General Question

GMO's avatar

Whats a good beginner's cook book that caters to a wide range of recipes?

Asked by GMO (44points) August 20th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

andrew's avatar

Mark Bittman’s How to cook everything is a great starter cookbook.

robhaya's avatar

Everyday Food: Great Food Fast the recipes are awesome and easy to make.

Poser's avatar

Though I haven’t bought it yet, I have flipped through Alton Brown’s book, and will eventually go out a buy it. He is the smartest man on the Food Network, as far as I can tell, and he goes far beyond just recipes. He teaches you techniques so you can learn to be creative in the kitchen rather than simply following a recipe.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Gordon Ramsey’s Fastfood. All the recepies are pretty quick to do and idiot proof (using myself as the yardstick by which to judge idiot).

cyndyh's avatar

@Poser: I really like Alton Brown for the reasons you’ve stated. I have three of his books and refer to them often. But those books don’t have a lot of recipes. There’s a lot of explanation and a few recipes. This is really good if you’ve got some experience and want to go further in your cooking toward crafting your own recipes.

I think for a beginner I’d recommend The Joy of Cooking. It’s been around for decades but they keep updating it. (It’s something my family usually gives to young folks either as a wedding gift or a housewarming.) There’s loads of recipes, and if you want explanations there are a lot of starter explanations at the beginning of each new section. It’s broad in cultures as well as courses. So, you can find traditional American, Italian, Hungarian, Mexican, etc. You can also find salads, soups, main courses, breakfasts, pastries, cakes, breads, etc. It’s pretty complete.

Some recipes are super easy and some are more complicated, but it’s pretty easy to follow. It you don’t know what something in a more complex recipe means they’ll have a place where they explain it.

marinelife's avatar

“joy of Cooking” is still incomparable in my book. “Silver Palate New Basics” is not bad, but not comprehensive enough for me.

jeanm's avatar

I second The Joy of Cooking. It is an excellent beginners reference, with recipes and basics on everything. After that, I’d recommend The New Basics Cookbook by Rosso and Lukins. I must have fifty cookbooks and that is still the one I turn to for reliable and delicious meals. The New Basics sometimes includes alternatives fom the simple/familiar to more complex interpretations of recipes, and there are listing of menus that provide a guide for linking recipes into meals.

janbb's avatar

I third The Joy of Cooking. I have two of the edtions and it is usually the first place I start when looking up how to cook something. Plenty of recipes and good clear instructions and background on technique.

cyndyh's avatar

Um, am I being ignored? Just let me know if I did something. I’m still new here.


janbb's avatar

The fact that one of us seconded and one of us thirded (me) your comment meant we were in agreement with what you and then Marina said.

You weren’t being ignored.

cooksalot's avatar

If you can find it the old version of “The Joy of Cooking” It was much better than the newer “revised” version.

marinelife's avatar

Sorry cyndy. I did not see your answer. I GA’d you.

gooch's avatar

Talk about good!

cyndyh's avatar

Sorry folks. I guess I sounded touchy. The way the ordering worked it looked like I said something, Marina said it, and then people second and thirded Marina like I wasn’t there. I promise to walk away from the keyboard and rethink the next time.


janbb's avatar

That’s cool – sometimes several people answer in a similar way at nearly the same time and it is confusing.

McBean's avatar

Well, I either fourth or fifth The Joy of Cooking. Comprehensive and well-rounded. It will offer you everything from lessons on how to boil an egg to how to make Saag Paneer.

mee_ouch's avatar

There are two that I recommend to anyone either serious about the trade or ambitious enough to ‘amp’ up their skills. They’re my culinary bibles and whether burgeoning foodie or self-styled gourmand, priceless additions to any kitchen…..

1. LaRousse Gastronomique – An A to Z tome of culinary terminology, history, recipes…

2. Culinary Artistry – a myriad of menu suggestions from michelan-rated chefs and an alphabetized listing of foods, their culture significance, suggested ingredient
accompaniments and ‘avoidances’.....Highly recommended.

cooksalot's avatar

OUCH! Those can be spendy books. Should have heard my BIL when his Gastronomique got stolen. That was painful to hear too.

cooksalot's avatar

You know Better Homes and Gardens Golden cookbook is pretty good too.
There is also a Betty Crocker version from the early 70’s that is good too. Just cause they don’t cost a fortune doesn’t mean that their not good. They are just good starting points. Because 1100+ cookbooks can be a bit much to lug around trust me!

stevenb's avatar

I can’t believe no one has suggested Americas test kitchen/ cooks illustrated. Their cookbooks are amazing. If you can read, you can cook. They also do equipment tests, ingredient taste tests, etc. They also have a television show on public television. I was not much of a cook, but now I get requests to cook for birthday dinners and for parties. You can’t go wrong with them. They also have a website at I give their cookbooks away all the time to people I care about. Good luck!.

cooksalot's avatar

I have that one too, and the dessert book too. Yes those are very good ones.

mee_ouch's avatar

Expensive yes, but worth every dime.
Nothing beats good ol’ Betty Crocker though.

millerralf's avatar go for the used, yard and garage sales, great thing to collect

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther