People often ask me what my favourite cookbook is, and I never know what to tell them. It really depends on what you plan to be cooking, and what your skill level is. However, if you really pressed me for an answer, I would tell you that you should probably have The Joy of Cooking on your bookshelf. I own the 1997 edition, and it has been there for me whenever I’ve had a culinary question. There are great reference sections for vegetables, meat, and fish, and I’m constantly referring to the handy-dandy table of cake pan substitutions.
The savoury recipes are reliable, accessible, and fairly easy. I’m not overly impressed with the dessert recipes, as I think they lack subtlety. They’re very American-style desserts: giant layer cakes with overly sweet icings. However, the sticky bun recipe is to die for. If you’re a stickler for pictures, this might not be the book for you. It’s 95% text, with line drawings to illustrate techniques.
Yesterday I tried the banana bread recipe, which uses a strange mixing method. Typically, banana bread is made by creaming butter & sugar together, adding liquid (eggs, mashed banana and sometimes vegetable oil), and then gently folding in the dry ingredients. This recipe started by creaming the butter & sugar together, adding in the dry ingredients to get a mixture that resembled wet sand, and then adding in the liquid. Apparently, this “unusual mixing method produces a tender cakey loaf with excellent banana flavor”.
Well, the texture was definitely cakier and denser than most banana breads, but I don’t know that it was remarkably different from a regular banana bread. I will say that the banana bread was definitely too sweet. I’d say that the next time I make it, I’ll reduce the amount of sugar – but to be honest, I’ll probably just go back to my old banana bread recipe.