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Kristina’s Bookshelf

New World Peppers

Peppers of the Americas:
The Remarkable Capsicums
that Forever Changed Flavor

By Maricel El Presilla
(Ten Speed Press, 2017) 

When I’m shopping at Mi Tierra Foods or Monterey Market, I’m always intrigued by the assortment of El Guapo and El Mexicano brands of dried, whole peppers in cellophane bags with green, red, and white banners along the top. Oaktown Spice Shop (on Solano in Berkeley and across from Lake Merritt in Oakland) also carries a wide selection of dried and ground peppers. Their constantly changing selection typically includes one or two dozen varieties, like the fruity, all-purpose aji amarillo and aji panca; New Mexican green chilis; and the chile pasilla de Oaxaca, a smoke-dried pepper that cooks love for its deep flavor. Oaktown helpfully puts a Scoville heat listing on the packaging for most of their peppers. I’ve used some of the better-known varieties like chipotle and chile negro, hydrating them in warm water and then pulsing them in the blender or food processor to add to soups and salsas. But I’ve wondered about the flavors and uses of some of the others, so I’m pleased to see this new book.
 
Maricel El Presilla’s Peppers of the Americas is a useful volume for anyone who would like to know more about the fruits of the capsicum family.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

San Francisco’s Unique Flavors

A Little Taste of San Francisco:
Recipes for Classic Dishes

By Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen
with Illustrations by Courtney Jentzen
(Blue Streak Books, 2018)

Readers may recognize cookbook author Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen as a frequent contributor to Bay Area food publications, including Edible East Bay. Her latest book is a charming little volume celebrating some of the drinks and dishes associated with San Francisco. Among the more than 30 recipes inspired by our beautiful local produce or served at iconic San Francisco eateries, you’ll find the popular Mai Tai drink, which originated at Trader Vic’s, the Bay Area’s original tiki bar; Irish Coffee from Buena Vista Cafe; the Gilroy Garlic Fries sold at Giants baseball games; Crab Louie from Swan Oyster Depot on Nob Hill; Roast Chicken with Arugula and Bread Salad from Zuni Café; and Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream, inspired by a Bi-Rite Creamery recipe that makes use of the jewel-like strawberries found in farmers’ markets this time of year. Colorful, winsome illustrations by Courtney Jentzen capture the fruits and vegetables used in the dishes as well as the mood and spirit of San Francisco and its landmarks. A perfect gift for someone from out of town or anyone who would enjoy some of the spirit and flavor of the Bay Area.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Explore New Tastes from Near and Far

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook:
Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market

by Laura McLively with photos by Erin Scott
(Parallax Press, 2018)

Oakland resident and registered dietitian Laura McLively, an avid home cook, is also a devoted shopper at Berkeley Bowl, the green market known and revered in the East Bay and beyond. She chronicled her visits and discoveries at “the Bowl,” as it is known locally, in her popular blog My Berkeley Bowl, trying many of the hundreds of exotic fruits and vegetables she’d see at the market but didn’t know how to use. Now, she’s assembled many of her best recipes in her new cookbook to encourage readers to try cooking with things like the wiry haired fruits called rambutan; crunchy, spindly sea beans; African horned melon; and Indian bitter melon. Recipes are original, tasty, and easily prepared in a few steps. Try options like Matcha Mousse with Opal Basil Syrup; Banana Blossom with Glass Noodles and Crispy Garlic; Grilled Cheese with Mizuna, Dates, and Goat Brie; Green Garlic Soup with Lemon Cardamom Yogurt; and Sweet & Sour Tofu with Gooseberry. I quite liked Falafel Waffles with Armenian Cucumber Slaw.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Growing Food as a Way of Life

 

Grow What You Love: 12 Food Plant Families to Change Your Life
by Emily Murphy
(Firefly Books, 2018)
 
Emily Murphy’s new book is a simple guide to finding success as a gardener by growing vegetables and herbs that you love to eat. The “12 Food Plant Families” refer to the following: tender herbs; perennial herbs; tomatoes; summer greens; winter greens; hardy greens; root vegetables; cucumbers and summer squash; pods and beans; edible perennials; berries; and edible flowers and companion plants. Murphy, a garden designer and teacher living in Mill Valley, maintains that the simple act of growing things yourself opens the door to making other changes, like connecting with nature. Murphy keeps a food and garden blog called Pass the Pistil. The book includes some of her best recipes, like Greens and Fresh Herb Toasts; Best-Ever Blueberry Pie; and Spring Greens with Jicama, Cilantro, and Lime. A nice volume for anyone looking for inspiration and motivation to start a garden.
 
The author presents Grow What You Love: 12 Food Plant Families to Change Your Life in a hands-on demonstration to celebrate Earth Day. To reserve your seat, purchase the book in advance by calling 510.704.8222 or ordering online: here
 
Meet Emily Murphy at Mrs.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Cooking Anything Food52 Style

Several years ago, Food52, the online crowd-sourced food community and recipe hub, came down from the ether to make some old-fashioned hard copy cookbooks. Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, former New York Times columnists, originally founded the website as a space where cooks could come together to exchange recipes, offer one another support, and talk about food. Their award-winning site became a favorite destination for home cooks who appreciated the flavorful recipes made from seasonal ingredients. Produced through local publisher Ten Speed Press, with seven titles published to date, the cookbooks are excellent. Each has a list of recipes right in the table of contents, which makes it easy to browse for something to suit the season and satisfy the palate. These are great books for beginning and advanced chefs alike, and they are all very much in keeping with the Food52 ethos that memorable cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Check out their latest title on grilling! 

 

Food52 Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire Up Dinner (and More)
by Paula Disbrowe
(Ten Speed Press, 2018)

Find out how easy it can be to whip up tasty, flavorful dishes over flames any night of the week.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Comfort Chicken

Maybe it’s the time of year and the cold, rainy weather, but roasted chicken recipes are sounding awfully good these days. Whole chickens are easy to cook and offer the added benefit of leftover bones that can be used to make stock for soup.
 
Poulets & Legumes:
My Favorite Chicken & Vegetable Recipes

by Jacques Pépin
(Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018)

Well-known French cooking teacher and chef Jacques Pépin shares his favorite chicken and vegetable recipes in his latest cookbook: a simple volume charmingly illustrated with Pépin’s paintings. All the recipes and even some of the drawings have appeared previously in Pépin’s cookbooks, which is okay, because at 82 years old, he’s probably perfected all his recipes by now, making it something of a greatest hits collection. Headnotes to most of the recipes include tips for preparing the dishes, but Pépin does not include glossaries, equipment lists, or even a forward explaining why he wrote this book. Still, it’s a satisfying little volume of classic recipes for 29 chicken main dishes and 39 vegetable side dishes. Try Roast Split Chicken with Mustard Crust, Chicken Diable (made with tomato puree, tarragon, and Tabasco sauce), and Chicken with Cognac Sauce. Side dishes include combinations like Peas and Fennel with Lardons, Green Beans with Mustard and Cream Dressing, and Asparagus Topped with Bread Crumbs and Egg.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Simply Delicious Meals

 
A Couple Cooks: Pretty Simple Cooking

by Sonja and Alex Overhiser
(Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2018)

Popular husband-and-wife bloggers and podcasters Sonja and Alex Overhiser share 100 whole-food vegetarian recipes with 75 vegan and 90 gluten-free options. Dishes include combinations like Cherry Almond Breakfast Cereal; Chickpea Shawarma Flatbread; White Cheddar Leek and Greens Millet Bake; Two Potato Hash with Romesco Sauce; Crusty Bread with Strawberry Lime Chia Jam; Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Skillet Cookie; and Vanilla-Orange Strawberry Shortcakes. Full-color photos are provided for each recipe, along with preparation time required and suggestions for modifying the dish to suit various dietary restrictions. The authors advocate for slowing down and making meals a time to show your love. Recipes are all tasty, reliable, and easily prepared by home cooks.
 
Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with our readers. 
 

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Make Those Valentine Sweets Yourself!

Chocolate may be the surest way to a loved one’s heart. If that special someone is vegan, intolerant to dairy or gluten, or just enjoys creative chocolate confections made with natural sweeteners, you’ll want to check out some of these new books.

 

Bliss Bites: Vegan, Gluten- & Dairy-Free Treats from the Kenko Kitchen
By Kate Bradley
(Hardie Grant Books, 2018)

For super-sweet confections made without dairy or refined sugar, Kenkō Kitchen blogger Kate Bradley’s new cookbook is the place to go. The collection includes over 60 gluten-free, vegan, and plant-based recipes made from nuts, seeds, and fruits, all designed to be put together quickly. Her Bliss Balls, which include a chewy base of dried fruits combined with various spices, nuts, and seeds, require no cooking. Turkish Delight Bliss Balls can be prepared in 10 minutes from rosewater, dried cranberries, goji berries, dates, honey, and flax, all combined and rolled in crushed pistachio nuts. Date Night Truffles are made from Medjool dates, crunchy peanut butter, dark raw chocolate, and sea salt flakes or coconut “bacon.” Get Ya Glow On Bliss Balls, another no-cook delight, are made from seeds, bee pollen, cinnamon, turmeric, dates, and other tasty ingredients.… Read More

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   Dave Eggers Sets Out on a Bookmobile Tour

 

Author and McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers takes to the road for the launch of his new book, The Monk of Mokha. But this is no ordinary book tour: Dave will be traveling alongside Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the subject of the book, and their conveyance will be a San Francisco Public Library bookmobile, which they’ll park in front of five local bookstores in the two-day tour after their kick-off event at City Hall. See details above and read our review below . . .

Kristina’s Bookshelf

The Monk of Mokha 
By Dave Eggers 
(Knopf, 2018)  

Given the breadth of topics Dave Eggers has addressed in his fiction and nonfiction work, it would seem there’s no subject he can’t write about. Following the success of his early work, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which chronicles his experience raising his younger brother in Berkeley after his parents died, Eggers has gone on to pen more than a dozen books on subjects that range from the life of a Syrian-American house painter in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Zeitoun), to the Lost Boys of Sudan (What is the What), to life in a tech start-up in Silicon Valley (The Circle).

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Why Are Sprouts and Yogurt Part of Our Diet?

How did organic staples like sprouts, tofu, yogurt, brown rice, and whole-grain bread become commonplace in our grocery stores and homes? Food journalist and former line cook Jonathan Kauffman talks about funky food history and cultural change in his new book Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat. Hear him in conversation with writer Gordon Edgar, cheese buyer at San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery Cooperative (the country’s largest retail worker co-op) at the Commonwealth Club. Cost: Non-members $35, Members $20, Students $10. Info and tickets: here or 415.597.6705
 
How Hippie Food Changed the Way We Eat: a Talk with Jonathan Kaufman on his new book
Tuesday January 30, 5:30pm (check-in), 6:30pm (program and book signing)
The Commonwealth Club
110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco

Kristina’s Bookshelf

Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs,
and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat
 
by Jonathan Kauffman 
(William Morrow, 2018)  

 
There was a time in the U.S. when dishes prepared with ingredients like tofu, whole grains, alfalfa sprouts, lentils, wheat germ, and even yogurt might have been described as “hippie food.” It was because they were thought to be foods enjoyed only by “counter culture” types with nontraditional tastes.… Read More
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