For those of you looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, I thought I'd offer a list of my all time favorites. These titles, stained and dog eared, serve as inspiration, instruction, and great reading. In no particular order my cookbook love goes to:
(Note: The linked titles will take you to an Amazon detail page.)
The New Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson, 1990.
Filled with basic techniques and great recipes, it is rather exhaustive and a touch old school. I've yet to carve a ham without it.
Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition - 2006 by Rombauer and Becker, 2006.
The classic cooking reference book that, joyfully, has many recent updates that reflect modern tastes. If you get one cookbook, it should be this one.
The Way to Cook by Julia Child.
A classic of french technique that changed the way America cooks, Julia is my hero. This is not for the faint of heart, but it is an excellent reference and amazing to see what she asked folks to do.
The Cook's Book by Jill Norman.
Fourteen exceptional chefs offer their take on the home kitchen. It's extremely useful for ambitious and experienced folks, but it can get bit "chefy." Very in touch with today's trends and tastes.
Jacques Pepin's Table: The Complete Today's Gourmet by Jacques Pepin
The recipes range from far reaching to so basic that you wonder why you never thought of them yourself. Fresh, informative, and tasty, his work inspired me to go to culinary school.
Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin
Two masters enjoying the best of what food and cooking has to offer to the home chef. The recipes are strong and informative, and expertly explained.
Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living Magazine
This compilation provides basic cooking advice with practical recipes developed with the home cook in mind. Great ideas that are excellent for beginners and seasoned pros alike.
A delicious trip to Jamaica, perfect for the hungry home cook filled with wanderlust.
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris.
The funniest cookbook ever written. Solid advice and very straightforward recipes peacefully coexist with utter madness.
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
An absolute must read for anyone concerned with good, healthy eating. Explains the basics of wholesome eating in a nation plagued by bad food policy. "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much."
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
To understand the heart of a home cook one needs to do no more than read the food writing of the late Laurie Colwin. The sequel, More Home Cooking, is just as good.
French Cooking in Ten Minutes: Adapting to the Rhythm of Modern Life by Edouard de Pomiane.
Much has changes since this book was published in 1930, but it still makes a lot of sense. A simple perspective on how easy and necessary it is to prepare and enjoy simple meals.
Eat This...It'll Make You Feel Better!: Mamma's Italian Home Cooking and Other Favorites of Family and Friends
by Dom Deluise
An homage to his "momma's" wonderful Italian-American home cooking, this book is funny, tasty, and perfect for beginners.
The I Hate to Cook Cookbook by Peg Bracken
Written in 1960, many of the recipes are very outdated, but the spirit of the book is timeless. Working moms, read this and you'll bless your microwave and kiss the corner dry cleaner. A great book.