Category Archives: Reviews

The BEST Beginner’s Cookbook

It happens to the best of us. You really want to learn how to cook, but when you go to the bookstore (assuming there still is one in your town) you’re overwhelmed by the gargantuan selection of cookbooks. Out of pure frustration, you go home empty-handed, or worse, armed with something by Julia Child because you recognize the name, only to find out you don’t understand a word of it. Where the hell to start?? I’m glad you asked.

Our #1 pick for beginner cookbooks here at Lust for Cooking is What to Cook and How to Cook It, by Jane Hornby.

This is where is all began – where Lust for Cooking was born. This cookbook, quite literally, changed our lives. Before What to Cook and How to Cook It, Dijorno was a challenge.

Sound a little melodramatic? Perhaps. But it’s true. This was the first cookbook that really taught us, not just what to cook but how. What makes this cookbook so damn special, you ask? Good question. There are a few reasons, but first and foremost, it’s all about the pictures. Tell me this doesn’t turn you on –wtchtc-sample

Ok, it’s not a naked body. But in the land of cookbooks, this is awesome. All of the ingredients visually laid out and in their measurements. For new cooks, this is the holy grail.

Because, first of all, there’s nothing worse than a cookbook with NO pictures, amiright? If you can’t even see the finished product, then you don’t even know what you’re shooting for. But even with a beautifully photographed, mouth-watering picture of a finished dish, you still may get lost in the ingredients list. As in what the hell is tahini (and, by the way, did you know that coriander and cilantro are the same thing)?

This book will not leave you scratching your head. Everything is pictured for you, so you look like a champ at the grocery store. By the way, can you guess what dish these ingredients will create?

It doesn’t stop there. Each step in the cooking process has its own photograph, as well as the finish line –

wtchtc-steps

You can’t go wrong. Hornby also answers any pesky questions that may come up. So what is tahini? The answer is on page 193.

Make no mistake – this isn’t 101 ways to use Hamburger Helper or how to dress up Cup-O-Noodles. This is legit cooking from scratch, but broken down into an easy-to-follow, accessable way. You will be impressing your friends with delicious meals in no time. We promise. #wevebeenthere

To grab your own copy, click here.

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Eat Like Shakespeare

On this, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (and interestingly also the 452 anniversary of his baptism), we at Lust for Cooking would like to celebrate the life of the Bard by directing you to a very unusual cook book, Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook, by Francine Segan.

Not only will you be shown how to make traditional Renaissance era recipes, likely eaten by the great wordsmith himself, but Segan also goes the extra mile to include the original Elizabethan recipes. Behold:

“Take some cabbedge and pricke & wash then cleane, and perboyle then in faire water, then put them into a collender, and let water run from them cleane, then put them into a faire earthen pot, and as much sweete broth as will cover the cabbadge, and sweete butter, then take your Mallard and rost it halfe enough, and save the drippings of him, then cut him in the side, and put the mallard into the cabbedge, and put in all your drippings, then let it stew an houre, and season it with salt, and serve it upon soppes.:

THE GOOD HUSWIFES JEWELL, 1587

This is from the entry, “Cabbages with Smoked Duck.” Don’t worry, the recipes are also written in plain, contemporary English with periods and all.

And remember, “’tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.” –ROMEO AND JULIET

So lick away.

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The Drunken Botanist Explains It All

You’re sitting in a new, swanky, mixology bar, probably with a speakeasy theme. In front of you are a myriad of garnishes sorted and lined-up in glasses for the all-knowing bartender’s easy convenience, including bacon, currants, and gummy bears. Next to you sits a man in his 30’s with a mustache that curls up at the ends.

Before you talk yourself into leaving, you overhear said hipster say something like, “You know, vodka was originally created in Russia from the potato.”

And you know he’s wrong. Why?

Because you’ve read The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World’s Great Drinks, by Amy Stewart. You know instead, that, though a distilled liquor much resembling what we would call vodka was already very much in existence in Europe in the 15th century, potatoes were only just being discovered by Europeans in the New World. You also know that the birth place of vodka is a very debatable and incendiary subject between the Russians and Polish.

Confident in your superior knowledge, you skip the cocktail menu and order a classic, a Manhattan. And also because you keep The Drunken Botanist at your bedside, you know that despite the endless options of bourbons for you to choose from, you’ll basically be drinking corn.

And for the record, maybe it’s you with the mustache, and the tourist with the faulty knowledge? Either way, here at Lust for Cooking, we won’t judge your life choices, but we do recommend you read this highly entertaining and informative book.

 

The Art of Eating (and food writing)

To my embarrassment, I have recently discovered The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher. Embarrassed because my discovery was so recent. This bible of food writing was originally published in 1954. I’m reading the “50th Anniversary Edition.” (*sigh*) Well, I suppose everything is new to everyone at some point.

M.F.K. Fisher or, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, was, and perhaps is, the reigning queen of food writing. This tome is a compilation of five of her more popular books: Serve it Forth; Consider the Oyster; How to Cook a Wolf; The Gastronomical Me; and An Alphabet for Gourmets. And because it is a compilation, this means that these five works were originally published even earlier, the first appearing in 1937.

Make no mistake. This is no ye olde world lady’s guide to etiquette. Fisher writes with such joy, freedom, and sensuality that one has to constantly remind oneself that this isn’t a hipster manifesto:

Bindlestiffs [feel free to look that one up] on a rare bender in Los Angeles (Ell-ay, you say) gulp down three swollen “on the half’s” with a rot-gut whiskey chaser in any of a dozen joints on Main Street, and are more than moderately sure that if they die that night, it won’t be from the oysters. -Consider the Oyster,

This is a book that embraces and inspires our mission here at Lust for Cooking. Fisher loves food and takes the practice of eating very seriously. Each book is a compilation in itself of short, witty essays that focus on a particular topic, such as an ingredient or an anecdote or cultural practice (kind of like a blog??), but way ahead of its time.

Alice Waters, owner or Chez Panisse, says, “This comprehensive volume should be required reading for every cook. It defines in a sensual and beautiful way the vital relationship between food and culture.”

If you want to know where is all began or need a reminder of the joy of food, this book is a must read. You can find it here.