View Full Version : Cookbooks That Inspired You

10-17-2008, 07:54 PM
I'm normally a kitchen kind of person. I love to bake, love to cook, love to try new recipes. But it has been at least six months since I've felt the push to rummage around in the kitchen. I don't know if it's because I've been using every spare moment to write or if it was because of our hot summer (and who wants to bake when it's 105 out?), but whenever I've thought about baking and cooking lately, my response has been "bleh." I even stood in the kitchen with every one of my cookbooks on the counter, flipping through them for a spark of inspiration. Nothing.

So, I decided to order some new cookbooks (isn't that the logical response?). I must admit - they are awesome! I'm feeling the rush of inspiration yet again. WooHoo! Here are the cookbooks that have inspired me recently:

The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Cookbook: I had checked this one out from the library almost a year ago, but I think it has been subsequently lost because I've not seen it there again. I liked it then, and I love it now. I made the whole wheat pita recipe - yum - and have been salivating as I browse through the rest of the book. I do wish there were more pictures, but at least the descriptions are good.

Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Treats: Ahh, food porn. There is a picture on almost every page of this cookbook. The cookies look so good and I love the innovative twists on classic cookie recipes and the new flavors, as well. I haven't tried any of these out yet, but I have been inspired to make a grocery list that includes ingredients from several of the recipes.

What about you? Which cookbooks inspired you out of a rut - or just inspire you on a daily basis?

10-17-2008, 07:58 PM
My mom bought me a Tapas (http://www.amazon.com/Tapas-Traditional-Contemporary-Dishes/dp/1405484195/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224259040&sr=1-6) cookbook several years ago (it's our favorite food) and I adore it.

The recipes are fairly easy and I've turned tons of the dishes into full course meals.

10-17-2008, 08:02 PM
i have a one of his books that i love (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2316820&postcount=1)

10-17-2008, 08:05 PM
hemingway cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/Hemingway-Cookbook-Craig-Boreth/dp/1556522975/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224259427&sr=8-1) - I got a signed copy - a work colleague got it for me - he's friends with the author, and knows about my Ernest-Fangirl thing.

On the Amazon link, take a look inside the book. It's amazing. I love it.

10-17-2008, 11:05 PM
Le Cordon Bleu at Home (http://www.amazon.com/Cordon-Bleu-at-Home/dp/0688097502/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224270311&sr=8-1) - I got it for Christmas last year & I'm working my way through it a few lessons at a time.

10-17-2008, 11:18 PM
scuttles away intimidated, package of Top Ramen in hand

I'd have to say that old chestnut The Silver Palate Cookbook--my mom gave me her copy when I moved away to go to medical school. It's the perfect first cookbook in that it assumes you're an idiot and walks you through everything. For example, the first time I roasted a Thanksgiving turkey, it was from the Palate's recipe which started something like: 1. Rinse out the cavity of the bird well with cold water and pat dry. I made dinner with all the fixings for many hungry fellow medical students, and I felt very pleased with myself indeed.

Also, not really a traditional cookbook, but MFK Fisher's With Bold Knife and Fork.

10-18-2008, 06:25 AM
The Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen. My first veggie book. So many new toys to play with.

And Kitchens for Kids by Jennifer Low. Bought this for The Boy as a treat. It's so much fun to see him want to cook, and want to do things. This one is written so that he can. And really, who can resist a recipe that makes only 14 cookies!! You can make 'em, clean up, and eat 'em all in one night!

10-21-2008, 05:35 AM
My hubby has just discovered cooking (hooray!) and his best friend is still google. It's beginning to be mine, too. Last night we wanted to make pies. We had frozen puff pastry for the lids, but no shortcrust for the bottoms. Voila! Had homemade buttery shortcrust pastry, and it was so easy to make. We wanted mushy peas to go with the pies. Voila! Better than anything that came out of a tin, that's for sure.

The filling, well, that was his invention. Didn't have to google that.

10-22-2008, 12:45 AM
I am also a kitchen person, and love to bake and cook as I get quite creative, but latetly also haven't had time to do as such. My mother loves the kitchen, and she is the one mostly in it when I get home from work. There are several books I feel that have inspired me, but I choose one inparticurlarly 'Indian Every Day Light - Anjum Anand'. I even wrote a review on it, as I really enjoyed it. I enclose it here now, for you all to read as it shows my enjoyment of it, when I dwelve in it again.

Anjum Anand has always been passionate about food, despite her studying European Business Administration and not continuing within that field. Anjum's love is for Indian cooking, and simple food which is nutritional and wholesome in flavour. Anjum is more drawn to providing light food rather than heavy, as she believes that this type of food is the healthiest. To put her dishes to the test, she has worked in various restaurants, cafes and hotels around the world.

This has been a great opportunity for her, as she has been given a chance to share her dishes, and see whether they work or not. They have proven to be very successful, especially in gyms, where light food is always a preferration, and her food offers that extra spice and flavour to it. From this, Anjum went on to write her first book - this one, targeted at people who would like to cook lighter Indian Food. A health conscious book, was the result, one which is practical and at the same time very simple to use, from experience.

I brought this book, after watching Anjums BBC2 series on Indian cooking. This must have been about a year ago. I was deeply impressed and inspired, by her knowledge on food and cooking skills on Indian Food. Anjums lighter meal options, sounded like they were definitely worthy of a try. I love food and cooking, therefore I decided to look her up on the BBC2 website. I found her recipes, and also found her few books. I then, brought this book.

The book, which says -light, healthy Indian food is a good starting point, to gather potential buyers. The book has an easy going feel, and you just know you will get involved in it straight away. Well I did anyway. What's very useful is an introduction on measurements, and conversion tables, to begin with. The conversion tables are the most useful, especially if you don't know complete estimates to begin with. You can always look back, to the start of the book to see what conversion the recipe means. The note on measurements is just to advise the reader, about the weights and how to use them, alongside illustrate what spoon measurements are. This becomes very handy again. What I like throughout the start, is how the language is very easy to read, and you don't feel overthrown by any fancy words. This is always essential, most importantly in a cook book.

The preface is very enjoyable, and worth of a read as the Author tells you why she has written this book, and gives some humour to her story. She writes things how they are, like she is having a conversation with you, so from that angle she knows what your either thinking or expecting. This again, becomes very useful as it doesn't conform to a cook book of any kind, with just descriptions. She places effort in talking about it with you, all the way through. At the end of the preface, she gives advice on what may be essential to eat, and what is good for you, to have a healthy diet. Anjum doesn't write it in a way, of enforcement. She writes, like she is giving you a helping hand, as a friend and that is most welcoming, even though you may not want to take it up.

Anjum than continues her insightful preface, into the world of India, and its food. This is most interesting, as she discusses traditional dishes in different parts of India. Anjum describes them well, to enable the user to understand. The last part of the preface is focused on what an Indian meal, means to her, and what it may also mean to you, when you test out her recipes. Anjum gives some good tips, on the preparation and protection of food and ingredients.

You turn over a page, and you enter the Kitchen, and this is what it's all about. Anjum recommends what kitchen equipment is useful, to test out her many dishes, and she also gives advice on what utensil works best, when cooking with different ingredients. Now, this is an extra bonus, especially if you aren't aware of them in the first place. The kitchen reel, continues onto the many essentials of store-cupboard items, which consist of spices, vegetables, legumes and a few others. This is handy, as it's the base for your many ingredients and shows that, you may not need to buy extra ingredients, to cook something light and healthy. Anjum than informs you about, storing Indian dishes in the fridge and freezer, which is really useful as you'll know what to do, thereafter. The reheating option is also discussed.

We are now, at the point where we want to tuck in to the core of cooking, and so Anjum provides us yet again, with more cooking tips both in Indian and general cooking. Amongst this, Anjum refers back to India and what cooking means to the many cultures and this is useful, as we understand how they prepare and cook food. Anjum gives a guide to illustrate that these tips have worked for thousands of years, in these many different cultures, and they may even work for you. Anjum doesn't push this on you though, she tells the story of others. I find this most inspirational, and find that Anjum remains neutral in her language throughout the book, which leaves the reader to do what they like. And, this is always the most important.

After the cooking tips, Anjum explores a couple more pages of key flavours that make up Indian Dishes, alongside an individual preparation recipe tip, on each item. This can be very long, if you don't feel like reading it, but I think you will, as it's easy going and very informative. Plus, you get to learn lots of various Indian cooking tips, to make your meal taste that extra lighter/lovelier, whatever your outcome may be.

Now, we come to the recipes, and Anjum starts with the most basic from curry pastes, to the preparation of Basmati rice. Yes, we have more tips following us throughout. Anjum points out that the simplest dishes are the ones that don't have an overpowering of ingredients. These always becomes the side essentials such as the simple to make rustic flat bread, made only from chapatti or whole-wheat flour, salt as optional, cold water, and vegetable oil as optional again. This is indeed a treat, with little or no ingredients.

The book than follows the latter, and zooms into the 'Lazy Grater' which focuses on smaller dishes, which are easy to make, when you don't feel like majorly cooking i.e.: cucumber, tomato and chutney sandwich. Quite good, isn't it? There are various available salad and patties recipes throughout this section. Above each recipe, we have a personal description from Anjum, which makes it that extra bit special.

We arrive at the can-can section, which deals with cooking with cans or packs of food. These include anything from potatoes, to chickpeas and even frozen peas. The more involved in the book you get, the higher the list of priorities shift. As for instances, the next chapter focuses on cooking for two. In this chapter, there are larger meals, and not just side or smaller dishes, like in this first few chapters. The dishes are never overpowered, or filled with other sides though. Examples of dishes in this chapter include the delicious coriander and coconut fish parcels, alongside another deliciously made lamb with pickling spices. The dishes remain unique to their own recipe, which is what I think is so great about it. As you can give your time, to that one dish, and really taste it, for what it is uniquely.

After the 'two of us' Anjum targets food, which can be cooked for a larger group of people. Dishes like, the Goan prawn curry and black pepper chicken are included. Though the titles may not sound that exotic, the dish itself is the living proof. We are soon followed, with a spicy section of flavours to get your juices flowing. The dishes in here are hot, but again not too over empowering. They remain true to their taste and flavours. We find dishes like tandoori-style fish and chicken kebabs here, but with a twist. A deliciously hot twist.

Anjum has a bit of everything included in her delightful, snappy book. She even offers recipes for wheat-free individuals, leftover snacks and side dishes. We won't find a cookbook unmissed, without containing a touch of sugar, and Anjum provides that, at the very end. Delights such as Indian bread pudding, carrot halva,(a perfection I might add-Tried it myself, and melted in my mouth) mango milk truffles, spiced fruits in a yoghurt cream, sweet saffron yoghurt, cold coffee with low-fat ice cream, Indian spiced tea,(the original) mango sherbet, all make up for sugar and spice and all things fruity and drinky. In the fruits section Anjum gives you a guide on preparing fruit, and cooking it, if you decide to experiment with the warmer recipes. I love this book, as you probably already know by now, by my extensive personal review on it. I find the book very inspirational, especially when I am testing out Indian Cooking.

10-22-2008, 02:23 AM
My own! Australian Flavour - Traditional Australian Cuisine http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif- don't bother looking on Amazon because it says it out of print when it is actually reprinting, but if anyone is game I can get them a copy -http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon12.gif lolol

Little Red Barn
10-22-2008, 02:27 AM
Some of the best cook books I've found, come from rural churches, rural areas, their members, i.e. They usually have a cook book printed and bound for fund raising events.

10-22-2008, 02:51 AM
It's not super inspiring, but my half-sister, who is a professional chef, got me How to Cook Everything (http://www.amazon.com/How-Cook-Everything-Simple-Recipes/dp/0471789186/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224629301&sr=8-1) when I got married. I suck at cooking and I have no experience with meat whatsoever (thanks vegetarian mom), so this is my go-to book for EVERYTHING. Need to know what a cut of meat is or how to judge meats? Want a basic waffle recipe with variations? Don't know what a particular veggie is or what "julienning" is? I go here. It has every standard American recipe plus explanations.