Given that you can get everything off the web these days, it’s hard to justify spending money on a cookbook. And although I have a plethora of them, most of which I don’t use, there are exceptions.

By all means buy any you wish, but if you are serious about cooking, then these three are the ones you should have.

Okay, I know. It’s old.

But it’s classic, and classic dishes never go out of style.

And it is Julia Child for heaven sakes.

A confession: I don’t own a copy. It’s really hard to find used ones at a good price. Which tells you that this cookbook is still considered one of the very best.  I keep looking. I can find individual recipes online which is why I know how good her recipes are.

This is the place to learn classic sauces and perfect desserts.

Yes I know, you could argue that James Beard should be included. But that would be overkill.

And it’s Julia Child for heaven sakes.


This is my bible.

I use it constantly.

My copy got caught in the rain in a window, so it’s tattered, pages fall out, and it’s all warped and awful looking.

But the recipes are all there.

And I learned how to cook from it.

You start here and then you know the basics of a recipe. Then you can check out the web and see what innovations might make your version special.

That’s how its done. End of story.


I do not like Cook’s Illustrated as a company. They are cheap. You get a subscription to their magazine and they still want you to get a subscription for their website. That’s cheap.

But they undeniably have some of the best recipes I’ve ever come across. I just got my copy of the 2011 book pictured at the right just today, and it has 2,000 recipes. I may take it to bed with me tonight, just to hold.

They make a recipe 42 times, changing and altering, until they have it perfect. They have never steered me wrong except for once. Their version of Chicken Tandoori was simply awful. I’ve eaten the real thing, and well, let’s just say it was awful, and leave it at that.

Their pizza dough making is heaven. Their chocolate cakes are to die for. I could go on. Don’t get me started on Arroz con Pollo, a standard dish in our household now.

They teach you why you do what you do and chemically what happens, so you can actually figure out how to change recipes and be successful. I looked up Spinach Dip today, and it is essentially, but for one ingredient, what I have created and haven’t yet tried yet. So I guess I have learned something from them.

These are the only three I endorse. Whole-heartedly.




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