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Cookbook of the day – Classical Cooking the Modern Way

Classical cooking

Classical Cooking The Modern Way

by Eugen Pauli

  • Publisher: Van Nos 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471291870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471291879
  • This cookbook is actually primarily a textbook. Originally written and published in Germany and France under the titles Lehrbuch der Küche and Technologie Culinaire, this book was published in English by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company in 1979 and immediately became a required textbook for culinary students.

    It covers all aspects of setting up and running a modern commercial kitchen as envisioned by Escoffier. From physical plant layout to food safety and sanitation, from food labeling, butchering and other product issues to large scale recipes, this book should be on the bookshelf of every executive chef and should be at least skimmed by any waiter worth his or her salt.

    The current edition of this venerable book is different from the original edition (which I own). According to one reviewer at Amazon, the book has been abridged somewhat by the new publisher, with the intent of publishing a second volume in the future. I glanced through some of the pages of the new edition through Amazon’s look inside feature, and it’s obvious that the book has been completely re-written. My recommendation therefore is only for the edition that I own and the one that is pictured above. That’s not to denigrate the new edition – I just don’t have access to the whole of it for direct comparison. The image comes from the eBay listing listed below.

    I would recommend picking up this book as eBay only has a handful of the original editions (the new one is the Third Edition).

    The recipes aren’t particularly useful to the home cook, although there are times that they might find recipes for 10 or more handy. The plating and platter arrangements are quite dated. This book is most useful for the reams of information about the practice of cooking – the foundation stuff that every aspiring chef, even the home cook, should know.

    This is a go-to reference work that you should own.


    Cookbook of the day – Going Solo In The Kitchen

    Going solo in the kitchen1

    Going Solo in the Kitchen

    by Jane Doerfer

  • Publisher:Knopf; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (August 25, 1998)
  • ISBN 10: 0375703934
  • ISBN 13: 978-0375703935
  • You know, sometimes you either want to, or are forced to by circumstances,  cook  just for yourself. You live alone, your significant other is out of town, you’ve been dumped/divorced/downsized and just want to wallow in solitary pity, your significant other or family members don’t like some of the same food that you do, you want to take something tasty and unique to work as your lunch – you take your pick.

    Cookbooks are designed for recipes serving at least two (but usually 4 or more). So, you have to get the slide rule out and start trying to figure out how to divide a third of a cup of flour into fourths. Or, even harder, how to divide already small measurements like 1/2 tsp. It’s not as difficult if you’re used to eyeballing and estimating, as I am. For most recipes, there’s some wiggle room, the exception being baking, which often relies on exact measurements. but not everyone is confident in their ability to fly by the seat of their pants. Some people need the security of a fixed recipe to follow.

    So, it’s about time that we started seeing cookbooks for one.

    Jane Doerfer has written a practical cookbook that serves this purpose quite well.

    Want to make a single serving of mashed potatoes? No problem. How about Caesar dressing for a single salad? It’s here. How about a smaller meat loaf that won’t feed the entire block or that you won’t be having meatloaf sandwiches for a week? There’s a tidy little recipe using a pound of ground chuck and a cup of crushed crackers (plus the other things that you’ll need).

    Obviously, many of these recipes could be done with leftovers in mind. I’m not sure about making just enough dressing for a single Caesar salad, or making one of the various single serving soups since soups are often better the next day anyway and are easy to store for a week.  But who among us haven’t made soup and put most of it away only to have to eat it for a week just to use it up or end up throwing the remainder away when it gets fuzzy? In cases like this, it’s easy to double the portions so that you don’t have a gallon of the stuff left over but it’s more than just a single serving. You can actually eat it a few days later and not feel like you’re just continuing the meal that you had yesterday.

    The first part of the book is handy for singles who live alone full-time. There are shopping strategies, storing and freezing advice and pantry stocking guidelines that are helpful.

    Are the recipes groundbreaking and exotic? No they’re not. You’re not going to learn how to cut down a lot of stuff from other cuisines. But you can get some ideas on your own from some of the strategies that she employs. Plus, you might learn a little about eyeballing ingredients in the future. You’ll experience smaller measurements, sometimes for the first time. You’ll use lots of 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoons of ingredients that you would normally see in tablespoon increments. It will also help you to see proportions in a different light, which can help you when tackling larger recipes as well.

    So, I recommend this book not only for cooks cooking only for themselves, but for any cook that wants to get a better feel for measurements. It’s a side benefit that’s not readily apparent.

    A side benefit that is immediately apparent is the fact that it’s an inexpensive volume.

    And if you want to, you can present your dinner to yourself this way:

    Turkey TV Dinner

    Cookbook of the day – All Around The World Cookbook

    All Around the World Cookbook








    Sheila Lukins all around the world cookbook

    by Shelia Lukins 

  • Publisher Workman Publishing Company; illustrated edition edition (January 5, 1994)
  • ISBN 10: 1563052377
  • ISBN 13: 978-1563052378
  • It’s weird. I’ve had this book laying out for while because I had planned to eventually review it. I’ve seen it subliminally as part of the furniture for about a month now.

    It’s been a little while since I posted a review and so yesterday, when I had an unusually early day off in the week, I decided to catch up a little. I actually looked at the book and considered doing it, but decided to do another book. It was the first time that I had actually looked at the book and actively considered picking it up and reviewing it since I pulled it out over a month ago.

    It wasn’t a couple of hours later that I got the word that Lukins had died.


    So, to the book itself.

    It’s a nice roundup of food from around the world, gathered during a year year world journey by Ms. Lukins. There’s nothing earthshaking in terms of uncovering secret local cuisines – I mean, harissa isn’t exactly a secret, right? But it’s a handy volume to grab if you’re stuck for a menu item or a theme for a dinner.

    It’s a large and breezy volume that avoids a lot of pedantry (like the kind you find on this very blog!). It’s the result of a publisher sending a food writer around the world to build a specific book, and, as such, it’s a pretty personal view of what a middle-aged upper-middle class lady might experience from a cuisine standpoint. She ain’t no Zimmer or Bourdain, but that doesn’t make this nice bit of compendium any less useful, with some caveats of course.

    There’s concise information on beers, wines and alcohols of the world in the book and background information on the different cultures. And there are some unusual recipes, such as a Chilean Quinoa Tabouleh, a grain salad usually more associated with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, not south America. And the substitution of quinoa (please pronounce this KEEN-wah) for bulgar wheat is a nutritional upgrade. The salad even adds avocado and sweet corn. This is Lukin’s own fusion of two disparate continents;  it’s not an indigenous dish. You’ll find quite a few recipes like this, so, when you read this book, realize that it’s not just a collection of local recipes. there a lot of recipes “inspired” by locales. and there’s very little “authentic” about most of the recipes. They are tailored to American tastes. kitchens and  markets.

    This is a handy, if not particularly indispensable, book to have available when you need a little inspiration. Just don’t mistake it for a “reference work”. 

    PS, yes the title is exactly as reproduced at the top of the page.  No possessive apostrophe and all lower case letters (at least according to The Library of Congress listing).

    Cookbook writer and food entrepeneur Shelia Lukins – RIP

    Sheila Lukins dies at 66; co-author of ‘The Silver Palate’ cookbook

    Lukins helped popularize gourmet cooking in America’s home kitchens. She also ran a pioneering gourmet takeout shop and wrote a column for Parade magazine.

    By Valerie J. Nelson

    September 1, 2009

    Sheila Lukins, an influential cookbook author whose “The Silver Palate” demystified and helped popularize gourmet cooking in America’s home kitchens, has died. She was 66.

    Lukins, who also operated a pioneering gourmet takeout shop, died Sunday at her home in New York City, announced Parade magazine, where she had been food editor.

    Lukins was diagnosed with brain cancer three months ago.

    “The Silver Palate” is one of the top 10 best-selling cookbooks of all time. She wrote it with her business partner, Julee Rosso, in 1979, two years after they opened one of the nation’s first gourmet takeout shops, in New York City.

    Read the rest of the article at the L.A. Times here:,0,314140,full.story


    Cookbook of the day – The Seducer’s Cookbook

    Seducer's cookbook

    The Seducer’s Cookbook

    by Mimi Sheraton

    Publisher Random House (1963)

    This was a gag gift given to me by my GM one Christmas. I’m not sure what the message was supposed to be or what his image of me was, but I’m glad to have received it because it’s a cheeky little product of pre-Kennedy assassination America.

    This was the time of a freeing of the mores of the 50s and the promise of a more urbane and worldly US. Jackie Kennedy was the hostess and style editor of America and, although we didn’t know it at the time, JFK was working his way through the distaff Washington and Hollywood elite while his wife was seducing America at large.

    This book bridges both of those themes with humor, panache and a nod and a wink by famed food critic and writer, Mimi Sheraton.

    It’s illustrated in that wonderful line drawing early 60s cartoon style by Paul Coker. You might not know the name unless you’re a MAD Magazine freak, but his sparse style helped define the cartoon style of the early 60s:

    Coker 007

    His artwork really establishes the time, place and atmosphere of the book.

    Oh yeah, the book – it’s very witty. You get little bon mots as How to Seduce Your wife – “A good rule of thumb here is to keep thinking what you would do if you were after a woman who was not your wife and then stick as close to that program as possible”. It’s not quite Oscar Wilde, but it’ll do in a pinch.

    It’s not just for the sleazy male seducer with the cravat and bearskin rug either. There’s plenty of tricks that the evil woman will pull off to bag her prey, both sides of the equation being represented by a lot of perfectly good 60s recipes, some obvious and some not so.

    So, I’m really lucky to have this First Edition library covered treasure from a time almost forgotten. I’m eternally grateful to that GM for enhancing my bookshelf.

    BTW, this edition is dedicated to Dick.

    I think it’s fortunate that she was married to a guy named Richard, whom she apparently seduced well enough to still be married to him lo these 50 years.


    Cookbook of the day – The Barbecue! Bible


    The Barbecue! Bible

    by Steven Raichlen

  • Publisher Workman Publishing Company (January 6, 1998)
  • ISBN 10: 1563058669
  • ISBN 13: 978-1563058660
  • This was the first of the big barbecue books from Steven Raichlen. This is more in the style of BBQ USA than How To Grill. In other words, rather than being a photographic step by step pictorial tutorial, this is more narrative. The only photographs you’ll find are of people, places and things, not dishes or ingredients. You’ll find some illustrative woodcuts peppered throughout, but this is as much travelogue as it is recipe book. Don’t get me wrong – there are hundreds of recipes. But there are also descriptions of famous restaurants throughout the world, good tips on things like larding meat, and , of course, the obligatory section on the nuts and bolts and coals of grilling and barbecueing. He starts by acknowledging the difference between the two terms grilling and barbecueing and by no means is this intended to simply be a treatise on barbecuing. It’s clear that we Americans tend to use the terms interchangeably anyway, even if they aren’t strictly the same thing. How many times have you been invited to a “barbecue” where the only things served off of a fire were steaks, hot dogs and burgers? Technically, you should have been invited to a “grilling”.

    In any case, while there’s some redunancy if you already own the other two books that I’ve mentioned, all three books are reasonably enough priced where you should get all three (you’ll end up with about 1500 pages of recipes and information about the world of cooking over flame, coals and wood). You should even check out some of his other books as well. The only other book of his that I have is his very early volume Miami Spice, and I’ll be reviewing that in the future.  The three books that I’ve already reviewed and mentioned in this post are definitely must-haves. The others are optional.

    The great thing about these books is the care that Raichlen takes in highlighting barbecue and grilling techniques and recipes from around the world and different barbecue styles right here in the US. You’ll find many exotic and wonderful creations here, whether you want to reproduce Afghan styled chicken, actually an Indian dish, or Saigon street kabobs. 

    Oh yeah, you can watch him on some PBS stations as well.

    saigon grill

    Image from “noodlepie” at Flickr:

    Cookbook of the day – The Original Thai Cookbook

    thai cookbook

    The Original Thai Cookbook

    by Jennifer Brennan

    Publisher Perigee; Reprint edition (31 May 2002)

    ISBN 10: 0399510338

    ISBN 13: 978-0399510335

    This book claims to be “The first complete, authentic Thai cookbook published in America”.

    Since it was first published in 1981, I suspect that this might very well be true.

    And you should pick it up.

    Half recipes and half cultural and historical overview of a very interesting country in Indochina, this book will inform your culinary education and compliment the book True Thai by Victor Sodsook that I’ve previously reviewed. His book is mostly recipes, but this book has a lot of “background info”.

    You’ll learn how the cuisine of Thailand is bound by the logistics of their native kitchens, and you follow the evolution of a cuisine that has many parents due to its history of being ruled by various regimes and peoples. You’ll learn little tips like simmering chili paste-infused coconut milk uncovered instead of covering in order to prevent curdling.

    And you’ll have plenty of recipes with which to compare with the True Thai cookbook and you’ll discover which ones you favor over the other. If you are a vegetarian, you’ll find plenty to work with here.

    What you don’t get is a bunch of pretty pictures. This book is all business.

    Thai Fish Soup

    Cookbook of the day – The Great Curries of India

    Great curries of India

    Great Curries of India

    by Camellia Panjabi

    Publisher  Simon & Schuster
     ISBN 10: 0684803836

    ISBN 13: 978-0684803838

    This book reminds us that Indian cooking is as regional as our own American cuisine is. Sometimes we forget that India is a subcontinent, as large as Western Europe with twice the number of people.  There is no common language and while the climate of India is considered tropical, it also has deserts and mountainous regions. The varied climate and topography of India influences the various regional variations of Indian cuisine and this book takes pains to underscore that point.

    Ms. Panjabi spends a lot of time on the various ingredients that you need to create authentic Indian flavors and this lavishly illustrated volume picks 50 well-chosen dishes, some obvious and some not-so-obvious.

    You’ll learn a bit about the culture and history of India as you learn to build the flavor profiles important to Indian cooking. She starts you off with the simplest curry and then branches off into more exotic and complex dishes. That’s a good approach – I wish that more cookbooks employed this tactic.

    I highly recommend this book.


    Lamb cooked in milk.

    Cookbook of the day – La Methode

    La Methode

    La Methode

    by Jacques Pépin

    Publisher Pocket (September 15, 1984)  

    ISBN 10: 0671504959

    ISBN 13: 978-0671504953

    Recently, we discussed Pépin’s companion to this volume, La Technique. This is the “continuation” of that first volume. There really isn’t much distinction between the two volumes – it’s not like the first only talks about “techniques” and this one talks about “methods” (as if there’s a huge difference between the two terms).  He basically wanted to cover topics that he hadn’t really covered in the first volume, so he starts with something ignored in the first volume – sharpening a knife.

    He then covers such diverse kitchen skills as butterflying shrimp, straining and skimming sauces, boning a saddle of lamb, making various chocolate constructions such as boxes, leaves and bark, and he also covers such esoteric subjects as peeling and glazing chestnuts, carving  “cucumber turtles” and “mushroom fish”, and preparing marrow.

    Once again, there are copious black and white photos that illustrate each step in the various processes and there are plenty of recipes to keep any recipe hound busy for months.

    You can now buy both volumes bound as one, but the originals can still be found in separate volumes for a reasonable cost.

    Pépin is a treasure who we should celebrate here in the US for being someone who, along with Julia Child and Paul Bocuse, made it fashionable to embrace French cuisine. And this enabled America to look past its shores and also to its immigrant population as culinary inspirations which have enriched our own cuisine.


    Cookbook of the day – An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France


    An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France: France’s Top Domains and Their Wines

    by Clive Coates MW (Master of Wine)

    Publisher Mitchell Beazley; illustrated edition edition (October 1, 2005)

    ISBN 10: 1840009926

    ISBN 13: 978-1840009927

    I have the original edition of this book (2000), which has the above pictured cover. It has been updated and sports a different cover.

    If you want the best view of France’s vine world, this is the ticket, albeit somewhat expensive if you buy it new. Coates covers every appellation, including Corsica, and drills down into the important characterizations of each. He highlights the important growers and négociants using a 3-star system of grading.

    There are copious maps and charts, but no photographs or other illustrations (at least in the 2000 edition).

    Well-written and entertaining in its rather dry and low-key fashion, this book is indispensable for any reasonable wine library. Highly recommended despite the rather high price.