Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Neat and Tidy with Ratatouille Tian

Neat as a pin, ratatouille tian.

Neat as a pin, ratatouille tian.

 

I read an amusing article recently about how so many of us love the uncluttered esthetics of open-concept, minimalist home design — yet so few of us can really pull that off because we just have too much darn stuff.

I count myself among those. I readily admit I have countless cookbooks in nearly every room of my house. Though, I’m not as bad as one chef I know, whose wife told me he even has cookbooks stacked underneath the sink. I draw the line at that.

Notebooks teeter in a mountain on my desk. Knickknacks vie for space on living room shelves. My pantry groans with sous vide, pasta, and ice cream maker contraptions. And my kitchen spice cabinet does overflow. So much so, that my husband is sometimes afraid to open it, lest an avalanche of mustard seeds, star anise and za’atar come tumbling down upon him.

As much as I love the look of clean lines, my house will probably never fully achieve that calm, sparse vibe.

So I take comfort where I can, such as in “Ratatouille Tian.”

It’s zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes, sliced into rounds of the same size, then arranged just so in neat rows in a baking pan. It’s so simple yet so striking in its appearance.

It’s an orderly dish for those times when chaos typically rules.

It’s the perfect delicious anecdote.

And it’s from the new cookbook, “In the French Kitchen with Kids” (Penguin Random House) by Mardi Michels, of which I received a review copy.

In The French Kitchen With Kids

Michels is a full-time French teacher to elementary school kids. Twice a week, she gives them cooking lessons, too. She also is the creator of the blog, Eat.Live.Travel.Write.

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Grilled Sesame Shrimp For The Win

Tahini helps marinade the shrimp and creates the foundation for the dipping sauce.

Tahini helps marinade the shrimp and creates the foundation for the dipping sauce.

 

Tahini is having a moment.

And it’s about time.

If you love peanut butter, almond butter or any other nut butter, you will easily fall for its cousin, tahini, which is essentially a form of sesame butter. Raw or toasted sesame seeds are ground, releasing their oil, and creating a creamy, thick, velvety, and spoonable sauce redolent of pure sweet nuttiness.

It’s what gives hummus its unmistakable lushness. It’s what fortifies so many great Middle Eastern dressings and spreads. And it’s what perks up palates with interest anew after tiredness sets in from same ol’, same ol’ peanut butter.

Levant Book

Restaurateur Rawia Bishara calls it one of her favorite pantry items. She says she could devote an entire book to it. She hasn’t gone that far, but she does include quite a few recipes using the sesame paste in her new cookbook, “Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking From Tanoreen” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy.

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Kronner Shrimp Burger

KronnerBurger's Shrimp (and Sweet Potato) Burger.

KronnerBurger’s Shrimp (and Sweet Potato) Burger.

 

With Labor Day on the horizon, look no farther than Chris Kronner for all your burger needs.

After all, Kronner, late of the now-shuttered Slow Club and Bar Tartine, as well as Serpentine in San Francisco, has been perfecting his burgers for more than a decade.

The burger impresario, who now heads Henry’s in Berkeley’s Graduate Hotel, is best known for his KronnerBurger restaurant in Oakland, which closed following a fire earlier this year.

In his new cookbook, “A Burger to Believe In” (Ten Speed Press), written with the San Francisco Chronicle Food & Wine section editor Paolo Lucchesi, Kronner takes you through the fine points of making the ultimate burgers, as well as salads, sides, drinks, desserts and condiments.

KronnerBurgerbook

There’s every iteration imaginable, from the “Patty Melt” made with bechamel to the “Earth Burger” made with mushrooms, mushroom powder and a host of other veggies, and “Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken” burger in which you will need 3 cups of pickle juice to submerge chicken thighs in before further soaking them in buttermilk.

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The Glories of Berkeley Bowl — And Smoky Snake Beans

Long beans in a saucy dish of tomatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and shallots.

Long beans in a saucy dish of tomatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and shallots.

 

You know how some women can spend hours at Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s?

I could totally lose track of time inside Berkeley Bowl.

With two locations now in Berkeley, this incredible grocery store has one of the most far-ranging produce departments imaginable. It’s the only place I found a few years ago that carried ramps, that East Coast darling of ingredients beloved by chefs.

This family-owned store was established in 1977 by Glenn and Diane Yasuda. He hailed from a family of Southern California farmers; she came from a long line of grocers. At a time when supermarkets mostly bought from large distributors, the Yasudas championed small farmers from the start, sourcing from them directly to fill their store’s produce bins. The more unusual or exotic, the better, too.

In fact, in 1987, David “Mas” Masumoto was on the verge of giving up his Suncrest peach farm because there was no market for the intensely flavored fruit because they bruised easily, and thus, could not be shipped easily nor stored for long periods. But Glenn Yasuda saw their value, and started buying them, helping to save the Masumoto farm.

BerkeleyBowlCookbook

You’ll learn all of that history in the new “The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook” (Parallax Press) by Laura McLively, a registered dietitian and food writer in Oakland, with photos by Berkeley’s Erin Scott.

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Feed Your People Traci Des Jardins’ Chile Verde

Comfort food at its finest -- brothy, tangy chile verde.

Comfort food at its finest — brothy, tangy chile verde.

 

In this day and age when so much in life seems to be driving people apart rather than closer together, we should never underestimate the power of food to bring people to the table with open minds and hearts.

That’s the spirit behind the wonderful new cookbook, “Feed Your People: Big-Batch, Big-Hearted Cooking and Recipes to Gather Around” (PowerHouse Books) by Leslie Jonath with 18 Reasons.

Jonath, a former editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco, has teamed with 18 Reasons, a San Francisco non-profit that not only strives to teach people the importance of good food, but offers a free six-week nutrition education program in low-income communities on how to make healthy and affordable meals.

Feed Your People Book

The cookbook features recipes by some of the most well-known names in the food industry, including Bay Area cookbook author Andrea Nguyen’s “Chinese Dumplings,” Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters’ “Minestrone,” Tartine co-founder Elizabeth Prueitt’s Whole-Loaf Garlic Cheese Bread,” and pastry doyenne Alice Medrich’s “Ultimate Butter Cake.”

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