If you have ever visited Seattle you have probably eaten in one of Tom Douglas' restaurants. They are everywhere, and some of the best food around. There is an endless supply of stories about him helping his employees start restaurants of their own, and he holds outdoor salmon cookouts to benefit the homeless during the summer. He is the recipient of James Beard's Outstanding Restauranteur which means the rest of the cooking world has taken note of his accomplishments. Whenever Youngest Daughter is choosing a place to eat for a celebration (straight A's or a birthday) she chooses Serious Pie. Serious Pie is some of the best pizza on the planet and I am grateful that I had the chance to eat it before the whole Celiac thing. Next door to that restaurant is the Dahlia Bakery. Oh my.
Seattle Kitchen might be my most used cookbook and I was pretty excited to learn about The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, Sweetness In Seattle. This book is a wonder! Almost 400 pages of good food. It is not all about the sweet stuff, there are savory baked goods as well. The chapter list gives a hint of what is in store:
english muffin love, english muffins and breakfast sandwiches
the dahlia doughnut, dahlia doughnuts and monkey bread
good morning!, morning pastries
jump-start your day, more breakfast and brunch recipes
a cookie in each hand
heavenly pies, pies, rustic pies, crisps
tarts that tempt, pastry tarts and the apple dumpling
let them eat cake, cakes and cupcakes
creamy goodness, pudding, pastry cream, eclairs
scooped, ice cream and ice cream sandwiches
tomato soup and grilled cheese
a bowl full of jelly, jams and jellies
The book begins with Tom's musings on indulgence. His parents Wedgewood gas stove, his own Kitchen Aid mixer, a daily eclair. He sums it all up with one great paragraph.
"Thanks for indulging in the purchase of this book. Your passion for food, how it's made, where it came from, who grew it, and, most of all, the traditions and lore of why it's on your table can be infectious. Pass it on to your friends and family. Don't be that one who loses the recipe card file for lack of effort. Be the one who shows up on Christmas morning with home-canned brandied cherries for gifts rather than the manufactured crap. Be the one at the office water cooler telling your coworkers about the new hot bakery or restaurant down the street that is kicking serious ass. Turn your three meals a day from "I don't have time to cook" to "I can't wait for dinner!" Indulge yourself."
Such passion is infectious. To help you turn your desire to make a good meal into an actual good meal, the book is full of step by step instructions. Not just the normal step by step, but serious detail. The recipe for English Muffins is five pages long, not because making them is difficult, but because knowing what to expect at every step insures your success. That sort of care and attention is part of every recipe.
If a recipe calls for Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting the page number is listed right there in the ingredients list. Same thing goes if a technique is required, the page number is right there, no need to flip to the index or thumb through side bars.
This book really is a wonder and something every cook should have on their shelf. The Peanut Butter Cookies take longer to make than other cookies because of the whipped peanut butter filling, but they are worth the effort. You can find the recipe along with a nice video here.
The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook is full of great recipes that include all the techniques needed to recreate the meal. Certain to please those who have been cooking for years as well as people who have just begun to "stand facing the stove". A book that will forever be a part of my collection and one I look forward to giving to everyone I know who loves good food.