2012 best cookbooks.jpg
2012 was a great year for cookbooks in the U.S., but it was also a particularly good year for local authors, who cranked out all


The Year's Best Cookbooks From Local Authors

2012 best cookbooks.jpg
2012 was a great year for cookbooks in the U.S., but it was also a particularly good year for local authors, who cranked out all the cookbooks on this year's best of list. What made 2012 particularly fun for cookbook lovers in our city, is Book Larder, the bookstore dedicated entirely to cookbooks. Now in its second year of business, Book Larder offers a place to celebrate new cookbooks from local authors, as well as authors from around the world. Book signings, discussion groups, demonstrations, and tastings fill Book Larder's events calendar, giving cookbook fans a place to congregate. Other area bookstores, such as Third Place Books and Elliott Bay Book Co., also host many events featuring cookbook authors, which helps bring more cookbook authors through our city when they are promoting new cookbooks.

See also:

The Best Cookbooks of 2011

A Bookstore Dedicated to Cookbooks: Book Larder

Pike Place Market Recipes

Included in this cookbook's 130

recipes, are several famous dishes from market-area restaurants, such as Le Pichet's salade verte, gold bar brownies from Fran's Chocolates and pulled pork sandwiches from Matt's in the Market. But there are also dozens of original recipes like potato and pea samosas, inspired by Saffron Spice; a spring frittata using foraged foods like morel mushrooms and ramps; and a Spanish chickpea and chorizo stew using sausages from Uli's. This cookbook isn't just about recipes, it also includes a brief history of the market, profiles of several vendors and people behind the market, like Beecher's Cheese, forager Langdon Cook and Pike Place Fish.


Michael Natkin, author of the new cookbook Herbivoracious, and blog of the same name, draws upon the flavors of Japan, Italy, India, Mexico, and corners of the U.S. to create vegetaruan dishes as familiar as enchiladas and as unique as tofu baked in parchment. There's chana masala, an Indian chickpea dish; Ethiopian ful medames, mashed fava beans with the Ethiopian spice mixture berbere; and chiang mai curry noodles. Even recipes such as the roast cauliflower and potato tart uses the purple varieties of those vegetables for a dish that is as visually pleasing as it is delicious. There are even some cutting edge techniques woven into this book--like cryo-pickling onions in your freezer and adding xantham gum to a tempura batter for onion rings.

Savory Sweet Life

In Savory Sweet Life, local food blogger Alice Currah offers classic dishes and fresh variations for the comfort foods we crave. There are also chapters for celebrating holidays and other occasions like game day, potlucks, block party, and family game night. Most recipes are simple and concise, and many have variations and substitutions, plus tips for serving, storing or using leftovers. Some recipes include a gourmet twist--suitable for a dinner party with friends or Valentine's Day dinner. Scalloped potato leek gratin, Nutella molten lava cakes and crab lemon basil pasta are extraordinary enough for a special occasion, but ordinary enough for the average home cook to succeed in making. And kid-friendly treats such as root beer floats, oven-broiled s'mores and caramel corn, are great for little ones, or even adults that just want to feel like a kid again.

Modernist Cuisine at Home

Modernist Cuisine at Home is the lightweight, more accessible version of the five-volume, 40-pound epic Modernist Cuisine released in 2011. It includes dozens of innovative techniques and cooking tricks, hundreds of amazing photos--including cutaways of equipment--and 400 recipes for using standard equipment like the microwave and pressure cooker. That's not to say that this book is filled with basic techniques. You'll still need a sous vide machine and an hour to make a green salad. And 5 ½ days to make a pork belly BLT. It's the basic dishes using modernist techniques and standard kitchen equipment that make this "at home" book more accessible. Such as the basic recipe for vegetable soup or puree cooked in a pressure cooker and its eight variations using other vegetables, or the microwaved black cod with scallions and ginger is a gourmet meal that takes just 15 minutes to cook. Each recipe includes make-ahead tips and notes about special ingredients or equipment needed. This takes the fear out of many recipes, because you can quickly scan and see which are within your scope and which are more aspirational. And there are total cooking times listed as well, so you know that a cheeseburger will take you 6 hours to make, so you're sure to get an early start.

Meet the Cooking Lab team behind Modernist Cuisine at Home at Book Larder in Fremont on January 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The $140 demonstration event includes a copy of the book and a tote bag.

Salty Snacks

There are salt-lovers and sweets-lovers, but pretty much everyone admits that they crave salty snacks at some point. In Cynthis Nims' latest book, Salty Snacks, she's got recipes for craveable snack food but also some healthy snacks. There are 75 recipes for chips, crisps, breads and pastries, smoked and pickled fish, dips and spreads, jerky, deep-fried and tempura vegetables, seasoned nuts and snack mixes, and more. Recipes range from retro classics such as deviled ham, anchovy spread on crostini, Chex-style snack mix, and soft pretzels with mustard mixed into the dough, to unique snacks like oven-baked salami chips, fried duck skin seasoned with Chinese 5-spice powder, and "snacking croutons," because Nims knows the best part of many salads is the croutons. Many recipes are surprisingly healthy compared to conventional salty snacks. There are cumin lentil crackers, almond and olive oil crackers, oven-dried apple chips sprinkled with Sichuan peppercorns and salt, kale chips, and carrot and parsnip curls dried in the oven and seasoned with salt and fresh thyme.

Cynthia Nims will be teaching a class on Salty Snacks at The Pantry at Delancey on March 1 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The class is sold out, but you can be added to the waiting list here.

Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

The Dahlia Bakery is famous for coconut cream pie, mini doughnuts, English muffin breakfast sandwiches, and lines that snake out the doors of the diminutive shop on 5th Avenue. Chef Tom Douglas has just released his fourth cookbook co-authored with longtime colleague Shelley Lance--The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. Inside are 125 recipes for the bakery's most popular items, along with baking tips and techniques for everything from how to make biscuits, ice cream, and "worth the effort" puff pastry, to how to use your oven, test for doneness, shave chocolate, and whip, fold, and mix batters and dough. Each chapter includes specific techniques such as rolling, shaping, and baking pie and tart dough, how to split, layer, and frost layer cakes, how to decorate sugar cookies, and how to frost cupcakes. And throughout each chapter are process photos showing you most if not all the steps you need to succeed.

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Meatless Celebrations

Most holidays and celebrations have a menu centered on some sort of "roast beast." For her latest book, The Meat Lover's Meatless Celebrations, Kim O'Donnel set out on a quest for a "feast without the beast." Chapters are divided by seasons, so whether you're cooking for Thanksgiving or just a Sunday night dinner, you can easily flip within each chapter to find a tasty recipe for any meal or event. Many other vegetarian cookbooks fall back on soy-based meatless substitutions. O'Donnel doesn't take the easy way out. She has created recipes with flavor and texture provided by real ingredients--whole grains, beans, vegetables, seasonings--to create dishes that are as wholesome as they are delicious. Her "meatball" sub--perfect for gameday parties--uses rice, lentils and seasonings to create a flavorful and filling meal. Recipes for various "meat" patties mix chickpeas with herbs and spices for tasty vegetarian burgers. Whether you're cooking meatless everyday or just some days, there's no better coach to have on your team.

Meet Kim O'Donnel for a cookbook signing and tasting at Click! Design That Fits in West Seattle on Thursday, December 20 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Everyday Wok

In Everyday Wok, local author Lorna Yee expands the repertoire of the wok and reminds readers that the wok isn't just for Asian cooking. Woks are inexpensive, conduct heat very well and have a lot of surface area for cooking fast and hot. They're as good for poaching and braising as they are for stir frying and steaming. The 55 recipes in Everyday Wok are divided into chapters for breakfast and brunch, mains, sides, and dessert. There's bananas foster French toast, kung pao chicken, pulled pork sandwiches,, risotto, stir-fried garlicky green beans, and French fries. The desserts chapter includes churros, sticky toffee pudding, fried apple pies, and bread pudding. The only thing that isn't "everyday" about the recipes in Everyday Wok, is the richness of many dishes. There's even an extra yolk in the fried egg sandwich--which is a brilliant idea--but also something 9 out of 10 cardiologists aren't going to recommend for everyday eating. For more ways to use this versatile kitchen tool however, this wok provides plenty of ideas.

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Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays

In Jeanne Sauvage's debut cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking For the Holidays, she shares recipes for classic baked treats enjoyed at celebrations throughout the year, along with everyday treats such as pound cake, shortbread, muffins, and scones. The 60 recipes in Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays range from European classics like panettone, krumkaka, speculaas, cannoli, and lebkuchen, to All-American biscuits, cornbread, apple pie, soft sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies. Most include Sauvage's own gluten-free flour blend, which she shares in the introduction. A blend of rice flours, tapioca flour and xantham gum, it makes pie crust flaky, cakes tender, and cookies chewy. For novice and skilled bakers alike, working with gluten-free flour mixes can prove challenging. Each recipe in Gluten-Free Baking For the Holidaysincludes instructions that guide you through each step of the process. There are guidelines for how a batter should look or feel, or warnings about how a dough will react---things that are particularly helpful for working with new ingredients like a gluten-free flours.

Edible Seattle: The Cookbook

Edible Communities--the company behind the series of regional magazines--and magazine editor Jill Lightner have released Edible Seattle: The Cookbook, a collection of over 100 recipes, cooking tips, and stories about food grown in the Pacific Northwest and the people who grow it. These aren't just local recipes, but hyper-local recipes. Roasted potatoes aren't made with just any potato you can find at the supermarket, but rather with Ozette potatoes, an heirloom variety that was brought to the region by Spanish missionaries in the 1700s. And there are various foraged ingredients used in recipes throughout the book, like sea beans, elderflower, mushrooms, and shellfish. There are many familiar dishes, but most have a fresh spin or perhaps introduce a new-to-you local ingredient. The recipe for crab cakes includes shredded apples; a slow roasted lamb shoulder is served with preserved huckleberries; and a savory crostini is made with lightly pickled rhubarb. And there are also many recipes for ethnic-inspired dishes like a South Indian chana masala soup made with locally grown chickpeas, pork banh mi, saag paneer, and boeuf bourguinon.

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