Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 4: We're Cooking with Local Friends

Welcome to Day 4 in our 24 Days of Books. Today we're cookin'! This year’s crop of cookbooks is so large and varied that we’ve split it up into two posts. In today's post we'll talk about our favorite cookbooks by local authors.

Julie Richardson, co-author with Cory Schreiber of the fabulous Rustic FruitDesserts, has written another winner with her newest cookbook, VintageCakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt,Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today’s Sweet Tooth (Ten Speed Press, $24). Julie spends most of her days baking cakes and other goodies for Baker & Spice, her bakery in southwest Portland, so this book is a perfectly baked project for her. Every recipe in this charmingly retro book is a walk down memory lane, from the plainest to the fanciest. After sifting through hundreds of cookbooks and recipes looking for classic American cake recipes, Julie selected the most inventive and delicious, tried and true recipes she could find. She then retooled them using the best ingredients and up-to-date techniques. The result? Gobsmackingly scrumptious cakes of all kinds that taste even better than you remember. Stroll with me through some of the offerings: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Red Velvet Cake, German Chocolate Roll, Harvey Wallbanger Cake, Mississippi Mud Cupcakes, Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake, Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake, Nectarine Oat Upside-Down Cake, White Chocolate Rhubarb Downside-Up Cake. You get the idea. These comfort food desserts are just about the best thing you can do with your oven.

Ken Forkish is known to all of us as a master baker, especially of bread and pizza. There are some days when nothing will do but a pie from Ken’s Artisan Pizza. And of course every day is a good one that includes a loaf from Ken’s Artisan Bakery. A Silicon Valley refugee, Ken has studied his craft at the San Francisco Baking Institute, the CIA Greystone, Toscana Saporita in Italy, and l'Institut Paul Bocuse in France. It’s our incredibly good fortune that he landed in our city to set up shop! His new book is called Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza (Ten Speed Press, $35). It’s all about the dough for Ken. Whether you are a total beginner or a serious baker, this book has a recipe that suits your skill level and time constraints. Rustic boules. Neapolitan-style pizzas. Focaccias. And there’s much more than recipes here. Ken offers the reader a complete baking education, with a thorough yet accessible explanation of the tools, techniques and ingredients that set artisan bread apart. This is an indispensable resource for bakers who want to make their daily bread exceptional bread.

Portland, Oregon Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the City of Roses by Laurie Wolf (Lyons Press, $24.95) celebrates our best restaurants and eateries with recipes and photographs. The recipes are accompanied by profiles (photos and essays) of restaurants and the chefs who make them sing. No wonder the New York Times has fallen in love with Portland’s food culture! Here are the best recipes from Andina, Clyde Common, Little Bird, Lincoln, Laurelhurst Market, Pine State Biscuits, Blue Hour, Ate-Oh-Ate, Nostrana and many more fabulous places. Within these pages, we get to meet our local food superstars: Andy Ricker of Pok Pok and Ping, Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon, Lisa Schroeder of Mother’s Bistro and Bar, Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Adam Sappington of Country Cat, Greg Higgins, Vitaly Paley, and more. Throughout the book you will also find short essays on such topics as local farmer’s markets, Burgerville (California can keep their In-N-Out Burgers), truffle hunting, the ubiquitous food carts, and more.

Dishing Up Oregon: 145 Recipes that Celebrate Farm-to-Table Flavors ($19.95) by Ashley Gartland is part of the Dishing Up America Series being produced by Storey Publishing that celebrates the cooking of each state. Similar in format to the book described above, this volume widens its focus to include many restaurants from across Oregon. Besides many Portland metro restaurants, Ashley profiles dozens of food providers (including fruit and nut farmers, creameries, vintners and brewers, fish vendors, and others as well as restaurateurs) from the Willamette Valley, the Oregon coast, central and southern Oregon, and the Columbia Gorge. Also available: Dishing Up Washington: 150 Recipes that Capture Authentic Regional Flavors ($19.95) by Jess Thomson.

Everyone I know in Portland who cooks has something in common: a bulging file of recipes cut from the pages of the Oregonian. These treasured clippings are recipes for often used, much-loved family favorites. They are also disintegrating under drops of sauce and splatters of grease and – hello people, they are printed on the flimsiest paper imaginable! So it is with great relief that we can now welcome into our kitchens The Oregonian Cookbook: Best Recipes from Foodday, edited by Katherine Miller. This tasty collection of more than 350 recipes culled from Foodday’s extensive archives celebrates the 30th anniversary of the paper’s popular weekly food section, and includes a chapter devoted to our best chefs, a tribute to James Beard, a resource guide that directs the reader where to find specialty markets and artisinal purveyors, and bonus tips and techniques from the Foodday test kitchen. But the bulk of it is the recipes. You will find many old friends here – the recipes that readers have loved best over the years. The book comes in paperback ($22.95) and hardcover ($29.95).

That’s all we have room for (or time for – because we need to get cooking). Check this space later in the month for some of our favorite new cookbooks by non-Oregonians. As always, you'll find many more great gift ideas in our Holiday Book guide, available at our store. See you soon!

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