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Best Cookbooks, Part Deux: Rediscoveries

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Following up on my last post, here are five favorites I return to time and time again. All are reliable sources for good eating!

Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

The novelist Laurie Colwin wrote playful, funny novels (Goodbye without Leaving is my favorite) about complicated characters, and also wrote straightforwardly about everyday cooking, the kind that sustains body and soul. Home Cooking, the first collection of her pieces from Gourmet and elsewhere, includes the often-anthologized essay “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant,” where she describes cooking on a hotplate in her first New York apartment, which was barely seven feet wide. Also great in this book are the Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup and her Baked Chicken with Garlic and Apples, which doesn’t use salt. More Home Cooking includes, duh, more of the same. Both volumes are informed by Colwin’s warm and funny voice, as in the chapter called "Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir."

No Need to Knead by Suzanne Dunaway

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Shortly after I discovered the painless no-knead bread-making method in last year’s New York Times, a friend introduced me to this book, which is full of low-stress bread recipes from the creator of L.A.’s Buona Forchetta. Mostly Italian in origin, these breads are easy to make; I especially like the breadsticks. Unfortunately, No Need to Knead is out of print and hard to find; I paid about $30 a year ago via Amazon’s second-hand partners; now the minimum price is up to almost $60.

Sophie’s Table by Sophie Grigson

The first book, originally published in 1990, by the daughter of British cookery giant Jane Grigson, Sophie’s Table includes a wide variety of ingenious recipes from around the world. Grigson has the same creative hand with vegetables that her mother had (surely you have Jane’s Grigson’s Vegetable Book?). Sophie’s Chocolate Chip Oat Biscuits, with oatmeal and no flour (and hence no gluten), have already made me many new friends. Sophie’s Table is available secondhand in the U.S. (I found my copy at The Cook’s Library on Third Street).

Creative Chinese food and how to roast a beast, after the jump.