Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Books That Bind

I've been steadfastly awaiting the publication and arrival of The Alinea Book by Grant Achatz. I purchased it back in the spring for an October release. I paid fifty bucks for it and I'm sure it's going to be amazing.

For the uninitiated, Grant Achatz is the chef who's on the vangard of American cuisine. Worked for Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, opened Trio and then exploded with Alinea. Dinner at Alinea is a maelstrom of cutting edge cuisine and the cookbook is supposedly going to detail how to create some of his more fanciful courses.

I find books on food and cooking to be wildly fascinating. At any point in time, you'll find at least one book in my vehicle - not to mention an assortment of rags like Food Arts, Restaurant Hospitality and Barista Magazine. And while I don't usually follow recipes in these books verbatim, I use them as springboards to help me figure out my own ideas and interpretations. Or, as I'm forced to do this week, figure out how to process a case of kale that Earl Martin of Martin Farms gave me on Sunday.

What in the world a guy like me is going to do with a case of kale at home has been perplexing to say the least.

I'm not even a fan of kale.

With that in mind, I thought I would share a list of some favorites in my ever-growing collection. By no means is this my entire collection or an exhaustive list, but these are some of the books I turn to quite frequently:

Professional Cooking - Wayne Gisslen
The French Laundry Cookbook - Thomas Keller
Essential Cuisine - Michel Bras
*** Chef - Gordon Ramsay
Les Halles Cookbook - Anthony Bourdain
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook - Judy Rodgers
In Search of Perfection - Heston Blumenthal
Further Adventures In Search of Perfection - Heston Blumenthal
The River Cottage Meat Book - Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall
Mexico One Plate at a Time - Rick Bayless

While those are the ones I turn to most frequently, these are the ones I turn to next frequently:

Memories of Philippine Kitchens - Amy Besa & Romy Dorotan
Roy's Feasts from Hawaii - Roy Yamaguchi
The Choy of Cooking - Sam Choy
The Art of Modern Cookery - Auguste Escoffier
American Cookery - James Beard
Terrine - Stephane Reynard

Books that I use for reference:

The Elements of Cooking - Michael Ruhlman
How To Read A French Fry - Russ Parsons
Culinary Artistry - Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
What to Drink with What You Eat - Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

Books that I'm slowly warming to:

Vegetable Love - Barbara Kafka
Espresso Coffee - Illy & Viani

Books that I lust for:

Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide - Thomas Keller
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing - Ruhlman , Polcyn & Keller
Au Pied de Cochon The Album - Martin Picard
Sous Vide Cuisine - Joan Roca & Salvador Brugues
Foie Gras - Andre Bonnaure
Patisserie Pierre Herme - Pierre Herme
Paco Torreblanca Book - Paco Torreblanca

Book that I'm ashamed to admit that I do not own (yet):

Larousse Gastronomique

And finally, the books that I'm afraid that I may never be able to afford:

El Bulli 1983-2007 - Ferran Adria


James Hoffmann said...

Larousse Gastronomique is a waste of money. It is useless.

Flipping through it last night discussing Lingonberries with Norwegians I realised just how awesome Davidson's Encyclopedia of Food is.

Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg said...

If you like "Culinary Artistry" and "What to Drink with What You Eat," we think you're going to love "The Flavor Bible" -- which was just published last week!

Delicious wishes,
Karen & Andrew

P.S. You might especially enjoy the section on what to do with kale -- p. 190!

"I like kale blanched then sauteed with some onions, a pinch of salt, and some smoked sausage."
--Gabriel Kreuther, chef, The Modern at the MoMA (NYC)

true said...

Do not fear the kale.

As part of our organic CSA plowshare each spring, the farm kicks out a dozen different greens between January and April. Kale quickly rises to the top of the list of what I'm looking for when I get my delivery from the farm. It's a shame you left off Silver Spoon, aka the art of Italian cooking. Lots of ideas for cooking Tuscan black kale. Also, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison is a great way to cultivate ideas for cooking greens. Or crack open the Dean and Deluca cookbook for a hearty Caldo Gallego.

onocoffee said...

Karen & Andrew-

Great to hear from you. Actually, I just picked up The Flavor Bible the other day but haven't taken the time to really sit down and start reading. Will get to it this weekend.

Sadly, I don't have Silver Spoon yet. Want to get it. See it on the shelves all the time but just haven't gotten around to it. My $40/week budget keeps getting gobbled by other books.

I will be working on enjoying kale, I promise.

true said...

Here's the Silver Spoon cheat sheet: add pancetta to everything. If not pancetta, anchovies. When it seems least likely, add a chopped hard boiled egg. ;-)