Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Oh cookbooks. If you have one you have thirty-two. We get our inspiration from them, we get our next meal, teach others how to cook with them, they are our guidelines, they are our clutter. I'm going to list the three Cookbooks I feel every cook of any degree must have as well as one extra for the truly hard-core Chefs, who know, maybe I'll give you two bonuses; lets find out together.
First I'm going to ask a favor. When you're done reading this make sure to comment at the bottom. If you think I don't know what I'm talking about say so, heck share it with your friends and say "look at this guy calling himself a Chef, he has no idea what he's talking about." If you agree let me know, share it with your friends, you know how we like to see that other Chefs see the world similar to ourselves, get a good laugh out of it. Do you feel like I left a book out? Comment below and we will do a review of it.
Perhaps I should mention: these books are more about cooking philosophy than they are about giving you specific recipes. It is my belief that with these books you can make anything in your imagination if you just have a vague understanding of what certain things are. For instance the difference in texture between a crepe and a pancake, a coulis and a chutney; things of that nature. These books are for the culinary professional either at the beginning of their career or 25 years deep. If you have a Chef in your life give them THIS bundle of books and watch them dive right in; yes, this is the perfect gift for the foodie and the Chef in your life.
So lets kick off this list with my favorite of them: "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman. This book is great in that it really allows you a great range of flexibility. Whether you want to make a bread, a stock or pasta this book will give you the necesarry ratios to keep you in the right ballpark. Many people don't know; for the most part pasta, cookies, pound cake, angle food cake and brioche all have the same ingredients. What gives you such vastly different results? Ratios. Become a master of the ratio, become a master of your outcomes.
Ok so now we know how to make the foundations of what we're making so it will at least resemble what we're looking for. Now lets get into the nitty gritty, fine-tuning your flavor profile. This is often regarded as the magic of it all and with good reason. The following books will help make sure that you aren't committing a tried and true mistake in building a flavor profile.
I introduce: "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. This book is great for any number of reasons. If you want a glimpse inside of the mind of a Chef I will strongly suggest picking up "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain; I don't know a single restaurant professional that doesn't get a kick out of reading that book and reminiscing over event in their own life he seems to be narrating in his book at times written decades before they had even experienced it themselves. The next book you must read is "Culinary Artistry". They interview several Chefs and dozens of them make their way into the book where they talk about things like "if you're stuck on a deserted island what are 3 ingredients you must have with you" , "what's one dish you could eat every day of your life". Yes, that's nice for insight but when it comes to the food look no further than having nearly 90% of the book dedicated to making sure you pick the right ingredients at the right time. Its winter right now what should I make for dinner. Go to the winter section pick a protein, pick a base profile (they bolden the strongest candidates for a particular ingredient) and you're off! Bring along Ratio and you can start putting those things together.
Ok, so now you know what you want it to look like, you know what your main ingredients are, but you don't have the depth of flavor you're looking for, no problem!
Finally we wrap-up with our second addition by Andrew and Karen with "The Flavor Bible". Its just like it sounds. you have an idea of the flavor profile you're looking for and how its going to look and how it should eat, but now its about refining the flavor from the first taste thats where this gem fits in. It will cover in depth different ingredients and you use your imagination to determine how they play together. This book is best when you've already tried your recipe once and need to refine it. Feel like you need some smokey flavor, Flavor bible has your back!
Now for that special bonus: if you're really serious about cookery and want to understand the science of this art you have to have "The Science of Cooking" by Dr. Stuart Farrimond. This is where you start getting seriously deep into cookery. Why do your taste buds respond to astringency the way it does, what are those dark lines when you grill your steak, at what temperature do eggs coagulate and what can I do to manipulate that process. This is the book for you if you're very adventurous.
Ya know what, one more bonus for those that love French Cookery: "Escoffier's Cookbook". You can consider this the bible of French cooking. Over 1,000 recipes to learn to make the classics in french cookery. If you don't know the different between braising and boiling, deep-frying/ sauteeing/pan-frying this book is either something you need to study for or you should just get back to it.
So what do you think? Are you getting one or all of these books for a Chef or Foodie in your life this year? Are there any books you feel got snubbed? Let us know in the comments below and please don'f forget to follow our Facebook Page!