Time Life: The Good Cook Series

Good Cook Series Introduction

The Good Cook series from Time Life is one of our favourite cookbook references that we turn to for the clarity of the explanations and the depth of the recipes throughout the books in the series.

There is little doubt that any observer of the cookbook scene would nominate this tour-de-force in their pantheon of greats.

Even though the recipe listing is a compendium of already published material, it is the intelligent curation of the recipes and the large section at the front of each book in the Good Cook Series showing the techniques required to achieve the desired results that is so appealing. It also does not take shortcuts. If you need to bone a duck as the starting point for a recipe then that is what you are shown how to do!

The editor for the Good Cook Series was the incredibly talented Richard Olney, one of our favourite food writers. He was the author, for example, of the fabulous Simple French Food which we still turn to today for recipe inspiration. The prose in this book is delightful.

The series was published in 1979 with Richard Olney as the chief consultant but he was supported by a veritable who’s who of the food world at the time. Names such as Jane Grigson, Alan Davidson, Michel Lemonnier and Jeremiah Tower give an indication of the strength of the lineup.

Time Life had a policy of only using recipes for this series that had been previously published. The story goes that Olney and others therefore set up the Petits, Propos Culinaires magazine to publish recipes that they wanted to include in the series but had never been published!

Good Cook Series Review

There were 28 volumes published in the series in the United Kingdom:

Beef and Veal
Cakes and Pastries
Desserts/Classic Desserts
Eggs and Cheese
Fish and Shellfish
Grains, Pasta and Pulses
Hot Hors d’Oeuvres
Outdoor Cooking
Salads and cold Hors-d’Oeuvre
Snacks and Canapes
Terrines, Pates and Galantines

The name of the volumes published in the United States (as opposed to those published in the United Kingdom) vary slightly. For example the UK title for Offal was replaced with the title “Variety Meats” in the United States and the title for the volume named Biscuits in the UK was changed to “Cookies and Crackers” in the US.

This is an amazing resource that everyone should have available both for the extensive photographic essays in the front of each title showing how to prepare a selection of the dishes through to the extensive range of recipes at the back of the book.

There is an amusing thread in the old egullet forum relating to the Time Life Good Cook series where you can play the game of guessing whether the photographed collections are from England (eg Offal) or the United States (eg Variety Meats).

egullet forum of Good Cook series

You can order Time Life ‘The Good Cook’ Series by clicking on the link below:

Time Life ‘The Good Cook’ Series with Richard Olney (Editor)