Picabu is closed but its cookbook – on sale now for $20 – offers customers all of its recipes
The Fire Pasta – Picabu’s No. 1 bestseller – is in there.
So are the restaurant’s famous potstickers, the same ones that Guy Fieri tried in 2010 while filming “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
Look, also, for the popular grilled chicken gyro, chocolate-peanut butter pie, array of summer salads with scratch-made dressings, Angry Prawns and Cactus Burger.
Picabu Neighborhood Bistro might have closed Saturday. But that doesn’t mean fans can’t still enjoy its entrees. Owner Jane Edwards has created a cookbook that includes all – and she means all – of Picabu’s recipes from its nearly 14 years in business.
She’s selling pots and pans, dishware and equipment – and retiring. This week, she’s cleaning up the tucked-away South Hill space and readying it for lease. She’ll be there to sell copies of the “Picabu Bistro Cookbook,” as well as T-shirts and travel mugs, too.
In fact, she’s having the restaurant’s phone numbered transferred to a cellphone “so people can call me anytime” to order a cookbook. They would, she said, make great stocking stuffers.
They cost $20 each and are spiral-bound so they can be easily folded as well as laid flat on a table or counter top.
Edwards sold out of her first printing of 200 copies in one week. The next batch – 100 copies – sold out in just three days. There were six left midday Dec. 7 from another batch of 200. She was planning to order 400 more for the next run.
“I will continue to print them as long as people want them,” she said. “Everything – even the fry seasoning – is in there. I held nothing back.”
Edwards, 58, opened Picabu on April 1, 2005, with her brother, John Fletcher, who left the business three years later. He now owns Grub Truck, a food truck in Moscow, Idaho.
In its 13 and a half years in business, Picabu – which seats just 53 – developed a loyal following.
“I’ve had people tell me that this is their ‘Cheers’ bar,” she said.
Picabu was known, among other things, for its signature salads that appeared on the menu in time for Memorial Day and disappeared after Labor Day. And, in her cookbook, “I listed every one of those salads,” Edwards said.
It took her about five weeks to complete the cookbook.
“It was a really big job,” Edwards said, noting recipes needed to be cut down from 20 or 22 quarts to quantities that make sense for home cooks.
There are color photos, too – of Edwards, her three children and her two grandsons as well as popular dishes and the restaurant itself. Her daughter did the drawings.
“It’s not only a cookbook but a kind of memory book,” Edwards said. “My son-in-law proposed to my daughter here.”
Closing the restaurant, she said, was “by far the hardest decision I have ever made.”
She started telling people about her plans in September. But, she said, “I’ve been thinking about it for about a year. It’s time to be done.”
In retirement, she plans to spend more time with her grandsons and do some traveling, too.
“I won’t miss things breaking down,” she said. “I won’t miss employees calling in sick.”
But, she said, “I will definitely miss the regulars that come in every day and the fun conversations that happen. I will miss making someone’s day by offering them good food and a place where they’re welcome whatever else they need. I will miss my employees. We’ve always tried to make it a community” – a “family,” she wrote in her cookbook.”It was a lot of work. But it was a lot of fun, too.”
Picabu has 13 employees, one of whom has been there since the restaurant opened. They’ve all been looking for new jobs, Edwards said.
By the end, she wasn’t doing the cooking, except for maybe soups. But she was doing “everything else” – the books, the ordering, serving, hosting, dishes, cleaning.
“My philosophy’s always been I can’t expect somebody else to do it if I don’t do it myself,” she said.
The cookbook is a memento for customers as well as for her. She plans to use it in the future.
“I will probably cook everything at home at some point,” she said.
Picabu is at 901 W. 14th Ave. Call (509) 624-2464. On the web: www.picabu-bistro.com.
From Jane Edwards of Picabu Bistro
For the wrappers:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
4 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
2 1/2 tablespoons ginger puree
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
For the sauce:
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
Canola oil, for frying
Mixed greens, for serving
Sesame seeds, black and white, for garnish
Make the wrappers: In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Pour in a small amount of water and turn the mixer onto the slowest setting. Continue to add water until a dough forms. The dough should be firm but pliable. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest on a cutting board for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch circles.
Make the filling: Grind the chicken in a food processor. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Process the green onion and cilantro with a little bit of the chicken and add to the mixing bowl. Stir in the corn, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and lime juice and mix well.
Make the sauce: Place the soy sauce, water, sugar, white wine, and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a light boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool, and then garnish with the green onions.
To prepare: Place 1 level tablespoon potsticker filling in the center of a wrapper and fold in half to form a moon shape. Pinch the seam to seal the wrapper shut. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a nonstick pan. Working in batches, add the potstickers and cook until the bottom is golden brown. Add 1 /3 cup water, cover, and steam until the filling is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Plate the potstickers on top a bed of mixed greens and garnish with a sprinkle of black and white sesame seeds.