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Eugene Weekly : Procrastinators Gift Guide : 12.17.2009

 

Procrastinators Gift Guide

The Soundtracks of Our Lives

Stocking Stuffers Oregon CDs for gifting (and getting)

Goldmines at the Groceries Unexpected places to find perfect gifts

Home Cookin, New Pacific Northwest cookbooks

 

Home Cookin,

New Pacific Northwest cookbooks

by Jennifer Burns Levin

2009 was a banner year for cookbooks from and about the Pacific Northwest. Several by Oregon chefs and food writers caught my eye … and mouth.

The gorgeous photos and high quality paper make the coffee table-sized The Paley’s Place Cookbook by Vitaly and Kimberly Paley (Ten Speed Press, $35) a visual treat. Recipes and stories from the Portland restaurant showcase Oregon as sustaining its agricultural traditions with taste. Some fabulous dishes that can be recreated by the creative home cook, like lamb shoulder on hay and lavender, are just the beginning. I found myself marking so many pages: homemade cranberry juice, ricotta cheese, summer corncob stock for light soups ... wow. A section called “Hazelnuts Make Everything Taste Better” and portraits of wild salmon fishermen and mushroom foraging stamp this book as a PNW classic. Some very complex dishes, such as the elk shoulder, are interspersed with simpler preparations, like a mint and fava bean pappardelle or a side of peas and carrots with bacon. 

Tami Parr’s encyclopedic Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest (Countryman Press, $19.95) provides entries for cheeses that one can find along our Cascadian corridor. Developed from years of research and writing at her blog, The Pacific Northwest Cheese Project, and filled with resources, recipes and tour information, it’s a lovely little gift for the artisan cheese lover in your life. I’ve been using it for months when I want to know how to find a local version of my favorites, such as Manchego clone Curado from Quillisascut Cheese in Rice, Wash. Willamette Valley cheeses, including creamy Adele from Ancient Heritage in Scio and the lovely wild mushroom-dusted Mt. Chanterelle from Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy in Lowell, have their own section. 

As for The Grand Central Baking Book (Ten Speed Press, $30), I had to wrestle it out of my editor’s floury fingers. She was muttering something about gingerbread, so I thought quick and baked up some delectable oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and a rosemary bread pudding before she could renew her strength and overtake me. This one’s a delight. Piper Davis, the co-owner of Portland’s celebrated Grand Central Baking Company, has partnered with pastry chef Ellen Jackson in a beautifully produced collection of breads, cakes and sweet and savory projects, all outlined with clear instructions and images on beautiful paper.

Those with less patience for baking or an abundance of local fruit should love the crisps, cobblers and crumbles of Rustic Fruit Desserts (Ten Speed Press, $22), which made Amazon’s Ten Best list this year. James Beard award-winning chef Cory Schreiber, who founded Portland’s Wildwood Restaurant, and Julie Richardson of Baker & Spice bakery partner together to teach the differences among many classic American desserts. Lovely pictures and seductive recipes feature PNW flavors: deep dish fruit pies, hazelnut bread pudding with chocolate and boozy cherries, and a rhubarb buckle with ginger crumb. You’ll learn how to make a free-form galette tart and layer cobbler biscuits like shingles, too. 

Ivy Manning’s The Adaptable Feast (Sasquatch, $23.95) is literally a labor of love. Portland food writer and omnivore Manning’s husband is a vegetarian, and she has developed a set of dishes that can be adapted for those who have similarly mixed households. The recipes range from easy fixes — adapting a zucchini stuffing for chicken breasts to portobellos — to exotic, such as turning a lamb and date tagine into a seven-vegetable version. (Some favor the omnivores, though: A cassoulet that adds a few measly vegetarian sausages to a mound of beans surely can’t be that appealing. Or maybe that’s just my inner meat-eater?) This book follows the local success of Manning’s 2008 The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally (Sasquatch, $29.95). With a distinctly Northwest angle, the latter would be a nice gift for foodies interested in increasing their repertoire with dishes like kohlrabi salad with pea shoots or a Zuppa di Farro with winter vegetables, white beans, and pancetta. Manning, who has traveled and studied in Southeast Asia, provides more Asian recipes than in other locavore cookbooks, and studs the top with recipes from local chefs.