cookbooks are my favourite kind of books
lifestyle blogger shannon silver shares her favourite cookbooks and tips to develop your own recipes β€’ essellesse, a lazy luxury blog based in san francisco

I’ve mentioned it a few times but I LOVE COOKBOOKS!

Without question, they are my favourite kind of books to read. In fact, whenever I first buy I cookbook, I read it from start to finish in one sitting & then plan out the things I want.

I’ve been VERY into Evernote lately & basically I keep a running list of recipes to make & what cookbook {& page!} it’s from.

Quick tangent – I absolutely LOVE Evernote. Such a fantastic app that has been a gamechanger for me blog wise. I can do a whole post but if you don’t have Evernote – download it here. It’s so good that I upgraded to the professional version on the first day of using it.


I have a ton of cookbooks & over the years, I find I’m reaching for the same books time & time again so I wanted to share them here as well as one of my biggest tips for recipe development

If I could describe my cooking style, it would very much be California coastal… in fact, Lazy Luxury is a good way to describe it. It’s very minimal, lots of fresh ingredients, seasonal, & I like to let the food shine vs overcomplicating things. One of my biggest rules is to not have more than 10 ingredients in a recipe.

SO- here are my fave cookbooks in full details & my biggest tip for recipe planning <3

my fav cookbooks

True Roots by Kristin Cavallari: I absolutely love this cookbook because Kristin & I have such similar cooking styles. {check out Kristin’s Zucchini Blondie recipe!! }

The Clean Plate by Gwenyth Paltrow: I have a few of Gwenyth’s cookbooks & this is by far her best. Like the book above, it’s a very similar cooking style to mine. I appreciate that the recipes have minimal ingredients & she really understands what flavours go together.

Feel Good Food by Giada di Laurentiis: back in 2009, when I wanted to be a chef, Giada was someone I very much looked up to. This cookbook is her answer to the question she gets constantly: how she maintains her figure. It’s all lightened up recipes she makes for herself at home. Fantastic, light recipes & I like that it’s a glimpse in her lifestyle {see more here + her quinoa pilaf}

The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook: what a fantastic, extensive cookbook! I love that it’s scaled for two because that is my sweet number. The ingredient quantities aren’t just slashed but all the recipes have been re-engineered for smaller cookwear & kitchens. This has also helped us really lower our grocery bill too!

The Silver Oak Cookbook by Dominic Orsini: THIS is my favourite cookbook of all time. Dominic is the chef at Silver Oak Winery & everything he makes is phenomenal. We frequent Silver Oak & members at Twomey so we go to the events a lot and are always blown away by his cooking. Not only is his book beyond beautiful, but the book is divided by the seasons. It’s also designed to go perfectly with Silver Oak & Twomey’s wines. {check out Chef Dominic’s mushroom stock & bacon truffles!}

What to Drink with What You Eat: this is book 1/2 that helps me develop recipes. It shows what wines go with what food but it’s VERY specific & accessible. I like this to assess the body / weight of food in your mouth of things – it helps me keep things balanced. Plus, it’s fun to try new wines with things! Really awesome for party planning too.

The Flavour Bible: IF YOU LOVE TO COOK, YOU NEED THIS BOOK. This is one of my favourite books of all time I turn to it CONSTANTLY. Basically, this book lists out what goes with what. In fact, if you’re in a bind and don’t know what to make, sometimes I like to choose the item I’m craving & make it with whatever is capitalized. {more here}

recipe development

leuchtrum 1917 lined journal in port wine: first off, this journal is just gorgeous! Second, I bought the ruled / lined one to keep as a recipe book. This is where I keep all my personal recipes. Handy to have all your recipes in one place – cute gift idea too! Plus you never know where it may lead, like a cookbook perhaps? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ I also love this colour, it’s absolutely stunning!!

my tips for developing recipes

when you test a new recipe in a cookbook, write all your notes down. what did you substitute? what did you adjust? what worked? what didn’t? record it all. you will see commonalities unfurl & really see your cooking style!

Any recipe that goes in my book, it’s the very last step! So what I do is I make all my recipe notes in Evernote & once it is PERFECT, then I add it to my recipe journal.

Don’t be afraid to fail! I can’t begin to tell you how many recipes DON’T make it to the book. In fact, I think failed recipes makes for a more skilled cook. It’s important to know your your limits & why something didn’t work. Maybe it was over-seasoning? Maybe it was too high heat? Maybe it was one ingredient that threw something off? Understanding all of the above will make the recipes you do make that much better

Get a Cooks Illustrated membership. #nonspon {ps NOTHING in my IGTV is ever sponsored, just an FYI – I’m very adamant on that} but this is a source that WILL make you a better homecook. I’ve been a member for like 6 years now & it has taken my cooking to the next level. It’s a fantastic source of product reviews, food science, WHY things work in their recipes, & so much more. If you want to improve in the kitchen, no matter what your experience is, this is the place for you. I talk about them all the time so more here, here, & here.

lazy luxury

Happy Saturday!! Enjoy your weekend. Making anything good?

xo SLS

~* 10 years of cooking tips & my tips for stocking a kitchen for two… or one! *~

~* should I bring back the cookbook club? check it all out here!*~

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