This is the time of year to indulge friends and family with edible treats and memorable gifts. In the spirit of the season, we’re serving up some tempting local pleasures to savor and share during the coming weeks.
In This Newsletter:
● Holidays in the Vineyards – Dec 6 & 7
● KPFA Crafts Fair – Dec 20 & 21
● Sustainable Santa: Out of the Mall & Into the Farmers’ Market
● Book Reviews: Holiday Reads
● Recipe: Fruitcake from Market Hall Bakery
Celebrate the Season
Holidays in the Vineyards
Saturday & Sunday, December 6 & 7, noon–4:30pm
Various Livermore wineries
Experience a Livermore Valley Wine Country holiday tradition. Wineries decorate their tasting rooms and showcase special wines, art, crafts, holiday music, activities, and more. Guests are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to their favorite wineries for donation to the local Toys for Tots program. Admission is free, but tasting fees may apply and vary by winery. Info: here or 925.447.9463
Crafts Fair Benefits Public Radio
44th Annual KPFA Crafts Fair
Saturday & Sunday, December 20 & 21, 10am–5pm
The Craneway Pavilion
Richmond on the Waterfront
Back in the East Bay after 19 years in San Francisco, this juried fair showcasing affordable art and crafts benefits KPFA (94.1 FM) public radio. The KPFA Crafts Fair features original work by over 200 artists and craftspeople, with a glorious variety of handmade items. Among the fair’s many delectable food offerings, visitors will find organic, fair-trade olive oil from Rebuilding Alliance, a group that partners with Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations to rebuild war-torn Palestinian neighborhoods. Jan Etre, the fair’s producer and an artist herself, is excited to bring this outstanding event back to the East Bay. Tickets: $10 general, $5 seniors, free for ages 17 and under and people with disabilities. Parking is free and plentiful. Info: here
“Eat Your Broccoli,” Says Santa
by Rachel Trachten
Sustainable Santa and the Mrs. were in town recently, touring the Edible Schoolyard and the North Berkeley farmers’ market. The duo (aka Richard and Helen Nielsen-Eckfield of Carlsbad, California) are on a mission to transform Santa into a role model for healthy eating.
The image of a chubby, red-suited Santa with a bottle of Coke in hand was popularized in Coca Cola ads starting in the 1930s. Sustainable Santa wants to update that image with a livelier, trimmer one—Santa as an active and energetic senior who exercises and favors kale over cookies.
To get Sustainable Santa’s message out to kids, the Nielsen-Eckfields want to bring Santa out of shopping malls and food courts and into farmers’ markets. Since early November, Sustainable Santa and colleagues have been working seven markets in San Diego County, offering children tastes of fresh fruits and veggies and the chance for a photo with Santa. They promote three food rules adapted from Michael Pollan’s books: 1) If you’re hungry, eat an apple. 2) Treat treats as treats. 3) No sweets except on days that begin with the letter S.
Sustainable Santa has trained about 400 Santas through workshops and on Skype, and he hopes to build a national movement. Stay tuned for a healthier, slimmer Santa at your local farmers’ market. Info: Santa@SustainableSanta.com or here
Reviews by Kristina Sepetys
Perfect for giving and reading this holiday season, these large-format, handsomely photographed cookbooks come from world-class chefs who source with care and take pride in their craft. Their restaurants are dining destinations and in some cases, exemplify the food culture of a region.
North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland
by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy
(Ten Speed Press, 2014)
Icelandic food culture is characterized by distinctive indigenous ingredients, traditional farmers and artisanal producers, and wildly creative chefs and restaurants. Explore the region’s food and landscapes in this cookbook from the chef and owner of Reykjavík’s Restaurant Dill. Recipes are as creative and complex as the narrative is fascinating. With stunning photography and detail on ingredients and sourcing, the book tells how producers supplied Gislason in trade while he was starting up and how he in gratitude supports them and promotes regional Icelandic cuisine and environmental stewardship.
Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi
by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Ten Speed Press, 2014)
A new book from London chef Yotam Ottolenghi features 150 creative, delicious vegetarian dishes. A follow-up to his bestselling and award-winning Plenty, the book is organized by cooking method and emphasizes spices, fresh herbs (lots of them), seasonality, and bold flavors. The cooking style and ingredients are particularly well-suited to the fruits and produce of our local environs. From inspired salads to hearty main dishes and luscious desserts, Plenty More is another terrific offering. Deeply flavorful dishes like Cauliflower Cake or Tomato and Pomegranate Salad are especially satisfying this time of year.
by Sean Brock
Sean Brock is the chef behind the South Carolina restaurants Husk and McCrady’s. Seeking to preserve the heritage foods of the South, Brock cooks ingredient-driven dishes that reinterpret the flavors of his youth in Appalachia and his adopted hometown of Charleston. The recipes include all the home-style comfort food and high-end restaurant food that characterize his restaurants. Brock’s interpretation of Southern favorites like Pickled Shrimp, Hoppin’ John, and Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake share table space with recipes for Crispy Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps, Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder with Tomato Gravy, and Baked Sea Island Red Peas.
A New Napa Cuisine
by Christopher Kostow
(Ten Speed Press, 2014)
A debut cookbook by Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood explores how Napa cuisine has evolved and how it has influenced his work. Kostow shares personal essays, curated recipes, and stunning photography to illustrate the relationships and collaborations that exemplify a “new Napa.” The book celebrates the local artisans, products, growers, and food ways that have influenced the cooking style specific to this small American valley.
Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes From Our Kitchen
by Zoe Nathan
(Chronicle Books, 2014)
While more of a simple, earnest neighborhood destination than those described in the books reviewed above, baker Zoe Nathan’s Huckleberry Bakery & Café in Santa Monica, California is no less beloved. Her beautifully photographed cookbook offers more than 115 recipes, including how-to sequences for mastering basics such as flaky dough and lining a cake pan. Huckleberry’s recipes span from sweet (rustic cakes, muffins, and scones) to savory (hot cereals, biscuits, and quiche). Recipes feature whole-grain flours, sesame and flax seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, natural sugars, and gluten-free and vegan options.
Market Hall Bakery Fruitcake
Market Hall is known for exquisite foods, so when staff there swear that this fruitcake is the best they’ve ever tasted, you have to take note. Chef Sandy Sonnenfelt brought the recipe to Market Hall when she joined the company more than 19 years ago. Sonnenfelt, who grew up in South Africa, says the cake was a tradition in her family: “My mother made the fruitcake for my father’s patients. She would start making the cakes in October for Christmas. They would be given to families when he did house calls and it was also served in his waiting room. The cakes were covered in muslin and doused with brandy a few times while they sat. They were covered in marzipan and then iced.”
This may look like a long recipe, but it’s worth the effort, since it’s as chock-full of wonderful flavor as it is with ingredients. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with enough cake to enjoy some at home and give a few as gifts. The cake is a showcase for high-quality candied fruits, such as the dried Blenheim apricots and candied orange and citron peel from Agrimontana, available at the Market Hall shops in Rockridge and on Fourth Street. They also carry real morello cherries and candied melon to make the recipe even more outstanding.
Makes 4–5 small cakes (one pound each)
2 cups pecan pieces
2 cups walnut pieces
1 cup sliced dried apricots
1 cup sliced dried figs
1 cup chopped candied orange peel
1 cup chopped candied citron
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup orange zest
1/4 cup lemon zest
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup brandy, plus extra for finishing
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix all Part 1 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 275°. Butter and flour four or five 8- or 9-inch loaf pans. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand with a wooden spoon), mix the butter, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add two eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Add the last two eggs and the vanilla and mix to combine. Then add the fruit mixture and mix until the fruit is distributed evenly.
Divide the batter between your pans. If you don’t have enough pans, you can hold the batter in the refrigerator as needed. Bake approximately 100 minutes, rotating the pans after 40 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans on a rack for 30 minutes. Pour 1 tablespoon brandy over each cake and allow to cool for an additional 45 minutes.