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I have read, used almost all of the following books. The exceptions are those books whose authors I am familiar with, though I may not have read the specific book in question. These are not in any particular order, but those labeled with a lobster are my particular reccomendations, and those labeled with a pie are "easy as pie" and therefore recommended for beginners.

The Way to Cook ~Julia Child
One of Julia's most widely known books, and is a wonderful introduction to cooking like a master chef. Note -- these recipes are meither modern nor time-saving, as the French believe in slow, careful process when they cook. But don't let that deter you, it's worth it if you have the time.

Marcella Cucina ~Marcella Hazan
A relatively new book from Marcella Hazan, her Italian recipes are unrivaled.

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen ~Paul Prudhomme
Cajun food is at it's buttery best in this book from Prudhomme's pre-"Fork in the Road" days.

Three Hundred & Sixty-Five Ways to Cook Pasta
Exactly what it sounds like, this is the book that will let you cook pasta every night all year without repetition. Everything from macaroni and cheese to pasta alla putanesca.

Cooking Light Five-Star Recipes
A cookbook by my favorite food magazine. All Cooking Light recipes are designed with as eye towards health without skimping on the flavor. Meat-and-potato lovers be warned -- these recipes may contain spinach, mangoes, squash and other strange foods.

Joy of Cooking (hardcover) ~Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker
This is undoubtedly the greatest resource a cook can have. Although the recipes are somewhat dated now (when was the last time you had kidneys or calf brains in your freezer?), the lessons in how to cook simple, good food are the best available, second only to learning at the hand of your own grandmother.

Joy of Cooking (paperback) ~Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker See above for full description. This is cheaper than the hardcover version, but I'd advise against it because I know that "Joy" will get more wear and tear than any other book in your collection.

The New Joy of Cooking ~Irma Rombauer, Marion rombauer Becker, & Ethan Becker
This new edition of the sovereign of cookbooks is diabolical. Long-time "Joy" loyalists like myself are ahsmaed to find ourselves reaching for this book more often than it's beloved but dated older sibling, and yet I still recommend that you buy the old one first. Why? Although the new "Joy" is better in many ways, it lacks the homey voice of Irma Rombauer, and relies too much on French cooking technique in a book originally written for midwestern housewives during the Great Depression. If you already know the basics and want to branch out, buy this one. But be warned that it is no longer "the all-purpose cookbook."

Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

New Basics Cookbook

Moosewood Cookbook ~Mollie Katzen
I have never been to the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, NY, but the co-op started by seven pals to make natural food that tastes good has released a sheaf of excellent cookbooks of which this is the first. You may have never heard of some of the ingredients, but don't worry, there's a glossary in the front.

Silver Palate Cookbook
Gourmet fare made easy. Try the salmon mousse!

Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day ~Mollie Katzen
Another book from the Moosewood restaurant.

Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven: Over 200 Recipes for Uncommon Soups, Tasty Bites, Side-by-Side Dis ~Mollie Katzen All veggies!

Vegetarian Times Vegetarian Beginners Guide

Craig Claiborne's the New York Times Food Encyclopedia ~Craig Claiborne

Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer: A Basic Cookbook ~Craig Claiborne
Like Julia Child's "The Way to Cook," this book is a must-have for the beginner. In fact, even more so for most cooks because while Craig can cook gourmet with the best of 'em, he prefers meatloaf to aspic.

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