As we approach the first anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic, home cooking might have become more of a slog than a respite. But it doesn't have to be: We've gathered this list of cookbooks from some of our favorite local chefs and writers, like Gabriel Rucker and Naomi Pomeroy, so you can refresh your repertoire with new-to-you recipes and beloved dishes that evoke pre-COVID memories of dining in some of Portland's most popular restaurants. Head to Powell's Books or your preferred local bookseller for any titles that catch your eye, or borrow them from the Multnomah County Library—we've also included links to sample recipes from the books so you can try them out right away. For more ideas, browse our food and drink guide.
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg
Andrea Damewood has written, "As anyone who has eaten a salad at Ava Gene’s can attest, Josh McFadden is a vegetable whisperer. After years of rumors, his vegetable cookbook has come to fruition. McFadden divides the year into six seasons (summer gets three growing periods), and then splits it up according to vegetable. I’ve been spending time in the tomato section due to some epic home garden overplanting, and the platter of heirloom tomatoes with cucumber yogurt dressing and marinated chickpeas I took to a barbecue stole the show from the meat. A recipe for raw winter squash with brown butter, pecans, and currants is something I’m banking on bringing me out of the winter blues, while the recipe for English peas with prosciutto and new potatoes already has me stoked for spring. McFadden’s recipes aren’t overly fussy, and provide a great peek into how his dishes incorporate texture, giving us normies a chance to steal his signature look." Try his cozy cabbage farro soup to warm up on a cold winter day.
Wine Food: New Adventures in Drinking and Cooking by Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker
The most fun way to learn about wine is definitely through drinking it, preferably paired with something delicious. This book from sommelier and Bar Norman owner Dana Frank and culinary creative director and stylist Andrea Slonecker will take you through the ins and outs of tasting wine and matching it with food (from pasta to your favorite takeout), along with 75 recipes for wine-friendly dishes like delicata squash and sausage crostata with ricotta and honey and slow-braised lamb ragu with rigatoni and whipped ricotta.
Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking by Bonnie Morales
Nobody does Eastern European comfort food like chef Bonnie Morales of Kachka, and her colorful debut cookbook shows you how to recreate her signature Russian dishes like potato vareniki and braised chanterelles with potatoes at home. (If you need a pelmenitsa, or pelmeni mold, for your dumplings, Kachka's online store has some in stock.)
Flour Salt Water Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Kevin Forkish
This bread bible from nationally renowned Portland baker Ken Forkish will take your quarantine sourdough hobby to the next level. Learn how to craft gorgeous rustic loaves and crackly Neapolitan pizzas like the ones Forkish sells at Ken's Artisan Bakery and Ken's Artisan Pizza. If you're itching to get started, try his recipe for overnight 40% whole wheat bread.
Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird by Gabriel Rucker, Meredith Erickson, and Lauren and Andrew Fortgang
Bring the flavors of James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker's luxe yet unpretentious French bistro Le Pigeon to your home with recipes like duck confit, leek carbonara, and spinach and artichoke foie gras dip. (The restaurant is currently running a three-course dinner pop-up hosted in individual hotel rooms at the Jupiter NEXT.)
Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie by Elias Cairo and Meredith Erickson
In this cookbook, the modern salumeria offers recipes for confits, pâtés, sausages, salami, and more, as well as stories behind the craft and history of charcuterie. If you're ready for a project, try your hand at making the traditional Italian cold cut capicola (Tony Soprano's "gabagool").
Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton
Channel your inner pyromaniac with this book on Latin American-inspired fire cooking techniques from the James Beard Award-winning Ox chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton. You'll learn how to apply heat to create dishes like grilled salmon with sumac oil and green onion yogurt—you'll also want to check out the restaurant's signature chimichurri.
Petite Pâtisserie: Bon Bons, Petits Fours, Macarons and Other Whimsical Bite-Size Treats by Cheryl Wakerhauser
From last year's "pancake cereal" craze to tiny cooking videos, diminutive food has been de rigueur for some time now. Pix Patisserie owner and pastry chef Cheryl Wakerhauser was right on trend when she released this cookbook with recipes for miniscule sweets last year. Try her recipe for miniature seven-layer crêpe cakes, which she describes as "birthday cakes for French Chihuahuas."
Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker and J.J. Goode
The iconic Thai chain Pok Pok, which permanently closed all of its locations due to COVID, is sadly no more, but at least you can still relive the magic and bring dishes like yam khai dao, salt-crusted fish with chile dipping sauce, phat si ew, khao niaw mamuang, and Ike's famous fish sauce wings to life in your own kitchen with chef and owner Andy Ricker's cookbook. Ricker also shares vivid essays about his travels in Thailand, so you can daydream about jetting to Bangkok and browsing the street food stalls.
Portland Farmers Market Cookbook: 100 Seasonal Recipes and Stories that Celebrate Local Food and People by Ellen Jackson
The Portland Farmers Market is consistently cited as one of the best farmers markets in America. Make the most of the market's bounty of seasonal produce with this book that contains 100 recipes from some of the city's best-loved chefs and restaurateurs, such as chocolate-apricot-habanero truffles from Missionary Chocolates and peach and pancetta pizza from Tastebud.
Ripe Cooperative (formerly Beast)
Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy
Who better than Naomi Pomeroy to help you elevate your home cooking? The James Beard Award-winning chef, who permanently closed her pioneering restaurant Beast due to COVID last year and opened the market Ripe Cooperative in its place, taught herself to cook with cookbooks and shares her professional knowledge in her own book, with recipes like milk-braised pork shoulder and blistered cauliflower with anchovy, garlic, and chile flakes.
Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook by Tyler Malek and J.J. Goode
The Portland Mercury's Blair Stenvick named making homemade ice cream with the artisan ice creamery Salt & Straw's cookbook one of the things that got them through 2020. They especially recommend the chocolate gooey brownie and Arbequina olive oil flavors, but the book equips you with the knowledge to make any flavor you can dream up.
Dishing Up the Dirt: Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons and Local Dirt: Seasonal Recipes for Eating Close to Home by Andrea Bemis
Andrea Bemis knows a thing or two about farm-to-table cooking: She and her husband run a six-acre organic farm outside Portland, which inspired her to start her food blog Dishing Up the Dirt. Her debut cookbook of the same name and her 2020 follow-up Local Dirt contain recipes for seasonal dishes like farm girl veggie bowls and pumpkin-hazelnut honey bread.
Portland Cooks: Recipes from the City's Best Restaurants and Bars by Danielle Centoni
Andrea Damewood wrote in 2017, "This book is a gem. Portland Cooks, released in August, brings together an amazing mélange of top local chefs and bartenders with recipes that are both tasty and accessible to the average home cook. Ever wonder how Broder makes its famous aebleskivers? Turns out you can make them in less time than it takes to get to the front of their brunch line. While not as lushly photographed as some local cookbooks, it’s still inspirational, with recipes for Langbaan’s famous scallop coconut cups, that fish-sauce kissed gumbo at Tapalaya, and the incredible chocolate chip cookie from Little T Baker. I made Mae chef Maya Lovelace’s approachable recipe for pimento mac ’n’ cheese. It took no longer than my usual preparation, and sent a mostly vegan friend of mine into a silent repose for 20 minutes—and then she got seconds. If I were buying someone a present from Portland, this would be high on the list."