Alison Fryer knows her cookbooks. She’s been working at The Cookbook Store in Toronto for 27 years and she’s read and tried thousands of recipes from all around the world.
“A lot of people don’t actually use cookbooks — I can’t believe I said that out loud!” Alison laughs. “But people love to read their cookbooks.” While flipping through pages of food porn is enticing, what happens when you actually want to learn to cook? Here Alison breaks down which cookbooks every beginner should own.
Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition
Every kitchen should have the Joy of Cooking. Whether you actually use it or not, that’s up to you, but there’s a ton of information in here, just about ingredients, about substituting ingredients, measurements. It’s a go-to book for a lot of people. However, for those who are more visual, this can be pretty text dense. It is something that every kitchen, no matter your ability, should have on the shelves.
How to Cook Everything
It looks large and intimidating but Mark Bittman writes in a very user-friendly language. And actually, a lot of men like the way he writes. He writes for the New York Times, How to Cook Everything, and pretty much does cover everything
Everyday Food: Great Food Fast
You can’t have an interview without saying Martha Stewart at least once. This was her first best-of from the little magazine. If you like your visuals, there’s a colour picture of the recipe and then there’s the short ingredient list, usually in a quick prep time of doing something. It’s one of those things where you will recognize the ingredients. For starting out, it’s got pastas and fish and it’s just casual entertaining. If you’re a beginner cook, maybe it’s a little more entertaining. If you’re a good cook, it’s just straightforward. We sell this like water, it’s unbelievable. I think the layout has a lot to do with it.
If you’re staring out, bakings always a good thing too. We sell this little Muffin Mania book like crazy. This book was reprinted last year, it originally came out in 1983 when muffins were really quite savoury. For somebody starting out and just wanting to make their own snacks, this is a really good way to ease into cooking more and baking more. Muffins are a really good thing.
Canadian Living Cookbook
Anything from Canadian Living is terrific. They’ve got a general book called Canadian Living Cookbook. It’s fabulous, straightforward, the recipes have been tested to death so you know they’re going to work.
Help! My Apartment Has A Kitchen Cookbook: 100+ Great Recipes with Foolproof Instructions
Terrific softcover book for those leaving home for the first time. It flips open, each recipe is on a separate page. They understand that first time cooks are usually on a budget and they don’t have the big expense to buy truffles or truffle oil, so they do keep it simple, straightforward, but healthy too, which is really important.
The Cookbook Store / 850 Yonge St., Toronto
416 920 2665 / Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10am-7pm, Sat. 10am-6pm, Sun. 12-5pm