Most Used Cookbooks

I was rearraging my cookbooks once again today….have gotten a few new ones so had to reorganize. It got me thinking about which ones are my cookbook staples. Now keep in mind I have well over 150 cookbooks, so to be a stand out says a lot. I mostly looked for wear and tear on them and maybe a splatter or two. Hands down my most used book comes from an unlikely source and that is Caprial Pence and Melissa Carey’s Caprial’s Desserts. I say unlikely because I own a ton of baking books and yet I seem to go to this one on many an occasion. It’s a great book because it gives “master recipes” and then gives you ways to modify them to your liking. I think this is great because I feel that so many new cooks think that if they stray from the recipe that it wont turn out right. Oh sure if it calls for three eggs and you decide to put in six, then yeah, that is a bad idea. But if for example you make the Angel Food Cake, you get the master recipe plus four suggestions including: coconut, chocolate, hazelnut and orange. I love her Mom”s Peanut Butter Cookies and the Chocolate-Hazelnut-Caramel Bars. I use her pie crust recipe and pastry cream too. My husband loves her cinnamon rolls. I realzied that I have made close to everything in the book and liked it all…some more than others of course…like the Gingersnap-Mascarpone sandwiches…..so yummy.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten is my go to for more simple but delicious dishes. I know some would argue that they are not that simple, but most are to me. This was her first book and it is still my favorite of her cookbooks. I think that in general the first cookbook that someone puts out is their best. Take Rachel Ray for example. Nothing against her, I think she is doing a great job of getting people back into the kitchen and she is just adorable…she laughs like the Pilsbery Dough Boy..how cute is that. But Rachel has also spit out a ton of cookbooks lately and you know some of those recipes just have to be mass produced crap. Back to Ina. Love her, her books and her Food Network show. For almost every party we use her pan-fried onion dip as well as the sun dried tomato dip. The fresh corn salad is a great accompaniment to any summer dish. I made her version for beef bourgunon countless times…always a crowd pleaser. I make the roasted vegtable torte for my veggie friends. Her outrageous brownies are exactly that. And she gives away the secret that makes all chocolate recipes better….coffee. Add coffee to your chocolate item and you will be very happy with the results. There are yummy coconut cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting and some divine pecan squares. There are many things to love about this book.
My last cookbook is for when I want to wow people. It is not a cookbook for a novice by any means. Many of the recipes take hours to prepare….but oh so worth it. The Trellis Cookbook by Marcel Desaulniers is named after his restaurant in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. I had the pleasure once of dining there and it was more than memorable. I had a wonderful dry jack cheese cheese cake with duck confit and scallop served with a “salad” of pears and caramelized onions with wheat berries, currants, walnuts nad basil-parmesan dressing. The salad is in another one of his cookbooks called Salad Days which I also recommend. All of his dishes are very innovative and highly original. It is broken down in to the seasons to ensure that you are using fresh ingredients. A few of my favorties are the Chilled Stilton and Pear Soup; Curly Endive, Spinach, Fresh Corn, and Roasted Peppers with Smoked Bacon Dressing; Grilled Duck Breast with Raspberries and Macadamia Nuts; Grilled Breast of Chicken with Wild Mushrooms, Applejack and Pears; and last but not least his signature dessert(which they made a cookbook about) Death By Chocolate. All through out the cookbook, Marcel offers up what he call a “chef touch” but really it is just ideas on how to make the dish better. If you have the time and the culinary skill level, I highly recommend this book.

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