I love finding cookbooks that open up a whole new world of food, recipes, chefs and authors to me, and that is what the book The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century did for me!
Except for an occasional Mark Bittman’s “The Minimalist” column, I never bothered to read much at the NY Times web site. That has changed after browsing this book. I borrowed a copy of this massive book from the library, and was thrilled to find some great classic recipes, plus learn a bit about food history as well as food authors I never knew. Besides the author, Amanda Hesser (Her Food52 web site was where I initially learned about this book), I was introduced to names such as Craig Claiborne, Julia Moskin, Mollie Katzen, Molly O’Neill, and Melissa Clark.
The book includes 1400 recipes, and is divided into 18 chapters by food type, ie: Soups, Vegetables, Pasta & Grains, Seafood, Breakfast, Cakes, etc.
The recipes inside each chapter are ordered by date, with the oldest recipes first. Each recipe includes a reference to the original publishing date plus the title of originating article. I loved that there were very old recipes from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Just to clarify, this isn’t just a rehash of old recipes. Amanda spent years researching and testing recipes, picking the most “essential” ones. On most recipes, she adds her own commentary and sometimes even a quick historical summary of the recipe. It is truly a wonderful recipe reference book, and is recommended for every type of cook, be it newbie or experienced.
I virtually read the book cover to cover and found so many fascinating recipes, and can’t wait to try about 100! A lot of recipes can be found online at the NY Times web site, along with the many original food articles.
I’m dying to try making my own Ricotta Cheese, Amazing Overnight Waffles, Pepper-Cumin Cookies, Spelt-flour Crackers, German Toast, Katharine McClinton’s Foursome Pancakes, Rhubarb Ginger Compote, just to name a few.
This large hard cover book is beautifully bound, but unfortunately my only complaint is there are no finished dish photos.
If I were to recommend an all encompassing, basic cookbook for a newbie home cook, The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century would definitely be on the Top 10 list. I would consider purchasing a copy myself, but I already have a few basic home cookbooks. I’m sadly returning my copy to the library on Monday! Hopefully my review will inspire someone else to borrow it, or purchase a copy of their own!
I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.