Most Under-Rated Cookbooks and Authors

Just wondering if any of you have opinions on cookbook writers, and books that don’t get the attention and accolades they deserve. I have three, that I think deserve mention: David Rosengarten, who authored/co authored the Dean and Deluca Cookbook, that I refer to as the Bible. (No desserts in this one). I’ve another of his, It’s All American Food, also excellent.

Secondly, I would add Rick Rodgers, I have 3-4 of his cookbooks, and he is an excellent teacher, with great recipes.

Thirdly, is Lauren Groveman, who was, for a time on a PBS show in a different market than mine. I have two of her cookbooks; if you can get past the egotistical tone of her books, the recipes are absolutely fantastic, with extremely helpful tips, scattered throughout.

The commonality in these books, is that they aren’t “celebrity chefs” and there are no photos. Except maybe a few in Rick Rodger’s, The Carefree Cook.


One of my favorite Indian cookbooks is 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. I don’t know whether it qualifies as “under-rated”, but I certainly don’t see it mentioned much. All of the recipes we’ve cooked out of this book have all been really excellent; I’m especially fond of the Goa fish curry, chickpea curry, and omelette curry.


Cookbooks written my bed and breakfast owners across the country. Great food from plain to gourmet. Several compilation cookbooks exist listed by state owners

My Aunts copy is fairly worn from good use.

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I agree about Rick Rodgers, wish he had his own cooking show!
Yvette van Boven’s books are favorites too. I have her Winter, Summer and Home Made books… others on my wish list!

I’m a big fan of Harold McGee and his On Food and Cooking book. His name seems to be a little more hidden, though I do know that he has been mentioned on Alton Brown’s Good Eats before for tv purposes. Great resource of information.

He has occasional talks and demonstration at Harvard I think with Dave Arnold.

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I’m also a big fan of Harold McGee. I caught this episode of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme. Still available but only in UK probably.

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Not sure it’s under rated but certainly not that well known is European Peasant Cookery by Elisabeth Luard. I like the fact that simple dishes with a long history from all over Europe are simply presented side by side with no favour or prejudice amongst the different cuisines. At time when in The UK; French, Spanish and particularly Italian peasant cuisine was being lauded dishes that spring from similar traditions from Britain or other northern European cuisines were at best ignored. This presentation of all the traditional dishes, many with a shared history being presented on an equal footing was refreshing.


Two that come to mind are Bert Greene’s Greene on Greens, and both of Anna Thomas’ Vegetarian Epicure books (the originals from the 1970’s). Both went out of favor because they make free use of cream and butter - and now that I believe we as a society have remembered that cooking fat is not our enemy I think it’s time for a comeback.


2 great ones! Love Bert Greene’s Grains too. Thanks for inspiring me to look at these today.

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I’ve got the two Vegetarian Epicure books, but not the Greene on Grains. Will have to see about getting a used copy of that. I’ll add the Greens Cookbook, and Fields of Greens cookbooks to the list. One by the great Deborah Madison, the other by Annie Sommerfield. One is coauthored, by another - apologies, I can’t recall his name presently. Very good recipes in the books. I’m thinking everyone who has the space to grow, and can do so this summer, should think about gardening. Sharing with others the excess or freezing. We’re all in this together!

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I just listened to, and thoroughly enjoyed, the BBC 4 program with Harold McGee. So I suppose it’s available everywhere.

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Glad you enjoyed it. Must just be the tv programmes that they restrict to UK only, which is good.

Not sure what counts as underrated. But I’ll mention a genre of cookbook, one where there is more text and regional context than actual recipes, but there are recipes, too:

–Bruce Cost: Asian Ingredients
–Paula Wolfert: Cooking of Southwest France (or really anything by Wolfert)

I get what you mean about the type of cookbook, Bruce Cost at this point I’d agree is underrated as Asian Ingredients is, I believe, the only one of his books left in print. There’s no way, though, that I could consider Paula Wolfert under-rated, not among food people anyway.

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I agree with you on both counts @ratgirlagogo. As for Wolfert, I know she’s celebrated by foodies. But I do fear that her name won’t come up quickly even from a bookstore selection, where most everyone knows about Pioneer Woman and Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters.

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These are great on their own, but one can start “fusing” all sorts of recipes once you get familiar.

•The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer &Marion Rombauer Becker. 1955 version includes game and even how to skin a squirrel! Answers most basic cooking questions.

•Nopalito, by Guzman & Adimando. Excellent for authentic Mexican cuisine, including how to make the most delicious tortillas from whole corn. Nixtamalization, salsas, meats, chilies explained, the works. I was skeptical about why he recommended making masa from whole corn (a lot of work). But, having done it, can see he is absolutely right. From humble beginnings to famous chef, his unpretentious cookbook is a must-have for Mexican food lovers, cooks.

•True Thai, By Victor Sodsook. A classic, which includes a remarkable number of chili pastes and seasonings, as well as wide-ranging recipes.

•Peru the Cookbook, by Gaston Acurio. Fantastic! Peruvian cuisine is rightly considered some of the world’s best. Having been there a couple times, I can vouch for unforgettable meals in the most humble of restaurants. This is no picture book, just filled with recipes.

•The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Yamuni Devi. Massive work showing deep insight and experience. From easy to super complicated. How to make ingredients like Panir, Chenna, Dosas, etc. are clearly explained. Chutneys, dahl, idlies, you name it. Very complete and you won’t miss the meat.

•Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, by Rytek Kutas. A great reference, though it needed a bit more polish to the editing. Lots of great information and pictures. Recommended for beginners. But, if you’re really into this:

•Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. From easy to involved. Some illustrations, and a wealth of information. I’ve noticed this one in chef’s kitchens, too.

•Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, by Kian Lam Kho. One of my go-to cookbooks. Wonderful reading and outstanding recipes. This is real Chinese cuisine. Kho scoffs at Westernized Kung Pao Chicken “…covered in a landslide of sickeningly sweet brown sauce.” Lots of history, explanation of cooking techniques. Beautiful pictures and clear instructions.

•Land of Plenty, by Fuchsia Dunlop. If you want to cook Sichuan, get it! It’s rare that a woman from England gets welcomed into Chinese institutes of higher cuisine, gets invited into famous kitchens and lives in China primarily to study the cuisine. She has other books, which I imagine are also well done.


Land of Plenty was recently revised and re-released as The Food of Sichuan. Have you had a chance to compare the two? If so, is it worth getting the newer version?

I have not had the opportunity to compare the two, by Fuchsia Dunlop. It would have to be significantly different, better before I’d get it. It’ll be a long time before I’d go to a book store to have a look-see, given the current pandemic.

I have the new one @bmorecupcake, but never had the old one, so afraid I can’t be of much help either. I could take pics of the table of contents for you, the indexes, or both if you’d like.

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I should have known better than to start this thread; as a result I have 3 cookbooks on order - Greene on Greens, Greene on Grains, and Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. If you saw my collection, you’d be impressed or horrified.