Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.
It’s a given that “State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press) is one of the most anticipated cookbooks to arrive this year.
After all, Chef-Owners and husband-and-wife Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (who wrote the cookbook with J.J. Goode) own one of the hottest restaurants in the country. When State Bird Provisions opened in San Francisco in 2012, it wasn’t long before Bon Appetit magazine named it “Restaurant of the Year.” That was followed by a James Beard Award in 2013 for “Best New Restaurant,” as well as a Michelin star.
The restaurant’s inventive dim sum-like service, where diners choose dishes from cart or trays ferried to their table, proved irresistible, especially because of their array of eclectic, globally-inspired small plates. The place got so mobbed that hackers even broke into the restaurant’s reservations system to try to snag a hard-to-get table.
Even after opening a second restaurant next door, The Progress, State Bird Provisions remains a tough ticket today, with folks still lining up on the sidewalk long before the doors open to try to get a walk-in spot.
Tuck into this novel version of grits.
Let it soak, let it soak, let it soak.
Yes, that’s me taking liberties with the refrain from a certain Christmas song that we’ll all be hearing on repeat soon enough.
But it’s also the mantra that Chef Josef Centeno adheres to when it comes to making grits.
San Antonio-raised Centeno is chef-owner of six Los Angeles-area establishments: Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, P.Y.T, and Penny-Ante Provisions catering. Before opening those, he worked at Daniel in New York, and was chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos.
I zeroed in on his “Creamy Grits with Blistered Tomatoes, Pickled Serrano Chiles, and Sunflower-Miso Tahini” recipe when I received a review copy of his new cookbook.
“Baco: Vivid Recipes From the Heart of Los Angeles” (Chronicle Books) is by Centeno and Betty Hallock, former deputy food editor of the Los Angeles Times.
The cookbook showcases his imaginative dishes that reflect Los Angeles’ dynamic, exciting food scene today. His dishes are inventive — not in the molecular, shake-your-head kind of way — but in the clash of ingredients and flavors that somehow make potent magic together.
Pair unusual grapes with an unusual cheese with delicious results.
Get a load of these grapes.
I sure did when I spied Moon Drops at my neighborhood Whole Foods recently.
How can you not notice these beauties that sport such an unusual tubular shape that do give them a rather otherworldly appearance?
They are juicy, sweet and with just enough tannin from their inky purple-black skin to keep everything in balance.
Moon Drops was developed by the Grapery in Bakesfield.
Incredible, edible Moon Drops.
After buying a bunch, I ate quite a few just right out of hand. But I also saved some for this recipe, “Haloumi with Grapes.”
Black garlic and portobellos are a heavenly combination.
Black garlic is gold.
If you haven’t yet tried this ingredient, it’s high time that you did.
Whole bulbs of garlic are cooked at a low temperature over several weeks to completely caramelize them. The result is garlic without its acrid aggressiveness. Instead, it is the flavor of dark molasses crossed with balsamic, along with the butteriness of garlic. It adds a jolt of umami to anything. The cloves turn squishy, sticky, and yes, black.
Just squeeze the cloves out of their papery skin to use them, chopped or pureed in vinaigrettes, stir-fries, spread on crostini, or rubbed on steaks, chicken or fish before cooking.
Discover the joys of black garlic.
Black garlic is available in packages at gourmet groceries, Whole Foods, and on Amazon.
“Portobello Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Sourdough Crumbs” is an ideal way to get your fix of black garlic goodness.
Embrace the steam.
I always think that steaming is an under-appreciated and so often under-utilized cooking technique.
I think people fear that steamed foods will turn out bland, mushy, almost hospital-like sterile in nature.
But when done right, steaming is a gentle way of cooking that preserves moisture and flavor.
Case in point: fish.
I love grilling fish or sauteeing it, especially to get the skin crisp. But being Chinese-American, I also adore steamed fish. There’s nothing like a whole steamed fish brought to the table at a banquet meal. The flesh falls apart with impossible tenderness. Its texture is rendered beyond silky. And there’s just a lovely delicacy to it, no matter how small or large the fish.
Patricia Wells knows fully well the merits of steaming. In fact, the five-time James Beard Award-winning writer and cooking teacher devotes an entire chapter to steaming in her new cookbook, “My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence In the Kitchen” (William Morrow), of which I received a review copy.