Not only is Seattle famous for its food culture, but we have a ton of majorly talented food writers that call the Emerald City home. And while these authors may have unique styles, they all have one thing in common – a deep love for food! With the holidays approaching, nothing makes the perfect gift for your favorite foodie like a d’lish read! So here’s a line-up of the top cookbooks on my list for Santa!
Culinary sage and Seattle Times columnist Chef Greg Atkinson’s new book, At the Kitchen Table, is a collection of heartfelt essays and divine recipes that will leave the reader full, mind and stomach! Atkinson shares his stories with his signature thoughtful style; one of my favorites is his New American Borscht. Just like my grandma made, but with a market-fresh, modern twist!
Cutie Pies by Dani Cone features pies of the mini kind. And oh so cute! Among all the delectable treats are gems like the Pear-Cranberry-Ginger Cutie Pie – perfect for the season, and always welcome at any holiday table! Don’t want to make your own? You can taste Dani’s craveable delights at High 5 Pie and Fuel Coffee in Seattle.
The mother-daughter team of Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis-Hearne have joined forces again to bring you Cast Iron Skillet: Big Flavors, a wonderful tome full of recipes involving the best pan in your kitchen! This culinary power team makes d’lish dishes like Lemon Chicken Sofrito and Yakisoba with Shrimp and Fresh Vegetables easy for weeknights or dinner parties… all in the skillet!
So head to your local bookstore and pick up these tasty reads just in time for the holidays! Cheers! – Kathy
New American Borscht
Tailored to match the tastes and sensibilities of twenty-first-century cooks, this version of the traditional Eastern European soup might not be perfectly authentic, but, made with the freshest local and natural ingredients, it does provide a certain sense of place.
Makes 8 servings
For the beets:
2 large beets, unpeeled, with tails intact
For the soup base:
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 quarts beef broth
1 bay leaf
For the vegetable sauté:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into small dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
3 or 4 small yellow-fleshed potatoes, unpeeled, cut into medium dice
1/2 head Napa cabbage
For finishing the soup:
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped parsley or dill, for garnish
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
To prepare the beets, place them in a saucepan with 4 cups water. Over high heat, bring the water to a full, rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the beets until they are tender, about 1 hour.
While the beets are cooking, prepare the soup base. Sprinkle the beef with salt. Stir the sugar in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or soup kettle over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and begins to turn brown, about five minutes; when the sugar is a deep caramel color, add the beef. Stir the beef around until it is well browned, about 2 minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar, beef broth, and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the beef until tender, about 1 hour.
While the beets and the beef are still cooking, prepare the vegetable sauté. Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the onions and carrots, and sauté until they are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cabbage and sauté just until the vegetables are heated through. Add the sautéed vegetables to the beef base and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the beets out of the boiling water and, under cold running water, slip off their skins. Cut the cooked, peeled beets into batons, about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide; add the cut beets to the soup. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, ladle it into serving bowls, and garnish with a pinch of chopped parsley or dill. Pass yogurt or sour cream separately.
Recipe from At the Kitchen Table: The Craft of Cooking at Home by Greg Atkinson, Sasquatch Books.
Pear-Cranberry-Ginger Cutie Pie
This recipe will be your new holiday favorite. Bring these Cutie Pies to your next holiday party and wow’em! Festive cranberries and the freshness of fall-harvested pears make a tasty combination, and a little kick of ginger makes the flavor unique.
Makes 1 double-crust 9-inch pie, 2 single-crust 9-inch pies, 16 Cutie Pies, 36 Petit-5s, 8 Pie Jars, 10 Flipsides, or 50 Pie Pops.
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 (16-ounce) bag fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
4 medium-sized Bosc pears
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch
All-Butter Pie Crust (recipe follows)
Crumb Top (recipe follows)
Whipped cream lightly flavored with vanilla and a hint of ginger, optional
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Spray the cups of a muffin pan with nonstick pan spray.
To make the pie filling, in a large saucepan, stir the water and sugar to combine. Bring the water-sugar mixture to a boil over medium-high, and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
Add the cranberries to the sugar mixture, and lower the heat. Simmer the cranberries for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to pop. Drain the cranberries and set them aside.
Peel, core, and cut the pears into 1/2-inch cubes.
In a large bowl, mix together the pears, ginger, and cornstarch. Add the cranberries and stir to combine.
To make the crust, follow the All-Butter Crust recipe and roll out the dough per the instructions.
Cut 16 (5 1/2-inch-diameter) circles from the dough. Reroll the dough scraps to make all the circles, and avoid overhandling the dough.
Gently but firmly press each dough circle into a muffin cup. For the crust edges, fold, tuck and crimp for each Cutie Pie.
Spoon the filling evenly into the Cutie Pie shells, and set aside.
If choosing the Crumb Top option, follow the Crumb Top recipe and sprinkle it over the filling.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. To see if the crust bottom is golden, too, use a butter knife to pop a Cutie Pie out of a muffin cup. If the bottom is not brown, bake a few minutes longer. If the pie top is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the final few minutes.
All-Butter Pie Crust
Makes 1 double-crust 9-inch pie, 2 single-crust 9-inch pies, 16 Cutie Pies, 36 Petit-5s, 8 Pie Jars, 10 Flipsides, or 50 Pie Pops
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup ice water
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar, and mix well.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, and mix gently with a pastry blender, a fork, or your hands.
The goal is to lightly incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. The butter pieces should be well coated with the dry mixture and somewhat flattened.
Gradually add the water to the flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing the dough until it comes together and forms pea-sized or crouton-sized crumbs. The dough should look like coarse individual pieces, not smooth and beaten together like cookie dough.
With your hands, gather the dough crumbs together to form 2 patties, gently molding the crumb-like mixture into a patty shape and being careful not to overhandle the dough. Wrap each patty in plastic wrap.
Chill the dough for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks.
When you’re ready to use the dough, let it sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to soften it and make it workable. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the 2 dough patties to about a 1/4-inch thickness, lightly dusting it with flour, if needed, to prevent sticking, and making sure to roll the dough evenly.
Makes enough crumb topping for 1 (9-inch) Pie, 16 Cutie Pies, or 36 Petit-5s
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup rolled oats
In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and mix well.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, and mix thoroughly with a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers until the texture is like small peas.
Add the rolled oats, and mix to create a crumbly consistency.
Sprinkle the crumb topping over a pie, Cutie Pies, or Petit-5s before baking.
Recipe from Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory, and Adorable Recipes by Dani Cone, Andrews McMeel Publishing.