These are just a few of the books I've found extremely useful. For some reason (could it be the lack of sleep? or a lack of natural intelligence?), I almost always have to consult the recipe for a given dish no matter how many times I've made it.
It's not that I don't remember how to make the dish, it's that I'll forget some key detail, some particular measurement or the like. At least I know that I don't know.
Which is why I love these books. That said, many of the recipes are marked in the margins to change them to my tastes. I expect you will do the same recipes you read about, in these books or on this site.
- Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." I've yet to get the revised version, which came out in October of 2008, but I might need to do so soon. My current version is falling apart from use.
- "Food and Wine Magazine's 2001 Cookbook." It was a wedding present. Some of the recipes are more complicated than I like, but others are beyond fantastic.
- "Joy of Cooking." If only for the recipe for pancakes. If you've never had them immediately off the grill, you don't know what you are missing. I cook them one serving at a time.
- "Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Everyday," by Roy Finamore, gives solid advice about living up to its title.
- "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking," by Marcella Hazan. Seems like every guy who likes to cook swears by this volume. A classic.
I use other cookbooks, and when I have more time I'll include them here. My other source for recipes is the New York Times dining section. They should publish a book. Who knows, maybe they have already.