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

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This sauce book will keep you cooking.
4. Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making/Edition 3 by James Peterson

This winner of the James Beard Cookbook of The Year Award is a perfect guide to the diverse and vital world of sauces. In its latest edition, the book contains more than 350 recipes and traditional techniques, from classics like demi-glaces and veloutés to things like vinaigrettes and curries.

Why it's on our shelf: We believe that the heart of nearly every perfect dish lies in the sauce. And this book is the ultimate reference in sauce-making. Learn how to create the most intoxicating harissa sauce for your chicken tagine, a perfectly smooth and buttery pear butterscotch sauce, or the creamiest and richest béarnaise you've ever tasted. It's all about the sauces, baby.

Bonus Recipe: Pear-Butterscotch Sauce

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Learn the secret to the perfect flaky crust.
3. The Cake Bible/The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Both "bibles" from Author Rose Levy Beranbaum manage to put even the novice baker's mind at ease. In them you'll find drool-worthy recipes for cakes and pastries that could not be easier to follow. Even better? Most of the recipes are broken down by measure and weight for three sizes of pans and include instructions for mixing both by hand and with a food processor. In The Cake Bible, you'll find recipes for everything from pancakes to four-tiered wedding cakes. There's even a recipe for a chocolate cake containing all of three ingredients. In The Pastry Bible, you'll find more than 70 pages on pie crusts alone, from the perfect flaky crust to tart and crumb crusts.

Why they're on our shelf: Rose Levy Beranbaum doesn't just make baking sound easy. Through her precise, detailed instructions and sweet and savory how-to guidance, the art of baking a seven-layer cake and achieving the perfect soft and flaky pie crust are demystified. Making Black Forest cake, chocolate bread, raspberry buttercream, whipped ganache, sticky buns, brioche, sponge cake and profiteroles has never been so fun. And having both books just guarantees that your family and friends will love you that much more.

Bonus Recipe: Flaky Cream-Cheese Crust

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Becoming a good cook starts with la technique.
2. Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniques by Jacques Pépin

Master chef Jacques Pépin's New Complete Techniques is an update on the 1978 and 1979 culinary classics La Méthode and La Technique. Here you'll find more than 600 techniques and recipes, laid out with step-by-step photographs, covering every aspect of classical cooking -- from how to sharpen a knife and debone a chicken to an entire section on Offal & Charcuterie. Anthony Bourdain calls it "Concise. Informative. Indispensable."

Why it's on our shelf: Because we agree with Bourdain: This book is indispensable. And did we mention the entire section on offal and charcuterie? We love Pépin's clear and crisp directives, and even more, his waste-nothing mentality. His killer recipe for Pain au Chocolat even shows you how to make your own chocolate, which is quite possibly the most exciting thing ever. Covering nearly every culinary technique with concise text and informative pictures, this is a more than worthy addition to your bookshelf.

Bonus Tip: How to Make an Omelet

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