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Friday, April 19, 2024

A cookbook for all dishes

The challenge of cookbooks is great:??They must both attract us to a dish as something we want to create and at the same time make it so that we are able to create it within time and financial constraints. Some books are better at doing one than the other. The ones that attract us with fancy food photography and lyrical prose are often created by chefs at $50 a plate restaurants and usually include complex and lengthy recipes; The books that are full of simple recipes whose products are unimaginative lack flavor and character. The outstanding cookbook does both. 




Chefs today, both at home and in restaurants, are blessed. The type of ingredients available, be them procured locally or from far-away countries, are more flavorful, colorful and bountiful than at any other moment in time. Cultural diversity around the world has allowed for peoples from?? distinctly different ethnic backgrounds to experience foods from outside their own background. In our country, the current popularity of cooking has caused our individual tastes to become more sophisticated and particular about how food is prepared. Cookbooks have had to adapt to these changes. In the past decade, because of this increasing interest in learning about food and how to cook, there has been an explosion of new titles. ?? 




Some cookbooks will always be outstanding, such as the works of Escoffier, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Marcella Hazan and Alice Waters, just to name a few. But this changing culinary landscape is also changing the way in which we cook. We just don't want to know how to make something'we want to know that dish's cultural origin, where the ingredients used are harvested, and why we have to roast something instead of poaching it. Cooks today don't just want to replicate the substance of the dish, they want to replicate its soul. The books selected below teach how to appreciate the process of cooking. Some are simple, some more complex. But all are guides to how to become better cooks. 




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Cardinal Foods has chosen a book from each category considered as an essential foundation for starting your own cookbook library and a few others if you're interested in reading more. Additionally, great online resources for browsing cookbooks include's Cooking, Food and Wine section; and's Cookbook Central. 






These books capture the spirit of American cooking rooted in the traditions of European immigrants and refined on the farms and cities of our nation. Many of these books are classics that tell the reader how to make mashed potatoes, roast a chicken or even make eggs Benedict. The recipes inside provide a basis for the items that we all eat each day. 




Cardinal Pick: 'How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food' by Mark Bittman (Hungry Minds Inc). 






Sometimes we don't need a full recipe. Instead, we might just need to know how to seed an avocado, make garlic confit, truss a chicken or what frise?? look like. 




That's where reference books come in. Just like other reference books, these increase your knowledge of food and what it means to cook. 




Cardinal Pick: 'The New Making of a Cook: The Art, Technique and Science of Cooking' by Madeline Kamman (William Morrow and Co.). 






Witty and academic, these aren't really cookbooks but rather ruminations on food, dining and how they affect the way we live. Even so, they help develop an appreciation of all that is cooking. 




Cardinal Pick: 'The Art of Eating' by M.F.K. Fisher (Hungry Minds Inc.).  






It's often hard to know what wine to buy and what wine goes with what foods. The right book can offer a good general guide to help the beginner identify wines, know the differences between varietals, how regions affect taste and body and how to choose wines according to the meal.  




Cardinal Pick: 'Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, 2002 Edition' by Kevin Zraly (Sterling Publications). 






Of all these genres, perhaps the most important one to have a reference to work from is baking. The precision of measurement and the specificity of ingredient in baking breads, pastries and desserts require strict adherence for the recipe to come out just right. 




Cardinal Pick: 'In the Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Guide to the Baker's Pantry' by Regan Daley (Artisan).

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