Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.
November 21, 2013 at 4:12 PM
Dinner under a tent in Seattle in November? Call it foolhardy, even crazy, but also call it sold out—at $200 per person no less. Four hours after Lara Hamilton sent an email in mid-October to her Book Larder mailing list announcing the November 18th event, not a ticket was left. The draw was a chef trifecta. James Beard Award-winner Matt Dillon was cooking with Blaine Wetzel of Willow’s Inn, dubbed “one of ten restaurants in the world worth a plane ride” by the NY Times.
The guest of honor was Copenhagen chef Rene Redzepi of Noma, which held the number one spot on the list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” three years running beginning in 2010. That’s the year “we went from zeros to heros,” said Redzepi in Seattle, one stop on his U.S. tour promoting his latest book, A Work in Progress. (If you missed him last night making chocolate-covered chicharones with Jimmy Kimmel and actor Idris Elba, watch it here. It’s hilarious!) Addressing the 160 people who braved Seattle’s rain and chill on Monday night an impressed Redzepi said, “This would never happen in Denmark.”
October 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Those Pok Pok wings are be the biggest Asian comfort food to hit restaurants since David Chang’s pork belly buns. You can check out my cover story here. Everyone seems to do them now. But no one does them quite like Pok Pok. They ‘re garlicky dark meat with a crispy skin, coated in a salty-and-sweet glaze, an umami bomb that will have you gnawing again and again. And now you can make them at home. (more…)
August 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM
When it comes to condiments, there’s a lot to be said for convenience. You’ll find Heinz, Best Foods, Grey Poupon, Farman’s, Stubb’s and many more familiar labels in my fridge. But if you’ve ever made mayonnaise from scratch, you know it tastes nothing like what’s in the jar. And if you are gluten-sensitive, there is even more reason to consider homemade over store-bought.
That was the impetus behind The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook, a new book from Seattle chef Erin Coopey, who struggled with digestive issues as a teen but was in her thirties before she discovered gluten was the culprit. When she started looking into what products contained gluten she was astonished to find it was in practically everything.
The book goes well beyond mayo, mustard and ketchup. It includes recipes for barbecue sauces, salad dressings, dips, spreads, pickles and stocks. “They are geared to the person who doesn’t have too much time,” says Coopey. “Many require very few ingredients.”
“What you find when you start making your own condiments, dressings and stocks is that what you get tastes so much richer,” she says. “When you try to go back to commercial products what you taste is synthetic, sugary and salty.”
Meet Coopey, get a signed copy of the book and taste some of her recipes at PCC Natural Market in West Seattle on Friday, August 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. You’ll also find her signing books at Capers in West Seattle on Sunday, September 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
And just in time to perk up the hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches at your Labor Day picnic, Coopey shares this recipe for Chow-Chow: (more…)
August 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM
As late summer starts turning towards fall, bookshelves overflow with new releases as abundantly as gardens with crops. Seattle food writers are well-represented with a mix that goes beyond the standard cookbook, including memoirs and fiction and even party planning. We’ll spotlight a few individual books in coming weeks and months, including Darlene Barnes’ memoir of cooking at a University of Washington frat house, James Beard finalist Christopher Boffoli’s “Big Appetites” photography, and PCC cooking instructor Erin Coopey’s “The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook.” For now, here’s a peek at five local authors who go a step beyond the norm.
Foraging food writer Langdon Cook brings a hidden profession to literary life in “The Mushroom Hunters” ($26, Ballantine Books.) Putting in untold research hours over seasons in the forest, Cook teased out the secrets, the economics, and the romance motivating a cast of characters that features Jeremy Faber, owner of Seattle’s Foraged and Found Edibles, along with chef Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce and the late Christina Choi of Nettletown. With wild mushrooms starring on so many restaurant menus, it’s fascinating to get a front-seat, insightful look at the people it took to get them there. Cook tells his story as skillfully as some seek out chanterelles.
It’s O-fish-al! That’s all you need to know about the new “Ivar’s Seafood Cookbook“($29.95, Sasquatch Books), a handsome hardcover that contains as many puns as recipes. The recipes are serious, though. Basic white clam chowder includes house-made bacon (you can use store-bought if you prefer), and the cedar-planked salmon instructions not only include a hazelnut vinaigrette, but also recommendations on buying the cedar plank. Ivar’s director of purchasing, we learn, nixes high-priced cookware versions in favor of untreated cedar siding from the fellow hometown boys at Dunn Lumber. The restaurant chain, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is a Seattle institution, and the book takes us through the highlights of its history with “flounder” Ivar Haglund, the brilliant marketer with a sense of humor as strong as his sense of community. Readers may be inspired to make their own Mesquite Cornbread or Crispy Fish Tacos, or just to keep clam and make a dinner reservation.
Still craving a summertime beach book? Susan Mallery now has one for the kitchen. Harlequin fans know the Bellevue author as a mega-prolific, mega-bestselling writer of romance novels, and she’s set the “Fool’s Gold Cookbook” ($21.95, Harlequin) in the land of her fictional town. The 150 recipes are straightforward, gimmick-free home cooking, current enough to use farro grains and kale chips but strong on homey basics like peach pie and beef stew. Mallery has woven a Fool’s Gold novella through the cookbook — the storyline, appropriately, involves a fund-raising cookbook project in the small town. Still, you don’t need to be familiar with the books to appreciate happy endings in the form of Guinness Gingerbread or Coconut Vanilla Snowball Cupcakes.
If you couldn’t tell already from her perfectly piped frostings and charmingly chic displays, Trophy Cupcakes founder Jennifer Shea admits to being a control freak. But she wasn’t aware until her son’s second and third birthdays, she writes in “Trophy Cupcakes & Parties!” ($24.95, Sasquatch Books) that not everyone throws elaborate themed parties with carefully planned sweets and games and decorations. Her book does include recipes for her shop’s cupcakes, from chocolate and vanilla to locally famous specialties like the S’mores version featured on the Martha Stewart show. But it’s also got really a party planning guide for both kid and adult celebrations, with guidelines and accompanying recipes for decorations like fairy wands for a Forest Fairy Tea Party or even painted wooden buoys for a nautically themed Life Aquatic party. The supply list for the latter includes a hand saw and coarse sand paper, probably a first for a cupcake book.
Urban farmer and entrepreneur Amy Pennington has followed up her successful Urban Pantry cookbook (Gwyneth Paltrow was a fan) with a series of seasonal e-cookbooks, each slim volume devoted to a specific ingredient, from carrots to lettuce. In her latest edition,“Fresh Pantry – Berries“ ($2.99, Skipstone Press) Pennington provides 15 creative recipes for strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, as well as advice on growing, maintaining, and preserving the fruit. The cookbook emphasizes savory dishes like Blueberry-Oregano Turkey Meatballs and Raspberry-Shallot Butter with Shaved Radishes on Toast, though sweet tooths get a nod with old-fashioned strawberry mousse and blueberry-cardamom donuts. Pennington came up with the project (the volumes will be collected in print in 2014) as a way to get out of cooking ruts, and to get us thinking about what we eat when we talk about cooking with the seasons.
August 7, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Everyone’s a critic, thanks to online review sites like Yelp. That makes criticism worth reading even harder to find.
Enter Hanna Raskin, until recently the restaurant critic for Seattle Weekly, known for her thorough research, an eye for out-of-the-way restaurant gems, an engaging style, and unapologetic honesty. She’s doing her part to teach the secrets of well-crafted, useful, online restaurant reviews in her new e-book, “Yelp Help” (available on Amazon.com for $2.99, or in print form for $5.99 in selected bookstores.)
In the book, Raskin goes through the basic workings of a restaurant kitchen (for those who have wondered what the ‘expediter’ does or when the prep cooks go home,) gives a brief history of restaurant criticism, then gets into the meat of things – where most online reviews go bad and how to avoid the most common errors.
(Sample: “Rather than declare a restaurant ‘definitely overpriced,’ quote real numbers.” Sample #2: Avoid ambiguous words, even the ubiquitous ‘flavorful’: “Spoiled milk has a strong flavor. So does a 2-day-old scallop.”) She shows how professional critics research and write, and – that writing class essential – how to develop your own voice.
Seattle Yelp-ers who take her advice still won’t be competing directly with Raskin; she’s leaving town for a new job at the Charleston, S.C., Post & Courier. We talked by phone about why people hate Yelp reviews, food clichés to avoid, and where a critic eats before leaving the Northwest (the list includes lots of Asian food in the I.D., a dim sum run to Vancouver, B.C., Ma’Ono, Terra Plata, Poppy, Renee Erickson’s restaurants, and Il Corvo pasta.)
Here’s a condensed, edited version of our conversation, and, as a former critic, my favorite piece of advice from her book: “It’s hugely important for reviewers to remember that different restaurants serve different purposes. The critic’s job is not to judge whether a restaurant meets a predetermined set of criteria for greatness, but whether it succeeds in doing what it has set out to do.”:
July 24, 2013 at 3:02 PM
Mark Sexauer would be an excellent pseudonym for the author of a cocktail tome titled “Aphrodisiacs with a Twist,” but it happens to be the author’s real name. When that same man has a cocktail shaker tattooed below the first knuckle on the middle finger of his left hand, well, you know he has stories to tell.
He’s not telling that particular story in print, but after tending bar for a decade, Sexauer is revealing professional secrets in what he calls a “fun, sexy, approachable” how-to bar manual for novices and professionals alike. Why? “There are so many unapproachable cocktail books out there,” he says. “They are very hard to follow for someone who’s never made a drink at home before.”
July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM
You get the hamburgers and hot dogs. We’ll grill the experts. Here are tips from recent barbecuing and grilling books that should help make your Fourth of July meals a flaming (or, er, glowing) success:
Clean machine: Most experts stress the importance of maintaining clean, lightly oiled grill grates. The editors of Bon Appetit go beyond that in “The Grilling Book” ($45, Andrews McMeel), suggesting using a toothpick to make sure all burner holes on a gas grill are clear of debris. “If the burner holes are clogged, the flame will be low or nonexistent and heat levels will drop dramatically.”
June 26, 2013 at 6:01 AM
The great Nora Ephron passed away last year today. I like to think that she’s looking over us, with that toothy, mischievous grin of hers, doing a happy dance as she leaves peanut butter cookie crumbs.
Seattleites remember Ephron for “Sleepless in Seattle.” But Ephron remembered Seattle mostly for The Dahlia Bakery’s peanut butter sandwich cookies. As she put it in the Dahlia Bakery cookbook, “This may be the greatest cookie ever ever ever.” In honor of Ephron, playwright, journalist and director, that beloved cookie recipe is reprinted below.
June 12, 2013 at 1:29 PM
For years, local bookseller Peter Miller had only an epistolary relationship with Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, two women behind the beloved Canal House cookbook series.
“They had someone send their book to us four years ago and asked if we would carry [their books],” explained Miller, as he prepped lunch for the staff of the architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi. “We carried it for years, and they started sending us notes that said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and we started sending them notes that said, ‘Merry Christmas.’” (more…)
December 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM
I moved to Seattle in 1988, and still recall that whenever I needed a taste of “home”– chicken soup with matzoh balls, a plate of blintzes — I’d frequent the deli-restaurant Matzoh Momma, late of Capitol Hill. The name lives on as Matzoh Momma Catering, with owners Pip and Miriam Meyerson presiding. From mitzvahs to mourning, feeding the needs of the community is all part of their “Jewish-lifecycle business,” as they define it.
Happily, the Meyersons have been the driving force behind the annual Night of a Thousand Latkes, a Hanukkah fundraiser for MAZON, a Jewish agency providing hunger-relief for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Sadly, they won’t be holding the event this year due to the recent passing of Miriam’s mother.
As for those latkes, enjoyed year-round but especially at Hanukkah — the eight-day Festival of Lights that began Dec. 20 at sundown — “You’ve got to eat them while they’re hot!” they implored, welcoming me into their home to watch as Pip fried his potato pancakes and Miriam garnished the goods with sour cream and applesauce (you’ll find that recipe here).
They made ‘em, I ate ‘em. Latkes, with sour cream and homemade Honeycrisp applesauce.
[Seattle Times/Greg Gilbert]
“Oil temperature is critical. Do a little drop-test first,” Pip instructs, adding a smidgen of batter, which crisped up quickly. “And salt them after,” he says, generously sprinkling the end result. “Eat!” Having never before officially met the Meyersons, I immediately felt as if they were family.
That sense of familial embrace extends to “Yesterday’s Mavens, Today’s Foodies: Traditions in Northwest Jewish Kitchens,” a community cookbook published in November by the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. Among its 250 recipes are Miriam’s mother’s hamantachen (a tri-cornered pastry) and Pip’s justly famous latkes.
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