Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer and Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold will be here at Pasadena Central Library on Saturday, May 14. In honor of his visit, here are some titles to whet your appetite!
The Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert
From a December, 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times, Gold lists this cookbook as “the book that taught me how to cook.” (He continues in his characteristically eloquent style–go and read the article!)
When Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of Southwest France was first published in 1983, it became an instant classic. This award-winning book was praised by critics, chefs, and home cooks alike as the ultimate source of recipes and information about a legendary style of cooking. Wolfert’s recipes for cassoulet and confit literally changed the American culinary scene. Confit, now ubiquitous on restaurant menus, was rarely served in the United States before Wolfert presented it.
Now, twenty-plus years later, Wolfert has completely revised her groundbreaking book. You will find superb classic recipes for cassoulet, sauce perigueux, salmon rillettes, and beef daube; new and revised recipes for ragouts, soups, desserts, and more; and, of course, numerous recipes for the most exemplary of all southwest French ingredients – duck – including the traditional method for duck confit plus two new, easier variations.
Connecting the 200 great recipes is Wolfert’s unique vision of Southwest France. In sharply etched scenes peopled by local characters ranging from canny peasant women to world-famous master chefs, she captures the region’s living traditions and passion for good food.
From a 2010 “Ask Mr. Gold” column in LA Weekly, here are some of the “most battered” cookbooks in Gold’s home kitchen:
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Almost twenty years ago, with the publication of The Classic Italian Cook Book, followed by More Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan introduced Americans to a whole new world of Italian food. As Roy Andries de Groot wrote, “Marcella’s book is the most authentic guide to Italian food ever written in the U.S. Where other authors failed, Marcella has brilliantly succeeded in capturing (and conveying to the reader on every page) the feel, the aromatic scent, the subtle nuances of fresh country flavors and, above all, the easy uncomplication of Italian food prepared in the Italian style.”
Now a new generation is ready to master the art of Italian cooking, and their bible will be Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking—this new volume that combines the two books, updates and expanded throughout. Designed as a basic manual for cooks on every level—from beginners to accomplished professionals—it offers both an accessible and comprehensive guide to techniques and ingredients and a collection of the most delicious recipes from the Italian repertoire.
Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless
Americans have at last discovered Mexico’s passion for exciting food. We’ve fallen in love with the great Mexican combination of rich, earthy flavors and casual, festive dining. But we don’t begin to imagine how sumptuous and varied the cooking of Mexico really is.
After ten years of loving exploration, Rick Bayless, together with his wife, Deann, gives us Authentic Mexican, the only complete and easy-to-use compendium of our southern neighbor’s cooking.
Rick and Deann Bayless traveled over thirty-five thousand miles investigating the six distinct regions of Mexico and learning to prepare what they found. From town to town, recipe by recipe, they personally introduce you to Mexico’s cooks, their kitchens, their markets, and their feasts.
More than one hundred illustrations carefully detail special cooking techniques as well as bring Mexico and its food to life. An introductory chapter shares Mexican culinary history and modern regional tastes and customs. And an illustrated glossary contains all that hard-to-find information about locating and working with authentic Mexican ingredients and cooking equipment.
In Pursuit of Flavor by Edna Lewis with Mary Goodbody
Edna Lewis, whose name has become synonymous with honest American food, simply and lovingly prepared, gives us the secrets of a lifetime in pursuit of flavor. With almost 200 delicious recipes, plus notes and special boxes on important ingredients (from black-eyed peas and Virginia hams to Peking ducks and oysters) and personally developed cooking techniques (making your own jelly bags, peeling chestnuts), Mrs. Lewis shows us how to get the best flavor from the foods we buy today in supermarkets and farmers’ markets.
Following the seasons, Edna Lewis leads us through the chapters of this book—From the Gardens and Orchards, From the Farmyard, From the Lakes, Streams, and Oceans, For the Cupboard, From the Bread Oven and Griddle, and The Good Taste of Old-fashioned Desserts—and drawing on her childhood in Freetown, Virginia, a farming community founded by her grandfather and his friends after emancipation, she recreates some of the simple good dishes she grew up on. In addition to these “old friends” she has peppered the book with “new discoveries,” in that wonderful mingling of old and new that has made her food so sought-after at Fearrington House in North Carolina, Middleton Place in South Carolina, Uncle Sam’s in Manhattan, and other kitchens she has presided over.
Above all, every recipe—from Oyster Stew with Salsify to Damson Plum Pie—is illuminated with Edna Lewis’s remarkable cooking insights, which help the home cook to prepare a dish just as she has done it. And the whole book—with its charming illustrations—is flavored with the kind of personal warmth that makes it a joy to cook with Edna Lewis at your side.
How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman
Here’s the breakthrough one-stop cooking reference for today’s generation of cooks! Nationally known cooking authority Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare great food for all occasions using simple techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic kitchen equipment. Just as important, How to Cook Everything takes a relaxed, straightforward approach to cooking, so you can enjoy yourself in the kitchen and still achieve outstanding results.
Do you have a favorite cookbook, a “most battered” or one that taught you the most about cooking? Share it in the comments!