At a time when immigration is a political lightning rod comes a book that reminds us just how much our culinary landscape has been deliciously shaped by the food traditions brought and shared by so many newcomers to this country.
The new book is by Gabrielle Langholtz and Rick Kinsel, respectively the director of culinary projects and the president of the Vilcek Foundation, a New York organization that raises awareness of immigrant contributions to the United States.
Within the pages of this beautifully photographed book, you’ll get to know chefs such as Maneet Chauhan, a native of India who beat out 40 male chefs to become executive chef at Vermillion in New York and Chicago; Diego Galicia, a native of Mexico, who scraped together $15,000 with a business partner to open his Mixtli in an empty train car in San Antonio, TX that led him to being named one of the year’s “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine; and Mustsuko Soma of Japan, who moved to Seattle to open her lauded Kamonegi, famed for its hand-made soba, after learning that Washington was one of the largest buckwheat producing states in the country.
The stories captivate. And the recipes entice with dishes such as “Sea Urchin Lumpia” from Chef Charles Olalia of Ma’am Sir in Los Angeles; ” “My Mom’s Coffee-Braised Brisket” from Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philadelphia; “Easy Bibimbap for Home” from Chef Corey Lee of Benu in San Francisco; and “Pancake Stack Cake” from Pastry Chef Miroslav Usukokovic of New York’s Gramercy Tavern.
Whether you’re a Bay Area native or not, this book will have you enthralled with the East Bay, the most populous region in the Bay Area. It spotlights 41 restaurants and bakeries, some brand new, and others that have endured for decades — no easy feat in this challenging and competitive market.
I’d already tried out one recipe from this cookbook that boasts more than 125 to choose from. Since it came out so delightfully well, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at another one before the grilling days of summer end.
This shrimp dish takes barely 10 minutes to put together. You’d be hard pressed to find another that cooks up faster with this much punch.
James Beard Award-winning food writer Danielle Centoni, a former food colleague of mine she was at the Oakland Tribune and I was at sister newspaper the San Jose Mercury News, greatly expands on the notion of what fried rice can be.
The book includes globally-inspired 50 recipes. Of course, there are standards such as “Classic Chinese Fried Rice with BBQ Pork” and “Spicy Fried Rice with Chinese Broccoli, Ground Pork, and Szechuan Chili Oil.” But there is plenty more that you’d be hard-pressed to have considered before, including “Fried Rice with Halloumi, Pickled Onions, and Zhug,” “Carbonara Fried Rice,” and “New Mexican Chili Fried Rice with Queso and Pork.”
She also includes tips for making fried rice (always start with day-old cooked rice), proper water ratios when cooking rice, and ways to avoid pests growing in your stored rice (freeze it for three days first).
Her “Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi Fried Rice” has all the vibrant flavors of your favorite inexpensive Vietnamese sandwich, but its foundation is rice rather than a French baguette. That means this dish is gluten-free, especially if you swap out the soy sauce for tamari instead.
Take a taste of Cassia restaurant’s turmeric grilled sea bass — in the comfort of your own home.
There was a time when folks poked fun of the dining scene in Los Angeles.
Not anymore. Now, it’s not only the darling of food fanatics looking for authentic ethnic cuisines and exciting push-the-envelope places, but it’s also the location of choice for chefs around the country looking to open new ventures. That includes: San Francisco’s Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco-Mexico City Chef Gabriela Cámara, New York’s David Chang, New York’s Christina Tosi, and New York-Mexico City’s Enrique Olvera.
“EAT. COOK. L.A.: Recipes from the City of Angels: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, captures Los Angeles’ dynamic dining scene with stories and 100 recipes from some of the area’s biggest names. Find everything from the “Egg Slut” by, yes, Eggslut; “Tomato Salad with Crispy Potatoes and Whipped Feta” from Sqirl; “Chanterelle Lasagna with English Peas and Parmesan Pudding” from Lucques; “Chinois Lamb Chops with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette” from Spago; “Adobo Fried Rice” from Republique; and “Chocolate Sesame Cake” from Kismet.
The book is by Aleksandra Crapanzano, a screenwriter and food writer based in New York, who is a regular food columnist for the Wall Street Journal.