Call me old-fashioned, but I still love holding a cookbook in my hands. Especially when the book is as culinarily compelling and tactilely thrilling as “Lark: Cooking Against the Grain.”
Lest you brand me a Luddite, I’ve got a big appetite for its companion app, too.
Turning the pages of chef John Sundstrom’s cookbook or leveling my gaze on its downloadable electronica — step-by-step photos, e-mailable ingredients lists, show-and-tell videography — I found a love letter that speaks eloquently and very personally to the Pacific Northwest and its seasons.
Those three seasons — Mist, Evergreen and Bounty — define the book’s chapters and bring to life, in 75 distinctive dishes, the taste memory of every meal I’ve eaten at the Capitol Hill restaurant since its debut a decade ago:
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From the Mist (November to March) off Penn Cove come mussels steamed with bacon, apple and shallots, as impressive prepared in my kitchen as it was the first time I ordered it. Among the Evergreenery (April to July): a recipe for locally grown Bloomsdale spinach — a classic that taught me there’s still something to learn about marrying spinach with lemon and butter.
And what a Bounty (August to October)! Now I can wow my friends at home with geoduck ceviche spiked with chilies, mint and cherry tomatoes; cherry clafouti with lemon verbena custard (I knew I grew that herb for a reason); or the marvelous Manila clam recipe I share with you here.
I’ve also re-created to great effect Lark’s mustard-roasted chicken with drippings potatoes (easy!) and look forward to immersing myself in the multiday maneuvers for pork rillettes.
And I’m heartened to know that like the restaurant itself — warm and rustic, friendly and focused — the Lark cookbook ($50 at http://larkseattle.com/store
), the Kindle version ($17.99) and that app ($4.99) bring so much more than a sense of seasonality to the table.
Printed in Seattle, for Seattle, the book is a community effort, self-published after overwhelming support from a Kickstarter campaign that raised $54,000 in a single week: $21,000 more than the ask.
That windfall fueled the providential partnership between Sundstrom and his friend, Jared Stoneberg, a chef turned techno-whiz who oversaw the book’s cross-platform development and the dream team of culinary, literary, visual and technical artists who brought Lark, the cookbook, to life.
Lark’s Manila Clams
2 pounds Manila clams, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces Chistorra chorizo cut into 1
8-inch rounds (or substitute any Spanish chorizo)
2 tablespoons shallot, peeled and sliced into rings
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons Mama Lil’s hot pickled peppers, chopped
Black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chiffonade
Toasted country bread
1. Wash and pick through the clams, discarding any that are broken or stay open.
2. Over medium heat in a wide saucepan with a lid, add the extra virgin olive oil, chorizo and shallot. Cook until most of the fat has rendered and the chorizo is crispy.
3. Add the garlic and cook until tender, about 1 minute.
4. Add the clams and stir to coat with the oil and rendered chorizo.
5. Add the white wine, hot peppers and a little salt and pepper.
6. Cover and cook 3-6 minutes or until all the clams are open and the sauce is slightly reduced. Discard any clams that haven’t opened.
7. Adjust seasoning to taste and add the parsley.
8. Serve in the pan or a large bowl with toasted country bread on the side.
— “Lark: Cooking Against the Grain”
Nancy Leson is The Seattle Times food writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8838. On Twitter: @nancyleson.