I own a lot of cookbooks…a LOT of cookbooks, and the list is growing at a rapid rate. However, if I were told I had 5 minutes to get out of my house and leave everything behind but an armload of my favorite cookbooks…there are five or six that would immediately pop to mind.
Besides my own cookbooks, or course (wink wink), these would top the list!
The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen
A fascinating look at live-fire cooking around the world. Lots more than just a cookbook!
A 900,000-copy bestseller and winner of the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award, The Barbecue! Bible includes full-color photographs illustrating food preparation, grilling techniques, ingredients, and of course those irresistible finished dishes. A new section has been added with answers to the most frequently asked grilling questions, plus Steven’s proven tips, quick solutions to common mistakes, and more.
And then there’s the literal meat of the book: more than 500 of the very best barbecue recipes, inventive, delicious, unexpected, easy-to-make, and guaranteed to capture great grill flavors from around the world.
Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue By John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed
Lots of strong opinions, family histories, and great bbq recipes!
North Carolina is home to the longest continuous barbecue tradition on the North American mainland. Authoritative, spirited, and opinionated (in the best way), Holy Smoke is a passionate exploration of the lore, recipes, traditions, and people who have helped shape North Carolina’s signature slow-food dish.
Three barbecue devotees, John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney, trace the origins of North Carolina ‘cue and the emergence of the heated rivalry between Eastern and Piedmont styles. They provide detailed instructions for cooking barbecue at home, along with recipes for the traditional array of side dishes that should accompany it. The final section of the book presents some of the people who cook barbecue for a living, recording firsthand what experts say about the past and future of North Carolina barbecue.
Filled with historic and contemporary photographs showing centuries of North Carolina’s “barbeculture,” as the authors call it, Holy Smoke is one of a kind, offering a comprehensive exploration of the Tar Heel barbecue tradition.
Sam Choys Sampler: Hawaiis Favorite Recipes by Sam Choy
Picked this one up on a whim, in Oahu…and fell in love with it. My daughter’s birthday luau each year is a big hit, largely due to the great recipes and info in this cookbook!
Sam’s recipes reflect a melding of East and West, with distinctive Polynesian flourishes and some highly innovative twists that could have been conceived only in the creative and original mind of Chef Choy.
Here are over 80 recipes including both Sam’s innovations as well as his renditions of Island favorites. They range from simple preparations like poke, an addictively delicious raw seafood appetizer, to elaborate and beautiful dishes like Sautéed Island Fish Trio, sure to dazzle the table and palate at your next dinner party.
All the recipes use readily available ingredients. Where hard to find ingredients are involved, a guide to mail and Internet sources will give mainland readers access to poi, tropical fruits and even fresh fish.
White Trash Cooking II: Recipes for Gatherins (Vol 2) Ernest M. Mickler
I found this treasure several years ago at a school book sale in Portland. Not only are the recipes and back-stories great, but the photographs from the autor’s “tour de white-trash” will have you howling or cringing depending on just how much your family tree forks (or doesn’t!)
From Oleen’s Stuffed Pepper Slippers and Franceen’s Good Ol’ Meat to Mrs. Tooler Doolus’s Oven Spaghetti and Bobbie’s Lemon/Lime Jell-O Cake Supreme, Ernie Mickler has collected another whopping batch of the“most magnannygoshus” recipes of the Very Deepest South. Previously known as SINKIN SPELLS, HOT FLASHES, FITS AND CRAVINS, this collection has a new name and a new cover that calls to mind its best-selling brother, WHITE TRASH COOKING. Same good eatin’, though.
The Joy of Oysters By Lori McKean, Don Smith, Bill Whitbeck
Oysters being my favorite food, this cookbook was recommended to me by “Dan the Oysterman” in Oysterville, Wa. If you think you’ve had oysters every possible way…you’re wrong…by several dozen recipes, lol. A great, and comprehensive cookbook.
The Joy of Oysters tells the story of oysters in North America from the first settlers to the latest harvests of these delectable morsels by dedicated oystermen and women on every shoreline. Discover the details of each oyster species, how they are grown and how the most famous oyster restaurants prepare them for their customers. Join in the fun with tales of oyster festivals from Florida to New England to the Pacific Coast.
The Joy of Oysters is the perfect gift for that friend who can’t get enough Bluepoints or Belons, Hog Island Kumamotos or Westcott Bay Petites. Whether you like your oysters live on the half shell, baked, fried, curried or served up plump in a traditional oyster stew, The Joy of Oysters will fill your need for all things oyster.
The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run By Henry Hill
If you want an American’s guide to real Italian food…this is the book for you. Liking the movie, “Goodfellas” doesn’t hurt either!
Henry Hill was a born wiseguy, and his love of food got him through both the good and bad times. Even cooking on the run in the Federal Witness Protection Program-where prosciutto was impossible to find and gravy was something you put on mashed potatoes-he managed to keep good Italian food on the table. He still brings this flair for improvisation to his cooking. No recipe is set in stone. And substitutions are listed just in case.
Now, in his inimitable style, Hill tells some spicy stories of his life in the Mob and out, and shows readers how to whip up his favorite dishes, Sicilian-style-recipes to make even the toughest tough-guy beg for more…
Mom’s Antipasto € Sunday Gravy (Meat Sauce) € Cheaters Chicken Stock € Striped Bass for Paulie € Fat Larry’s Pizza Dough € Henry’s Kickback Antipasti Hero € Sicilian Easter Bread with Colored Eggs € Clams Casino € Osso Bucco € Oven Penitentiary Sauce with Sausage € Michael’s Favorite Ziti with Meat Sauce € and many others
A couple of others that must at least get a nod would be Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Thanks, Mama!) , and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by my all time favorite chef…Mrs. Julia Child
So, there you have it…a bit eclectic perhaps, but I’d feel pretty well armed with this stack.
What about you? What book, or books rise to the top of your gastronomic library?