Battling the MSG Myth by Deborah L. Anglesey. This cookbook is vital for anyone wanting to eliminate MSG from their diet. The shopping tips, brand name suggestions and the eating out tips are very helpful and practical. I often refer to the substitution chart and recipes which are both extremely helpful. Deb has lots of great hard to find recipes like Graham Crackers and Wheat Thin Crackers. She also has lots of easy to prepare main dishes.
The Joy of Cooking by Marion Rombauer Becker. This is my favorite cookbook- because it isn’t just a guide for cooking, but for food as a whole. My favorite part about this book is it explains the reasons behind the recipes and gives a lot of instruction on the purpose of the recipe. For example, with the Pizza Crust Dough, the yeast bread section talks about how to use yeast, how to mix the dough, tips on kneading, rising and baking. The instructions are detailed and easy to understand. I’ve tried over a hundred recipes from this cookbook and have been very pleased with the majority of them- pretty impressive! The first copyright was 1931- it's considered a classic and has been relied on for over 75 years. Every kitchen should have a copy of this book.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Anniversary by Marion Cunningham. This cookbook has been considered the “culinary bible” since 1896 when it was first published. It has been updated over the years and is also considered a classic. It contains no pictures or detailed explanations but is simply full of almost 2,000 recipes. I’ve tried to many to count and have been pleased. The Baked Doughnuts are a favorite along with the reliable directions on simple tasks such as roasting chicken or even whipping cream.
How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. Years ago, this was the cookbook that finally convinced me I could make my own bread that tasted good. Everything before I had tried tasted terrible to me but Mark’s directions were not intimidating and he had lots of easy to follow, simple recipes like the Easiest French Bread. This book has lots of great recipes but a lot of odd ones too. About half of the cookbook I don’t think I’ll ever try, but the other half has lots of good ideas. It’s a great resource to have on hand.
The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. This is a famous vegetarian cookbook that has a lot of classic dishes along with new ideas. Her Minestrone Soup is heavenly! I haven’t followed too many other recipes of hers exactly but have used the recipes as a starting point for a meal.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. It took several years for me to become comfortable with bread making but then I became bored with my recipes and started searching for something new. I came across this cookbook and fell in love with it. The recipes are a little more time consuming, like his Bagel recipe, but everything I have made from this cookbook is incredible. This isn’t a beginner book but is perfect for someone who is comfortable with yeast breads and is ready to try something new.
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. My favorite baking cookbook! I have referred often to this book while baking desserts as Dorie’s recipes have topped all of my former recipes. Her Pastry Cream for éclairs and banana cream pie is so velvety smooth and rich with flavor. I’m looking forward to trying more of her recipes. The back of this cookbook has several base recipes which are very helpful such as dough, pastry cream, whipped cream, chocolate whipped cream and ganache.