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12.13.2012
Give someone a cookbook!

One of the great pleasures of popping in on KUOW’s Weekday every
Thursday is that I get to recommend a cookbook every week. I love eating out,
but home cooking is still the heart of my diet, and I love to be inspired by
other cooks and chefs working the world over. For me, cookbooks remind me of
how little I still know about food, and how much fun it can be to chase more
knowledge.

Like fancy olive oils and chocolates, (hint!) cookbooks are an indulgence that we might not purchase for ourselves–the very best kind of present. And so here are several recommendations for cookbooks that might make great
gifts for your loved ones in these last few days of Chanukah or when Christmas
rolls along.  Enjoy my recommendations, but remember that browsing is the best way to discover an unexpected new cookbook:  get over to your favorite bookstore (I recommend both Book Larder and Elliott Bay) and get lost among the baking books and the chef memoirs.

For the young apartment dweller:

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

By Deb Perelman

Deb Perelman’s blog is a terrific source for recipes and
prose—her cooking is rooted in the real world (tiny apartment kitchen, husband,
kid) but doesn’t compromise for the dreary or the obvious. And her headnotes
and essays are funny too, filled with odd unshakable cravings for pie or
fritters as they are. Her recipes are very approachable, but worldly recipes,
with a big emphasis on vegetables, though by no means health food-y. Look for
things like roasted cumin chickpeas with tahini sauce, devilled eggs with crisp
jamon and crushed marcona almonds, mussels served with a clever twice cooked
method for oven fries.

For the world traveler.

Naomi Duguid

Burma: Rivers of Flavor

Burma is by Naomi Duguid, co-author of  Hot Sour Salty Sweet, is one of the greatest
practitioners of National Geographic-style of cookbook writing—lots of
photos, ethnographic info worthy of a scholarly book, maps, and just a little
adventure thrown in. Burma is a little smaller than the coffee-table sized books
she wrote with her ex-partner Jeffrey Alford, Burma opens us up to a world of cuisine just as a country is becoming more open again. Burma’s food is fascinating because of all the
cultures, indigenous and neighboring (eg China, India, Laos, Thailand) that
intersect in the kite-shaped country. Duguid’s incredible location photography
and intermittent essays bring the experience of Burma to life. As with Jerusalem
from Ottolenghi
—this year’s essential cookbook, here’s a new way for
cookbooks to explore a place—beautiful pictures and prose, but not such a precious
book that you need to keep it out of the kitchen.  Burma has a great introduction to easy to make
pantry basics like fried shallots, and red chile oil, roasted chickpea flour. Recipes
include succulent grapefruit salad with fried shallots, lemongrass chicken soup
with lime leaves; sweet-tart pork belly stew, with hibiscus; and amazing noodle
dishes.

For the conscientious carnivore

Bruce Aidells
The Great Meat Cookbook

I get a lot of people asking me about how to cook meat, and
for them, I’d recommend Bruce Aidells’ Great Meat Cookbook. You’ll get photos
of cuts, basics on doneness for different kinds of meats, information on more
sustainable meat options like grass-finished beef.  And of course Aidell, whom you might
recognize from your sausage package, has wonderful recipes, some for cheap cuts
like pork butt, and some for more expensive celebrations. There’s no one I’d
trust more for information on how to roast a standing rib roast this season.

 

For the tinkerer

The Art of Fermentation
Sandor Katz

About a decade ago Sandor Katz unleashed a new wave of
do-it-yourself culture with his book Wild Fermentation, which encouraged people
to make their own sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt and miso and tempeh. Now his more
scholarly Wild Fermentation has filled in the gaps—a true reference book for
those interested in cultivating the microflora our civilzations have grown up
around.  The book is less full of recipes
than methods, encouraging people to explore the craft of fermentation creatively
and fearlessly. This is a book for someone with a garage or a basement, who’s
ready to set some jars a’ bubbling in the dark.

 

To promote Seattle Pride

Tom Douglas
The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Whenever you’re a
little jealous of the climate in Florida or the cultural pulse of New York, it’s
always good to remember just how well we eat here in Seattle, in part because
of the chefs and bakers who have passed through Tom Douglas’ kitchens around
the city. The Dahlia bakery is a particular gem, and this year, the cookbook to
celebrate its carbo-licious output has arrived.

One of my all time favorite cookies is the double chocolate
truffle cookie at the Dahlia bakery, and this  bookh as the recipe for it. Of course, the book is also filled with really well illustrated recipes for hand pies, eclairs and of course that coconut cream pie. But the truth is, I’m lazy enough to have the Dahlia bakers make most of those things for me; I can’t wait however to make, then gobble up the cookies, cakes and pies.

Comments

  1. Kathleen

    I no longer live in Seattle so having the cookbook is a nice way to visit without the airfare. This summer I made the raspberry pinot noir sorbet (actually used blackberries, which Douglas suggested as an alternative), which was extremely easy and extremely delicious and a big hit at my gathering. And I can’t wait to try all of those hand pies!

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