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That doughy boy from Pillsbury was on to something with that catchphrase. And, if you have someone in your life that gives YOU some lovin' from the oven, we hope you'll be giving them a special gift...and more, this holiday season. Today, we continue our list of Cookbooks for Giving.
The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest's Celebrated Bakery (by Piper David and Ellen Jackson, hardcover, $30)
If Seattle crowd-sourced a baking cookbook, it would include bakery favorites like Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Scones, Lemon Poundcake, Rhubarb Pie, and Macarons. But wait! All those things and more are already in this great book from Seattle's cherished Grand Central Bakery.
Authors Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson understand the perils and pitfalls of the home baker and gently guide you through various baking tasks with "Workshops." These sections of the cookbook give you step-by-step instructions for various baking tasks and recipes: cookie decorating, cake mixing, pie dough, and more. There are also insights from their collective years in commercial kitchens about choosing ingredients, freezing and scaling recipes up or down.
Give: Bakers, gluttons and thieves.
I always thought "game night" was code for "drinking night," but along comes this book that makes game nights sound fun and full of good food, plus some booze thrown in as a bonus. That being said, Gourmet Game Night is a great book. It sells itself short by calling this "game night" food. It should be called, Small Plates, Big Flavor. Or, Small is Beautiful: Miniatures We Love.
The recipes are not simple, so if you are used to opening a bag of chips and mixing up some Uncle Dan's for game night, consider yourself warned. While many people might be happy with English muffin "pizzas" for a game night, Nims ups the ante with homemade pizza crust and sauce in a recipe for Almost Bite Size Pizzas. There are also recipes for Spiced Cherries and instructions for playing Farkel, and those two things alone are worth the cover price.
Give: Boozers, gamers, miniature enthusiasts
Fried Chicken and Champagne (by Lisa Dupar, hardcover $38)
We love Lisa Dupar and the Southern, Hispanic and French influences she brings to Northwest cuisine. Her new cookbook includes plenty of Southern-inspired recipes like Hush Doxies (since Dupar owns Dachshunds) and Fried Peach Pies, alongside recipes for Chilaquiles and Whole Fried Tilapia.
Throughout the book are vignettes about growing up in the South, pictures of handwritten recipe cards from Dupar's grandmother Jimmy Todd, as well as words of wisdom like this one from Aunt Sherman, "Don't put beach water in your Bourbon. It's okay for rice and grits, though."
Dupar also gives credit where credit is due, with endless praise and accolades to her husband and partner Jonathan Zimmer, along with the staff of her restaurant Pomegranate Bistro. As for the book's title, it's basically an acknowledgement by Dupar that she a simple down-home gal with good taste. And that she knows that Champagne goes with everything. Even fried chicken.
Give: People with good taste and an appreciation for simple, flavorful food served with great wine.
Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef (Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern, hardcover $29.95)
When Shauna James Ahern was diagnosed with Celiac disease, it led her on a journey of culinary rediscovery that eventually led her into the loving arms and apron of Chef Daniel Ahern. Their cookbook blends the story of their courtship in the kitchen, and cranks out some pretty tasting recipes at the same time.
Despite this being a "gluten-free" book, most of the recipes are for dishes that don't require special adaptation: Risotto, Braised Pork Stew, and Smoked Duck Breast Ravioli don't get within a wheat berry's throw of gluten. There are also tips, sidebars and recipes for basics like using fresh herbs, making stock, and gluten-free variations of crackers, pasta and brownies.
Give: People with gluten intolerance, couples, cooks, and anyone that appreciates a recipe combined with good storytelling.
The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook (by Rachel Saunders, hardcover, $35)
While this next author isn't local, we think the Bay Area is close enough. Plus, Rachel Saunders' cookbook is drool-inducing, making it worthy of inclusion in our gift guide.
It's been said that everything old is new again, and that couldn't be more true than with canning. It seems like any food enthusiast worth their fleur de sel is preserving, pickling and confiting these days. Saunders herself was a canning aficionado before launching her Blue Chair Fruit Company, specializing in finely-crafted jams and marmalades.
Throughout the book are tips and photos for balancing the acid, pectic, sour, and sweet in fruits to make the perfect jams and marmalades. There are also photos showing the stages of the process and how to test for doneness.
Give: DIYers, canning enthusiasts, droolers
Meet the nine authors featured in the week's Cooking the Books on December 1 at the Palace Ballroom from 4-7 pm for a Cookbook Social. $20 gets you a glass of wine and samples of dishes by 13 cookbook authors. Books (and more booze) will also be on sale. Buy tickets in advance by contacting Jessica Moore at (206)448.2001 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.