Author Archives: foodgal

Carolyn’s Never-The-Same Veggie, Bean, and Sausage Soup

This is how I like to enjoy those now-scarce Rancho Gordo beans.
This is how I like to enjoy those now-scarce Rancho Gordo beans.

Who would have ever thought that dried beans would be as good as gold?

These are the times we are living in.

Since the shelter-in-place mandate went into effect, social media has been abuzz about how Rancho Gordo heirloom beans are in such demand now that the Napa specialty food purveyor is out of stock until May. Yes, a four-week wait.

But then again, its heirloom beans have always been highly coveted by those in the know.

I’m just thankful to still have several pounds of ’em from my order earlier last year.

What makes them so great? First, there’s the incredible variety, many of which you might be discovering for the first time, which aren’t readily available elsewhere. Second, it’s the freshness. Unlike beans that might sit on a supermarket shelf for years, Rancho Gordo’s beans turn over quickly, meaning that they are new-crop and will cook up faster and more tender. Third, they have so much flavor on their own that you don’t have to do any complicated to enjoy them.

My never-the-same soup always starts with Rancho Gordo beans, plus whatever worse-for-wear veggies lurking in my produce drawer.
My never-the-same soup always starts with Rancho Gordo beans, plus whatever worse-for-wear veggies lurking in my produce drawer.

Beans like these are hearty and satisfying, and come in so handy for making salads, stews, and dips. My favorite way to enjoy them is in soup — or in what my husband likes to call, “Carolyn’s Never-The-Same Veggie, Bean, and Sausage Soup.”

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The World’s Easiest Cookies — And That’s No April Fool’s Joke

Yup, I made these three different cookies from one recipe that really requires only four ingredients.
Yup, I made these three different cookies from one recipe that really requires only four ingredients.

At a time when so many baking ingredients are scarce at supermarkets, come these cookies to the rescue.

They require no all-purpose flour, no eggs, no granulated sugar, and no butter.

Which means they are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. It also means they are vegetarian, vegan, and paleo.

“The World’s Easiest Cookies” live up to their name. It’s a recipe from the cookbook, “World’s Easiest Paleo Baking: Beloved Treats Made Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, and with No Refined Sugars” (Lake Isle Press, 2016) by Elizabeth Barbone, which I spied on the Kitchn site.

These cookies use only four ingredients: finely ground almond flour, baking powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.

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A True Bright Spot: My “East Bay Cooks” Honored with “Golden Poppy Book Award”

A super easy cucumber dish that uses only a handful of ingredients. It's a featured recipe by Grand Lake Kitchen in my "East Bay Cooks.'' (Photo by Carolyn Jung)
A super easy cucumber dish that uses only a handful of ingredients. It’s a featured recipe by Grand Lake Kitchen in my “East Bay Cooks.” (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

In this stressful, challenging time, I scroll social media for glimpses of good news: chefs donating food to hospital workers, folks grocery-shopping for elderly neighbors, and everyday people trying to help lighten the mood with cheery videos and haikus.

And then I spied this gem: the news last week that my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1) was honored this year with a “Golden Poppy” award by the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. It recognizes “the most distinguished books written by writers and artists who make Northern California their home.”

I couldn’t be more thankful for the incredible recognition. I share it with the talented team whom I had the privilege to work with to make this book a reality: photographer Eva Kolenko, Clair Mack at Rule & Level Studio, Figure 1, and of course, all the chefs and restaurateurs who participated.

I salute you all with a virtual toast — as well as this easy, addictive recipe from the book to enjoy. After all, times like these when we limit trips to the grocery store, call for dishes that come together with few ingredients.

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Armenian Pizza — Why Don’tcha?

Get a taste of Armenian pizza -- topped with a flavorful lamb-tomato mixture.
Get a taste of Armenian pizza — topped with a flavorful lamb-tomato mixture.

When California’s shelter-in-place mandate first went into effect during this pandemic, my husband peered into the fridge and cupboards with increasing anxiousness.

Like a good wife, I merely patted him on the shoulder reassuringly and said, “I got this.”

And I did.

As I told him, even if all we had was flour and water, we would still be fine. Because if bread is the staff of life, then flour is life, itself.

After all, that’s all you need to make some basic flat breads, sourdough, dumplings, pasta, and pancakes.

Throw in eggs and some oil, and you really have it made.

And of course, at this point, we still had plenty more than that.

That’s why I thought it the perfect time to try my hand at “Lahmajo,” otherwise known as Armenian pizza. I mean, how good does that sound, right?

It’s from the marvelous cookbook, “Lavash: The Bread That Launched 1,000 Meals, Plus Salads, Stews, and Other Recipes From Armenia” (Chronicle Books, 2019) by San Francisco cookbook author Kate Leahy, San Francisco photographer John Lee, and Los Angeles chef and recipe writer Ara Zada.

The book, of which I received a review copy, is the perfect escape now, too, because it transports you through words, photos and dishes to Armenia, a tiny country in the mountain Caucus region between Asia and Europe.

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Coconut Collaborative: A Dairy-Free Deep Indulgence

Small yet mighty in satisfaction.
Small yet mighty in satisfaction.

It’s tiny. But it’s oh-so-big on decadence.

The Coconut Collaborative’s Chocolate Dessert Pot is thick and fudgy, and tastes like velvety dark chocolate ganache. Close your eyes, and you can easily imagine enjoying it out of a crystal goblet at a fine restaurant, not out of a plastic cup in your own kitchen.

What’s more, it’s dairy-free.

That’s because it’s made with coconut cream.

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