A trio of invaluable cooking resources
Long before I committed to the hospitality industry as my career choice, cookbooks were a staple in the kitchen. I grew up well before the Internet and the Food Channel, so for new gastronomic inspiration, one reached for the many cookbooks sitting on top of our refrigerator. My Mom’s go to cooking bible was the 1979 version of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
I remember my first set of cookbooks was a Christmas gift while in college in the mid-eighties. It was the double set of Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins Silver Palate series comprising the original Silver Palate Cookbook and their second Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. I have sourced countless recipes from both, to the extent that the binding is falling apart on both and a rubber band holds together the original!
The two Silver Palate cookbooks have spawned numerous parties and holiday celebrations over nearly 30 years and continue to inspire entertaining events in our home. Some of my favorite recipes include one for roasting a turkey with oranges, butter and paprika; softshell crabs that are plumped up in milk with tarragon and sauteed; and a succulent beef tenderloin with five peppercorns.
The next favorite cookbook is nearly as old and just as worn at the latter two. The Talisman Italian Cookbook is an adaptation of Il Talismano, considered one of the great cookbooks of Italy for over 50 years. Apparently, it is to Italians what the Joy of Cooking is to Americans.
I secured my copy in the mid-eighties in the most unlikely manner, by sending in several box tops from Rozoni products to the pasta maker, along with a check for ‘postage and handling’ and in a few short weeks had my own copy.
Admittedly, this cookbook has not contributed as many staple dishes as the other cookbooks mentioned in this blog. However, one of the singularly most important dishes in the repertoire is sourced from this book – small squid marche style, which is a dish that is featured in more than one of my blog posts. This is such favorite that we have it at least once a month.
The cookbook that is probably most consistently relied upon for our outdoor grilling is the Essentials of Grilling by Williams Sonoma. I started grilling fairly regularly when we lived in Miami and had enough room for an outdoor grill. As readers of my blog will know, I have since migrated to the BGE, which has become an essential cooking implement for entertaining and everyday cooking. The Essentials of Grilling has been an invaluable contributor to literally hundreds of great meals over the past 15 or so years.
Some of my favorite recipes from the Essentials of Grilling include a butterflied chicken under a brick; tea-smoked duck breasts; and salmon on a cedar plank, which has been featured in more than one of my blog posts.