Editor’s Note: There’s still time to find a great cookbook for the favorite food lover on your list. This year, look to the U.S.’s new food capitol –the Pacific Northwest. With ocean fresh fish and shellfish, committed organic farmers and vintners, artisan food producers, and chefs dedicated to using fresh, local ingredients, you won’t find another part of the country that’s more delicious. And our resident Northwest Food expert, Sue Frause, host of the popular show Kitsch ‘N Bitch, brings us some of her Northwest favorites.
It’s just not Christmas without somebody in our family giving or receiving a cookbook, and our kitchen shelves are proof of all those culinary holiday gifts. The 40-year collection has mushroomed into an entire wall of bound recipes, from Betty Crocker and Julia Child to Anthony Bourdain and Tom Douglas.
One of the fun aspects about cookbooks is they can transport you to another place — either sparking a memory of a recent adventure or marking a desire to go there. Our shelves are laden with culinary tales from other lands, but recently feature authors from the Pacific Northwest. After all, the food that is called for is generally available, whether it’s from your very own garden, a farmers market or local grocery store.
Here are four cookbooks with Pacific Northwest roots –– all authored by Pacific Northwest chefs and cooks and published within the past two years that would make a great holiday gift.
A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories | by Renee Erickson with Jess Thomson. This is the debut cookbook of James Beard-nominated chef Renee Erickson. The owner of six Seattle restaurants has compiled more than 70 of her favorite recipes. The 320-page cookbook book is organized around the four seasons with menus that include Wintry Brunch, Wild Foods Dinner, Fourth of July Crab Feast and Early Fall Put-Up Party. The recipes range from simple fare to such delicacies as Steak Tartare, Chilled Melon Soup, Harissa-Rubbed Roasted Lamb and Boat Street Bread Pudding. There’s also a section devoted to such staples as homemade mayonnaise and tapenade and a list of resources that includes Erickson’s preferred brands — from booze to fish and shellfish. Helpful sidebars include a wine-buying guide and tips for preparing a cheese plate. There are also profiles on Erickson’s employees and producers. (Sasquatch Books)
Honey: Everyday Recipes for Cooking and Baking with Nature’s Sweetest Secret Ingredient | by Angelo Prosperi-Porta. This follows the debut cookbook of the Vancouver Island award-winning chef, Flavours of Cooper’s Cove Guesthouse. Chef Prosperi-Porta and his partner Ina Haegemann have owned and operated Angelo’s Cooking School at Cooper’s Cove Guesthouse in Victoria, BC since 1999. His Honey cookbook is a collection of 85 sweet and savory recipes, inspired by the chef’s Italian heritage and his “profound respect and admiration for bees.” The 192 page book is broken down into eight sections, ranging from Breakfast and Main Dishes to Desserts and Beverages. The recipes show the versatility of honey, and include Warm Chocolate Almond Crepes with Raspberry Honey Butter; Canadian Whisky and Honey-Cured Salmon; and Mini Blackberry Goat Cheese Cheesecakes. Cooks will also learn how honey can add moisture and color to baked goods; enhance the flavor in sauces and preserves; and how to whip up your own batch of honey throat lozenges. (TouchWood Editions)
Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal | by Peter Miller. As the owner of Peter Miller Books in Seattle, a bookshop devoted to design, Miller makes lunch every day for his team. Lunch at the Shop is the celebration of the many in-house lunches he’s created over the years and the 160-page, red and white cookbook includes more than 50 “deliciously simple” recipes that may be made at work or home. “It’s not a trophy cookbook,” says Miller, whose shop is located near the Pike Place Market. The six chapters range from Getting Started: Stocking Your Work Pantry to Lunch in Context: Eating Seasonally. Scattered throughout the book are Miller’s rich musings about everything from bread and cilantro to delighting in a leftover pasta lunch in Nova Scotia. The cookbook includes lush photos by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, who co-authored the 2013 James Beard Award winner Canal House Cooks Every Day, and drawings by Colleen Miller. The book’s introduction includes Peter Miller’s philosophy: “This book is a manifest to lunch, a script to making a meal for yourself and a few others. It is a call to action, to you, and the people you work with, to share and make lunch together. The job is not complex, and it is not clever. You are simply taking a part of the day back into your own hands, making it personal and a pleasure. The food will be better, the stories more interesting, and the day considerably more distinct.” (ABRAMS)
World Spice at Home: New Flavors for 75 Favorite Dishes | by Amanda Bevill and Julie Kramis Hearne. It’s only fitting that Amanda Bevill would co-author a cookbook focused on spices. As the owner of World Spice in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Bevill is a maven of spices and blends. For World Spice at Home, she teamed up with Julie Kramis Hearne, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a chef at The Herbfarm Restaurant. The result is a 240-page cookbook that includes 75 recipes in seven categories, ranging from Small Bites and Soups & Stews to Meat & Poultry and Sweets & Breads. At the front of the book is Spice Pantry 101: Tips, Tools & Techniques and a section that lists and describes pure spices and spice blends. The recipes focus on breathing new life into familiar and traditional dishes by adding new flavors. A grilled ribeye steak calls for an Arabic baharat spice blend while carrot cake includes Kashmiri garam masala. The cookbook also features 13 of Bevill and Hearne’s favorite spice blends such as za’atar, besar, baharat and ras el hanout. (Sasquatch)– By Sue Frause, RFT Contributor