It’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is a haven of all things delicious. Food is everything from passion to pastime to lifelong pursuit for the multitude of talented culinary professionals in this neck of the woods. Dedicated farmers and growers, enterprising artisan and craft purveyors, uber-talented food writers and darn good cooks – we’ve got ‘em all here in our little corner of the continent, and I’m excited to share some of their stories in this PNW-themed book roundup!
First up is Washington Food Artisans: Farm Stories and Chef Recipes, eloquently narrated by Leora Y. Bloom, and featuring lush photography by Clare Barboza. The book profiles chefs, farmers, artisan producers and more, bringing the reader along with her on her journey to find the beating hearts of Washington State’s food culture. Stories of success, hardship, rebuilding and creating join mouthwatering recipes and eye-catching images to present a real sense of the community that makes our state one of the most abundant and versatile culinary meccas in the country. Studded with recipes like Roasted Beet Salad with Port-Lavender Vinaigrette, Sockeye Salmon with Chanterelles and Summer Peppers, and Washington Cherry Gazpacho, the length and breadth of our wonderful state is present in every bite.
And while we’re talking about Washington’s unique food scene, Pike Place Market Recipes and Dishing Up Washington by Jess Thomson definitely hit the spot. Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market is teeming with inspiration for delicious dishes, and likewise is home to many of our city’s most beloved shops and restaurants. Thomson has collected into one volume the best of the best to be had at the Market, such as MarketSpice Tea Cake, Downtown Duck Salad from the Pear Delicatessen, and Marche’s Mussels with Pernod Cream. As if that isn’t tasty enough, she also gives us a plethora of menu suggestions, handy hints and tips, and a listing of shops and restaurants featured in the book.
In Dishing Up Washington, Thomson continues sharing her love of all things grown, caught, found and foraged in our beautiful state, and the people who bring them to the table. Grilled Spot Prawns with Curried Caramel Dipping Sauce, Tatanka-Style Bison Tacos and my own Pale Ale Oven-Roasted Clams are just a few of the dishes Thomson presents alongside insightful food facts, producer and chef profiles, and photography that will have you heading to the kitchen immediately!
Now for something a little salty… do you have a “salty tooth” like my dear friend and local author Cynthia Nims? Well, you’re not alone, and I have just the book for you. Salty Snacks, Nims’ love note to the savory side, is filled with over seventy-five recipes – many of which I had the pleasure of taste-testing so I can definitely attest to their yumminess. For the sodium-conscious, never fear; Nims believes the beauty of making your own salty snacks from scratch is in being able to control how much or little salt you use. Salami Chips with Grainy Mustard, Coconut Crisps with Basil and Chiles, Parsnip and Carrot Chips (my fave!)… These are just a few of the utterly craveable offerings to delight your salty palate!
Even with the rise in popularity of gluten-free eating, there are some who still believe that gluten-free means boring. Well, Seattleite Jeanne Sauvage, author of the popular blog Gluten-Free Living, begs to differ. In her new book Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays, Sauvage proves that living gluten-free is just as delicious and rewarding as not, especially around the holidays! Jam-packed with tips and tricks for the gluten-free baker – “don’t be afraid of deep-frying”! – and savvy sources, it’s super-easy to bake up holiday treats that everyone can enjoy. If the recipes look familiar, it’s because some of the most iconic holiday treats have gone gluten-free in Sauvage’s capable hands; no one will even know the difference! From Springerle Cookies, Pumpkin Donuts, Steamed Plum Pudding and Trifle to Cannoli and Fortune Cookies, no dough is left un-kneaded or batter un-mixed in this fun and engaging book – so get baking!
It used to be that offering a vegetarian option at the family holiday gatherings was an after-thought, but with Kim O’Donnel’s new book, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations: Year Round Feasts (You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into), you’ll want to plan your entire festive feast around her d’lish recipes (she includes sample menus for just that!). The force behind the Meatless Mondays campaign, and the author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook, O’Donnel knows a thing or two about making delicious vegetarian meals. She has the holidays covered this time around; spice up Thanksgiving with Roasted Red Onions with Pumpkin-Rosemary Stuffing and Root vegetable Gravy, or think Black-Eyed Pea Paella for a warming winter bite. With all the holidays covered, and a ton of suggestions for building your meatless pantry, you’ll definitely be inspired to drop the meat once a week – maybe even more! And with our abundance of locally-grown and sourced produce available, why not?
So if you’re looking for a tasty sample of what Washington has to offer and need some great holiday stocking stuffers, be sure to check out these wonderful books; they are the perfect cross-section of what life (and food!) in the PNW is all about! – Kathy