Every aspiring cook should have at least one, comprehensive cooking bible in their collection. A big, fat, go-to cookbook that covers all the basic information and instructions you may ever need. Soups, pastas, meats, salads... you name it, the book should have it. The Joy of Cooking is a classic example. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is an ultimate vegetarian cookbook and Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking gives a great overview of the Italian basics.
Do you have a favorite?
One of my favorites is The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, which marks the 10th anniversary of the magazine from which this book takes its name. With 1,200 recipes, the book covers every kind of dish with great, basic recipes that are inexpensive to make and work every time. And for people learning how to cook, this is important.
This appetizer for Cucumber Tapas is one of the first recipes I made out of the cookbook, and it's still one of my favorites for when I'm looking for an appetizer that tastes great, looks good and is easy to make.
Cucumber Tapa (serves 4-6)
from Martha Stewart Living cookbook
2 English cucumbers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon oregano, fresh or dried
salt and black pepper to taste
Slice the cucumbers lengthwise and using a spoon, remove any seeds.
Cut one half cucumber into a 1/4-inch dice and transfer to a small bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, crumbled feta cheese, salt, pepper and oregano and stir well to combine.
Spoon the cucumber, feta cheese mixture into the long trough of each of the three remaining halves of cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1 inch pieces and serve immediately.