Love List: Cookbooks

As I’m sure many of you know, I love to cook! My favorite part of the day is when I have Alexa play me french bistro or jazz music and I whirl around the kitchen, pretending it’s a Nancy Meyers kitchen. Cooking is absolutely my self-care – putting on music, lighting a candle and cooking for hours helps me destress and unwind. 

I have a complicated relationship with cookbooks. Unlike baking, which is a science, I love cooking for my ability to play around with the rules and put my own twist on things. So I absolutely love cookbooks for learning techniques and for getting inspiration, but I rarely follow recipes. Most of the time, I look through a cookbook for a photo that inspires me, read the ingredients, skim the recipe, and make it from my heart. (Of course, this relaxed cooking attitude goes out the window if it’s fresh cuisine or Julia Childs – I always use a recipe for those!) Each of these cookbooks are amazing in their own right, and have a special place in my heart.

So without further ado, my 10 favorite cookbooks!

  1. Joy Of Cooking – the first cookbook I ever received. My mom gave this to me as a gift for Christmas when I was 12 years old, and it deepened my new hobby for cooking into a passion.
  2. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – the most beautiful cookbook I own. If a picture is worth a thousand words, each of the photos in this cookbook is worth a thousand recipes.
  3. Beautiful Boards – the cookbook that enables my obsession with dinner parties. It has key information all about hosting dinner parties and, of course, how to craft a perfect charcuterie board.
  4. Ottolenghi – this cookbook is especially nostalgic for me because it holds recipes from a restaurant I went to every day when I lived in London for two years. One of my favorite things about food is its ability to stir up memories, and making Ottolenghi’s incredible recipes always bring back beautiful memories of London for me. Plus, he brings an amazing unique flavor blend to cooking with his Israeli and English background and has created the best granola of all time. 
  5. Tartine – there’s a reason you see this cookbook displayed in the windows of every book store! It’s simply the best and most comprehensive cookbook about bread there is. I love to channel my Great British Bake Off self and get yeasty on the weekends with this book.
  6. Prune – another cookbook from a favorite restaurant of mine. Prune was an amazing lower east side restaurant known for its incredible radish and butter appetizer. Unfortunately, the restaurant had to close permanently due to COVID-19 but you cannot believe how amazing this dish is! My aunt is a chef who was trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and introduced me to Gabrielle Hamilton. I remember going to the restaurant with my cousin for the first time and thinking that radish and butter was a bizarre combination, but knowing I had to try it. I’m so glad I did, because it is still one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. With this cookbook it’s been easy for me to recreate at home, and I make it every time I want to impress guests. 
  7. World Of Nobu – I spent so much of my life thinking I was allergic to fish because of the reaction I had when eating sushi. When I found out that it was actually seaweed that I’m allergic to, it opened up the beautiful world of sushi for me. After I met Nobuyuki at a food and wine festival and was able to get this signed book of his, I’ve been making delicious sushi (with soy paper instead of seaweed!) at least once a month. 
  8. What’s Gaby Cooking – my go-to cookbook. I grew up with Gaby in Tucson and am so proud of her and the cooking empire she has built. This is the cookbook that I use the most – it has amazing recipes that are simple and light and is just perfect for delicious but easy meals.
  9. Purple Sage Cookbook – the best part of collective cooking. This cookbook is a local Tucson cookbook from my mom’s junior league. Each of the women in her league put a recipe into this book that’s filled with love and wonderful home cooking. I grew up cooking with my mom and this is what we’d always cook out of. I still make the chocolate banana bread every October to bring to events. It’s my favorite sweet thing to cook!
  10. The LA Cookbook – the best recipes from a beautifully diverse city. When I moved to LA my best friend Meaghan got me this cookbook, with the best recipes from the best restaurants all over LA. It was not only an amazing cookbook but a guidebook for me as I ate my way through LA’s diverse restaurant scene. My favorite recipe by far is the cocktail recipe from Gracias Madre’s Restaurant.

These cookbooks all have such a special place in my heart (and my kitchen!) and I hope they can one day be as special for you. I can’t wait to see what you make from these amazing recipes!

xo, Sarah