recipes are the favorites of home cooks, so they tend to be very doable with ingredients that are easy to procure. Alas, they do lack pretty pictures, and I admit a fondness for cookbooks with pretty pictures.

A couple that I've cataloged are Sharing Our Gifts: From the Kitchens of St. Michael's (well-worn, chock-full of mid-to-late 20th century Chicago-area 2nd-generation immigrant cooking) and The Odyssey of Greek Cooking (1st through 3rd generation Greek immigrant cooking). I got the former as a gift from my mother who was a friend of some of the Ladies of St. Michael's Parish, and found the latter at a Greek festival sponsored by the church that sponsored the cookbook, Ss. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, West Nyack, New York.

Maio 15, 2014, 12:32 pm

In terms of great writers, I'd say my holy trinity are Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Shirley Corriher. I imagine plenty of people will understand my fondness for Julia and Jacques; I find that Shirley is able to present the chemical and physics puzzles of cooking in a way which really makes me want to see them in action for myself.

The other one I want to single out as "inspirational" right now is Cooking from the Heart, a collection of 100 recipes chosen by chefs with accompanying personal stories explaining what makes the recipe special to them. Lots of family stories, lots of stories about first jobs.

Jun 5, 2014, 6:38 am

If money and space were no object, I'd try to assemble a collection of cookbooks from every country on Earth. And another (like Lyndatrue at #3) of old or historic books (hence the two Apicii in my collection already). Daughter swears by Jamie Oliver, and rarely uses anyone else. For the stories around the recipes, try Lilian Langseth-Christensen (touchstone not working), who also wrote in Gourmet magazine in the 1950s and 60s.

Jun 5, 2014, 10:25 am

>6 hfglen: I'm with you. I do keep trying to pick up a cookbook everywhere I go overseas and find lots of foreign cookbooks in yard sales, antique malls and friends of the library sales.

Jun 7, 2014, 2:35 pm

>7 MarthaJeanne: The very person! Many thanks. (I'm amazed at how many books LT attributes to her, must look out for some.)

Jun 14, 2014, 9:45 am

David, Elizabeth is making an impression on me at the moment, buying if thy are not to expensive she has become rather collectable.
After her wisdom and recipes so not after 1st editions.

Set 18, 2014, 4:35 am

I have heard about the wonders of Dorie Greenspan but have yet to sit down with any of her books. In terms of books with wonderful images of food, I recommend any by Diana Henry - she has substance as well as style.

Set 18, 2014, 6:01 pm

I am a great fan of Nigel Slater. Not only is he wonderful writer, who can entrance you with a whole page about his favourite frying pan, his recipes really work. Many of them (baking aside) are not terribly precise and leave plenty of room for adaptation. They are generally uncomplicated with just a few well chosen ingredients, quite unlike the currently fashionable Yotam Ottolenghi.

In recent years I have taken a liking to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is similar in style.

Jamie Oliver is very good for beginners, but came along a bit too late for me. Over the years I have accumulated books by Beverley Sutherland Smith, Jill Dupleix, Claudia Roden and of course the incomparable Stephanie Alexander. I don't have many American cookbooks because the weird approach to measurements makes them so difficult to use.

Nowadays I don't buy many actual cookbooks. I prefer books about cooking, history or memoirs, which do often contain recipes.

Nov 6, 2014, 10:45 am

I'm reading Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher. Delightful, and now I want to make oyster stew.

Nov 6, 2014, 3:40 pm

All of MFK`s books are delightful. Not so much for recipes, but for attitude and humor. I wish I could have known her. I am trying to collect all of her writings.

Abr 4, 2015, 12:43 am

Lesmel ~ Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz seem to have an impressive following. It seems, in part, that they showcase the fantasy of an American in Paris, but they also come to the table with credibility on account of their cooking experience and powers of persuasion. I don't own any of their books but will give them a closer look.

Abr 4, 2015, 12:46 am

Lyndatrue ~ There is something to be said about using cookery books of the past as a reference, especially in this day of product placement and other marketing spin (not that there is not a place for it). Did you find anything from Good Housekeeping Cook Book that resonates with you?

Abr 4, 2015, 12:50 am

PhaedraB ~ I think you have coined a new phrase in cookery books: "church lady recipe collections". Cookery books lend naturally to fundraising products, and, I'm sure, that there is both wisdom and innovation in the voices of those who share in the spiral-bound books that you have. Thanks also for the Greek food plug - that's a cuisine with which I'm not particularly experienced, presumably because we don't have many Greeks in New Zealand, but I am certainly curious about it!

Abr 4, 2015, 12:53 am

hipdeep ~ Thanks for sharing your comment on the "holy trinity". Of course I have Julia Child's classic text, but I have not read any of her others, though I understand that she collaborated with Jacques Pepin for a while. Shirley Corriher does not feature in my collection, but I have read that she provides exquisite technical advice.

Abr 4, 2015, 12:56 am

hfglen ~ I love those the provide stories, or context, to their recipes. It is probably no wonder that people gravitate towards cookery books written by writers of food columns or food magazines, such as Lillian Langseth-Christensen and Ruth Reichl. For this reason, and for her unabashed position on a variety of subjects, I enjoy the writing of Elizabeth David as I do her receipes. I'm very keen to read Lillian Langseth-Christensen - and I thank you and MarthaJeanne (below # 7) for alerting her to me.

Abr 4, 2015, 12:59 am

Bikebear ~ Like you, I am impressed with Elizabeth David. Her collection of articles and recipes in An Omelette and a Glass of Wine is always nearby - a great book. I've got her Italian Food on a wishlist as well.

Abr 4, 2015, 1:06 am

dajashby ~ I find Nigel Slater a better writer than tv presenter, but I am grateful his voice is out there in any way, shape or form, for it is clear, distinctive and sensible. His first volume of The Kitchen Diaries is one of my favourite cookery books - the writing, recipes and presentation are comforting, as much to cook from as to read under a blanket on a dreary day. Claudia Roden is impossibly exquisite. I love the texture in her books - recipes, history, cultural insight...She sets a high standard. Thank you for mentioning others, too. Of those from Australia, I adore Maggie Beer's spirit and seasonal cooking, best enshrined in Maggie's Harvest, but a lot of people really take a shine to Stephanie Alexander.

Abr 4, 2015, 1:08 am

MrsLee ~ I bought a compendium of three M.F.K. Fisher books and have yet to read them properly. Consider the Oyster is one of the books, so I'll read it first. Not sure about oyster stew, though...Did you make it in the end??

Abr 4, 2015, 1:08 am

kerrlm ~ Thank you for the endorsement of M.F.K. Fisher...I'm going to have to crack that spine!

Abr 4, 2015, 11:08 am

>22 kitchenaglow: I have yet to try oyster stew. I live in an area where I cannot be sure the oysters are fresh, so I tend to buy those in a jar and fry them the way my grandmother did. It's really my favorite way to eat oysters anyway. :)

Abr 4, 2015, 2:31 pm

I find Ina Garten inspirational. She makes it all seem so easy. Her menus include few dishes and make a treat for the eyes, too.

Abr 18, 2015, 1:58 am

kerrlm ~ I do, too. Some of Ina Garten's books are better than others. The best, I think, are Barefoot Contessa Parties! and Barefoot Contessa Foolproof.

Abr 20, 2015, 8:34 am

Jamie Oliver because he comes across as someone you would like to know. Padma Lakshmi because she is someone I enjoy looking at. It turns out she can fine good recipes.

I always thought Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, inspired curiosity about food. I remember one line of his, "How hungry did someone have to be to first eat a grape leaf?"

Abr 20, 2015, 12:06 pm

>27 TLCrawford: So much food makes me wonder that. Olives? Inedible on the tree. Cashews? Poisonous or at least a huge irritant if you touch the wrong part. Oysters? I could go on and on. :)

Editado: Abr 20, 2015, 1:18 pm

>28 MrsLee: Mrs Lee, lets not forget the South American Cassava, a staple that needs to be treated to make it nonpoisonous. How did they learn to do that?

Abr 20, 2015, 1:33 pm

>29 TLCrawford: I have often wondered that myself, with food items that need multiple steps to be edible. Who figured that out? How many died when they stopped the process too soon? Why in the world would they keep trying to eat something poisonous? Mysteries of history.

Abr 21, 2015, 12:08 am

Chokecherries. I cannot fathom the first person that picked the fruit, and put it in their mouth, and said "Wow, that's really mouth-puckering and terrible, and makes me want to vomit, but with a lot of sugar, it'll be delicious."

It's a pretty plant, and now and then I even consider growing one. Chokecherry jam or syrup is indeed delicious, but eating even one cherry in the raw state is enough to convince you to never do it again.

Editado: Abr 21, 2015, 11:41 am

Martha Rose Shulman, who has been writing for the NYTimes for awhile now, is my main muse. After having a vision scare 7 years ago, and other health questions, I switched to a vegan macrobiotic diet. Soon after that, my eye doctor was able to confirm that my eye health became outstanding! Martha Shulman first came to my attention in the 1990s when she contributed some lovely recipes to the first cookbook from Dean Ornish, MD, whose books focus on heart disease reversal and prevention. Anyway, the NY Times scooped up Martha as a food writer because she has a knack for creating recipes that are savory, low-fat, and pretty straightforward to create. Here is Martha's website, which includes a list of her cookbooks:

People don't like anything to come between themselves and their plate, I know, but high fat foods are truly not sustainable in terms of having a long vibrantly healthy life. I look through cookbooks from new writers who are themselves significantly overweight, but generally I pass on those books for that reason. High fat food per se doesn't taste good to me anymore. Taste bud preferences don't change overnight, but they do adapt in about 3 months.

If your impression is that macrobiotics is all about hair shirt self-denial, read the George O'Dowd 128 page Karma cookbook: great tasting dishes to nourish your body and feed your soul ... he is more widely known as the one and only Boy George.

Another inspirational writer is Nancy Singleton Hachisu, whose 2012 cookbook Japanese farm food is a gem. MrsLee earlier on this thread mentioned oysters. Nancy recommends that oysters be used in sashimi, salt-broiled, tempura, and nabe. Nancy also has some recipes for clams.

Gabriel Cousens, MD, has published a number of good cookbooks, although his last few have dived off the deep end into raw high-fat food. Conscious eating is my current favorite of his.

Another favorite macrobiotic writer is Marcea Weber. If you only want to try one of her books, Macrobiotics and beyond: a guide to total living is the one. The correct book is not touchstoning.

My favorite writers on natural desserts are Marcea Weber and Meredith McCarty. Yummy desserts that skip the eggs, dairy and refined sweeteners? Yeppers!

Abr 23, 2015, 9:41 am

#31 We had several large American Persimmon trees growing near the house when I was young. After hearing how good they were I had to try one, I had been warned that they could be sour if not ripe so I was sure to get one that had fallen to the ground and that had soft flesh. Here is what Wikipedia says about them. " The astringency renders the fruit somewhat unpalatable, but after it has been subjected to the action of frost, or has become partially rotted or "bletted" like a medlar, its flavor is improved." The fruit had not been frozen and was not rotting, it was the most horribly astringent thing I have ever tasted. I never touched another and even refuse to try the Asian Persimmon.

Abr 23, 2015, 11:13 am

You can speed the process if they've fallen, but there's been no frost by putting them in the freezer. If I could get my persimmon pudding to you I think I could change your mind.

Abr 23, 2015, 12:57 pm

>33 TLCrawford: I can eat one or two fresh American persimmons a year, mostly due to the texture, because the flavor is wonderful when they are ripe. We have a tree, which produces loads. You do have to wait until they are very squishy, but not rotten. As >34 varielle: says, freezing speeds the process, so I usually pick mine when the birds start pecking at them and pop them in the freezer. I also have an Asian persimmon tree, which I love, but rarely produces fruit. For that one, the trick is eating it before it gets too ripe, but it must be ripe enough! Better than apples when you get it right.

Abr 23, 2015, 1:14 pm

What a great thread. I have just discovered it! I LOVE cookbooks and any books about food i.e. Michael Pollan Mark Bittman , grains, ways to use the older types of milled flours etc.. The most recent one that has got me going in a new direction is World Spice at Home.There are recipes for spice mixes that are very interesting and then the recipes that go with that particular spice mix. Last night I did a carrot/pepper/bean dish with advieh (a middle eastern spice mix). It was yummy (recipe in the most current Fine Cooking mag).I have been following David Lebovitz and his cookbooks and blog and bought the Dorie Greenspan Baking from my home to yours which is wonderful. Lots of other names to follow up on though, so thanks!

Editado: Abr 23, 2015, 2:33 pm

#34 & 35 Thanks but no thanks. Once bitten twice shy. I will stick to Pawpaws, AKA Indiana Banana. They are pure pleasure, the only problem with them is that the seeds are to big.

Abr 23, 2015, 3:00 pm

>37 TLCrawford: Understood. I will forever forgo the pleasures (so people tell me) of foi gras because liver and I are not on good terms.

Abr 24, 2015, 6:12 am

>38 MrsLee: My soul mate! Another liver-hating persimmon-lover here.

Abr 24, 2015, 8:13 am

#37 & 38 Is there a correlation here? I love liver. Beef liver, chicken liver, fried in bacon grease with lots of onions and catsup. Of course it will eventually kill me so I only splurge every few years.

Abr 24, 2015, 10:58 am

>40 TLCrawford: Well there you go! Your liver loving living has ruined your persimmon perception 'preciation (yes, I cheated).

By the way, I recently read Gulp, and she says that organ meat is actually quite good for carnivores, it has loads of vitamins which natives in the polar regions would be unable to get otherwise. I forget what she said about the cholesterol though, but since these food and nutrition trends seem to change all the time, you might want to look into it. You can have all the liver on this earth which was destined to be mine.

>39 hfglen: :)

Abr 24, 2015, 2:22 pm

Liver is such a disappointment to me. It smells delicious when it's cooking, but then it just tastes like liver. I do like it in pâtè, though.

Abr 24, 2015, 9:13 pm

Oh, lawd, I can't bear the smell. When I was pregnant, they told me to eat liver at least once a week. Opening the package was enough to make me gag. And the texture! Can't bear it.

However, I do have a fondness for liver sausages and liver dumpling soup. In both cases, the texture has been profoundly changed.

Editado: Abr 24, 2015, 11:52 pm

Yeah, I think it's the texture that puts me off, too. It's like eating a sponge. But liverwurst is good.

Abr 27, 2015, 4:37 pm

>44 SylviaC: Mmmmm, liverwurst.

Abr 27, 2015, 5:34 pm

So, this being the inspirational cookery writers, have any of you who dislike foods been inspired to try them again by reading an inspirational cookery writer? I have.

I don't remember the author, but 30 years ago in a Reader's Digest article, they talked about mushrooms and the cooking thereof. I despised, loathed and hated mushrooms, but my lovely new husband adored them. So, I decided to use that article's cooking techniques and cook some for him. Low and behold I discovered that I loved mushrooms! I haven't found that to be true of liver though, in spite of my husband (not new, but still lovely) liking it.

Abr 27, 2015, 10:59 pm

Over 40 years ago I cooked fresh mushrooms for the first time and presented them to my then-husband. He picked at them and told me he liked canned mushrooms better because that's what he was used to. *sigh*

Abr 28, 2015, 7:31 pm

Oh dear. My brothers used to go abalone diving, and my mother cooked them to perfection. Tender, sweet morsels from the sea, in a land-bound valley. She generously invited quite a few neighbors to enjoy them with us one year. One of the older cowboys poured ketchup over the abalone without even tasting it first. Mom could never cook for him again. Some people are just wasted on fine dining. :)

Abr 28, 2015, 7:40 pm

Well, if you will put ketchup on the table...

I was taught that seasoning food before you've tasted it is an insult to the cook. My in-laws used to salt everything as soon as it was put in front of them, so I stopped putting out the salt shaker.

Abr 29, 2015, 7:41 am

If you put out a condiment on the table it must go with the food been served, don't blame the user the problem is poor table setting (at home).
As an aside to that was taught to taste first.
If a put a big bowl of fresh chillies on the table are you going to smother you fruit with it? Yes maybe.

Abr 29, 2015, 9:07 am

Actually, a can of crushed pineapple plus one very finely minced scotch bonnet pepper makes a terrific dessert topping...

Abr 29, 2015, 9:39 am

>49 dajashby: & >50 Bikebear: There was no ketchup on the table, it was requested, and it is also bad manners to refuse a guest a request if it is within your power to grant it.

Abr 29, 2015, 9:56 am

>48 MrsLee: Seasoning or smothering in a condiment is always interesting to me. I know that some people find it rude to refuse a food they don't like; therefore, they smother the food in a condiment they do like. At the same time, my stepdad drives me crazy when he immediately asks for Sriracha without tasting anything. I get that he likes spicy foods, but I was raised to taste before seasoning...even if I know I'm going to need to season something.

Abr 29, 2015, 10:05 am

>53 lesmel: Me too. My husband (early in our relationship) received a plate full of I can't remember what, but it was lovingly and carefully prepared by me, and stirred it all together before tasting it. This, in front of a girl who doesn't like her food touching on her plate. I was horrified, and not shy about it. I might have said something like, "If you ever want me to cook for you again..." Now he at least tastes each item before making a muck pile on his plate.

Abr 29, 2015, 3:53 pm

>48 MrsLee: That story about the abalone/ketchup made us cry!

Abr 29, 2015, 11:56 pm

>52 MrsLee: MrsLee: unfortunately true, I support you mothers action not to cook for that person again.
Sorry looking back I seem to of contributed to taking this chat away from it's subject of "Inspirational cookery writers"

Abr 30, 2015, 12:44 am

Vaguely on topic, a friend of mine had a FIL who, no matter what was on the menu, would invariably respond with "I'd be just as happy with a cheese sandwich".

So of course the day came when everybody got roast dinner and she served him - a cheese sandwich. He never said it again.

That most inspirational of cooking writers Edouard de Pomiane counselled against cooking for guests you don't like. The food will only turn to ashes in your mouth. Far better to take them to a restaurant, or perhaps today get something home delivered.

Abr 30, 2015, 10:38 am

>57 dajashby: Love it!

Abr 30, 2015, 6:03 pm

>57 dajashby: That sounds exactly like my Dad!

Maio 24, 2015, 2:18 am

I've been reading In a French Kitchen: Tales and traditions of everyday home cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis. It is an Early Reviewer book, due to be released in June. I'm enjoying it very much! Some of the traditions will never translate to my small town in America or my family's table, but the talk about food is delightful, the chapter on cheese was oo-la-la! The recipes look solid and doable and yummy for the most part.

Ago 25, 2015, 10:07 am

Not exactly a cookery book, but a novel with lots of cooking in it, The Last Chinese Chef is a wonderful story which delves into the history and culture of Chinese cuisine.

Set 17, 2015, 3:07 am

This sounds intriguing, MrsLee. There are lots of great books about chefs. If you want a heart-breaking but fascinating account of a Michelin-starred chef, try the one about Bernard Loiseau The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine by Rudolph Chleminski. I also enjoyed Anne Willan's autobiography One Souffle at at Time: A Memoir of Food and France.

Editado: Set 17, 2015, 10:35 am

Nancy Singleton Hachisu has a new cookbook out. Preserving the Japanese way All traditional food preservation methods are shown, including the first new recipes in years for making miso. Each food photo has a gem-like beauty.

Set 18, 2015, 9:42 am

>62 kitchenaglow: Those sound good, although I am avoiding heart-breaking reading at the moment. :)

>63 MaureenRoy: Oooooo.

Mar 8, 2016, 3:49 pm

>63 MaureenRoy:

I love Preserving the Japanese way. It's a beautiful book full of information.

Editado: Out 23, 2017, 8:42 am

Millions of Americans have bought the nutrition books and cookbooks written by John McDougall and his wife Mary McDougall. His writings are not only inspirational but have helped many to recover their health. His recently revised website has an archive of free recipes: