Admittedly, I often hem and haw, even dodge, duck, and deflect, when people invariably ask me what my favorite recipe is in my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks” (Figure 1, 2019).
It’s like choosing a favorite child — or in my case, only one dessert to eat for the rest of my life.
It just can’t be done.
However, I will concede this: At this time of year especially, I will eagerly flip the pages of my cookbook until I stop longingly at “Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet-and-Sour Kumquats.”
This comforting dish is from Chef Kevin Gin of Bridges in Danville. It’s one of those fabulous dishes in which your oven really does all the work — turning lamb shanks, cooked with an entire bottle of red wine and aromatics like thyme and rosemary, into fall-off-the-bone lusciousness.
When it comes to what you eat and cook, Madison is far from rigid. In fact, she has eaten meat — and still does — occasionally. It’s just that she most often finds vegetables more interesting.
She came to develop a vegetable-centric palate after becoming enthralled listening to a radio program on Buddhism while growing up. It led to her fascinating journey in becoming an ordained Buddhist priest, and to forming the foundation for arguably the first significant vegetarian restaurant in the country. She set the bar early, eschewing the drab and flavorless vegetarian cooking of the time such as lentil loaves in favor of bold and beautiful dishes of her own creation. In the process, she introduced the world to what vegetarian cooking could and ought to be.
“The French Laundry, Per Se”
Let me just state from the get-go: It’s good bet that I’ll never cook anything from the new “The French Laundry, Per Se” (Artisan). Not when the forward in this book even states that the recipes are even more challenging and complex than those in “The French Laundry Cookbook,” which came out in 1999.
But just because you won’t necessarily be tempted to recreate one of the more than 70 recipes doesn’t mean you won’t find this latest book by chef-proprietor Thomas Keller deeply fascinating.
As the name implies, this lavish coffee-table-sized book showcases the synergy between his two Michelin three-starred restaurants, The French Laundry in Yountville, and Per Se in Manhattan.
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.
The cookbook spotlights 41 of the East Bay’s best restaurants and bakeries.
The Sept. 14 event in San Francisco will feature Co-Chefs Paul Manousos and Jacob Alioto of Alameda’s East End, who will be cooking up one of their signature dishes from my cookbook.
The Sept. 21 event in Santa Clara spotlights Rana Saluja-Kapoor, co-founder of the Bay Area’s slew of Curry Up Now restaurants and food trucks. She’ll also be creating one of her recipes from my cookbook.