Recommended Cookbooks

1.  I have to start this list with what I think is the best basic cookbook in my collection, Craig Claiborne's legendary New York Times Cookbook.

This book is a fantastic collection of good, old basic recipes. No nouvelle cuisine, no crazy food trends, just perfectly written basic recipes. The thing I love about this book is that if you want to create a dish of your own, Claiborne gives you the basic recipe from which to start. Then YOU get to be the creative one, adding ingredients or varying techniques to create the dish you imagined!   The basic muffin recipe is fantastic and is the base recipe I use for Raspberry chocolate chip muffins, cheddar apple muffins etc. An absolute must have for any serious cook.

2.  Next, I highly recommend the Silver Palate cookbooks from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.  (OK this is actually THREE books, but they are all so excellent I can't single out only one.)

First published in the early eighties, you might think that these recipes would be horribly dated.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  These books contain wonderfully elegant recipes that I have been preparing for decades.  They also include fantastic menu suggestions for just about any occasion.  There was a period of time where they went out of print, but as everything eighties is now ultra trendy again, these books are once again available.

3.  I absolutely MUST include the book that taught me how to bake.  Flo Braker's book, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking is probably one of the finest baking books I have ever read.

My copy from the eighties has lost the jacket, has pages falling out, is stained and yellow and I wouldn't have it any other way.  That's what happens when a book gets used thousands of times...I think its the ultimate compliment to any cook book author.   With this book I learned to make a variety of buttercreams, the perfect genoise, the ultimate chocolate mousse and many other treats I make all the time.

4.  A close second to Flo Braker's book is Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible.  An excellent book with very good recipes.

This book I love because it presents the recipes to scale up some of the recipes for making a wedding cake, and it is also the place where I discovered the ethereal white chocolate cream cheese icing that makes my carrot cake so sublime.

5.  I think this is one of the most "user-friendly" french cookbooks on the market, Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking.

Rather than describing this book myself, I will use Patricia's description:  "Bistro is warm, Bistro is family. Bistro is robust soups and rustic salads, wine-scented stews, bubbling gratins, and desserts from a grandmother's kitchen. Bistro is everyday china and elbows on the table and second helpings. It is best friends over for no particular reason. Bistro is earthy, not fussy, easy, not painstaking. And BISTRO COOKING presents no-nonsense, inexpensive, soul-satisfying cuisine inspired by the neighborhood restaurants of France."

6.  I am always looking for new cookie recipes, especially at Christmas.  No matter where I look though, I always come back to this book by Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of the Cake Bible.  This is a wonderful collection of old favorites and new ideas, all meticulously written for foolproof results everytime.  Don't miss Rose's gingerbread Cathedral... Simply Amazing!  This book is a must have for the serious baker.

7.  My good friend Chris Pfitzer's first cookbook!  This is a wonderful collection of recipes which are, importantly, sugar-free, so they are friendly for diabetics!  DO NOT MISS the Warm Goat Cheese Salad, the Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls or the Chicken Posole Soup!