A publishing recipe for success 'Beautiful' books venture to the Pacific Northwest

May 12, 1993|By Peter D. Franklin | Peter D. Franklin,Contributing Writer

When is this going to stop?

Once or twice a year we can expect a new, oversized and pricey volume in "The Beautiful Cookbook" series to hit the market. Collins Publishers of San Francisco (and a predecessor publisher) have nine such books, each filled with glorious color photographs, a creditable text and recipes that deserve a place in the kitchen.

Now comes the 10th, and perhaps best, volume in the series: "Pacific Northwest The Beautiful Cookbook," by Kathy Casey and Lane Morgan (Collins, $45). Certainly it outstrips the only two previous volumes devoted to American cooking, namely "California The Beautiful Cookbook" and "America The Beautiful Cookbook."

Once again the scenic photography -- by John Callanan, in this instance -- is eye-popping. The flowering of spring in a Washington state tulip field, the cascading Multnomah Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge are but two examples of the magnificent landscapes from Oregon, Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.

And while handing out accolades, a tip of the toque is due E. Jane Armstrong for her excellent food photography and to Lane Morgan for bringing the Pacific Northwest alive in her knowledgeable and spirited text.

But it's the recipes, edited by the award-winning chef from Seattle, Kathy Casey, that gained the most attention in this corner, especially those from the seafood chapter. Pan-roasted steelhead with apples, onions and sage; smoked salmon benedict with sour cream-chive hollandaise; steamed halibut with blackberry butter; fettuccine with Dungeness crab and asparagus; and baked Pacific oysters with bay shrimp and artichokes speak volumes for the region's rich and diverse bounty.

There's plenty of land-based fare, too. Among the recipes are roast turkey with oyster-corn bread stuffing and wild turkey gravy, peppered flank steak with Oregon blue cheese sauce, Skagit Valley duck sausage, peninsula cranberry pot roast and roast duckling with pressed cider and sage.

Delicious combinations with peaches, pears and pickles find their way into jars, alongside cranberry-sage vinegar and six-onion relish. Crow Valley pear crisp with vanilla cream and blackberry cobbler grace the dessert table.

When is this series going to stop? I hope never, as long as the quality of subsequent "beautiful" books continue at the same high level of "Pacific Northwest."

I always thought fish and chips were a British tradition, but "Pacific Northwest" claims them for that neck of the woods. Microbrewed ale is called for in the following recipe, but any hearty ale or beer will do fine.

*

Microbrewed beer-battered fish

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

BATTER:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon sifted powdered sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 - 3/4 cup microbrewed ale (dark beer)

1/2 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons water, if needed

Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

1 1/2 pounds fresh, firm-fleshed white fish fillets, such as ling cod or halibut, skinned and cut diagonally into 12 pieces

Lemon wedges for garnish

To make the batter: In a large bowl, mix together all the dry batter ingredients. Stir in the ale and 1/2 cup of the water to make a light batter that will coat the fish, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of water as needed. The batter should have the same consistency as crepe batter.

Pour 5 inches of oil into a deep-fryer or large Dutch oven. Heat to 375 degrees. Dip the fish pieces one at a time into the batter, coating them well. Carefully drop a few pieces at a time into the hot oil and fry, turning if necessary; don't let the fish pieces stick together.

Cook until golden, about 3 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a very low oven while cooking the remaining fish in batches.

4( Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

*

Don't turn your nose up at this recipe until you've given it a try. glad "Pacific Northwest" included it; it's really good. There are only two rules to follow here: Be sure to get calves' (veal) liver, and don't overcook it.

Calves' liver and bacon with orange-leek sauce

Makes 4 servings.

8 bacon slices

1 teaspoon butter

1 leek, white part only, sliced very thin

4 calves' liver slices, about 1 pound

1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour mixed with salt and pepper to taste

Juice and grated zest of 1/2 orange, about 1/4 cup of juice

In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel and keep warm. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and set the skillet aside for sauteing the liver.

Melt the butter in another skillet over medium heat and add the sliced leek. Cover and cook slowly until tender. Set aside.

Dredge the liver in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Heat the reserved tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet and saute the liver over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until done to your taste. Transfer to a serving plate and keep warm.

Add the orange juice and zest to the leeks over high heat and bring to a boil. Pour over the liver.

Arrange the bacon on the side. Serve with a green vegetable and fluffy mashed potatoes or fried sweet onion rings.

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