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Moffitt Picks Classic Cookbooks for the Modern Kitchen

Everyone needs at least a few great cookbooks.

My personal cookbook library contains over 300 volumes, and I would hate to lose a one. Though my wife finds it amusing, I often read cookbooks at night before going to sleep! When the opportunity arose to present a selection of cookbooks to you at very good prices I thought long and hard about which ones you would find the most useful and those are the ones I have presented below. They represent the basic cookbooks in my collection. I will be adding selections in many categories as time goes by, so bookmark this site now, and come back to see what I have added.

I use all of the cookbooks I am recommending and you can be confident that when using the books in this selection, you will enjoy great meals for many years to come.

In case you happened to enter the Great Cooking Site on this page, the links to the left or at the bottom of the page will take you to some great free recipes from Bruce C. Moffitt, retired gourmet restaurant owner and chef, with recipes published in Gourmet, Bon Apitite, Cusine and a host of other publications.


Why Amazon? We have been selling books in our Classic Cookbooks section since September of 1999. Because we have never had a complaint and because Amazon has proved to be reliable we have chosen them as our major book supplier.

Amazon's ordering structure is simple and easy. It should only take a minute or two to complete your order. Those few minutes will give you years of great cooking!

Scroll down the page, and:

Keep on cookin!


JOY OF COOKING by Rombauer & Becker

The Joy of cooking is the best selling American cookbook, and for good reason. It is, to quote Craig Claiborne, Food Editor of the New York Times, "A masterpiece of clarity". It covers the entire spectrum of food and it's preparation, from nutrition and the theory of how to cook and eat, to discussions of flavor, storage, availability and the selection of foodstuffs. Tables, diagrams and clear, concise explanations of cooking techniques abound. It even has an excellent index.

The Joy of Cooking is also a vast trove of recipes, from Abulone to Zwieback. These recipes are presented in an easy to read format, and ingredients, tools and cooking methods are clearly and exhaustively explained. This is not a cookbook that leaves you guessing, and is one of the best for the beginning cook.

It is hard to picture a kitchen without its copy of The Joy of Cooking, and these copies tend to take a fair bit of use. Mine, which dates from the early 60's, is getting a bit worn and tattered, but is still in service. If you don't have a copy, you owe yourself one, and a copy of The Joy of Cooking is a great gift to anyone who cooks.

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The name Betty Crocker is synonymous with American Cooking. If you grew up anywhere in middle America in the last 50 years, if your mother didn't have a copy of Betty Crocker, your neighbor did. When you went off to school, or your first job, or got married, chances are this is the cookbook you were given, along with the advice and good wishes.

Betty Crocker is the flagship cookbook of General Mills Inc., and as you would expect, this is the bible of American baking; pies, biscuits, breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, if it has flour in it, the recipes here are the best there are. The excellence of the baking recipes in no way diminishes the worth of the rest of the book. All facets of American cooking are covered well, and techniques, the use of tools, types of ingredients and other needed culinary knowledge is all clearly explained. The origins of many of the recipes are also noted.

The Betty Crocker Cookbook is a great book for the beginning cook and a necessity for the experienced one. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of your copy as I do from the one I inherited.

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The Good Housekeeping Cookbook: 1,275 Recipes from America's Favorite Test Kitchen

Rare indeed would be the modern homemaker who has not enjoyed reading Good Housekeeping Magazine, as have homemakers for generations. Here is the cookbook put together by the staff of Good Housekeeping under the guidance and direction of their legendary Food Editor, Dorothy B. Marsh.

This is a complete cookbook, with glossaries, clear descriptions of techniques, tools and ingredients for the beginning cook, and as the beginning cook gains skill, there are recipes of all levels of complexity to lead a student on to higher levels of competence. For the skilled chef, this cookbook has an inate sense of style that lends itself well to entertaining and fine dining.

In my kitchen, out of my several hundred cookbooks, I often turn to this one to check how they say a dish should be prepared, or to look for a new twist on a common ingredient, or for their advice on what would compliment a dish I have in progress. I think that you too will find The Good Housekeeping Cookbook to be a useful addition to any cookbook collection.

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The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery: For Connoisseurs, Chefs, Epicures Complete With 2973 Recipes

Auguste Escoffier is universally acknowledged as one of the European world's master Chef's, and his "Guide Culinare" is his Master Work.

Abandoned by his poverty stricken father on the step of a restaurant when he was a young child, Escoffier rose by his wits to become "the king of chefs and the chef of kings". The "Guide Culinare" is an elegant work, probably most respected for its treatment of sauces, from the absolute basics to their uses in the highest of cuisine. The precision of his art and his deep knowledge of the basics is shown throughout the book, quite literally "from soup to nuts".

I find that reading Escoffier brings a sense of historical continuity to my cooking, especially after a bit of "raspberry vinegar-grape leaf-Tibetan honey-carambola flower" new cuisine theory.

Escoffier's "Guide Culinare" is a necessity for anyone who is serious about the attainment of culinary stature. It is also a gift of both distinction and utility.

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Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagn´┐Ż

  • "Larousse Gastronomique is a model of exactitude and precision in all that concerns the etymology of certain words, the definition of culinary terms, the origins of foods in everyday use and the many recipes for each given dish." Auguste Escoffier, 1937

First published in 1938 in Paris, this magnificent work is a must for the professional chef and is also an invaluable addition to the serious amateur's bookshelf. Larousse is more than a book of recipes, it is an exhaustive encyclopedia that covers the history, ingredients, and preparation techniques of the culinary world from a French point of view. It is a huge tome, and exhaustive, (there are even nine recipes for camel), and for the serious student of cuisine, it is an irreplaceable resource. In my kitchen and in the majority of professional European kitchens in the world, it takes the place of the dictionary on the writers desk. Laruosse Gastronomique is the perfect gift for anyone who has serious intentions in this world of good food.

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Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold

This is the ne plus ultra of cookbooks. It discusses everything from the science involved in the cooking process, the history of cooking, and the tools involved, to the myths and legends of the art. It also, of course, has many, many recipes, from the ultra- modern to those of antiquity. This would be a most valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in cooking, from the dedicated amateur to the distinguished professional.

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The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne

The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne is an elegant cookbook. The center of elegance in dining in North America is New York, and the New York Times Food Section, with its magnificent staff, is the pinnacle of New York culinary taste. Above all reigned Craig Claiborne, Food Editor of The New York Times, and Crown Prince of the culinary realm.

As would be expected, this is an eclectic cookbook, with fine recipes from the Americas, Europe, and countries around the world. Always the emphasis is on good food, well prepared and properly served, and the enjoyment of the whole process, from preparation to dining. All phases of dining are well covered, and recipes are clearly written and in a simple and easy to use format. The dessert section is a treasure, and almost as much fun to read as to use. The sections on chicken and veal are also particularly superb.

This is the cookbook you will tend to reach for if you are celebrating, or if you have procured some especially fine ingredient, or if your friend, the boss, is bringing over a couple bottles of good Champagne. This cookbook is world class, and will be highly enjoyed.

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The James Beard Cookbook by James Beard

James Beard is a hands-on chef and this is a hands-on book. The James Beard Cookbook presents the way James Beard thinks things should be done, and he is very, very good. This is a book with much valuable information, from ways to get a lot done in a little time, to many little tricks like the tiny pat of butter on a steak as it comes off the grill.

Beard is a master of entertaining and this is a cookbook for the good cook who entertains and likes to impress friends around the dinner table or al fresco at a picnic with white table cloths, sterling and fine wine.

The James Beard Cookbook is clearly written, is a pleasure to read, and is full of good useful information along with the many fine recipes. Beard's cooking has a distinctive flair and I find it a pleasure to be able to use his cookbook and share in the pleasure of his artistry.

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As an added attraction, here is a very good deal on a Kindle reading machine. Now all your new cookbooks can be in one small place.

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Click Below for More Recipes & Recommendations by Bruce Moffitt:

Entrees Plus
Great Sauces
Unusual Salads
Wonderful Desserts
Favorite Mexican Foods
Recipes for the Holidays
Kitchen Safety, Please Read
Cookbook Store
Kitchen Store


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