First Slice Your Cookbook by Arabella BoxerIn an issue of the AbeBooks’ Avid Reader newsletter, we showcased cookbooks from classics like The Joy of Cooking to glossy editions from today’s celebrity chefs.  We asked our customers to tell us about their most beloved cookery books and foodies from the USA, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand replied with fascinating recommendations. From exotic African foods to smooth Italian pastas, the AbeBooks’ worldwide community of cookbook connoisseurs has come up trumps.

Cookbook Recommendations:

Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan
Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying & Cooking by Mark Bittman

  1. Saving Dinner, Leanne Ely
  2. Marcella Cucina, Marcella Hazan
  3. Cherry Cake & Ginger Beer, Jane Brockett
  4. I Hate to Cook Book, Peg Bracken
  5. The African News Cookbook: African Cooking for Western Kitchens
  6. Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying & Cooking, Mark Bittman
  7. Fannie Farmer, Marion Cunningham
  8. The Mediterranean Vegan, Donna Klein
  9. First Slice Your Cookbook, Arabella Boxer
  10. The Taste of Britain, Roz Denny

  1. Mediterranean Flavors, Nick Stellino
  2. The Bride & Groom First & Forever Cookbook, Mary Barber
  3. Housekeeping in Old Virgina, Marion Cabell Tyree
  4. Farm Home Journal, Food Editors of Farm Journal
  5. La Cuisine Cajun, Jude W. Theriot
  6. A Pedant in the Kitchen, Julian Barnes
  7. American Wholefoods Cuisine, Nikki & David Goldbeck
  8. Home Cooking, Linda Mcartney
  9. The Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer
  10. The Shirley Goode Kitchen, Shirley Goode

Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely

Saving Dinner

Leanne Ely

Recommended by: Lara from Tennessee, USA

"I have lots of cookbooks, but only a handful that are used regularly. The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken is a classic and has recipes for the busy family on a tight budget. It also explains how to make things stretch out such as using only what you have at home so you don't make another trip or using up that stuff you thought you might like and then didn't.

"Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely is a great one for families trying to eat healthy and on a budget. It also includes shopping lists and weekly menus for the unorganized. There are lots of substitutes and tricks to make them low carb, meatless, or low fat. Most are around 30 minutes from prep to finish, unless you count the crockpot ones.

"Then the great Better Homes and Gardens red plaid is a staple. It has simple instructions on just about everything imaginable and neat tricks if you are in a pinch (no buttermilk, but use the cream of tartar and regular milk instead). Check them out! Use them to make a great meal for you and any loved ones that are hanging around!"

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Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan

Marcella Cucina

Marcella Hazan

Recommended by: Jacquie from Ontario, Canada

"Marcella Hazan has the best Italian cookbook available, Marcella Cucina. It has everything you'd want to make and the recipes are reliable as a Swiss clock. Babbo is a fun cookbook by chef Mario Batali. The recipes are doable in the home kitchen and uniformly delicious. My favourite old standby is the original Silver Palate by Rosso and Lukins. It could be my desert island cookbook.

"A fun oddity is The Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka who was the food editor for Vogue back when the fashion world ate. The recipes are wonderfully reliable."

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Cherry Cake & Ginger Beer

Cherry Cake & Ginger Beer

Jane Brocket

Recommended by: Rosie from Devon, UK

"Like so many other domestic cooks, Delia Smith and Mary Berry remain my 'best friends' and have to be renewed at regular intervals as the early version of the vast 'The Cookery Year' by Readers Digest, sadly, is now too costly to replace.

"However, there is a 'new kid on the block'. This is not simply a beautiful book it is a 'jolly' good read and contains nothing but pure nostalgia. I have three copies, one for each daughter and one in the attic for the grandkids! This money was very well spent in order to own Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A golden treasury of classic treats by Jane Brocket. The author has combined two essentials, her love of food and books. She has cleverly taken 'recipes' of foods, feasts and adventures from the classic books devoured by children. The illustrations are a pure 'blast from the past'. Who could ever forget the image of The Famous Five scoffing their picnics on Kirrin Island? They should be role models for today's dumpy little ones as they ran off the calories in the great outdoors.

"My particular favourite recipe is taken from the section Cooks' Special Treats and entitled 'Pippi's Swedish Pancakes'. Those of you who are familiar with the tales of Pippi Longstocking will remember the chaos of her kitchen and her complete disregard for the conventional! My kind of cook reflected in my kind of book."

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I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken

I Hate to Cook Book

Peg Bracken

Recommended by: Peggy from the USA

"It was given to me as a wedding shower gift in 1967 and is my all time favorite and "go to" cookbook. I have the original which gives part of the directions for Skidrow Stroganoff as "Add the flour, salt, paprika, and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink." I always know that fall has arrived with the first Stay a Bed Stew of the season. It is good food for the family and hilarity combined!"

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The African News Cookbook

The African News Cookbook: African Cooking for Western Kitchens

Recommended by: Françoise in the Netherlands

"I love cooking. So I love cookbooks – the good ones, the ones that feel like friends, with their binding giving up, the pages soiled with a bit of tomato sauce or pumpkin soup, the ones that fold open to your favorite recipes...

"I am now the proud owner of around 150 cookbooks (I lost count when I ran out of shelf space and started using the floor). I do have a few of the almost obligatory ones (yes, the Joy of Cooking, 1973 edition, that my partner received as a wedding present); a few of the Moosewoods books (love them, especially Sunday at Moosewoods which introduced me to world cooking).I have an extensive collection of vegetarian cookbooks. I do occasionally buy non-vegetarian cookbooks and try to imagine how to substitute the meat or fish ingredient (or what would happen if I left it out altogether).

"When I buy a new (or used) cookbook I usually take it to bed and read it, more or less cover to cover. This is how I realized for a few of them that I would probably never open them again. I am quite happy if I get one good recipe per cookbook and delighted if I get more than that (these cookbooks then become the good friends, etc. see above).

Among my favorites at the moment are:

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Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking

Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking

Mark Bittman

Recommended by: Sam from New York, USA

"Mostly, Mark Bittman is wonderful. His cookbooks are filled with recipes that are tasty and practical for the home cook. There are plenty of excellent resources for people who want to learn the culinary arts, or those who need practical advice on managing a home, but Bittman is probably the best writer today when the only question is "what in heaven's name am I going to make for dinner?"

"But, as a cookbook writer, Mr. Bittman probably gets to deduct his grocery bills as a business expense -- the rest of us don't. As the writer of a New York Times column where he once described how to equip a kitchen for $200, he's aware of prices - so that in writing a book about how to cook fish, he shouldn't have tossed off some of the less expensive species quite as cavalierly as he did. Tilapia is relatively inexpensive at $5.99/pound - so it's disappointing to see it written off as "muddy tasting" with no advice on preparation. The same thing applies to trout, which apparently is only edible if you've just reeled in the fish and are heading for shore. In my neighborhood trout filets sell for $7.99/pound - I can still afford that, so tell me what to do with the things. It's nice to know what to do with halibut and Chilean sea bass, and I will as soon as the economy recovers. I, at least, want more recipes for bluefish, catfish, tilapia and the other fish that fit the new austerity.

"But, even with that limit, Fish remains an excellent guide for the home cook. There are lots of cookbooks that you can read in an armchair the way people used to curl up with the Sears catalog; this one is a cookbook for the kitchen."

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Fannie Farmer by Marion Cunningham

Fannie Farmer

Marion Cunningham

Recommended by: Tamara from British Columbia, Canada

"The most used cookbook on my shelf is Fannie Farmer. Well-used for the last 30 years or so, it is now held together by a rubber band. A pioneer in the field, Fannie is justifiably famous for standardizing quantities. Sure, some of her recipes could use updating, but she has taught me much about 'how' to cook real food, and never fails to deliver on the basics. I'm grateful to Fannie and will pass a copy on to my children when they're ready to leave the home hearth."

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The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein

The Mediterranean Vegan

Donna Klein

Recommended by: Cynthia from the USA

"I loved the article about cookbooks - I've been told by several people that I am the only person they know, who reads a cookbook like a novel. Perhaps I am! I don't know how many cookbooks I have - there is a mixture of hardback, paperback, spiral bound, three-ring notebooks, magazines and ‘special publications’ and the booklets that are on the racks put out by Pillsbury, Martha Stewart, etc. There's also a box with my collection of handwritten notes, torn pages from magazines (mostly Sunset) and some labels from cans. I'm trying to get all of this entered into a database I have so that when I have 10 pounds of cauliflower (on special) - I can just type in "cauliflower" as the main ingredient and get a list of all the recipes. Time. That's all I need for all of this data entry.

"The oldest cookbook I have is The Joy of Cooking from 1972 which tells you how to do everything from making marshmallows to cooking opossum. The pages in the bakery section are almost translucent from the grease stains after all of these years. I still have and use the original red ribbons to mark my recipes - but there's quite a few post-its stuck in there as well.

"Donna Klein's The Mediterranean Vegan Cookbook is my absolutely favorite. Her menus are in the back and I use these when I have guests – so much cheaper and very elegant so everybody wins. There's enough variability for all and nobody misses the meat.

"I go through phases. I had an Italian phase that drove my family to threaten a strike if "one more dish...", so I switched to Mediterranean and they all calmed down. Ha Ha - my joke on them....or did they just resign to the fact? Anyway, I'm deep into Korean and Spanish at the moment. Quite the mixture I know. I have discovered Korean breakfasts in The Best of Korean Cuisine by Karen Hulene Bartell and love it. At the same time, I've got my Frijoles de Olla cooking for dinner and my beloved first edition Dianna Kennedy's Cuisines of Mexico marked with post-its for tonight's meal."

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The New First Slice Your Cookbook by Arabella Boxer

First Slice Your Cookbook

Arabella Boxer

Recommended by: Alison from the UK

"I would just like to add to your list of favourite cookbooks First Slice Your Cookbook and A Second Slice by Arabella Boxer. Slightly 1960s/1970s food but a clever way of presenting recipes - the pages are cut into three sections so all the top ones are starters, then main courses, then puddings. It’s easy to flip the pages over to mix and match a menu. There are lovely old master paintings of food and useful comments on flavour and wine to accompany the dish and whether it’s easy or not. For example, for lemon mousse – to make frothy cover the floor with newspaper on which place the bowl of lemon mix, stand on a very high stool and pour the cream from a great height to make the froth. Fun!"

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The Taste of Britain by Roz Denny

The Taste of Britain

Roz Denny

Recommended by: Annabel from UK

"With recipes like "Moroccan Chicken with Olives", "Gorganzona Pork Chops (with apples)", Chicken Scallopini with Ham and Asparagas" and then "Gnocchi with Cream Asparagus-Prosciutto Sauce you've gotta love this book!

"I won't even mention the veggies like "Cauliflower with Nutmeg" and "Braised Fennel". Then there are the desserts...

"What's not to love!"

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Mediterranean Flavors by Nick Stellino

Mediterranean Flavors

Nick Stellino

Recommended by: M. Allen

"With recipes like "Moroccan Chicken with Olives", "Gorganzona Pork Chops (with apples)", Chicken Scallopini with Ham and Asparagas" and then "Gnocchi with Cream Asparagus-Prosciutto Sauce you've gotta love this book!

"I won't even mention the veggies like "Cauliflower with Nutmeg" and "Braised Fennel". Then there are the desserts...

"What's not to love!"

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Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree

The Bride & Groom First & Forever Cookbook

Mary Barber & Susie Cushner

Recommended by: Sylvia from the US

"I don't even own my favorite cookbook, but it is a staple for wedding gifts, paired with my own book Recipe Finder: When You'd Rather Cook Than Look. The recipe that won me over from The Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook by Mary Barber and Susie Cushner is Chicken Soup For Your Soul Mate. Not only is its title enticing, the soup is excellent. The cookbook looks like a coffee table book, gives options on many recipes, has clear directions, and uses many ready-made ingredients for fast, professional results."

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Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree

Housekeeping in Old Virginia

Marion Cabell Tyree

Recommended by: Ellen from Texas, USA

"At our local library sale I bought a 1965 reprint of Housekeeping in Old Virginia that was published in 1879 by John P. Morton and Company, Louisville, KY. It is fascinating reading. One account tells hints to help disguise rancid meat if that is all you have to cook!"

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Farm Home Journal by Food Editors of Farm Journal

Farm Home Journal

Food Editors of Farm Journal

Recommended by: Katrina from Oregon, USA

"Farm Home Journal cookbooks are my absolute favorite of all. I used to have a cookbook collection, but when I found these, the others found new homes. It is absolutely the best of the best and great penny wise, but taste is as bountiful as I have ever come across. Merry Christmas cookies makes 100 cookies or more to cut out & decorate that TASTE great! And the Brownies for a Crowd is simply superb!"

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La Cuisine Cajun by Jude W. Theriot

La Cuisine Cajun

Jude W. Theriot

Recommended by: Liz from California, USA

"I had checked this book out from my local library and tried the Chicken Casserole and the Bread Pudding. Both have become favorites of mine and I now own the book as well!"

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A Pedant in the Kitchen by Julian Barnes

A Pedant in the Kitchen

Julian Barnes

Recommended by: Joshua

"Judging by the uninhibited tone of Richard Davies' cookbook tips in the Avid Reader, I'm betting he would be as big a fan of Julian Barnes' A Pedant in the Kitchen (and the many books he recommends in turn) as I am. It's more essay than instruction, but he gives many good hints for those who want to do further research, and oodles of satisfying - often hilarious - prose for those who don't.

"My favorite reference-type cookbook is the Settlement Cook Book. It has solid, no-nonsense recipes and info about methods and kitchen science. There are several editions out there; I keep going back to the 1965 edition, which I inherited from my Mom."

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American Wholefoods Cuisine

American Wholefoods Cuisine

Nikki & David Goldbeck

Recommended by: Scott

"It is considered by both gourmet and health writers to be the Vegetarian Joy of Cooking. It was admired by M.F.K. Fisher and has been in print for more than 25 years."

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Home Cooking by Linda McCartney

Home Cooking

Linda McCartney

Recommended by : Deborah

"I purchased this book long before I went veggie because a friend served a soup and appetizer from this book at a dinner party. My husband and I both liked the dishes so I picked up a copy. Now many years later after I have been veggie for over 10 years it is the book I know I can trust to find something everyone (veggie and non veggie) will like. I now own all of her books but Home Cooking remains the most used in my kitchen."

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The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer

The Joy of Cooking

Irma S. Rombauer

Recommended by: Darlene from Wisconsin, USA

"Well I used to have a wonderful collection of at least 250-300 cookbooks, but a house fire took them from me. I have to say a true way of deciding what your favorite cookbook was, is by what you would buy again if given the choice. The cookbooks I couldn't do without was The Joy of Cooking by Betty Crocker and one of our local church cookbooks.

"My cookbooks were my babies. I bought a new one or two with every trip we took. Some had some wonderful history lessons in them. The local church and organizations really tell a lot about a special group or area of people. They sure have taught me a lot about areas around the country. We don't all eat the same or have the same ingredients available to us, but we sure seem to come up with a lot of wonderful recipes. I miss my cookbooks."

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The Shirley Goode Kitchen

Shirley Goode

Recommended by: Marjorie from Minnesota, USA

"I love cookbooks. Many of them rotate through my shelves that I can barely recall their titles however a few are definite keepers. I received the Fannie Farmer Cookbook as a wedding gift years ago and thought it was a dumb present. I have since apologized to myself for that thought thousand fold. It is my cooking manual.

"A few years ago when starting to be more thrifty, I found the Shirley Goode Kitchen at AbeBooks. She is the queen of reducing food waste and has tasty recipes too. Better Than Store Bought and Putting it up with Honey, both found at my favourite thrift shop, have helped me with my sausage making and jam making skills. The latest cookbook I am playing around with, the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the 1940s found here at AbeBooks too, is also a keeper. There is a chapter on dealing with leftovers. One cookbook I will never use but is a neat read is the Easy Bake Oven Gourmet, what fun. It would be a great gift for an adventurous young person with an Easy Bake Oven. It was also found at my favourite thrift shop.

"As you can tell I am a pretty basic cook as I live in an area with no exotic ingredients and few options of fresh stuff. But if the house was on fire, after rescuing my family and pets, I would head for these cookbooks. Either that or never cook again. If I specifically know of a cookbook I want, I come to AbeBooks. They are the only online bookstore for me."

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