What book (or TV show or magazine) taught you how to cook?

I'm hunting recipes for the next Genius cookbook (for beginners) and I need your help! I'll be asking a series of questions here on the Hotline as I develop the book, and I'd be very grateful for the community's wisdom, as always.

This week, I'd love to hear about the first resource (cookbook/TV show/magazine/etc.) that made you feel excited and confident in the kitchen. I know some of you shared yours in last week's question, but maybe this will inspire some other memories! For me, it was Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network. I still remember him describing an ideal texture for French toast that I'd never considered (custardy) and what it took to get it (letting very stale bread have a long time to chill and soak up the custard—not the quick dips I'd always done).

Here's a bit more on the book: https://food52.com/blog...

Thank you all,

Kristen Miglore


bunten October 3, 2019
I learned to cook from Julia Child--not so much from her recipes or techniques but from her can-do attitude as a home cook: If I can do it, you can do it, so go do it! She taught me to have the courage of my convictions when trying something never before attempted. What's the worst that can happen? Most of my best recipes over the years have been clipped from the New York Times. I never tire of making them over and over.
Ann S. October 3, 2019
Once the kids were out of the house, I started experimenting more. I found the ingredients in the recipes I would find weren't in my pantry. Many of them weren't available in my small town. So I improvised and improvised. My husband doesn't mind the experimentation. He has learned to do some of this himself!
Louise G. October 2, 2019
There was no particular book. My family all cooked. There were plenty of shows that demonstrated cooking-The Galloping Gourmet, The Cajun Cook, and, of course, Martha Stewart. But I am hands on and that is how I prefer to learn,
Cristol A. September 28, 2019
Classic PBS- Julia Child, the Galloping Gourmet, Yan Can Cook, The Frugal Gormet: I was watching them, as a kid, and then I’d go to the dinner table, disappointed in what my mom put in front of us. And I’d think, “We can do better than this.”
Katrina September 14, 2019
When my daughter was born in 1995 I watched the Caprial Pence Bistro TV cooking show - from which I learned a lot of basic techniques
Del M. September 11, 2019
The Joy of Cooking was where I started learning to cook. I would read it while ate meals in graduate school. I still remember cooking onion rings from it, and then teaching my roommates to cook them. Much to my chagrin: one roommate would come in with her boyfriend, drunk, and they would cook onion rings late at night! The kitchen was never cleaned up the next morning, and onion rings do NOT smell good 24 hours later!
Maria N. September 5, 2019
The Joy of Cooking taught me basics ( I still refer to it for the muesli recipe and meat temperatures.
In my 20s, I subscribed to Bon Appetit, but the first and best cookbook I bought was the Silver Palate Cookbook. I still love and make the chicken Marbella!
MusicaBean September 5, 2019
My mother used a 1940's edition of the Fanny Farmer cookbook. That was the first cookbook from which I learned to cook and it has been my go-to cookbook ever since. The cookbooks are well written with concise directions and illustrations. A great foundation cookbook with excellent recipes. I especially love Marion Cunningham's Breakfast, Supper and Baking cookbooks.
jane F. September 4, 2019
Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook was my go-to back in the day of learning how to cook! I also loved Bon Appetite magazine, their recipes always worked.
Geoffrey W. September 4, 2019
When i was in college, 1980-1984 at UC Santa Cruz, i got hold of Barbara Tropp's The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking and worked my way through large portions of it. My two housemates Robin (who later married me!) and Nancy and i used to put on Chinese feasts for our friends. I absolutely loved the amazing precision of the directions, down to the number of seconds to wok ingredients. We would make custom fortunes for individual guests and insert them into cookies, being careful to make sure the right person got the right fortune. One disaster i recall (no one was hurt!) was velveting chicken in oil. When the velveting was over, i poured off the hot oil into a Pyrex bowl (Pyrex, right? Manufactured to withstand heat.) and the bowl cracked open spilling hot oil all over the counter and floor. That was a cleanup! After that, i only velvet in water now. At any rate, that is a wonderful book, including a wonderful glossary/buying guide of ingredients, and i highly recommend it for anyone wishing to learn Chinese cooking.
PHIL August 29, 2019
You can told how old someone is by their answers. I watched galloping gourmet with my Grandmother when I was young.
knittingrid August 27, 2019
James Barber's Urban Peasant TV series out of Vancouver, and his columns in the Georgia Straight.
Debra H. August 26, 2019
I have learned so many new techniques and recipes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, both from her TV series as well as her many cookbooks. Also Michael Symon.
Kathy O. August 26, 2019
Maida Heatter for desserts. Great books that have easy-to-follow detailed instructions plus personal stories about the recipes. Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook is a wonderful go-to for essential information.
Jacquem August 25, 2019
Ina Garten says it all. Period. Every recipe is perfect!
teri August 25, 2019
Thanks all. Apparently the book I had was a limited edition. I have checked Amazon, Alibris, Abe Books, etc and no one has the one I had. I was able to find his book from 1969 and ordered a copy. I guess it will have to do.
bas26 August 25, 2019
I forgot to mention that Martha Stewart's cooking school (now on PBS) where she demonstrates step by step basic techniques for a variety of dishes and ingredients. Indispensable! She covers it all.
bas26 August 25, 2019
I used to watch Julia Child and Jacques Pepin faithfully (separately and together). I finally realized that what attracted me to their shows was not just the recipes but learning technique. Once I learned technique, following recipes was so much easier. Before Julia and Jacques, some recipes completely baffled me. To this day, once learn a technique, it's easy to adapt a recipe or tailor it to my taste, or use it when I feel like improvising. I owe everything to these two geniuses!!
adavis August 25, 2019
Laurie Colwin’s articles and books “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking”.
Nick D. August 25, 2019
I've been learning to cook now for a few years and consider myself a decent cook - I always seem to get tasty results - but I am a much more avid and fluent baker. I have several of the great cookbooks, but Samin Nosrat's SALT FAT ACID HEAT is revolutionary. A game-changer, hands down my favorite in my collection. She has such a beautiful writing and teaching style, and I feel empowered as a cook to understand WHY recipes work and not have to rely on them.
Betty L. August 25, 2019
I was already a fair cook when my Mom gave me a copy of Mark Bittman's original How to Cook Everything. It revolutionized my cooking. Now, about 30 years later, it's still my go-to cookbook. Thanks, Mark!
teri August 25, 2019
I was already learning how to cook when I was involved in a serious car accident as an 11 year-old. I ended up spending almost 3 months in hospital and one show became a "must watch" for me.....Graham Kerr and "The Galloping Gourmet." I even got my mom to buy me the leather-bound cookbook, about 4" thick with GLORIOUS colour photos throughout, so I could read the recipes and decide which ones to make when I was able to stand and walk again. And I did make many of the recipes in that book. Sadly, it was severely water damaged years later in a move and I've never been able to find another copy. The other book I cherish is "The Art of Syrian Cookery" by Helen Corey. My best friend's mother gave me a copy and taught me many of the recipes which I still make today. Funny thing is, I rarely have to open the book because I know the recipes so well.

If anyone knows where I can obtain a copy of Kerr's book that was as described and out in the 1960's I'd really appreciate it!!
Penny H. August 25, 2019
Try Amazon - I put in Galloping Gourmet and got several hits. Not sure which one you're wanting. My husband and I loved watching his shows too.
bas26 August 25, 2019
Try abebooks.com. They stock many used and new books at great prices (online only). Good luck!!
Penny H. August 25, 2019
Also, try Etsy - I asked for Galloping Gourmet and got a lot of answers.
zuzu447 August 21, 2019
My mother was born and raised in Europe and never used a cookbook. I was born. there, but came here when I was 5. All I wanted was to be as American as possible — like the families on television. I don’t know how we managed to get The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but I was so excited to cook real American food. I remember wanting to try all of the recipes, which were so different from how my mothered cooked. Cooking is an adventure that I have pursued ever since(but, thankfully, not from that cookbook in many, many years).
sherry August 21, 2019
Kitchen Primer by Craig Claiborne. I still use/riff off of some of the recipes.
Kristen M. August 20, 2019
Thanks so much, everyone—I'm grateful to know about all these resources now, and to see some clear crowd favorites!
Candice August 17, 2019
The Joy of Cooking was my Mom's go-to cookbook; so when I got married, she bought a copy for me. No illustrations, just everything I needed to know to become a knowledgeable cook and more.
marne August 15, 2019
Aside from the basics from my mother and sister, I learned from TV. Shows like 'Great Chefs' and Jacques Pepin showed me how to hold a knife, use butter wrappers to grease pans and scores of other things.
Vivienne August 15, 2019
Of course, many of the cooking basics, I learned from my mother and grandmother. In the late sixties, as a young wife and teacher, my go to cookbook was James Beard's, AMERICAN COOKERY. It is my reference for basics to this day and both of my son's have a copy. One of them is a chef. That being said, FOOD52 is my number one online reference. There are many reasons James Beard is an American icon. His books are not only functional, but entertaining, as well.
Mitch W. August 15, 2019
I remember Julia Child and "The French Chef Show", Graham Kerr and "The Galloping Gourmet", Stephen Yan and "Wok with Yan" show as my earliest influences, later in life it was "Emeril Live" that got me into the cook I am today. Emeril's line "who made that rule" was exactly the way I liked to cook. "Larousse Gastronomique" was given to me by my wife many years ago and it is the Bible of cooking and understanding food.
Nancy A. August 15, 2019
Gourmet Magazine back around 1950. I did those wonderful courses on salad dressings, stock, etc. I was just a teen, but I loved to cook and still do at 85.
Lisa P. August 15, 2019
The Family Circle Encyclopedia of Cooking, Betty Crocker and The Galloping Gourmet!
Katie F. August 14, 2019
Well my mom is the resource that really taught me to feel confidence in the kitchen, but I also spent quite a bit of time with The Joy of Cooking growing up. Mostly because it was my Mom’s go to.
Wendy S. August 14, 2019
The New Basics cookbook and a subscription to Bon Appetit before we had the internet.
Promisme August 14, 2019
Book: "Don't Fill Up On The Antipasto"
Maryann August 14, 2019
The Silver Palate Cookbook, hands down! It was a revelation to a young Torontonian at a time when the city was not, as it is now :) the most multicultural in the world. It was from New York City, the height of sophisticated and cool. Yet it was very accessible. Pasta Puttanesca!!!
Justine S. August 14, 2019
Watching Jaques Pepin on PBS in the 1990's - he taught me everything my parents were doing in the kitchen was wrong :)
cookinginvictoria August 14, 2019
I enjoyed dabbling in the kitchen, cooking with my mom and grandmas when I was a kid, but I didn't really start to cook in earnest until I was at university and afterward, living on my own far from family. The books that were really taught me how to cook were The Silver Palate Cookbook (I still remember how the Chicken Marbella and Pasta with Uncooked Tomatoes and Brie tasted and the Red Apple and Beet puree was served at our wedding!); Pierre Franey's Sixty Minute Gourmet cookbook, and Pierre Luongo's A Tuscan in the Kitchen (he showed me how to be an intuitive cook and that if you have delicious ingredients you don't always have to measure them precisely). Deborah Madison's Greens Cookbook was seminal. I was eating largely vegetarian at that time and she taught me that preparing vegetables and fruits and all kinds of different grains could be quite delicious. A few years later, I became a subscriber to Eating Well magazine back in the 1990s, and learned so much about cooking delicious but healthy food. I still make their wholegrain waffle recipe and their plum walnut tart baked on a bed of Grape Nuts(!). Back then they had amazing contributors and many of the recipes I discovered back then, I still make today. Here are a few favorites: Deborah Madison (stuffed peppers with corn and zucchini); Rick Bayless (fish tacos with roasted tomatillos), Nina Simmons (shrimp hot pot), Oven Fried Chicken (David Page), and Spicy Carrot Salad (Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid).
Kate M. August 14, 2019
The Joy of Cooking <3
Beth August 14, 2019
Hands down, The New York Times Cookbook. Craig Claiborne. And many of the ones previously mentioned.
VC August 14, 2019
I received a Nancy Drew cookbook for Christmas one year, and being an avid ND fan, started trying all the interestingly named recipes, starting with 99 Stair french toast, which was one of my go to recipes for years!! Still have the cookbook!
Deb August 14, 2019
My source for learning how to cook was The Complete Everyday Cookbook in 1973. It was great in explaining and showing you via pictures just how things were done to achieve the best results. I actually still have that book though like most tend to use the internet or even the newspaper but it has a special place on my self:)
Sandra F. August 14, 2019
I learned the absolute basics of cooking with The Settlement Cookbook. It taught me great heritage recipes as well as useful information from preserving food to entertaining guests. Developed for newcomers to America in 1901 it got it’s name from the neighborhood house “The Settlement” where classes were held.
Kelly August 14, 2019
Remember when cooking shows taught us how to cook instead of being a competition for the prettiest cupcake/ outrageous ingredient list, etc...
Kelly August 14, 2019
Martha Stewart- the show and the Living Magazine. She is a great teacher making what seems a daunting task less overwhelming.
Chrissy August 14, 2019
Graham Kerr (Galloping Gourmet), Julia Child, and Martha Stewart (MS Living magazine).
What they all had in common was a zest for life and exuded joy in the kitchen using fresh ingredients with a practical approach.
Dee A. August 14, 2019
My mother did the all-American basics just right, but unfortunately, the only things I could cook upon leaving home were meatloaf and eggs. I learned to cook from America's Test Kitchen cookbooks and Cook's Illustrated and King Arthur Flour (for all that artisanal bread and yummy scones). I decided I wanted to be a better cook, so I set out to study and practice. The only thing that holds me back now is a husband with an aversion to gravy, sauces, mushrooms, and vegetables.
Catherine M. August 14, 2019
My mother was a proudly terrible cook so I had no culinary ambitions until 1963. That was the year that Julia Child's The French Chef debuted on PBS. My mother was an enthusiastic viewer not for the food but because she thought Julia Child was funny. So I watched with her and started to realize that there was a big, beautiful and delicious world out there beyond the over-cooked chicken breasts, TV dinners and spaghetti out of a can I was used to eating. I never looked back.
Cheryl H. August 14, 2019
Good Eats, hands down. The episode Three Chips for Sister Marsha taught me how to make cookies, which is a necessary life skill.
annabannister August 14, 2019
No one makes me happier than Samin Nosrat of SALT FAT ACID Heat. Abroad, I love Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella and Anna Jones in the UK.
Cathlyne C. August 14, 2019
I could cook decently but when I was given Mastering the Art of French Cooking volume 2 as a gift , my cooking took a huge step forward. 50 years later and I am a true lover of French and Belgian cuisine.
Penny H. August 14, 2019
I got married in 1957 and was given a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I didn't have much around the house to read so I literally read the cookbook from cover to cover. I learned everything from what to cook for dinner to how to set the table. I was cooking before I got married but the BH&G cookbook opened a whole new world for me. FYI - my original was lost so I recently purchased a "new" BH&G cookbook from that period.
Christopher R. August 14, 2019
I really started cooking when I lived off-campus in college, way back in the dark ages before the internet, and before most of the cable network cooking shows. I always loved Julia Child's TV show, and Galloping Gourmet was a hoot to watch; but the things that really got me started and gave me confidence were Pierre Franey's "60 Minute Gourmet" articles in the NY Times, and then the subsequent cookbooks. The recipes were creative enough to be exciting to try, but not so involved and complex you were intimidated by them. I found as I made more and more of them I began to understand certain basic principles of cooking: how the chemistry worked best, what the best order was to put in ingredients in a pan sauce, for example, or what tastes went well with each other. It made cooking an adventure, an exciting chemistry experiment, that resulted (usually) in something delicious that you could serve to guests (or just your roommate) and feel like you'd really accomplished something. I gained a lot of confidence by cooking through those books, and I still have them on my shelves today. One or two of the recipes I still make, and certainly the simple but essential techniques I learned from Pierre have become life-long practices.
Lisa C. August 14, 2019
Jamie Oliver's original show The Naked Chef and Martha Stewart. Today I mainly consult Food52, Bon Appetit and Smitten Kitchen online.
Ellen August 14, 2019
Any book by Cook's Illustrated and the TV show 'The Chew'
Carol H. August 14, 2019
It was the early 60's. I was in my first apartment, working at my first job, and cooking for the first time. Every year my Grandfather gave me $25 for my birthday. Back then, this was a goldmine. I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking by, of course, Julia Child, and set out to cook my way through it as did many in my generation. I found that one can cook anything if you just follow the recipe (assuming it's a well-written recipe). So almost 60 years later, I'm still cooking, still perfecting technique, and still buying and devouring cookbooks. And, yes, I still turn to Mastering for my favorites.
Dianne N. August 14, 2019
My mother had two little children's cookbooks: Mary Alden's Cook Book for Children - printed by Wonder Books in New York and Little Mother's Cook Book, A guide to cooking for children - printed by The Pixie Press. I still make some of the recipes from these books, franks and beans, Porky's Burger buns, and especially Eskimo Cookies. Mom then gave us Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook - a very good book for starting out and it is one of my best reference guides today and I have a 5.5 feet by 6 feet bookshelf as well as many boxes devoted to cookbooks.
Debra H. August 25, 2019
So nice to hear that I am not the only one who has an extensive collection of cookbooks. Unfortunately we will be moving soon and downsizing so I will be forced to donate a large number of my collection. But hopefully they will bring joy and confidence to another cook out there as they did me.
Alex August 14, 2019
For me, it was the original PBS Julia Child cooking show in the late 60's or early 70's.
p. T. August 14, 2019
The James Beard Cookbook, Horst Mager's (sp) Portland TV cooking shows in the 1970's, and a wonderful Portuguese grandmother-in-law from Carmel were early cooking influences. That is not to discount my mother, whose thrifty ways with a family of seven encouraged us into the kitchen to try our hand at cooking. For her memorial we had a cake baking contest, with each of us taking one of her recipes and trying our hand at it. What a joy!
Beth M. August 14, 2019
Joy of Cooking. My older sister learned to cook with our mother but I never competed for that time or space. Once off on my own, Joy of Cooking provided techniques and descriptions that gave me the confidence to cook just about anything. Still have my original early '60's edition and the 1972 book. Never use them anymore but there is no way I could give them away.
meredith H. August 14, 2019
The Silver Palate Cookbook, back in 1982. I discovered Sheila Lukins & Julie Rosso when a friend of mine introduced me to the Silver Palate Store. The recipes were simple and easy to follow and somehow, even for a novice cook they turned out great. I still use their quiche & pot pie recipes, the French roasted lemon chicken, and multiple others.
adree1 August 14, 2019
When I first started cooking for myself and my husband, I relied heavily on the Joy of Cooking, and Betty Crocker- basic recipes explained clearly. I also used James Beard on Bread book and the King Arthur's 200th Anniversary cookbook to learn about baking. I still won't give away my copies, despite buying many (many) other cookbooks over the years.
Abigail R. August 14, 2019
Hmm, when I was young and worked for publishing houses in New York. I had access to lots of cookbooks. Of those, my favorites were "How Cooking Works" by Sylvia Rosenthal and Fran Shinagel. That was my go-to book when I needed to learn how to make sauces or really anything. I used the "60-Minute Gourmet" and "More 60-MInute Gourmet" by Pierre Franey all the time. Before a party, it was Paul and Leslie Rubenstein's "The Night Before Cookbook." I also liked Paul Rubenstein's "Feasts for Two." "The Thrill of the Grill" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby taught me how to make hot peanut sauce and grill things. And I have to give props to Jamie Oliver for teaching me that pancetta elevated even the most pedestrian of recipes.
lisa August 14, 2019
The 60-Minute Gourmet, by Pierre Freney. It was the only cookbook I had for a long time.
Compiled from newspaper columns, each entree was paired with its perfect side. I learned a lot about pairings, as well as a lot of very basic technique. The recipes are all perfect, so the results encouraged me to keep trying another!
lisa August 14, 2019
Megan August 14, 2019
The Frugal Gourmet, Martha Stewart.
Luise E. August 14, 2019
Craig Claiborne's first NY Times Cookbook is/was the best. From simple to complicated, it covered all the bases; it was the one cookbook I took with me to California when we lived there in 1970-72, I also learned a lot from the first Julia Child book.
Sara M. August 14, 2019
The Frugal Gourmet and Yan Can Cook. Sundays on PBS as a kid was the best cooking school and I distinctly remember the first recipe i diligently scribbled down while watching and then made regularly for my family.
leslie August 14, 2019
Gourmet Magazine
Karen August 14, 2019
Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home (TV)
Maggy August 14, 2019
I thought I learned to cook from a 1950 Betty Crocker, but I didn’t really learn to cook until I started watching America’s Test Kitchens. For the next 20 years I only used ATK/Cook’s Illustrated books and magazines and the food I served my family was vastly improved. Now I treat myself to niche cookbooks by famous chefs and celebrated authors but I still use ATK as my major database.
Maria S. August 14, 2019
Julia Child
Linda August 14, 2019
Although I learned to cook from my mother, the cookbook that was my go to was the 1963 edition of the Joy of Cooking. My original copy fell apart but I was able to find a replacement.
lisa August 14, 2019
Mine is falling apart too! My son preordered me a new edition for Christmas. But I kind of like the falling-apartness.
Kelly M. August 14, 2019
As a teen, I knew how to cook two things (grilled cheese and scrambled eggs, both courtesy of my grandmother). My mom never cooked much but loved cookbooks, so I around the age of 15 I decided to teach myself to cook using her cookbooks. I found this recipe for "Straw and Hay" in one of her old Cooking Light annual cookbooks (from the early 90's), and since I worked weekends at a horse barn it seemed like a sign. From that point on I was hooked - I would scour her small cookbook collection and try out new things (some successful, some not so much) on the family. I'm pretty sure I kept that old Cooking Light annual somewhere...
Lisa T. August 14, 2019
So, there were two. The Joy of Cooking, which I recommend to every first time cook. It has all the basics and really teaches you. But, my biggest influence was Julia Child. I made my first true recipe from Julia Childs and Company cook book - Turkey Orloff. WOW, I think I was about 16 when I made it. She was about the only cooking show on TV when I was a kid or at least that I knew about
JJGood August 14, 2019
Oh my gosh, all the early Food Network shows: Good Eats—"The Chewy" chocolate chip cookie recipe is still my touchstone. Sara Moulton's original show, the title of which I can't remember because she had a handful. Molto Mario, which I still think about and remember lessons from even if it's not possible to enjoy the show anymore. The Naked Chef, which gave me the confidence to just cook. Emeril and Iron Chef of course, but they just got me in the door. And Julia Child! Always Julia Child, and then Julia and Jacques. Nick Stellino on PBS—my family used to make a pasta from one of his books just about every Sunday in the winter. The idea of creating layers of flavor and seasoning as you go, why you cook things in a certain order and how you can pull the different levers in a recipe, whether cooking or baking, to produce new flavors and textures, all of these things I learned from watching chefs on TV. My mom also had a stack of Gourmet magazines dating back to the early 1990s, and Cooks Illustrated kind of blew our minds when we first subscribed in the early 2000s. We were a family that was very engaged in cooking and talking about food.
Jane C. August 14, 2019
In 1987, I somehow got ahold of a recipe from a locally published cookbook called, "Purple Sage and Other Pleasures." Women of the Junior League of Tucson put it out, and it contained gourmet-level recipes they felt reflected the flavors of the Southwest (not just the fire of Mexican food, either). The "Southwestern Pasta Salad with Cilantro Pesto" (served hot) blew me away. Suddenly, food was creative and did NOT look like the Betty Crocker cookbook I received as a new bride! I still use the book - and this recipe still wows anyone who gets to eat it at my house. Not long after this discovery, I became aware of the Food Network, and have been hooked on its cooking shows ever since.
Jackie C. August 14, 2019
For me it was several books, most of them vegetarian - The Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook, The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, and the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. For baking, Beth Hensperger's Bread Book, and Crust and Crumb by Reinhardt, and the King Arthur Flour baking books - both the regular and the one devoted to whole grains. Oh, my, as I sit here thinking, I keep coming up with more titles - The Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special is a fantastic book with hundreds of soup and salad recipes, and Sundays at Moosewood was my first foray into cooking foods from other ethnicities besides American and Italian. Another great resource was Cook's Magazine from America's Test Kitchen, and later their huge compendium cookbook of recipes and techniques.
Dana G. August 14, 2019
Parties by Ina Garten.
Every recipe is a winner,
Like Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
And my favorite: Apple Crumble.
She gently teaches technique and encourages you to make endless variations of these basic but timeless recipes.
Jen S. August 14, 2019
Definitely started with Graham Kerr, Jeff Smith with the "Hot Wok-Cold Oil- Food Won't Stick" (I actually heard Guy Fieri say it on one of his shows and just about died laughing! )I still have one of Jeff's cookbooks. I think I still have the first issues of both Martha Stewart Living and Saveur magazines. But I grew up at my grandmothers' elbow learning to love watching her toss ingredients together. "There is no technique - now are we going to measure or are we going to cook?" from Under the Tuscan Sun.
Edie August 14, 2019
I started getting Martha Stewart Living during college. When I got my first apartment I cooked Martha 24/7. Got hooked on Ina Garten through her MSL connection and never looked back. Barefoot Contessa is still my go to after ALL these years!!!
louisez August 14, 2019
For me, there were two. One was the New York Times, especially Craig Claiborne. The Sunday magazine had great articles and recipes, which I looked forward to all week, though there were sometimes recipes in the daily paper, too. I learned a lot, but as a kid, also felt so sophisticated. The other was a little golden cookbook for girls and boys I got when I was 8. After mastering a cheese souflee, I went on to the Times. I know I said there were two, but I have to add Gourmet magazine, even though I didn't get into it till I was a bit older. Still miss it.
DeNise August 14, 2019
My grandmother and mother were very good cooks but they never thought about asking me to come and learn. So when I wanted to make dinner for a boyfriend, I grabbed my mother’s Betty Crocker’s Cookbook and made a quiche. With a chocolate mousse dessert. They turned out great. My mother was shocked when she tasted it. That started my love of cookbooks and cooking. With a library of over 300 today, I can’t wait to see this new one of yours.
salarson August 14, 2019
My first cook book was Better Homes and Gardens. But I learned how to really cook watching Emeril, Alton, Martha, Ina and the Food Network.
Marcia C. August 14, 2019
I was given an early Betty Crocker Cookbook as a helpful, good resource (red & white checkered cover) though my go-to growing up in the 60's was The Joy of Cooking, with a side splash of my family's The Settlement Cookbook. Truth be told, I spent many of my high school hours (hiding out, when I wasn't making music, pottery, or dancing) sitting in the library stacks reading and poring over the earliest of the coffee table cookbooks with glorious illustrations and photographs, as well. The 70's found me on a a farm while in college, adopting the Moosewood Cookbook, and Tasajara, too.
Linda C. August 14, 2019
I learned to cook from watching public tv - Julia Childs, Graham Kerr and The Frugal Gourmet (was that Jeff Smith? Can't remember his name). I learned to love cooking and to be an inventive cook from them!
Brooke R. August 14, 2019
Good Eats. I know it’s cheesy but Alton Brown breaks down some of the science behind cooking so you learn why you’re doing what you’re doing instead of just simply following a recipe step by step. So I didn’t learn to make fancy meals by watching this show but it helped me learn basic techniques and helped give me a pretty solid foundation for being able to build my own recipes and creativity in the kitchen
Anna L. August 14, 2019
I grew up watching PBS cooking shows every Saturday, just because it's what my parents put on the TV when I was young. I picked up an insane amount from Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Yan Can Cook ("and so can you!"), Lidia Bastianich, and a handful of others. I was never writing this stuff down, but it is amazing how I've been able to recall how to do certain things. A couple of years ago, I was making a dish that required that I section an orange. Without looking up instructions online, I remembered watching Jacques Pepin do it a certain way. I pulled out a pairing knife, cut off the rind, and...voila! I easily recreated what he had done, because I must have watched it about a thousand times in my youth.
Christine H. August 14, 2019
You may not believe this but the cookbook that got me interested in cooking/baking was the Nancy Drew cookbook (I was probably around 11 at the time - yes, eons ago). The Popovers recipe was my favourite. I also picked up some fun tips from the "I Hate to Cook cookbook". There was a lovely cake made with canned fruit salad and another one that made a very fudgy chocolate cake but with WWII rations in mind. As you can see baking got me started. Now I love making soups and stews. The Weight Watchers "Pure Comfort" cookbook has yielded some tried and true recipes - a pork tenderloin (I use less salt than asked for in the rub) with couscous and summer fruit and a turkey and black bean chilli among others. I hope this helps in your search.
Adrien L. August 14, 2019
I've been cooking for decades, leaning on 3 or 4 go-to recipes that I knew by heart and always came out good. Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking encouraged me to make my own pasta and led me to branch out into ravioli and lasagna. But I didn't really get inspired to create in the kitchen until I stumbled across Tim Ferris's 4 Hour Chef. I downloaded the audio version for free, mostly out of curiosity about the title, but after listening to a couple of chapters I bought both the Kindle and the hard cover versions. This is the first "cookbook" I'd ever come across that focused more on technique than on the recipe. Now, when I look at a cookbook, I'm no longer really interested in the recipes. I want to know the story of cooking. I want to understand how food and culture and the love of ingredients come together to make memorable experiences. There are only 3 cookbooks on my shelf. Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Tim Ferris's 4 Hour Chef, and Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I don't go to any of them for recipes, but when I want to revisit a particular technique, they're always there for me. It makes me feel like I can do almost anything in the kitchen. Now I'm looking for a book that treats bread the same way Ms. Nosrat treats ingredients.
ohdave August 14, 2019
Marcella Hazan
Jonathan S. August 14, 2019
Emeril Lagasse’s “Emeril Live”. I watched most if not all of the 1,500 episodes on the Food Network during the dinner hour for many years. Th shows inspired me to try hundreds of recipes and incorporate them into numerous dinner parties inspired by Emeril. I have most of his books and they are my first choice when looking for something fun and delicious to prepare. The Emeril’s Essence seasoning has been a mainstay in my kitchen for 30 years!
KEITH T. August 14, 2019
Oh I loved watching Alton Brown, but my first exposure to cooking was a Better Homes and Garden cookbook when I was growing up. My sister and I cooked our way through the entire book one summer. I made my first croquettes with a cream sauce from that book. New foods and textures, I was hooked. My dad was also my inspiration. Everything he made tasted wonderful, and he had small techniques I dreamed of mastering. Not gourmet skills, but skills, like frying an egg just so, or flipping a small cast iron pan with the most gorgeous looking re fried beans in it so they turned onto themselves beautifully. Oh, and he taught me to make my first seared steak in cast iron, with roasted onions, the only seasonings were salt, pepper and lots of love.
Alyson P. August 14, 2019
As a kid it was Betty Crocker’s “Boys’ and Girls’ Cookbook,” but as an adult it was Jeff Smith’s “Frugal Gourmet” series on PBS. This was in the days before the internet, so I would tape his shows and sit in front of the TV with a notepad to write down recipes as he made them. His enthusiasm for good ingredients was contagious; I’d never heard anyone use the word “gorgeous” when referring to an eggplant!
Diane W. August 14, 2019
The first cookbook when I considered myself to go from a basic cook to the next level was The Fanny Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham. There I was introduced to several Veal dishes such as veal birds with celery stuffing which I still make today.
Lisa S. August 14, 2019
The Frugal Gourmet way back in the day on PBS. His show was filled with historical context and what we would now call hacks like pepper in a Turkish coffee grinder and mantras like “hot pan, cold oil, food won’t stick.” His interests spanned the globe too, so it was a joy to hear about different cultures and things I never tried.

Bon Appetit was a magazine I cut my teeth on. I have read the magazine since before college and my hands down favorite editor was the irrepressible William Garry (1985-2000). Adam Rappaport is doing a good job these days, though I don’t care for the recent makeover for the magazine. Gourmet, of course, is a stalwart of the industry though it’s in different iterations now days, too. It is in that magazine that I first discovered leeks which still seem to have a magical quality to them. I love the whole idea of leeks and that is truly Garry’s doing!

One can never go wrong with Jacques and Julia. Both had great tips, but I especially love how Jacques shares tips from working in kitchens as an apprentice. Sometimes the best way is the old way... if only because it seems new to us nowadays.

My go-to now though increasingly is Food and Wine and blogs/posts like Food52. The styling is classic in how the information is presented but is culturally relevant, too.

Having watched the food scene change so much over the years. I love how we talk about farmers and food related craftspeople like they are stars. We can all explore new worlds right from our kitchen table and that is something to be celebrated, for sure! Thank you for asking this wonderful question! It was a great walk through a lively history.
Kristen W. August 14, 2019
I don’t know if this was the first, but early on, Chopped on the Food Network - which I watched a TON of for a while there - was the thing that liberated me when I started getting a CSA box, and that was pretty profound for me. I had been mostly recipe-reliant before that, but when I started getting the CSA I realized that from watching Chopped I had come to understand that different ingredients had different functions, and that I could swap out ingredients that had the same function in a dish with one another and everything would still work (interestingly - to me at least - the concept works the exact same way in music with chord substitutions - jazz musicians use that concept of varying “chord color” while retaining chord function in order to improvise coherently). The other big influence was Top Chef - not because of any of the contestants’ cooking but because of Tom Colicchio’s two most common refrains: 1) season every component of a dish, and 2) taste your food! Best advice ever for pretty much every cook of every dish at every level.
gandalf August 13, 2019
"The Galloping Gourmet" with Graham Kerr. I watched it when I was young, and still remember a very few odds and ends. It was very entertaining!
janet E. August 13, 2019
Julia Child for French and techniques, Diana Kennedy for Mexican and Marcella Hazan for Italian.
Happygoin August 13, 2019
I watched Julia Child as a teenager on The French Chef. She and later, Jacques Pépin, and then both together, taught me most of what I know about cooking techniques.
Exbruxelles August 13, 2019
Joy of Cooking c 1980; Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan; Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rogers.
Emma L. August 13, 2019
I've loved Ina Garten's shows for as long as they've been on TV and couldn't begin to list all the things that she's taught me. But here are a few big ones: Do what you love for work. Cook what you love for dinner. Roasted potatoes are always a good idea. Never be shy with salt. A recipe doesn't need to be complicated to be company-worthy.
Liz D. August 13, 2019
As a kid, Betty Crocker's "New Boys & Girls Cookbook." As an adult, "Joy of Cooking," (1975 Edition) that my Mom gave me for Christmas the year I moved out of the house. I used to sit on the couch & read it, like a novel.
Kate H. August 13, 2019
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat taught me more indepth the basics of how to cook, but Food52's A New Way to Dinner, taught me how to bring it all together throughout the year. I was an okay cook before, but the combination made me more confident especially in terms of bringing together seasonally appropriate, well cooked meals.
Valhalla August 13, 2019
Martha Stewart Living. She opened me up to the world of fresh local produce as well as international cuisine.
Sarah H. August 13, 2019
Simply Ming and Lydia's Italy on PBS -- one of the few channels that I got when I couldn't afford cable in my early 20s after college. I grew up mostly vegetarian and eating pretty simple stuff at home and eating more diverse food out. So the specifics of how to cook Chinese, Asian, or fusion-inspired dishes, and the skills associated with those cuisines were something that I learned from Simply Ming. Ditto Lydia. I'd eaten a lot of Italian-American food (and made Italian-American food) but the Italian and Mediterranean techniques were something I learned from her. I found Ina's and Nigella's shows really helpful in regard to learning how to be a skilled home cook -- how to learn what I needed to pay attention to while I was cooking, e.g., what "until they are fragrant" or "until they are translucent" really means. And Donna Hay's books which are really well written and also include accessible recipes but maybe because I'm in the northern hemisphere, they also included ingredients that weren't as common for me, and so it helped to push me past using the things I knew or the way that I knew how to use them. And recently, Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat.
Kristen M. August 13, 2019
Oops! Here's the link for more on the new book: https://food52.com/blog/23575-quick-vegan-creamy-tomato-soup-genius
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