Jacques Pepin’s Chicken in Vinegar with Garlic and Tomato Sauce

Jacques Pepin employs an interesting technique to cook this bistro classic.
Jacques Pepin employs an interesting technique to cook this bistro classic.

Whether it’s watching him on PBS or thumbing through one of his cookbooks, I never cease to learn something from Jacques Pepin.

A master technician who makes everything look effortless, and a cheerleader who gives the confidence to try any of his recipes handily in your own kitchen, Pepin continues to inspire in his latest cookbook, “Jacques P├ępin Quick & Simple” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.

As the title implies, the book’s 250 recipes are fast and easy, with brief ingredients list. Pepin is not above using frozen pizza dough, canned beans or ready-made sponge cake in some of them, either.

As he states in the introduction, “This book is intended to make your life easier.”

It will, too, with recipes such as “Cream of Pumpkin Soup” that uses canned pumpkin, light cream and curry powder; “Cheese Tart,” made with a frozen pie shell filled with a mixture of eggs, ricotta and Gouda; “Mustard-Broiled Shrimp” that’s coated with honey mustard, dark soy sauce and Sriracha; and “Orange Bavarian Cream” what mimics fancy custard cream but is instead made with instant pudding mix, half-and-half, and melted vanilla ice cream.

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Okazu Miso Chili Oil Will Have You Smacking Your Lips

Chili oil condiments made with miso.
Chili oil condiments made with miso.

If you’re a fan of Chinese-style chili oil, then you will love Abokichi’s Okazu line, which puts a Japanese spin on that fermented condiment by adding miso to it.

Jess Mantell and Fumi Tsukamoto co-founded their Toronto company, Abokichi, to make gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, preservative-free sauces. They first started selling them at a farmers markets. They proved such a hit that they expanded to online and retail sales.

I had a chance to try samples of the three different varieties: Chili Miso, Spicy Chili Miso, and Curry Miso.

Okazu Chili Miso carries a good amount of heat with a big backbone of umami.
Okazu Chili Miso carries a good amount of heat with a big backbone of umami.

Miso paste, sesame oil, sunflower oil, tamari soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds and a little chickpea flour form the basis of each of these umami-rich condiments.

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Fall Festivities In the South Bay/Peninsula

Gamble Garden's live Zoom class will show you how to decorate a pumpkin as beautiful as these. (Photo courtesy of Gamble Garden)
Gamble Garden’s live Zoom class will show you how to decorate a pumpkin as beautiful as these. (Photo courtesy of Gamble Garden)

Take Pumpkin Decorating To New Heights

If you’ve already done spooky and campy with your jack-o’-lantern in Halloweens past, now’s the time to give chic a try.

Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden will host a “Pumpkin Decorating With Henna” online class, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 24.

Artist Priti Aggarwal will lead this live Zoom class in the Indian art of mehndi, explaining its history and cultural applications, and guiding you to decorate your own pumpkin with custom-made henna paste free of chemicals or dyes.

All supplies, including the pumpkin and the henna, will be provided and must be picked up beforehand at the Gamble Garden.

The class is recommended for those ages 8 on up. Price is $40 per person. For more info or to register, click here.

“Dine Downtown San Jose”

This year’s “Dine Downtown San Jose” is extended through Nov. 15, and includes dine-in, dine-out, and to-go specials, making it easier than ever to help support local restaurants during this challenging time.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 10

Say hello to my little friend: Blue Jasmine Tea ice cream from Tin Pot Creamery.
Say hello to my little friend: Blue Jasmine Tea ice cream from Tin Pot Creamery.

Tin Pot Creamery, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Campbell, and San Mateo

Does ice cream qualify as takeout?

Oh, heck yes!

Especially when it’s from Tin Pot Creamery.

Founder Becky Sunseri has been obsessed with ice cream since she was a kid, when she’d even hunker down with a bowl of it in winter while sitting atop the heater in her family’s home in Illinois. At 15, she playfully wrote her first ice cream menu, too.

A former pastry cook at Facebook, Sunseri makes a point to use the best local ingredients in her ice creams and sorbets in creative yet highly accessible flavors.

Now stashed in my freezer at home.
Now stashed in my freezer at home.

Walk up to the window to order a cone or cup or pint to take home. Or order online ahead of time, then go to the “pick-up” window for speedier service.

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Pumpkin, Mustard, Cream — And Fall

A beauty of a red kabocha squash.
A beauty of a red kabocha squash.

As award-winning food writer Nigel Slater so astutely states in his newest cookbook, autumn and winter call for far different types of meals. With brisk weather and darker nights, they fairly demand more substantial and weightier fare to nourish and warm us through and through.

As his new “Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter” (Ten Speed Press) shows, though, that doesn’t necessarily dictate huge slabs of meat. In fact, in this cookbook, of which I received a review copy, he shows with 110 vegetarian recipes that even in the throes of deepest winter, you can feel mighty satiated with plant-based fare.

As always, his joyously descriptive writing is evident throughout, including in the introduction, where he unabashedly states, “There will be carbs. They protect and energize us. They bring balm to our jagged nerves.”

My kind of carbs -- fall-apart tender squash in a mustardy cream sauce.
My kind of carbs — fall-apart tender squash in a mustardy cream sauce.

Ah, a man after my own stomach.

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