At Home in Provence, Patricia Wells, Scribners, 1996, 338 pgs. plus index.

Bistro Cooking, Patricia Wells, Workman Publishing, 1989, 267 pgs. plus index.

Trattoria, Patricia Wells, Avon Books, 1993, 324 pgs. plus index.

Allow me to say it up front; Patricia Wells is a goddess. Inside the front cover of my personal recipe collection, I have written: "Life goal-a cooking class with Patricia Wells." Though I'm still working my way through her many volumes, I have yet to find a recipe that didn't work well for me. Indeed, it is one of her recipes that got me past a lifelong dislike of anchovies.

Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, Workman Publishing, 1982, 346 pgs. plus index.

My present interest in cooking really started with this cookbook. A friend of mine rewarded (or bribed) me for some computer help with their chocolate truffle recipe. I loved it so much I went out and bought the book just for that one recipe. Then again, this one here looks good too. And this one, and this one, and pretty soon I have a serious cookbook habit and an expanding waistline. The Silver Palate features the repertoire of the small foodstore of the same name in NYC.

The New Basics Cookbook, Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, Workman Publishing, 1989, 800 pgs. plus index.

Almost all of us grew up on one or another version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. This volume covers much of the same ground, but with a decidely more international flavor. Someone without much cooking experience could begin with the recipes and techniques in this one.

Modern Southwest Cuisine, John Rivera Sedlar, Ten Speed Press, 1994, 213 pgs., plus index.

Nouvelle cuisine with a southwestern touch. All the recipes work, but I find some less inspiring than others. This might be due to a preference for very traditional southwestern food, and the tounge-numbing seasoning that often goes with it.

Jean-Georges, Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman, Broadway Books, NY, 1998, 215 pgs., plus index.

Recipes both sophisticated and simple.

Aphrodite, A memoir of the senses, Isabel Allende, Harper Flamingo, NY, NY, 1998

The New Making of A Cook, Madeleine Kamman, William Morrow and Co., NY, NY, 1997, 1180 pgs., plus index.

The New Professional Chef, The Culinary Institute of American, Sixth Edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996, 1157 pgs, plus bibliography and index.

A standard, commonly used as a text in culinary arts courses. An excellent introdcution to the commercial kitchen, as well as demonstrating many standard techniques and recipes required in the repertoire of professional cooks.

Cooks Illustrated, Christopher Kimball, ed.

This is a delightfully quirky periodical, well illustrated and incredibly well thought-out. It has the distinction of being free of any advertising-the cost is picked up by subscribers only. Cooking is approached as an experimental exercise. Preparation and ingredients are tested and compared in a laboratory-like atmosphere. Their column, Quick Tips, is worth the subscription cost alone. I reccomend the hardbound annual volumes.

Cooks Illustrated also publishes wide variety of single-topic cookbooks. So far, every one of them has been worth the price.

Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, Ann Grossman and Lisa Thomas, W.W. Norton, 1997, 245 pgs, plus index.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century recipes whose common theme is an appearance in the Aubrey-Maturin nautical fiction series written by Patrick O'Brian.

What Einstein Told His Cook, Robert L. Wolke, W.W. Norton, 329 pgs, plus index.

Food science with a fair bit of debunking food myths along the way.

The Common Grill Cookbook, Craig Common, Sleeping Bear Press, 2000, 202 pgs, plus index.

Cookbook from the owner of Chelsea's Common Grill.

Preserving, Oded Schwartz, DK Publishing, 1996, 186 pgs, plus index.

Dean and Delucca Cookbook, David Rosengarten, Random House, 535 pgs, plus index.

Dale Austin
All images and text copyright 1977-2003 Dale Austin

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