I am a cookbook addict. I am powerless over cookbook hoarding (is there a 12 step program for me?). I get review copies of cookbooks but that's never enough. I buy vintage cookbooks, used cookbooks, out-of-print cookbooks, you name it.
I first read about The Cook's Book on the blog A La Cuisine. Then it was mentioned a couple of times on Becks & Posh. Actually Sam of Becks & Posh (who is by no means a cookbook addict) raved about it. So I sneaked a peek. And then I had to have the book, subtitled "techniques and tips from the world's master chefs". Master chefs include people like Ferran Adria, Rick Bayless, Ken Hom, Charlie Trotter and Pierre Herme.
Want to know how to skin and gut an eel, line a terrine mold, or use a siphon for making foam? There are pictures illustrating those and other instructions. Recipes come from many different cuisines of the world. There are sections on Japanese cooking, poultry and game birds, Indian cooking, meat, Chinese cooking, vegetables, pasta and dumplings, Asian noodles and dumplings, Thai cooking, grains and beans, breads and batters, Mexican cooking, pastry and sweet doughs, Middle Eastern cooking, dessert, cakes and fruit and nuts. I can't really say that list is comprehensive but it certainly gives a great introduction to cooking from a myriad of sources.
There are tons of ideas here for you to learn from, borrow and incorporate into your repertoire. A lot of the recipes are very current, such as Chilled Clear Cucumber Soup with Watermelon, Apple and Jicama or Hot Apple Sabayon, in addition to classics like making omelets, poaching, sauces, etc. Instructions for steaming couscous (instead of just rehydrating it) are a perfect example of something I have wondered how to do.
This book is massive, over 600 pages. But I think it's a book you could cook out of for the rest of your life. You can check out a few sample pages here.
So what about that other behemoth? The Professional Chef is another massive tome that just recently hit stores. My review of it is over at Bay Area Bites today.