Food & Drink

Upgrade Your Home Cooking Game with These Cookbooks From Seattle Chefs and Authors

Renee Erickson, Rachel Yang, and More
February 15, 2021
Elliott Bay Book Company's cookbook selection includes lots of titles from local chefs and writers to help you revitalize your home cooking. (Elliott Bay Book Company)

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 Renee Erickson and Rachel Yang, so you can refresh your repertoire with new-to-you recipes and beloved dishes that evoke pre-COVID memories of dining in some of Seattle's most popular restaurants. Head to local bookstores Book Larder and Elliott Bay Book Company for any titles that catch your eye, or borrow them from the Seattle Public Library—we've also included links to sample recipes from the books so you can try them out right away. We also recommend checking out Metropolitan Market, Uwajimaya, Big John's PFI, DeLaurenti, and Central Co-op for ingredients. For more ideas, browse our food and drink guide.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson

In this gorgeous book, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Renee Erickson, known for her fresh and modern approach to Pacific Northwest cuisine, shares elegant recipes for dream dinner party menus with themes like "lamb and rosé dinner" and "Normandy dinner." The book is also interspersed with stories from her many restaurants, including the dearly departed Boat Street Cafe, the Whale Wins, and the Walrus and the Carpenter (hence the title). Recreate the magic at home with recipes like lacinato kale gratin and roasted carrots and fennel with rose petal harissa. Erickson also recently announced her upcoming cookbook Getaway: Food & Drink to Transport You, which will contain menus for meals that evoke some of Erickson's favorite places around the world for an easy staycation (and who couldn't use that right now?). It's currently available for preorder and will be released April 27.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, I Love Crab Cakes, Tom Douglas's Seattle Kitchen, and Tom's Big Dinners by Tom Douglas
It's impossible to talk about Seattle cookbooks without mentioning Tom Douglas. The prolific chef and restaurateur of Serious TakeOut, Serious Pie, and Seatown Market & Fishfry loves cookbooks so much that he's hosted an annual cookbook festival (in pre-COVID times) and has published four tomes on how to achieve his famous Pacific Northwest fare at home. All of his books are approachable Seattle classics, but we especially recommend grabbing a copy of The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook to whip up his justifiably famous triple coconut cream pie.

Lummi: Island Cooking by Blaine Wetzel
In this book, Blaine Wetzel, the James Beard Award-winning head chef at the acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Willows Inn on Lummi Island, shares dishes inspired by the area's bountiful local ingredients. Many of the recipes are not accessible for home cooks since they rely heavily on foraged ingredients, but you can still daydream of absconding to the quiet, misty island while flipping through the pages. If you're up for the challenge, try the recipe for striped shrimp marinated with tomato seeds.  

Seattle Cooks: Signature Recipes from Seattle's Best Chefs and Bartenders by Julien Perry
Ever wished you could chat to top Seattle chefs to learn the secrets behind their most popular dishes? Author Julien Perry already did it for you in her cookbook Seattle Cooks, a collection of 80 never-before-published recipes for specialties at 40 of the city's favorite restaurants, with dishes from chefs like Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, Rachel Yang, Tamara Murphy, Brian Clevenger, and more. Try out the recipe for "Texas caviar" from chef Jack Timmons of Jack's BBQ.

SEAFOOD

Good Fish by Becky Selengut
Local food writer and The Pantry staff instructor Becky Selengut shares how to make the most of Seattle's fresh catches with her seafood cookbook Good Fish, with recipes like roasted black cod with bok choy and soy caramel sauce.

The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook by Naomi Tomky
In this cookbook, respected local food writer and Seattle native Naomi Tomky (who's written for The Stranger in the past) demystifies the often intimidating process of cooking seafood in an expert manner—The Stranger's Leilani Polk has previously sung the book's praises. In addition to her own original recipes, Tomky also includes dishes from several Pacific Northwest chefs, including Tom Douglas, Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi, Eric Rivera of Addo, Shiro Kashiba of Sushi Kashiba, Aaron Verzosa of Archipelago, Hillel Echo-Hawk of Birch Basket (a catering company that prepares meals using precolonial ingredients), and Bonnie Morales of Kachka in Portland. Don't miss the foolproof slow-roasted salmon with chimichurri or salmon chowder.

SOUTHERN CUISINE

Big Food Big Love: Down-Home Southern Cooking Full of Heart from Seattle's Wandering Goose by Heather Earnhardt
Many mourned when Capitol Hill's Southern cafe and bakery the Wandering Goose, beloved for its flaky biscuits and crispy fried chicken, closed for good in January after eight years of business due to the impact of COVID-19. Those looking to recreate chef Heather Earnhardt's Southern comfort food at home should check out her cookbook, which divulges the secrets behind dishes like big buttermilk biscuits and pimento "not your mama's" mac and cheese.

I Heart Soul Food by Rosie Mayes
Rosie Mayes, the ebullient Seattle-based food blogger and star of the popular YouTube channel I Heart Recipes, has published this cookbook full of soul-soothing Southern recipes like oven-baked barbecue ribs, gumbo, mac and cheese, red velvet cake, and candied yams

The Skillet Cookbook: A Street Food Manifesto by Josh Henderson
Chef Josh Henderson, who helped pave the way for the street food trend with the Southern-inspired gourmet comfort food truck Skillet in 2007, demonstrates how to make sought-after recipes like bacon jam and the Skillet cheeseburger with this cookbook. (Sadly, the truck and catering kitchen have closed, but the chain's Capitol Hill and Denny Regrade locations are still open for pickup, delivery, and limited in-person dining.)

ASIAN CUISINE

Chinese Soul Food and Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food by Hsiao-Ching Chou
As the former food editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the vice-chair of the James Beard Foundation’s cookbook committee, local writer, cooking instructor, and journalist Hsiao-Ching Chou boasts some seriously impressive food-writing chops. In her debut cookbook, Chinese Soul Food: A Friendly Guide for Homemade Dumplings, Stir-Fries, Soups, and More, Chou provides a straightforward, accessible guide to making soul-soothing, belly-warming comfort food, including dry-fried green beans, braised beef noodle soup, green onion pancakes, and Chou’s famous potstickers, all of it just what you want to eat in the heart of winter. Herbivores need not be left out of the fun: Just this January, Chou published a follow-up, Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food, with plant-based recipes like dry-fried Brussels sprouts, lucky 8 stir-fry, and seared tofu with baby bok choy.

My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines by Rachel Yang
Revel chef Rachel Yang has earned national acclaim for her modern Korean comfort food. With her cookbook My Rice Bowl, you can channel your inner chef with the same recipes that she and husband Seif Chirchi use at their restaurants, with dishes like pork belly and kimchi pancakes and beef curry dumplings. The dishes in this one are more complicated, but would definitely make for some fun and ambitious weekend projects for more adventurous cooks.

BAKING AND DESSERTS

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream by Molly Moon Neitzel and Christina Spittler
Yes, you could pick up a pint from your nearest Molly Moon's location, but you could also learn how to make the boutique ice cream chain's flavors yourself with this book by founder Molly Moon Neitzel and co-author Christina Spittler. You'll impress your friends and family by whipping up honey lavender, Scout mint, and other favorites.

Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter by Kate Lebo
Award-winning baker, writer, and poet Kate Lebo has essentially created a self-contained Pie 101 course in this charming book that also contains pie history and lore. Try her recipes for classic apple pie or three pear and Gouda pie.

Art of the Pie and Pie Camp by Kate McDermott
James Beard-nominated author Kate McDermott's two books on making pie are the next best thing to attending her weekend "pie camp" retreats at her lovely home in Port Angeles (which have gone virtual for the time being) and will equip you with the skills to make any pie you can dream up. McDermott makes a pie every single day, has been praised by names like Ruth Reichl and Dorie Greenspan, and has been teaching her craft for years. A selection of her recipes is available on her website.

Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design for the Eye and the Palate by Lauren Ko
Sensing a theme? (We Pacific Northwesterners love our pie, apparently.) The local pun-loving pie maven Lauren Ko, who's gained fame for her mind-bending geometric pastry creations on the Instagram account @lokokitchen, shares how to recreate them at home and impress everyone you know in her bestselling book. Read our interview with Ko on how she's been spending her quarantine, and then roll up your sleeves to bake her "Wave of Wonders" and "Blueberry Geometric Spoke Pies" recipes.

Sourdough on the Rise: How to Confidently Make Whole Grain Sourdough Breads at Home by Cynthia Lair
Whether or not you've already hopped on the bread-making bandwagon, local author and Bastyr University's Department of Nutrition & Exercise Science faculty member Cynthia Lair's book Sourdough on the Rise will demonstrate how to maintain a starter and make a wide range of whole-grain baked goods, including focaccia, English muffins, Danish rye seed bread, and more, plus accompaniments to serve with them. After your starter gets going, check out her recipe for yogurt sourdough flapjacks.

Theo Chocolate: Recipes & Sweet Secrets from Seattle's Favorite Chocolate Maker by Debra Music and Joe Whinney
Fremont's organic, fair-trade chocolatier has a cookbook full of both sweet and savory recipes that incorporate cocoa, sure to delight any chocoholic. In addition to desserts like Theo chocolate chunk brownies, there are also recipes from chefs around Seattle, including Zoi Antonitsas, Tom Douglas, Maria Hines, Thierry Rautureau, and more.

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker by Mark Klebeck and Michael Klebeck
At first blush, doughnuts might seem like a complicated affair not easily suited to home kitchens, but this book from the founders of the gold-standard doughnut shop Top Pot shows you how to make them yourself—no fryer required. Try their classic old-fashioned doughnut recipe, plus glazes ranging from chocolate to lavender.

Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! Deliciously Fun Party Ideas and Recipes from Seattle's Prize-Winning Cupcake Bakery by Jennifer Shea
Bake a cheerful batch of cupcakes with this book from Trophy Cupcakes founder and baker Jennifer Shea, which also suggests ideas for soirees with themes ranging from Paris to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (perhaps inspiration for times in the future when group gatherings are safe). Check out Shea's recipe for chocolate graham cracker cupcakes with toasted marshmallow on Martha Stewart.

VEGAN/VEGETARIAN

Plant Power Bowls by Sapana Chandra
In this book, certified health coach and plant-based professional cook Sapana Chandra shows how to make the kind of wholesome, abundant grain bowls heaped with veggies that she features on her popular Instagram account @realandvibrant (which has upwards of 144,000 followers). Check out flavorful vegetarian recipes like quinoa buddha bowls with beet-tahini dressing, curried cauliflower bowl with cilantro chutney, and watermelon "poke" bowls with spicy sriracha dressing.

Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro by Makini Howell
Renowned vegan chef Makini Howell, who once worked as Stevie Wonder's personal chef on tour and runs the popular Capitol Hill restaurant Plum Bistro, imparts her plant-based recipes in this book. Be sure to make her famous "mac and yease."

COCKTAILS

The Canon Cocktail Book: Recipes from the Award-Winning Bar by Jamie Boudreau and James O. Fraioli
Sadly, the James Beard-nominated "whiskey and bitters emporium" Canon on Capitol Hill is closed indefinitely (except for occasional pop-up events), but you can get a taste of their hand-crafted cocktails at home with their 

Cocktails À L'Americaine: Apéritifs in the Pacifique Northwest by Zac Overman
The charming bistro L'Oursin brings its unique blend of Pacific Northwest and French cooking to a self-published cookbook by bartender and co-owner Zac Overman. The book is available for sale from the bar and restaurant's "marché" (market) area.

OTHER

A Homemade Life and Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
While not cookbooks in the traditional sense, local writer Molly Wizenberg's irresistible odes to home cooking A Homemade Life and Delancey (the latter named for the Ballard pizzeria that Wizenberg helped open with her then-husband Brandon Pettit) are full of stories and recipes from her life, such as her treasured banana bread with crystallized ginger and chocolate. (Wizenberg has since moved on from food writing, but still co-hosts the side-splitting food podcast Spilled Milk with food writer Matthew Amster-Burton and recently published the poignant memoir The Fixed Stars.) 

Date Night In and Let's Stay In by Ashley Rodriguez
Food blogger Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt was way ahead of the curve in 2014 when she published Date Night In, a cookbook with romantic meals meant to be enjoyed with a partner at home—an ideal read for a time when every date night has become "date night in." Her 2018 follow-up Let's Stay In is equally relevant right now. (Alternately, if you're looking to get out of your living space, check out her Kitchen Unnecessary series for outdoor fire cooking inspiration.) Be sure to try Rodriguez's famous salted chocolate chip cookie recipe from her first book.

The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt
The well-known food writer and chef J. Kenji López-Alt recently moved to Seattle and is embracing his new life as a Pacific Northwest resident (check out his Instagram for lots of local bagel reviews and more food content). His book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, based on his popular Serious Eats column of the same name, provides foolproof recipes based on scientifically tested techniques, perfect for improving your home cooking game. Try the best crispy roasted potatoes ever.

Hot Cheese by Polina Chesnakova
Raclette, fondue, queso—it's not hard to understand the appeal of warm, oozy, melty cheese. In this cookbook, local food writer Polina Chesnakova shares over 50 recipes starring the crowd-pleasing ingredient, from easy poutine to butternut squash, ricotta, and pancetta stuffed shells with baked burrata.

Pasta, Pretty Please by Linda Miller Nicholson
You may know Linda Miller Nicholson better as “Salty Seattle,” the wildly popular Instagrammer whose vibrant grid (with more than 276,000 followers) depicts handmade pasta created with a prismatic palette of plant dyes. Her book Pasta, Pretty Please will teach you how to make stunning recipes like rainbow fettuccine in your own home. (If you want a little more hand-holding through the process, check out Salty Seattle's virtual workshops.)

Secrets of Great Second Meals: Flexible Modern Recipes That Value Time and Limit Waste by Sara Dickerman
In her practical book Secrets of Great Second Meals, James Beard Award-winning food writer (and former Stranger restaurant critic) Sara Dickerman provides inspiration for spinning your refrigerator odds and ends into satisfying and appealing second meals (and cutting down on food waste in the process). Use up leftover meatballs with her recipe for meatball frittata with mozzarella and tomatoes.