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My Love Affair With Cookbooks

Eva Amurri Martino shares her favorite cookbooks next to a beautiful vase of peonies

Truth be told, I learned how to cook because I fell in love with cookbooks.  I was in college when I started collecting them, and as somebody who really had no context for any type of cooking experience, these tales of delicious recipes and perfect technique comforted me and inspired me.  I would look at the pictures, read the text about each recipe, and think about the adult life I would eventually have.  I’ve always loved food, and these books were almost like novels with food as the characters.  I would get excited to try different flavors and foods just by turning the pages. 

Eva Amurri Martino sits in her Connecticut home with a pile of her favorite cookbooks

One of my favorite things to do has always been to get a new cookbook, and read it through once cover to cover.  Then, I like to pick recipes, buy the ingredients, and learn from the pages to cook something new.  What I Love about cooking from a cookbook is that you inevitably learn more about cooking itself– a new technique, an exciting flavor combination…and then you can store that information to eventually make up new recipes of your own. 

Eva Amurri Martino shares her favorite cookbooks next to a beautiful vase of peonies

Although I have less time these days to indulge in a chunk of time to cook a new complicated cookbook recipe, I still love buying cookbooks and reading through them.  And I’ve also found some amazing cookbook options that specialize in really simple and fast recipes that are perfect for pulling off of the shelf when you need some weekday inspiration. 

Eva Amurri Martino shares her favorite cookbooks next to a beautiful vase of peonies

Whatever you’re looking for, don’t underestimate the power of having BOTH kinds of cookbooks in your arsenal: ones for practicality but also ones that inspire and transport you, and open your eyes to other cultures! Today I’m sharing some of my favorites with you.  I have an entire bookcase filled with my cookbook collection, but I’ve selected some that shouldn’t be missed.  Please share in the Comments below if there are any I must try!

Eva Amurri Martino holds up Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty

Cravings, by Chrissie Tiegen

This cookbook is as fun to  read as it is to cook with. She is absolutely hilarious, and shares so many amazing personal stories on the pages! Plus her food is delicious.  I really love the easy-to-make Thai recipes from her Mom, too!

The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper, by Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

This was the first cookbook that I ever bought (besides “The Joy Of Cooking”, which turned out to be a snooze) and is by far the most influential on my style of eating and cooking.  I adore this book and I’m made every single recipe for years.  My favorite thing about this book is how much you learn about cooking and technique itself.  Plus there are so many great suggestions for ways to alter recipes in the book for more variety.

My Father’s Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow

This book is a classic, it’s SO delicious! I love how the recipes highlight really fresh ingredients but aren’t too complicated.  Plus, the stories that accompany the recipes are really interesting!

Eva Amurri Martino sits in her Connecticut home with a pile of her favorite cookbooks

Weeknight Food Made Fast, by Williams Sonoma

I registered for this cookbook as a wedding gift, and it has turned out to be a total lifesaver! It’s split up in to time frame sections, so you can choose a recipe based on how much time you have to prepare it! I’ve loved every single thing I’ve made from this book, and I think they’re great crowd pleasers, too.

The Essentials Of Slow Cooking, by Williams Sonoma

Slow cookers aren’t just for chili and meatballs! If you love your slow cooker, I highly recommend this book.  It has so many delicious recipes, and nothing is simpler than making food in a slow cooker.

Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi

The hands down most delicious book of vegetarian recipes.  Even if you’re not a vegetarian you will love this book! It was recommended to me by a friend about five years ago, and I’m obsessed.

Made In Sicily, by Giorgio Locatelli

This is an absolutely beautiful cookbook.  The recipes are so authentic and yummy, and they bring me back to my times in Italy.  It’s also a beautiful look at southern Italian culture– I highly recommend it for people who love Italian food, particularly seafood.

Eva Amurri Martino holds up Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty

The Impatient Foodie, by Elettra Wiedemann

Elettra is a friend of mine, and I love her cookbook! My favorite part of her whole approach to cooking is the fact that she strives for big flavor and an elevated experience, with lots less work and time than you would think.  If you’re looking to get out of your food rut but don’t want a complicated cooking experience, this book is the one for you!

Kristen Kish Cooking, by Kristen Kish

This is a stunning and delicious aspirational cookbook! Kristen is such a talented chef (of Top Chef fame) and has a really amazing flavor profile that she works through in this book.  It’s amazing if you’re looking to up your cooking game and become a better chef.  The recipes are beyond yummy.

Gjelina Cookbook

Gjelina is one of my favorite Los Angeles restaurants, and I always have an incredible meal there. I love this cookbook because it reminds me of our time in LA, and it it’s a great way to cook up some quintessential Los Angeles meals whenever I want. 

Everyday Pasta, by Giada De Laurentis

Who doesn’t love pasta?! Pasta is one of my favorite foods ever, and this cookbook is such a great celebration of the Italian staple! There is truly a pasta for every occasion in this book.

The Big Book Of Sides, by Rick Rodgers

This is another Cookbook collection staple! I love using this book for dinner parties, when I have a clear idea of what I want to serve for a main course, but I’m feeling stumped about the sides.

Eva Amurri Martino sits in her Connecticut home with a pile of her favorite cookbooks

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Photographs by Julia Dags.

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17 Comments

  1. melanie chiasson says:

    Hello Eva,

    I love to cook with this book Hello Eva,
    GWYNETH PALTROW!

    Bye bye!

    07.02.18Reply
  2. Tabitha says:

    Same here! Looks like I started to collect cookbooks like others collect comics magazines.

    07.02.18Reply
  3. Glenda says:

    Buffalo Style by Whitney Bond (if you LOVE buffalo sauce this is a book on all things with buffalo sauce)

    Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo (simple scratch cooking)

    07.02.18Reply
    • Ha! Oh my gosh that sounds delicious! I want to read it just to see how they made an entire book of buffalo style recipes!

      07.03.18Reply
  4. Cara says:

    I LOVE cookbooks! One of my new favorites is Love, Welcome, Serve by Amy Hannon. It’s centered around the idea of extending hospitality to others and loving them with food! That might be a total Southern thing, taking food to others in their times of need or to lift their spirits, but I think it’s just a fun and sweet book.

    07.02.18Reply
  5. Deb Reed says:

    Great read and good eating!

    1. Any book by Alice Waters.
    2. The Immigrant Cookbook
    3. Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity (Women for Women Int’l)

    07.02.18Reply
  6. Margo says:

    My go to cookbook these days is Magnolia Table…and the ricotta pancakes are to do die for! I also love the joy of cooking, I learned a lot of staple recipes from that book!

    07.02.18Reply
    • I think I need this book! I love Chip and Joanna!

      07.03.18Reply
  7. Margo says:

    My go to cookbook these days is Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines. The ricotta pancakes are on heavy rotation in my home! One of my all time favorites is the Joy of Cooking…I heard how to cook many staples from that book!
    Happy cooking!

    07.02.18Reply
  8. Jen says:

    I have been collecting cookbooks for years. My favorite and my very first-one almost 30 years ago was The Joy of cooking. Pages are food stained and torn but it’s my go to. Paula Deen and Ina Garten are also my favs….Happy Cooking Eva

    07.02.18Reply
  9. Steph says:

    I love the old cookbooks put together by the school PTA or the Church with Family favorite recipes! Mine are stained, torn and held together by rubber bands, but they are my go to for pot luck and party ideas!

    07.02.18Reply
  10. Caroline says:

    LA Son by Roy Choi, great stories and teaches you the basics of Asian food.

    07.02.18Reply
  11. Christina says:

    Fabulous post! Thanks!

    07.03.18Reply