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James Beard's Theory and Practice Of Good Cooking (James Beard Library of Great American Cooking) Hardcover – October 17, 1999

4.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This redesigned and updated edition of previously out-of-print Beard classics will remind readers of the way we used to eat and what a master of detail Beard was. Recipes and other instructional sections are impeccable. The book is divided into sections according to cooking method (e.g., boiling, roasting); each section is then broken down into types of food, such as poultry and meat. This means that a chapter on broiling and grilling contains such varied recipes as London Broil, Broiled Eggplant Slices and Stuffed Clams. Scattered among the recipes are more informal paragraphs giving the steps for simpler fare such as Broiled Grapefruit and Broiled Hamburgers. It's a treat to read Beard's writing, which is full of childhood memories (of his mother rendering suet, for instance) and features his elegant yet commonsensical approach to cooking. On the other hand, the book sometimes works better as artifact than manual. Because of modern-day health concerns, dishes like Beefsteak and Kidney Pudding, Pears Poached in Red Wine, Steak au Poivre and Celery in Butter are unlikely to send today's readers racing to the kitchen. (Dec.) FYI: This volume is the first in a new series titled The James Beard Library of Great American Cooking.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: James Beard Library of Great American Cooking
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; 2nd edition (October 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762406135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762406135
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the classic of American cooking, the first cookbook to own and the one you go back to all your life.
Beard had a brilliant sense for food, and in this book he shares concepts and approaches, explaining the equipment you use, and the techniques, methodically, clearly and with his particular elan.
Anyone can follow this book. But between the recipes presented throughout the book (organized in the unusual manner of by technique - things you boil, things you bake, things you roast, etc.) and the concordance (organized by food), you can find great recipes and just plain information and direction to help you make just about enough food to last a lifetime.
I brought it with me to France and still rely on it.
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Format: Hardcover
When I recommend cookbooks to friends and students, this is the first one that comes to mind. It teaches techniques rather than dishes. Don't give a person a fish -- teach them how to fish. Or bake, roast, poach, braise, or saute. Out of print for years, Amazon is the best place to order it. I buy it for wedding presents and finally treated myself to a copy!

Next I'd go for Child/Bertholle/Beck Mastering the Art of French Cooking I and II, or for a cook who relates to photos, Julia Child's The Way To Cook.

Another interesting book is Len Deighton's (spy thriller writer) paperback entitled Basic French Cooking, which is also out of print but I got through Amazon.
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Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of an earlier edition (1990) re-print of this book through a promotional offer soon after I graduated from college. It has been my cooking "bible." Chock-full of traditional recipes, I find the instructional portions of the book to be indispensable in the kitchen. Without droning on and on, Mr. Beard presents the techniques (practice) of good cooking as well as the reasons behind them (theory) in a simple, easy to understand, and entertaining manner, which can then be carried over to perfecting other recipes or can be used to embark on your own adventures in creating unique dishes.

Honestly, I don't believe I have ever followed any of the recipes in the book to the letter, but the stained pages reflect the fact that I turn to it over and over again when I want to make the perfect roast, grill a fantastic steak, indulge in a home-made Bearnaise sauce, re-create a classic dessert ... the list goes on and on.
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book out of the library a few years ago and enjoyed it so much I wanted to buy it but it was out of print. For a few moments I even considered paying the penalty and calling the book lost but I couldn't bear to deprive other library users of the book. So now its back... the techniques and theory are down to earth and very useful. I'm ordering 2 copies today.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book when it was first published and used it as a primer to learn how to cook. It is highly practical with the chapters arranged by technique (boiling, braising, sauteing, etc). And it is well illustrated with simple drawings that effectively communicate how to execute those techniques. I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who are just learning to cook. Unfortunately, even though it was re-issued a few years ago in both hardcover and paperback, the used booksellers think this book must be worth its weight in gold. If you can find a copy in good condition at a reasonable price, buy it. If not, look for James Peterson's - Cooking - which is also an excellent book and should be available at a sane price.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book because it doesn't teach individual recipes but methods. If you know how to braise and what can and should be braised, you can do it. Most books, even cooking classes will teach you how to make one stew but don't teach the art of braising. Or sauteeing, or roasting...
While the book is out of print, Amazon has it and I regularly purchase one for wedding gifts or aspiring young cooks. [...]
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Format: Hardcover
This book gives the new (and experienced) cook guidance in basic techniques, selection of cookware, knives, and other essentials, and basic recipes that become family favorites (such as chicken crepes or teriyaki chicken). It has one of the best summaries of sauces, with basic recipes and additions that change bechamel to sauce veloute or mornay, etc. I have been looking for copies to give as gifts for years! I have at least 3 persons in mind NOW, I just wish they'd print some more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used to have the paperback of this must have book--the hardback is far superior, easier to read, and much more tactile-satisfying.

This is a 1990 reprint--pages are creamy white

Aprently this edition was originaly a give-away from Farberware.

The only down-side of the book is Beard was willing to risk a little bit of pinkness next to the bone for cooked chicken. Don't risk that for any domestic fowl--EVER!!!!

That said, learn to cook from theis book and you can go into near any other cookbook confident and unfazed.
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