If there ever were a “Cookbooks Anonymous Clubhouse,” it would be situated right in the offices of America’s Test Kitchen. Our collection of cookbooks is at 4,296-books-and-growing, an ample literary playground for our test cooks’ deep research of recipes and techniques. But the obsession also spills over the professional domain into our own personal kitchens. Who among us hasn’t fallen head over heels over a beloved book that has influenced us greatly as home cooks?
We asked around America’s Test Kitchen for stories behind their favorite cookbooks. Here are a sampling:
The Classic Italian Cook Book by Marcella Hazan. The first cookbook I read cover to cover and it was my go-to book when I had my very first apartment kitchen as a college senior.
The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson, an African-American who was raised in Sweden. She really knows her cabbage, potatoes, and gravlax (with Aquavit!) and that kind of thing. There are only 125 recipes in this slim volume but the ones I’ve tried really work. She has a recipe for something called “Pizza Salad” that changed my weeknight menu on pizza night for good.
No way I can pick just one!
Betty Crocker (my mother’s) because it was the first cookbook I had ever looked at — I probably couldn’t read when I first opened it. I spent hours and hours poring over it as a kid and never got bored. Great photos of the era, especially of cakes.
Fannie Farmer (my grandmother’s copy). Again, spent an endless amount of time reading it as a kid. Whenever I visited, I always spent some time flipping through it and loved reading my grandmother’s notes. “Elegant.” “A dud!” etc.
Julia Child’s Menu Cookbook. I’d watched all the episodes on TV many times — it’s like a time capsule of the era.
Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. A perfect combination of great recipes, food history, and photos.
The New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill. Really brings the people and food of New York, famous or not, to life.
Joy of cooking, hands down.
And now for the Silly Question of the Day…
What are your favorite cookbooks of all time?
Leave your silly answer in the comments!