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Overlooked cookbooks

I'd like to know what some of your favorite low-profile cookbooks are. The more obscure the better. Not Julia Child, not Cook's Illustrated, not the Joy of Cooking. I'm looking for diamonds in the rough here. Neglected but worthy cookbooks, old or new. Thanks!

asked by petitbleu over 4 years ago
41 answers 2022 views
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Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 4 years ago

The Italian Baker by Carol Field. The Spice Coast of India by Maya Kaimal.

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 4 years ago

In fact I believe The Italian Baker is now back in a newly revised edition.

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

This isn't a cookbook. It's more an encyclopedia of Food Storage Systems. It does include some recipes.
But it's mostly a quick primary on things like Dehydrating, building dehydrators, brick ovens, keeping bees, goats, chickens, storing root vegies, even some aquaculture. It has a few recipes and lots of catalog type reviews of appliances. It's dated (early 80's), but most of the appliance suggestions still hold true. Above all it's a fascinating read that you can get lost in for hours.
It's from Rodale Press.
http://www.amazon.com/Home...

"Honey you want to convert an above ground pool to raise trout?"
(Faceplam)

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added over 4 years ago

This is a pretty great book. I found it a couple years ago at a used bookstore. I'm a sucker for random homesteader knowledge. Thanks for reminding me I have this book, Sam!

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sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 4 years ago

The Fabulous Desserts of Italy by George and Virginie Elbert, I found this at a stoop sale in my neighborhood it has some great recipes and what sold me initially is that it was dedicated to Suzanne, LOL! It had my name on it had to have it!

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

My French Table by Joanne Harris (Chocolat)

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

The first summer my son didn't come home from college, my daughter and I cooked our way through this. I'd leave it out when I left for work in the morning, she'd choose what she wanted to make, and we'd cook together that night. It's one of my fondest memories, and I think back to it's deep pleasure every time I reach for this book.

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added over 4 years ago

Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop. There is a chapter for each vegetable, including some unusual ones like Salsify, Chayote, and Malanga. It's great reassurance to have on hand when I'm cooking with a vegetable I'm not super familiar with, and it's also a great baseline for building techniques that work well with a particular vegetable.

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added over 4 years ago

I agree and would like to add this is not a vegetarian cookbook per se (which I like) but a great guide to vegetable cooking. Comes in handy when something new shows up in the CSA or is delivered from a friends garden or stumbled upon at the Farmer's Market.

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amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

The Art of the Tart: Savory and Sweet, by Tamsin Day-Lewis. Lovely little book - literally and figuratively - that focuses on one thing and does it very well. Sophisticated, without being fussy. (Fun, irrelevant factoid: the author's brother is Daniel Day-Lewis.)

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luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

All of her books are fun and create a cozy atmosphere for reading and cooking.

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added over 4 years ago

Bistro Cooking at Home by Gordon Hamersley (the Boston restauranteur). It's classic AND accessible AND interesting French cooking. The percentage of "I'd make this again" recipes is remarkable.

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added over 4 years ago

A World of Vegetable Cookery, by Alex D. Hawkes, copyright 1968, was one of the first cookbooks I bought. Hawkes is a 'noted botanist' and he starts with Akee and goes alphabetically to Zucchini, though the obvious and the obscure. He knows a lot about foods of the Caribbean. Some of it looks a little simplistic now, but he knows the cooks who gave him the recipes and gives a good background on the foods and the cultures. When I go back to it I'm delighted to discover new treasures and inspiration.

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added over 4 years ago

Correction -- through the obvious...
In addition to produce type vegetables, he has beans and grains -- and it's omnivorous. There are history and cultural notes which make interesting reading.

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added over 4 years ago

What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat, Arthur Schwartz. Self explanatory, but the recipes are simple and usually don't require special or fancy ingredients.

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drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 4 years ago

It's out of print, but his Cooking in a Small Kitchen is also great.

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added over 4 years ago

ChocolateChocolate by Lisa Yockelson--and her Baking by Flavor as well, although the first even more so. So homey and delicious.

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 4 years ago

Simple French Food by Richard Olney (given to me by an ex-girlfriend a long time ago)
The West Coast Cookbook by Helen Brown (I was able to find a first on this one, but Random House also did a really smart reprint about 20 years ago. Both are out of print).
The Dictionary of Italian Cuisine by Maureen Fant and Howard Isaacs has been invaluable to me (disclaimer Howard is a friend of mine).

A really good source for out of print books is www.cookbookjj.com located in Pasadena, CA. And of course Kitchen Arts and Letters in NYC.

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 4 years ago

Yes, Simple French Food!

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added over 4 years ago

Tartine (not Tartine Bread). I get inspiration from this cookbook ALL the time. It's not "easy baking," but it is the best cookbook I have for desserts and they have a whole section in the back that actually helps you create your own recipes by giving you basic recipes to build upon. It's stellar.

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added over 4 years ago

Love this cookbook. Absolutely gorgeous and well-crafted French-style pastries. And the Tartine Bread book is incredible. It changed the way I bake bread.

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SKK
added over 4 years ago

I have 3 books that altered my way of thinking about food.
TRATTORIA, by Patricia Wells - the simplicity and flavor of her recipes
FOOD OF THE AMERICAS - NATIVE RECIPES AND TRADITIONS by Fernando and Merlene Divina and the Smithsonian On the cover Deborah Madison wrote "This very important book will open the reader's mind to the culinary wisdom and ingenuity of the Native peoples of the Americas. Then it will open athe reader's mouth to an enticing world of new flavors, which are in fact ancient and indigenous:
RAW by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein - The food amazing and the photos incredible! Who knew raw food could be so elegant?

Thank you so much, petitbleu, for asking this question.

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Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added over 4 years ago

I love The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot. http://www.amazon.com/Auberge... He gets the geology of the Chartreuse wrong, but his stories and menus are delightful. And I've never made anything from it that I didn't like. It's the book I'd choose if I were going to cook my way though a book and blog about it. (Think that's ever been done?...)

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

California Rancho Cooking by Jacqueline Higuera McMahon. Includes wonderful recipes and family history of "Californio" cooking--the cooking of the rancheros & their families on the Spanish land grants in early California. I have the original Olive Press edition, a newer expanded version is out.
Sephardic Cooking by Gilda Angel, whom I have the pleasure to know as a neighbor, science teacher and grandparent at our school, and wife of the esteemed Rabbi Emeritus at the "Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue" the first congregation in New York (and one of the oldest in the Americas)--wonderful, interesting recipes, no attitude
Claudia Roden, The Book of Jewish Food (divided into Ashkenazic and Sephardic sections and with a fascinating history of many ancient communities)
Anna del Conte's Italian Kitchen, I Dolci, a tiny charming volume of Italian cakes and desserts, esp. for the cornmeal-almond cake, "La Torta Sbrisolana" ("crumble cake")
Edda Servi Machlin, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews-wonderful vegetables (the artichokes!) and meats and memories of her childhood in Pitigliano, a tiny Italian village, prior to WWII). I love the story of how the village's central Passover bakery was unlocked once a year so families could come in to make their own soft lacey matzohs (I sampled the same or similar matzohs at a restaurant here; they make them all year round, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh garlic-heavenly and addictive)

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added over 4 years ago

Yes, I also own McMahon's Rancho Cooking and it's a really good. And it's all Cal-Mex cooking as opposed to Tex-Mex or New Mexican. I don't think you'll ever see a book on New York-Mex because they've never gotten it right.
Claudia Roden's book is great if, as I am, you are really interested in food history.

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

Yes, food history and the poignant stories--and flavors--of "lost" communities, and keeping that alive.

McMahon's recipes are Cal-Mex in the best sense--authentic, olive-oil based (from home-grown olives!), wild, home-grown or local ingreds, recipes brought by ship from Spain or South America or else borrowed from neighbors from a different background.

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added over 4 years ago

Miss Mary Bobo's Down Home Cooking/Dalsass

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drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 4 years ago

Mine are Bert Greene's Greene on Greens and Greene on Grains. He wrote about using more vegetables and whole grains before it was cool. I also love Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking.

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luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

luv Laurie Colwin's books, both about food and her short stories and novels.

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

I have Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and used to love to read her columns. They were so warm and approachable. Simple but good.

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added over 4 years ago

The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld and
Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce

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added over 4 years ago

I love reading and getting inspiration from the true stories of The Explorers Cookbook , a compilation of recipes and tales from members of the Explorers Club, recipes like Pepper Python, Chilean Corn Pie and Armadillo Roast. Great pictures too! It was compiled by Luther Douglass (Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho, 1971)

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

We've visited and toured the Explorere's Club, with lecture by their archivist. Marvelous bit of NY (and the world).

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added over 4 years ago

I love Laurie Colwin's books and also love the recipes in Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Her peach tart has been my go-to peach tart for years. I also love The Splendid Table by Lynn Rosetto Kasper.

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added over 4 years ago

The Flavor Principle Cookbook by Elisabeth Rozin (original 1973 edition is out of print; was re-printed in the early 80's with a slightly different title). The Art of Fine Baking by Paula Peck (also recently re-issued) -- excellent for techniques of classic baking. Another dessert fave: Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. And I second drbabs' suggestion of Bert Greene's books on grains and greens, and of course the dear departed Laurie Colwin's books.

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added over 4 years ago

Elisabeth Rozin is also a favorite of mine, The Flavor Principle which I've had since the 70's, much used. I recently got Blue Corn and Chocolate, about cooking the foods from the Americas -- in both she shows an understanding of food as a cultural cornerstone. (Bert Greene, too)

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luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

Marion Cunningham's "The Breakfast Book" and "The Supper Book" are two of my all time favorite, practical books. I've made dozens of recipes from the two books and own around a thousand cookbooks. She's a great cook, great writer ...

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added over 4 years ago

Yes, luvcookbooks! How could I forget Marion Cunningham's" Breakfast Book?" it is a terrific little gem. You also remind me of two books from Margaret Fox, of Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, CA --- " Cafe Beaujolais" and "Morning Food."

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luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

Luv Fox's books, too and have both of them! Read them and dream about opening a restaurant (everyone needs a fantasy life).

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added over 4 years ago

The Breakfast Book is truly wonderful. I don't have The Supper Book, though, which I imagine is just as lovely.

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 4 years ago

What a great thread! There's nothing like a great cookbook with a very personal point of view.