Jess Thomson’s latest cookbook, Pike Place Market Recipes: 130 Ways to Take Home Seattle’s Famous Market, was released this week. We asked Thomson to comb through her cookbook library for a selection of her favorite local authors.
If there’s one book I want to carry with me at all times when I shop, it’s Edible Seattle: The Cookbook, edited by Jill Lightner, which just came out in April. It’s a delicious tome that chronicles what’s available in Seattle farmers’ markets, January to December. With recipes for well known local favorites (think Tavern Law’s Fried Chicken and Barking Frog’s Grand Marnier Prawns), foodie treasures (Kate McDermott’s Fresh Peach Pie), and guides for how to use some of the region’s unique ingredients (razor clam linguine!), it’s all-inclusive—and all delicious. Make sure to get a copy with the book jacket still intact; it folds out into an antique map of the city.
Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest, written by Kurt Beecher Dammeier (of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese) with Laura Holmes Haddad, is really a book of basics. Think of a recipe that a well-rounded cook should have in his or her arsenal—good chicken soup, or beef tenderloin medallions, or meatloaf, or cedar-planked salmon—and it’s there, usually with a uniquely Northwest twist. I especially like the authors’ instructions for cooking live crab.
Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen: A Food Lover’s Cookbook and Guide is my go-to book when I’m having people over I want to, well, impress. Recipes for slightly higher-end dishes are written in a really approachable way; it doesn’t seem outlandish to make Sake-steamed sockeye salmon or ling cod in grape leaves (with pine nut fig butter, obviously) because each page is stuffed with tips and treasures that I keep in my kitchen long after the dishes are done.
We all use cookbooks differently. Most frequently, in my kitchen, my dinner process sounds like this: “I have 14 pounds of XYZ in my fridge. What on Earth will I do with it?” Enter Greg Atkinson’s The Northwest Essentials Cookbook. Divided by ingredient, it’s a great way to see dinner through the eyes of one particular thing, similar to how Alice Waters organizes her fantastic books Fruit and Vegetables, but broader (which, in my kitchen, makes it more useful). In general, the ingredient lists are short and the recipes are very approachable. I use this book regularly for inspiration.
Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson have translated the pastries, cookies, and pies of Seattle’s Grand Central Bakery to The Grand Central Baking Book—and although I have shelves full of Julia and Rose and Alice (we’ll stick to first names, out of politeness), it’s this bronze book that seems to explain baking best to me. I like how the steps for each recipe are broken up not by number, but by technique; there are also great detailed photographs that chronicle how to do more labor-intensive projects, like layered birthday cakes and puff pastry.
Jess will be appearing on King5 TV’s New Day Northwest program on May 15th. On May 21st, she will do a joint event with Jill Lightner at Book Larder, and on May 29th will be appearing with with Molly Moon Neitzel and Mark Klebeck at Elliott Bay Book Company. Later in the summer, on July 1st, she will be joined by Brian Jones for a demo and book signing in Pike Place Market’s Pear Delicatessen. (Find more Northwest Cookbooks in the Library’s collection).