Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Shakewell’s Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad

A favorite recipe from my cookbook, "East Bay Cooks.''
A favorite recipe from my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks.”

When I was working on my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), I was fortunate enough to have the help of a small army of friends and family who helped test all the recipes with me.

When one of my testers told me that he’d made the recipe for “Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad” not once, not twice, but five times, I was immediately alarmed.

But then he told me why: It wasn’t because anything was wrong with it. On the contrary, he and his wife ended up loving this dish so much that they couldn’t resist making it multiple times to share with friends.

While I’m fond of all the recipes in this cookbook that spotlights 41 restaurants in the dynamic East Bay, that testimonial convinced me right then and there that this recipe by Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland’s Shakewell was truly a winner.

Because of book-publishing timetables, my friend had to test this recipe at the height of summer. But I patiently waited until winter to give it a test-drive, since long-braised short ribs are so made for this time of year.

This is definitely a comfort dish taken up a level. The short ribs cook up fork-tender in an almost mole-like brothy sauce made with ancho chiles, fennel, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, a little ground coffee, some chopped bittersweet chocolate and a whole bottle of Zinfandel. How can that not be good?

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Roasted Savoy Cabbage Wedges, Caesar-Style

Move over romaine, make your Caesar "salad'' with roasted Savoy cabbage instead.
Move over romaine, make your Caesar “salad” with roasted Savoy cabbage instead.

Cabbage is the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables.

It doesn’t get nearly the respect it deserves. It seems too plain, too basic, too cheap to be worthy of much attention.

But just consider how integral it is to slaws, salads, soups, corned beef, and so many Russian and Polish staples.

If that doesn’t convince you, surely “Roasted Savoy Cabbage Wedges, Caesar-Style” will.

This incredibly easy dish features all the arresting flavors of Caesar salad — but with roasted cabbage instead.

The recipe is from All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice” (W.W. Norton & Company), of which I received a review copy. It’s the fabulous new book by James Beard Award-winning Molly Stevens, a gifted cooking instructor, recipe developer and food writer who lives in Vermont.

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Sichuan-Style Cucumbers For The Year of The Rat

Refreshing, loaded with sesame flavor, and a snap to make in about 5 minutes.
Refreshing, loaded with sesame flavor, and a snap to make in about 5 minutes.

Tomorrow ushers in the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rat. But truth be told, this Chinese dish is so easy and winsome, it’s perfect any day of any season.

The poetically named “Phoenix Tails in Sesame Sauce” grabs from the get-go with a quick, arresting sauce heady with the deliriously deep taste of roasted sesame seeds.

This side dish, appetizer or first-course is from the new “The Food of Sichuan” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The 495-page treatise is by Fuchsia Dunlop, a true authority on regional Chinese cuisines. The London-based food writer speaks, reads and writes Chinese. Her many cookbooks spotlighting Chinese food are must-reads for anyone who desires a deep-dive into the differences and nuances of each culinary region.

“The Food of Sichuan” is actually a revised and updated edition of her classic cookbook, “Land of Plenty,” which was published in 2001 when Sichuan cuisine was still little experienced in this country.

The new edition of the book contains more than 50 new recipes. Yes, Sichuan dishes are known for their liberal use of chiles and lip-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. But there are plenty of tamer dishes, too.

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Moroccan Lamb, Tomato and Chickpea Soup Sure To Warm You Up

A nourishing North African-style soup.
A nourishing North African-style soup.

On a wintery night, this is the soup you will want to curl up with in a most generous bowl.

“Moroccan Lamb, Tomato and Chickpea Soup” is substantial with tender chunks of lamb shoulder, nutty chickpeas, sweet carrots, and minerally spinach. It’s also a riot of aromatics, thanks to South African-Moroccan ras el hanout and harissa. And it’ll warm you through and through from the very first sip, given its kick of complex spiciness.

This very fine soup is from Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook” (Figure 1, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The book features recipes from the whimsically named Dirty Apron Cooking School in Vancouver, B.C. that’s owned by David and Sara Robertson. Sara handles the business-side, while David, a long-time chef, oversees the classes, as well as Dirty Apron’s deli and catering business.

It’s the second cookbook by David, who also wrote “The Dirty Apron Cookbook” (Figure 1, 2015), which was designed to bring the cooking school into your home by teaching invaluable techniques.

The follow-up cookbook is all about sharing the love of home-cooking with friends and family in dishes such as “Creme Brulee French Toast,” “Kabocha and Wild Rice Salad,” “Spanish Manchego Meatballs with Saffron Basmati Rice,” and “Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake.”

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Jubilee’s Rice Muffins

Simple and satisfying rice muffins.
Simple and satisfying rice muffins.

“Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking” (Clarkson Potter) is one of the most acclaimed cookbooks of the past year.

For good reason.

Activist, historian and food writer Toni Tipton-Martin’s book, of which I received a review copy, contains more than 100 recipes. But it is so much more than a cookbook. It is a resounding testament to the ingenuity, fortitude, passion and perseverance of African-American cooks throughout the ages.

When you think of African-American cuisine, you might automatically think soul food. But Tipton-Martin shows the real breadth of the cuisine. With hundreds of historical cookbooks she’s collected over the years, she combed through recipes to get at the heart of how black cooks have richly shaped our culinary landscape through the ages.

The result are recipes that are both modern and timeless, such as “Curried Meat Pies,” “Jamaican Jerk Ribs,” “Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken Wings,” “Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne,” and “Caramel Cake.”

What’s more, with many of the recipes, she also includes the actual historical recipe that inspired it with its succinct measurements and directions. By doing so, she connects the past to the present, making you really feel as if you are carrying on a cultural and culinary tradition whenever you take the time and effort to make one of these recipes.

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