I am sure it is no surprise that having gone to a French Culinary School one of my top five favorite cookbooks is “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” written by Julia child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.
A lot of people would say there are too many steps…too much preparation. I say, “that’s what I love about cooking.” With each step you are mastering a skill…. you are completing a work of art….your are putting your signature on the dish. Julia Child’s instruction was all about technique which I believe is most important in the world of culinary. That is exactly why I don’t watch Rachael Ray and her 30-Minute Meals or Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade. I understand not everyone has the time to make labor intensive meals but if you learn the basic techniques and use them with simple ingredients you can create wonderful and healthy meals for your family without spending an entire day in the kitchen.
You can’t really talk about Julia Child without talking about butter. Does that mean that Julia Child’s recipes are like that of Paula Deen? I don’t think so! I’m pretty sure Julia Child never used Krispy Kreme donuts and canned fruit cocktail in her bread pudding. Julia Child was in her 90s when she died and overall the French are a healthy population. I believe Julia Child ate a lot of butter. The difference between the French and the Americans is that the French don’t supersize their meals and they eat far more fruits and vegetables than Americans. In culinary school the chef instructors would say, “Your body knows how to process natural butter so use it.”This little cookbook written by Kay Scarlett is a wonderful resource for party preparation. It offers a wide variety of appetizers, warm and cold. One of the most requested appetizers from this book has been the Chicken Liver Parfait. Seriously, it is delicious with a delicate crostini and a sliver of baby gherkin.If you can see the stains on the cover of this cookbook you know this is a cookbook I use often. The must-do recipe from this cookbook is “Outrageous Brownies.” The recipe makes a large batch and they are always scrumptious. The dense chocolate and coffee flavor is to die for. I made two batches of these for a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association a few weeks and there wasn’t a crumb left. With two big batches and a $1 a brownie we were able to contribute to a very successful fundraising day for a good cause.Martha Stewart’s products are always a good go-to resource. She has an army of talented people that work for her and for the most part I think her recipes are very reliable. This is exactly what the title says “Martha Stewart’s Hors d’oeuvres Handbook.” It covers the gamut of hors d’oeuvres and their preparation. The center section of the book has beautiful color photos that show finished dishes and their presentation. I love the tea sandwich chapter of this book and especially love the “Asian Chicken Salad.” The “Molasses Glazed Cocktail Ribs” are also another favorite.I have read this cookbook over and over. The preparation is as artful as the final presentation. This is the cookbook that I go to when I want to spend the day in the kitchen dedicated to detail. I would love to learn from Thomas Keller in person but for now I will continue to study his art through his printed instruction.