I have been given several cookbooks by famous chefs, but they tend to sit, rather dustily, on the shelf. There are cookbooks that I like to read, and then there are cookbooks that I actually cook from, and restaurant wizardry rarely falls into either category. The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, falls into both. My copy has food or wine splatters on many of the pages – always a sign of a well-used cookbook. It is one of my indispensable cookbooks – definitely on my “desert island” short-list -- and it so reliable that I will happily choose untried recipes for important occasions, without suffering from the slightest nervy qualm.
As the title states, you can find basics here: not only classic recipes, but also really thorough information on preparation. And, it is comprehensive in the same way that a Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens cookbook would be – except the recipes are going to be homey and stylish. Although it was first published in 1989, I don’t think the food has dated at all.
I got this cookbook for an engagement present, and its recipes – for classics like carrot cake, beef bourguignon, osso buco and oatmeal cookies – are an integral part of my family’s eating history. Last weekend, when I wanted a good bruschetta recipe, I reached for this cookbook; it never ever lets me down. I like to give this book as a present to English friends; I don’t bother with American friends, though, because they tend to already have it.