Kitchen Essentials – Cookbook Favorites
Favorite cookbooks are like old friends. We never get tired of them, and we always look forward to spending more time with them. Here are the favorite cookbooks of some movers and shakers in the Merrimack Valley.
David DiCenso, Owner/Chef,
Luna Rossa Ristorante, Tewksbury
“My favorite cookbook is ‘Il Talismano della Felicita’ [by Ada Boni]. It’s also available in English, but I like the Italian version. It’s like a Bible; it’s close to 1,200 pages. “My grandfather was Davio DiCenso. [He was] the head chef at the original Davio’s in Boston. The cookbook was given to my mother by my grandfather, so obviously it means something to me. She was a young girl when she got married. “I work off those recipes and add touches for the restaurant. All the classics are there. I will often flip through it with my morning coffee before work.”
Dr. May Mu, Owner,
Family Dental, Haverhill, Lawrence and Reading
“I have a lot of favorite cookbooks, but right now it’s ‘The Complete Indonesian Cookbook’ [by Agnes de Keijzer Brackman and Cathay Brackman]. We recently visited Amsterdam, and I went to an excellent Indonesian restaurant there and had a wonderful experience, so I purchased this cookbook. “I have more than 30 cookbooks, mostly ethnic: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Italian, French. I never cooked growing up [in Shanghai and Hong Kong]; we were lucky to have a cook. But while going to college in the U.S. and living in a dorm, I had to learn to cook if I wanted better food than cafeteria food. “I love to eat and love good food. I am adventuresome and willing to try anything at least once.”
Judy Hogan, Middlesex Community College
Dean of Business, Education & Technology
“ ‘The French Chef Cookbook’ by Julia Child is my favorite cookbook. I love French cooking, so that’s what inspired me to look at the book. I’m also fascinated with Julia Child. One rumor is that she was a spy, and I love all things covert and ‘spyish.’ Combine that with anything covered in a cream sauce and I’m suddenly your best friend. I acquired my love of cooking from my grandmother, Catherine Whitworth McNeil. She lived with us and was a wonderful cook. Nana made cooking look so easy and effortless; I assumed it was something everyone could do. “My real motivation to cook now is that I can usually get my two sons to the table at the same time as my husband and mom, who lives with us.”
Kathy Santoro, Owner,
Good Day Cafe, North Andover
“My one cookbook would be ‘Bouchon,’ by Thomas Keller. Everything he does is with such deliberation, and I embrace that ideology. Good Day Cafe’s quiche recipe is adapted from this book. It took me six months to perfect that recipe, and it is one of my most personal culinary achievements. “I am a recipe junkie. I’m famous for changing a recipe on the fly to my own preferences. This drives my staff crazy. But making the recipe my own is important to me. “My dad’s dad owned a bakery. After he retired, I watched my grandfather bake at home on Sundays. People would come in and out all day long with boxes full of goodies. “My dad helps me now on the weekends. It has been a wonderful experience working with him in the bakery. I feel blessed to have this time with him.”
Lane Glenn, President,
Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence
“My favorite cookbook is ‘The Common Grill Cookbook’ [by Craig Common]. The Common Grill is in Chelsea, Mich., across from The Purple Rose Theatre Company. I used to enjoy dinner at The Common Grill, then a show at The Purple Rose. “The dishes [in it] are complicated and impressive — but a reasonably good home chef can pull them off. “I have nearly 200 cookbooks. My mother used to say that I learned how to cook in self-defense. Mom knew her strengths, and she recognized that she was better at anything other than cooking. “My first cookbook was ‘The Joy of Cooking,’ a hand-me-down from my grandmother that taught me fundamentals, but it wasn’t until a college friend gave me an electric wok that I discovered just how fun and exotic flavor could be!”
MVM’s First Edition Cookbook – Now Available! For more than a decade, Merrimack Valley Magazine has been the region’s premier source of information about food, dining and drink. Along the way we’ve curated a great collection of personal recipes from the region’s top chefs.
We have published our first-ever cookbook featuring the very best of these recipes. The MVM Cookbook – First Edition is 96 pages of deliciousness in an easy-to-use format, a great addition to your recipe library, and it makes a great gift!