Sam’s Favorite Cookbooks and Websites for a Novice Cook

Cookbooks and Websites for a Novice Cook          For an aspiring cook there are hundred of resources, both in print and on the internet, to learn  new cooking techniques, experiment with new recipes, and experience new ingredients. When I look for inspiration, I prefer books and websites that focus more on techniques, ingredients, flavor combinations, and cuisines of different cultures; not necessarily a book of recipes that are to be followed like the gospel. That said, a book or website of various, easy recipes is always a great resource to have, though I urge you not to be shy about adding your own flare to any recipe you may find.

Having a good recipe doesn’t always guarantee good results. Cooking, first and foremost, is about using your senses. Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing are all important factors in producing great food. If your meal appears to be ready, but the recipe calls for five more minutes, don’t be afraid to use your judgement.

MY FAVORITE ONLINE RESOURCES   A website full of recipes, sample menus, food articles,instructional videos, and public forums  Mark Bittman is a New York Times food writer. His website is full of articles and opinion pieces about food and public health, as well as recipes, food galleries, and videos.  A classy website for a famous food magazine. Great photos, well-tested recipes, and new ideas for good food and drink. The website features recipe collections, techniques, and articles on new culinary trends. One of the most established food publications. Food and Wine offers great, well-tested recipes, beautiful photos, articles on techniques, trends, and culinary equipment, as well as a wealth of information on wine pairings.

CIANetwork A collection of detailed instructional videos on recipes and cooking techniques geared towards the public, produced by the Culinary Institute of America. A collection of how-to videos on culinary basics.


How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

These two books by Mark Bittman are large, very extensive volumes on how to properly handle (purchase, clean, prepare, etc…) almost any food product you may come across (fruits, meats, vegetables, and grains). He includes various ideas on what to do with all of these items, as well as recipes and detailed drawings. A great resources to have!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

A famous, well loved book by generations of American households! This book has detailed instructions, drawings, and recipes that teach you how to perform basic and advanced cooking techniques in a very approachable way! (It was the source for the movie Julie and Julia.)

The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

Ever wonder what flavors go particularly well with lamb? Well, look up Lamb in the Flavor Bible and you will find a list of classic pairings, as well as flavor combinations that should be avoided. This books helps you understanding how to use and combine possible unfamiliar ingredients to great harmonious flavors.

The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones

A great resource on cooking small amount of food, freeing yourself from the fear of failure (when cooking for one, there is no one but you to impress), and utilizing leftovers in interesting ways to avoid waste.

And, of course,
The Professional Chef 9th edition published by The Culinary Institute of America

Our “bible” at the Culinary Institute of America. A new edition was just released this past fall and is extremely in-depth, full of recipes, step-by-step, picture guides to a wide array of cooking techniques. Chapters on classic and modern cuisines, chapters on international cuisines (ingredient identification, history, and flavor profiles), a glossary of culinary terms, and much more. For a college text book, this is a steal at at less than $50!

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Author My First Apartment

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Sam is originally from Boston, MA. He studied ecology and Spanish language during his undergraduate degree at Hampshire College (Amherst, MA). He then went on to train as a chef at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY) and earn an introductory certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in San Francisco in 2013. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain and works as a culinary tour operator, wine educator, and food/travel writer for several outlets including My First Apartment. You can check out his blog at Zucker and Spice Travel.

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar Sam

    Hi S_rockstone! Thanks for the suggestions. I haven’t had a chance to look at several of these!

  2. Avatar S_rockstone

    Great list! I’d like to suggest a few more:

    The Joy of cooking by the Raumbauer-Becker family
    The Healthy college cookbook
    Clueless in the Kitchen (Evelyn Raab)
    Starting out: the essential guide to cooking on your own ( Julie Van Rosendaal)
    College cooking (megan and jill Carle)

  3. Avatar who,me?

    “Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” Julia Child