What inspired you to write your book?
I am a firefighter and chef. I come from a long line of chefs, although we did not call them that, and certainly they never used a cookbook as we know it. But my Southern heritage, which emphasizes a love of a place as well as food, is deeply ingrained in me. And seeing that same pride of location that Bellingham has, I was drawn to the food. Capturing that pride and that food was a natural extension. Whether the book is successful or not is not the concern as much as me saying “Thank you” for giving me a home here that I can identify with.
About your Book:
This is a collection of the restaurants, recipes and people that define Bellingham, Washington. From the hidden eateries tucked away in the Fountain District to sweeping views overlooking Bellingham Bay, these are the sights, tastes and stories of our favorite places. An homage in recipes and pictures, Signature Tastes of Bellingham captures the culinary essence of the City of Subdued Excitement.
Cuisine Style or Food Genre
Sample Recipe or Food Advice
Man Pies Chicken Pie
This is the original Man Pie chicken pie that got the whole chain started…
3 # Chicken Thighs, bone in, skin off
1 Q Chicken stock(or water)
4 Celery Rib, washed, cut into large pieces
2 t Pepper
2 t Salt
1) Heat oven to 400F or 375F for convection.
2) Add all the ingredients to an oven safe covered casserole, dutch oven or pot.
2) Put the covered pot into the preheated oven.
3) Check every 10 minutes after 30, when the meat comes away from the bone (prior to shredding stage) it is done.
4) Remove the meat from the liquid and cool on a tray. Reserve the braising liquid.
1 Q Braising liquid
3 Oz. Butter, salted
5 Oz. Flour, (high gluten preferred, all-purpose will work)
1 C Cream
1 Pinch Nutmeg, Ground
1 tsp Salt, 1 t minimum
1 tbsp Black Pepper, ground fine ( 1 tbs. min)
1) In a 2 quart(or larger) Sauce Pan. Melt the butter and stir in the flour while the butter is hot
2) Add 1 quart braising juice
3) Add cream
4) Whisk until smooth.
5) Cook on medium low for 30 minutes.
6) Add nutmeg, salt and pepper then test for seasoning.
7) Allow to cool.
All Chicken thigh meat, cooked, cooled, chopped
2 C Celery, ¼ inch sliced
1 C Carrots, ¼ inch slice
½ C Peas, frozen or fresh, not canned
1) Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and chop the meat into ½ inch pieces.
(take care to leave the joints out, and reserve everything to make stock.)
2) Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a 4 quart pan.
3) Add celery slices to water and return to a boil. Cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Either lift the celery from the water with a slotted spoon, or drain the celery through a colander set over a large bowl to catch the hot water. Leave the celery to cool and bring the water back to a rolling boil in the same pot.
4) Add sliced carrots to the water and return to a boil. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain carrots and leave to cool. The cooking water can now be discarded.
5) Once celery and carrots are cool, mix together with chopped chicken. Add salt and pepper and mix gently.
6) Add the frozen peas and gravy. Mix thoroughly. Now you are ready to fill.
7) Fill your pastry shells
8) Make Glaze: 1 egg yolk thinned with 1 T of water.
9) Glaze the edge of the pastry where the top will contact the bottom.
10) Glaze the top of your pastry shells.
11) Bake within 48 hours, in a 425F oven until evenly golden brown. (Obviously store cold.)
a) We use french flaky pastry crust made with real quality butter, a recipe can be found in any French cook book that is “worth it’s salt”.
b) The filling should be cold when it is added to the dough.
c) Fresh grated nutmeg, and pepper, quality butter, good chicken, and carrots that are not too sweet, are things that will make your pie great instead of just good.
What formats are your books in
How do you see writing a food/cookbook as different from writing other genres of books?
Oh this is infinitely easier, although not as fast (believe or not). You start with a theme, which helps define your borders. And then you just plug away. Tweaking recipes, the right photography, etc. is all a part of it, and that takes time. But at least you know when you have it done, and done well. Other genres, an author is taking such a bigger risk in investing themselves into a novel, that simply no one might like. Or worse, they don’t like and it becomes personal. No, thank you. I’ll take cookbooks.
What advice would you give to someone that is thinking about or currently working on a food book or cookbook
Do it. Start right now…don’t wait. Pick a theme to guide you. Start collecting recipes. Start picking layouts. Just start. You will learn the rest “on-the-job”. I am now a best-selling author of 13 books and growing. And all because I simply started. If you have questions, email me, call me, whatever…I will do what I can to help.
How did you decide how to publish your book and where is it published through:
I decided to self-publish the first book, because I am impatient. And I wanted the control of it, good or bad. So I went through Lightning Source. Now, what I did do in the beginning was lay a foundation for a publishing company; hence I could hopefully repeat the success I expected on that first book. Now, we have a dozen titles, with several authors we are publishing other than myself. I want to give a chance to other authors, who have the passion to see this through.
Steven W. Siler is a firefighter-cum-chef serving both in the Deep South and the Pacific Northwest. He is the best-selling author of the Signature Tastes cookbook series. Long marinated in the epicurean heritage of the Deep South, Steven has spent over 20 years in the much-vaulted restaurant industry from BOH to FOH to chef. In addition, he has served as an editor and contributing writer for several food publications. When not trying to shove food down his fellow firefighters’ gullets, he enjoys sailing and sampling the finest of scotches and wines, and has an irrational love affair with opera.
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