This little cookbook meme is going around the food blogs, and seems fun, so here are my responses.
How many cookbooks do you own?
Approximately 40, though I also have a bunch of food memoirs with recipes in them as well (Ruth Reichl's books, an Elizabeth David) but I always forget about them because they're not in the kitchen. I also subscribe to Gourmet and Food & Wine, and use the web a lot for recipes. But my cookbooks are like trusted friends.
Which cookbook did you buy most recently?
La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking. I read about this someplace (can't recall where) and had to have it. I love it, though I haven't cooked anything from it yet. It's incredibly detailed, explaining how to do pretty much everything. And I love the design and drawings it has inside. It seems like something I'll use one of these days when I plan a grand dinner party — not that the food is grand, but just that I'll want to make something different.
Which is the cookbook that you read most recently?
I guess that would be La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking mentioned above.
Name 5 cookbooks that mean a lot to you.
The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. This was the first cookbook I really owned on my own. I bought it in college and just loved it. It guided me through my first preparation of duck, my first catfish fillet, and countless other appetizers and main courses. I rarely use it anymore but I used to just sit and read it for hours — to learn more about cheese or meat, or just to read the great culinary quotes interspersed between recipes.
The Vegetarian Bistro: 250 Authentic French Regional Recipes by Marlena Spieler. I was a vegetarian for four years and during that time this was my go-to cookbook. I still use it regularly, even now that I eat meat. It is filled with such delicious and straightforward recipes. Nothing French and stuffy, more simple French fare that highlights the purity of the ingredients and the brightens their flavors. I also learned a lot about French food from it, and was delighted when I traveled to Paris to discover I recognized items on menus simply from cooking from this book. Authentic is right!
The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It wasn't until college that I began to cook, prior to that I was a baking fiend. I made all kinds of elaborate cakes that required fancy molds and trips to the liquor store for ingredients like Grand Marnier. If only I'd had The Cake Bible then, oh the cakes I would have baked! Still, I got this book in the mid-nineties and I treasure it. It is filled with the hows and whys and cake making, and with recipes for the most amazing confections. When I made a wedding cake — with rolled fondant! — for friends, this book was my guide and I couldn't have done it without it. I consider it an absolute must for anyone who likes to bake cakes.
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I picked this up when I became a vegetarian in 1998 and it's been in constant use ever since. Her veggie stock is wonderful, and I make the soups in here all the time. I also use her pasta dough recipe whenever I make pasta from scratch. Even though I eat meat now, I use this cookbook a ton, whether for a side dish or to find inspiration for a meat-free main course. Also, like many of the other books I've mentioned, she offers a lot of culinary instruction and philosophy with her recipes, so using her book has made me a wiser and better cook.
Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio. This book, perhaps more than any other I've mentioned, has had the biggest recent impact on my cooking. I love this book because, again like my other favorites, it's about education more than anything else. I've read it numerous times, and I've found I'm much more confident now at the stove when preparing meat. Meat has always been my culinary weakness (since I didn't eat it much and was pretty scared of it) but with this book and a meaty resolve, I've learned how to create delicious roast chickens and beef at home. Highly recommended for anyone looking to boost their culinary confidence.