Colorado’s Cookbook Queen

Local cookbook author Eliza Cross introduces her newest collection of delectable recipes, just in time for summer

by Richa Mitchell

Hot Diggity Dog Cookbook

Crafting the perfect recipe is a joy for Eliza Cross, bestselling cookbook author and recipe developer. Since 2009, Cross has published 15 successful cookbooks, including 101 Things to Do with Bacon, one of Cross’ most praised and popular books. Based out of Denver, the Colorado native offers a broad market of well-crafted cookbooks offering a road map to creating the perfect dish. Her recent hardcover, Hot Diggity Dog (Gibbs Smith, April 2022), features 65 accessible recipes focused on how to prepare America’s favorite franks and sausages.

We met with Cross to discuss her decade-long career as a cookbook author, and what inspired her to pursue a career in the printed recipe.

First inspiration?
My mom is a wonderful cook who wrote a food column for the weekly paper in Boulder. She’s always influenced my interest in cooking and writing.

Tell us about your latest book.
Hot Diggity Dog has 65 recipes featuring bratwurst, hot dogs and sausages— everything from sandwiches and appetizers to easy meals. These are foods to savor with family and friends, perhaps outside on a glorious Colorado day.

Tough question… what is your favorite summer hot dog recipe?
I like splitting jumbo franks down the center, stuffing them with pepper jack cheese, wrapping them with partially cooked strips of bacon, and finishing them on the grill. So good!

What motivates you to create cookbooks?
Cooking for loved ones and sharing a meal together is one of the greatest pleasures in life. That’s really why I write cookbooks.

Since the pandemic, more people have been cooking at home. Do you have advice for the novice home cook?
Learn from food writers who share excellent recipes. Dorie Greenspan, Leite’s Culinaria and Smitten Kitchen are three favorites.

Can you share the food trends of 2022?
Cooking with smoke and fire; people bought over 14 million grills and smokers during the pandemic. Meat prices are high, so I think we’ll see creativity with cheaper cuts like pork shoulder and chicken-leg quarters.

Speaking of pork, your bacon book was a bestseller. What is it about bacon that creates such a stir?
Bacon evokes the comfort of home cooking, with its enticing aroma, savory flavor and versatility as an ingredient. People go bonkers for bacon! Politics may divide us, but bacon enthusiasts are united by a common love.

Your first job was at a fast-food restaurant. How did that experience lead to your current career path?
Working as a teen at the original Boulder McDonald’s was a high-pressure job that gave me a deep appreciation for what it takes to run an eatery. I briefly considered a dining critic gig but didn’t have the stomach to criticize restaurateurs. My focus is on celebrating good food.