My job requires me to eat out, sometimes up to six times a day. But if there’s anything I enjoy more than eating out, it’s eating in. I particularly enjoy cooking for friends with varying degrees of passion for food. Born and raised in Argentina, I was taught the virtues of dining with friends to feed our bodies and enrich our lives.
Wine is often my accomplice in such Bacchanalian adventures. Wine is not just a social lube; it also enhances the gustatory experience. The proper wine pairing lifts any dish. Or, perhaps, my friends imbibe to the point that their common sense and sense for taste is compromised, thus I get away with my home cooking skills.
Cookbooks are another accomplice at my dinner parties. A plethora of cookbooks by local authors have been released within a year or so and are available at Eastside bookstores.
Look for these handy books at the University Bookstore in downtown Bellevue, on Mercer Island, and Kirkland, and the downtown Bellevue, Crossroads, Issaquah and Woodinville locations of Barnes & Noble. Book Larder in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood sells cookbooks exclusively.
The Edible Seattle Cookbook ($19.95), edited by Seattle’s Jill Lightner, is a compilation of recipes by local chefs, including Holly Smith of , Paul Hyman formerly of , Bobby Moore of , Lisa Dupar of and , Salish Lodge, Peyrassol Café and . Lightner enlightens readers with profiles of producers.
In the interest of full disclosure, I contributed the wine pairings in the cookbook. Some of the recipes were paired with exclusively Washington wines, including Syncline, Hedges Family Estate, , Betz Family Winery, Cadence, and Chinook.
John Howie’s Passion and Palate: Recipes for a Generous Table is an ode to his friends, guests and co-workers. Howie is the chef and owner of in Bellevue and Seattle, in Bellevue, SPORT Restaurant & Bar in Seattle and Adriatic Grill Italian Cuisine & Wine in Tacoma
The book includes more than 240 recipes, including wine pairings by Erik Liedholm, John Howie Restaurants company wine director. The book is also sprinkled with personal stories from Howie, including anecdotes of his extensive charitable work. The 224-page book is published by Seattle-based ShinShinChez. It is available for $42 at John Howie restaurants or the publisher's website, www.shinshinchez.com.
Also published by ShinShinChez is Tender ($40) by Tamara Murphy, chef and owner of Terra Plata on Capitol Hill. Murphy focuses on fresh ingredients, local producers and simple preparations. In addition to clear and simple recipes, Murphy’s cookbook features vignettes on ingredients, cooking preparations and insights into the cooking philosophies that have earned her some of the highest honors in the industry, such as the James Beard Award and Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in America.
Photos courtesy of photographer Angie Norwood Browne and stylist Patty Wittmann are clear, textured and evocative. Like Murphy’s food, the layout is clean and balanced.
Murphy sources from some of the same producers at the such as Full Circle Farm in Carnation and Skagit River Ranch in Sedro Woolley. The Thursday market started May 10 and will be open every Thursday until October 11 from 3 to 7 p.m. at . The Saturday market will start June 2 at . It will remain open every Saturday until November 17 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Pike Place Market remains the largest farmer’s market in the Puget Sound. Jess Thomson’s Pike Place Market Recipes ($23.95) is part shopping guide, part cookbook with her own recipes as well as those of chefs in the Market.
Thomson, who trained at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, is a prolific food journalist. She combines her culinary background with a journalist's ability to dissect information and present it in digestible bites. Clare Barboza’s photos are stunning and transportive, making me wish for more.
Murphy’s friend Dupar published a cookbook of her own. Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro ($38) is an elegant hardcover, full-color glossy. With the foreword from Kirkland resident and Woodinville-based winemaker Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery, the cookbook sets sail on a culinary journey influenced by Dupar’s travels and experiences as a youth.
Born in Mexico City, Dupar grew up in Charleston, SC, trained in Atlanta and Zurich and settled in Seattle more than 30 years ago. Her cookbook reflects the diversity of her travels with Southern specialties such as Lisa’s shrimp and grits, and Pom fried chicken and buttermilk waffles with maple syrup, as well as Northwest-cum-Mexican originals such as grilled wild salmon on cilantro coconut rice with watermelon salsa, and seared halibut fillet on roasted guajillo pepper sauce.
The book also features Washington winemakers, including Betz, Anna Schafer of aMaurice Cellars, Ben Smith and Gaye McNutt of Cadence, Alex and Paul Golitzin of Quilceda Creek, Eric Dunham of Dunham Cellars and Kara Koh of .