The Eating...Our Words Library: 10 Essential Cookbooks Everyone Should Own and Use

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Learn to master dough in no time.
7. American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart

Master baker Peter Reinhart has fallen in love with pizza. And rightfully so. This book follows him in his travels in Italy and through the United States, capturing tales of the greatest pies from the Old World and the New. From Chicago deep-dish to the Italian countryside's focaccia col formaggio, Reinhart showcases the true beauty of each regional pie while providing stellar recipes and pizza-making techniques for the home cook.

Why it's on our shelf: The story of Reinhart's hunt for pizza is beautiful, resonant and enthralling from start to finish. The regional recipes and techniques he's picked up along his journey are merely the bonus. Transform a simple pie into something extraordinary with Reinhart's recipes, including sauces, toppings (both classic and whimsical) and the most perfect pizza dough we've met to date.

Note: For those interested in bread making, we highly suggest Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.

Bonus recipe: Best Pizza Dough Ever

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One of Houston's favorite chefs makes the list.
6. Hugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico by Hugo Ortega

Mexico City-born award-winning chef Hugo Ortega brings the vibrant world of Mexican street food, from the masa of the central highlands to the ceviches of the coast, to life in this cookbook. In it you'll find tales of his travels through his homeland, along with stunning photography of bustling streets, colorful carts and mouthwatering food. You'll learn how to make authentic Mexican cuisine with Ortega's comprehensive, easy-to-follow instructions, from traditional cooking techniques to exciting, but accessible, recipes.

Why it's on our shelf: It wouldn't be a Houston Press list without a cookbook from one of our city's favorite culinary masterminds. Iconic chef and owner of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe Hugo Ortega's first cookbook highlights the flavors of the his homeland streets -- ones that, thanks to chefs like Ortega himself, our city has come to know and love. Working through the book delights the senses and the mind, as the stories behind these classic Mexican soul foods -- like the fried masa cakes, pork crackling stew and slow-cooked mole -- are just as intoxicating as the recipes themselves.

Bonus recipe: Guisado de cazuela de chicharrón (pork cracklings stew)

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There's a reason people travel for a taste of Keller's food.
5. The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller

In one of the most influential cookbooks of all time, Master Chef Thomas Keller shows us how to create the highly refined, impeccable cuisine of the famous French Laundry, his Napa Valley restaurant that has been dubbed "the most exciting place to eat in the United States," by Ruth Reichl and plenty of other people in the know. Here you'll learn to deepen flavors through Keller's unique, kitchen-proven methods and find clear and concise how-tos for over 150 superlative dishes. "Cooking is not about convenience, and it's not about shortcuts. Take your time. Move slowly and deliberately, and with great attention," writes Keller.

Why it's on our shelf: This book is a master class in the culinary arts. Step behind the genius as Keller describes his thought process behind dishes like "Pearls and Oyster" (glistening caviar and oysters served on a bed of creamy pearl tapioca) or Creamy Maine Lobster Broth and "Macaroni and Cheese" (butter-poached Maine lobster in a creamy broth with mascarpone-laced orzo). Learn from the best as Keller teaches us, through basic but essential techniques, the proper way to cook vegetables, how to make the cleanest, purest stock, and why you should squeegee the moisture from the skin on fish. It's his attention to detail and refinement that have people traveling all over the world to experience Keller's genius, so why wouldn't you want to bring a little of that magic into your kitchen?

Bonus Tip: Techniques for Cooking A Lobster

Location Info

Backstreet Cafe

1103 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Music


1600 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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