the appetizer:

Discover classic cooking in The Fireside Cook Book by James Beard, with menus like English Dinner (Scotch Broth, Rissolé Potatoes, Trifle) and Swedish Dinner (Dilled New Potatoes, Roast Leg of Lamb, Caramel Pudding).

Cookbook Profile

The Fireside Cook Book
The Classic Guide to Fine Cooking
for Beginner and Expert

by James Beard


Anointed the "dean of American cookery" by The New York Times in 1954, James Beard is celebrated today as a central figure in the creation of an American food identity. An internationally trained chef with a gift for teaching, he dedicated his life to delivering, with passion, his message that good food comes from fresh, wholesome, and local ingredients.

Beard demonstrated, on television and radio, in his cooking classes and his numerous cookbooks, how he applied the same techniques to a half-hour supper as he would to the most elaborate buffet, achieving delicious results every time. Beard's foundation, begun in 1986 just months after his death, stands as his legacy "to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence" for present and future generations of home cooks and professional chefs.

In 1949, Beard published his first comprehensive masterwork that brought him to national prominence. Now, almost sixty years later, a facsimile of the first edition of The Fireside Cook Book with a foreword by acclaimed food writer Mark Bittman, will introduce today's food lovers to an inventively original work on American cooking. Offering 1,217 recipes written in Beard's distinctive voice, the book is lavishly illustrated in full color throughout with charming, rustic illustrations—over 400 in all—by husband-and-wife team Alice and Martin Provensen, who also tested many of the recipes as they "cooked and painted their way" through the book.

An important culinary artifact that is as fresh and relevant today as when it was written, it is in these pages that Beard first laid out his case for an American cuisine, arguing in his introduction that "America has the opportunity, as well as the resources, to create for herself a truly national cuisine that will incorporate all that is the best in the traditions of the many people who have crossed the seas to form our new, still young nation." Beard's prophetic words, and the recipes they comprise, make this a seminal work that exudes the pleasures of dining well. This book teaches Americans to regard food as a source of pride and to recognize that any meal, from a simple family gathering to a formal dinner party, can be a pleasurable sensory experience.

In The Fireside Cook Book you will find clear, easy-to-follow instructions for the basic preparation of every kind of food as well as:

Both nostalgic and timeless, this is a brilliant addition to any cook's (even those whose shelves are stocked with contemporary cookbooks) library. Simple enough for the novice, delicious enough for the most meticulous master chef, and complete enough to provide a range of imaginative menus without repetition, The Fireside Cook Book amply demonstrates, as Mark Bittman attests, "that good home cooking hasn't changed much in almost sixty years!"

About the Authors

James Beard had a national reputation as an authority on every phase of food. He knew the cooking of every corner of our country, and cooked in nearly every language. He lived abroad, traveled throughout Europe a number of times, saw most of the Western hemisphere, and visited Hawaii and North Africa. His familiarity with exotic foreign foods spiced his extensive knowledge of American cooking at its best.

Beard was adviser to several large food companies, was food editor of Argosy magazine, and made many appearances on radio and television. His first three books are Hors d'Oeuvres and Canapes, Cook It Outdoors, and Fowl and Game Cookery. Equally at home in the kitchen of his own New York apartment and that of a hotel, James Beard brought the same sure touch to a half-hour supper and to the most elaborate buffet. He died in 1985.


Alice and Martin Provensen not only illustrated this book, but also tested many of its recipes, as they both cooked and painted their way through it. The European flavor of some of these drawings is due to a sketching trip they took through Europe before shutting themselves in the the kitchen with paints and pans. They also illustrated The Fireside Book of Folk Songs and The Golden Mother Goose.


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This page created January 2009