The book: A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Erickson.
The angle: Menus for every season from the chef behind Seattle's Boat Street Cafe and The Walrus and the Carpenter.
Recipes for right now: Boat Street Scones, Lacinato Kale Gratin, Pickled Turnips, Mussels in Cider, French Apple Cake, Roasted Chicken with Fried Capers and Preserved Lemon, Harissa Rubbed Roasted Lamb
Who would enjoy this book? Cooks who love cooking for their friends.
• Who published it: Sasquatch Books
• Other highlights: You have to give a nod of respect to a cookbook that recommends finding a boat and learning to fish in its methods section. It's said in jest (...partly), though it underscores a central theme of this book: first, try doing it yourself; but second best is to get it from the best sources. Try crabbing, try preserving your own lemons, try throwing a crazy multi-course dinner for friends — this book is full of inspiring stories and recipes about getting out of your comfort zone and just trying new things. Between these bits of encouragement, Erikson also tucks profiles on the farmers, fishermen, and other providers for her restaurants: inspiration for the "second best" kind of sourcing.
I love that this cookbook is arranged not by chapters but by menus. Erikson shows us how to put together a complete meal and share it with friends. The recipes on each menu walk that line between restaurant-fancy and actually doable by your average home cook. Most of the emphasis is really on using great ingredients rather than shmancy techniques.
And if you're not a little bit in love with Seattle after spending some time with these recipes and gazing at the stunning photos from around the Pacific Northwest, then the next round of crab melts is on me.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus by Renee Erickson
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