5 Must-Have Cookbooks

Harriet Bell shares her picks for the top 5 must-have cookbooks that will inspire you to cook at home.

Tools of the Trade

5 Must-Have Cookbooks

Inspiration to cook at home

-Harriet Bell, bellbookandhandle.com

a woman cooking at a stoveWho’s eating out these days? Not so many of us. Everyone seems to be cooking at home to save money. So we need basic cookbooks. As a cookbook editor, these are my five must-haves. And another tip for the new economy: Save money by buying used books from eBay or at yard sales.

1. Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, 12th Edition. Hey, if this book was good enough for your mother and grandmother then it’s good enough for you. From meatloaf to mashed potatoes, this classic includes all the basics.

2. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Total disclosure: I edited this book, but it remains my favorite because I always find inspiring ideas for vegetables, grains, pastas and more.

3. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. User-friendly and encouraging, Bittman is the master of no-fuss food in a short amount of time.

4. The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl. When you’re ready to step up to your first dinner party, go to this one for simple to sophisticated recipes.

5. The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide by Sharon and Ron Herbst. You need to know how to mix yourself a drink after all that cooking.

Sample Recipe: Herb Salad

From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

If you’re like me, you buy bunches of cilantro and parsley, but only need half of them. This salad is a good way to use up all those odds and ends the fridge. No dill? Don’t worry. Use what you have – more mint, less parsley; this salad is very forgiving.

Serves 4


3 cups small spinach leaves

1 cup arugula, torn into pieces

1⁄4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1⁄4 cup cilantro leaves

1⁄4 cup dill sprigs

6 mint leaves, torn into small pieces

Several celery leaves, torn

2 scallions, including a few inches of the greens, thinly sliced


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or as needed

Fresh lemon juice


1. Toss the spinach, arugula, herbs, scallions and a few pinches of salt together in a salad bowl.

2. Drizzle on enough oil to coat the leaves, then squeeze on a little lemon juice and toss again. Serve immediately.

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8 thoughts on “5 Must-Have Cookbooks

  1. Where is the Rombauer “Joy of Cooking” on this list. I mean, where else will you find on how to gut a pheasant? But really, it has the most basic of basic info on all the techniques you would ever need.

  2. Love this article – informative, humorous & concise. I have 2 of these cookbooks & they are my favorites. I will trust the author’s recommendation & check out the other 3.

  3. It is always very important for the entire businessman to know about the tools of the trade in their life all the people should know about these great typeressay.org website. The business owners should work hard to learn about these trade tools so they become successful traders.

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