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Kristina’s Bookshelf  

Equal Opportunity Cooking and Eating

I learned to cook my first dish—an egg fried in butter—when I was in second or third grade. Decades later, I still remember the satisfaction of that newfound independence. I’d heat the stove, cut a hunk of butter and drop it onto the small frying pan, watch it sizzle and melt, and then crack the egg into the pan. I’d watch it cook up into something warm and tasty, and when it was finished, I’d slide it onto a plate and feed myself. We all need to eat to survive, but food preparation can be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons. Two books (one old, another new) make meal preparation accessible to people with disabilities or developmental challenges and also explore the rewards that come from cooking with others.

 

Special Day Cooking, A Life Skills Cookbook 
By Beverly Worth Palomba (Special Day Publishing, 2013)
 
This excellent book grew out of Palomba’s long tenure developing and teaching a life-skills curriculum at San Ramon High School for people with developmental challenges making the transition into independent living. It will appeal to people with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, ADD, and other disabilities, as well as young people who simply want to learn to cook on their own.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Crumbly, Baked Goodness

When doesn’t a baked, bread-y offering—sweet or savory—seem appealing? We’re all spoiled by those really well-made and tasty items found at coffee and tea houses around town. Some shops bake their own, but many get them from local artisan bakers like Berkeley-based Third Culture Bakery, where the creative Taiwanese and Indonesian duo of Wenter Shyu and Sam Butarbutar turn out taste-bud magic in the form of Asian-fusion confections. Treat yourself to their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Scones made with coconut milk and topped with Jacobsen Salt flakes, or chewy-on-the-outside Custard Cakes, or their beloved gluten-free Mochi Muffins topped with black and white sesame seeds. Find these treats at East Bay spots like Blue Willow Teaspot (a wonderful tea house where I first discovered Third Culture confections), or Boba Guys, Alchemy Coffee, Catahoula Coffee and Kaffeegarten, Open Café, 1888 Coffee, Highwire Coffee, Asha Tea House, 1951 Coffee, and Bartavelle Coffee.

If you’d rather keep your crumbs on your counter at home, check out this new cookbook on baking (and using every last morsel of bread)!
 
Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves and Meals to Savor Every Slice
by Alexandra Stafford
(Clarkson Potter, 2017)

Alexandra Stafford, who pens the Alexandra’s Kitchen blog and writes for Food52, had a much-loved and closely held peasant bread recipe from her childhood.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

 
Herbs have been used for cooking and healing for centuries. They’re one of the easiest things to grow in a garden and use to flavor foods.
 

Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen:
Delicious, Nourishing Food for
Lifelong Health and Well-Being

by Brittany Wood Nickerson
(Storey, 2017)
 
Herbalist Brittany Wood Nickerson subscribes to the increasingly popular notion that food can be powerful medicine. Her book provides extensive background on the nourishing power of herbs, weaving in information from Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and other systems, including helpful tips like how to deliver medicinal doses of herbs in cooking (pesto is a particularly good vehicle). Common household herbs and spices—like basil, black pepper, cilantro, and parsley—support digestion, metabolism, immune function, circulation, and the nervous system. Nickerson offers fascinating insights into the healing properties of culinary herbs with in-depth profiles of popular items like dill, sage, and mint, and she shares 110 original recipes for snacks, entrées, drinks, and desserts specially designed to provide comfort, nourishment, energy, and support. Try recipes like Baked Eggs with Parsley Pesto; Mint and Feta Bruschetta with Chive Blossoms (unwashed to preserve their soft leaves, fragrant oils, and pollen dust); Cannellini Beans and Potatoes with Dandelion Greens and Parsley; Roasted Eggplant with Chickpeas, Spicy Peppers, and Mint Oil; and Hazelnut Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Honey.… Read More

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I-Scream

Kristina’s Bookshelf

Sweet, Cold Cream

Inventive flavors like Honey Lavender (top), Thai Iced Tea (bottom), and Mexican Chocolate (in the background) are plentiful at I-Scream on Solano Avenue.

 Local favorite I-Scream on Upper Solano in Berkeley scoops flavors that taste like the farm-fresh ingredients they’re made from. Popular flavors include creamy, buttery rich Salted Caramel (or even better, the Burnt Caramel, when it’s available). Daily offerings change and might include Strawberry (always made with ripe berries), Honey Lavender, or Wild Blueberry. My all-time favorite is Mexican Chocolate, which features a load of spices, including cinnamon and a hit of chili pepper. Order a split scoop if you can’t decide which you’d like.
 
For a different kind of ice cream goodness, head down to the lower part of Solano in Albany to Mr. Dewie’s, a cheery ice cream parlor with red tables and chairs out front. A second shop is now open at the Public Market in Emeryville, in a shipping container inside the market. Shop owners and brothers Ari and Andrew Cohen, a friendly and outgoing pair, grew up in North Berkeley. They were regular customers of both McCallum’s and Ortman’s, two local ice cream purveyors some readers might remember. In an email, Ari reminisced, “We used to play at Thousand Oaks school and go to Ortman’s for slushies.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

 
Living the French Country Dream

 
For many readers, award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and entrepreneur Georgeanne Brennan needs no introduction. Brennan, who lives with her family in Northern California, is well known for spreading the gospel of French food in the United States. Brennan has a special appreciation for French dishes that are made from a few simple but deeply flavorful seasonal ingredients or that celebrate the outdoors. You can read more about Georgeanne Brennan, her cookbooks, and the many products she offers for living la vie rustic (the rustic life) at georgeannebrennan.com.
 

La Vie Rustic: Cooking and Living in the French Style
by Georgeanne Brennan
(Weldon Owen, 2017)

In her latest cookbook, which some fans celebrate as her best yet, Georgeanne Brennan shares a lifetime of French farmhouse cooking using ingredients from forest, field, sea, and stream to make casual, very satisfying meals. The cookbook weaves together personal experience, stories, and tips about how to create a sustainable life and celebrate with family and friends. Recipes can be comfortably managed by home cooks, and ingredients are available in local East Bay markets. Standout dishes include combinations like charred artichokes with fresh herb dipping sauce, zucchini and pine nut fritters, fennel and chicken braised with lemon, a sweet pepper and shelling bean gratin, mulberry and pistachio tart, fresh bay leaves skewered with lamb and peppers, lavender pepper goat cheese, and sea bass with lemon verbena beurre blanc.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Burger Bliss

It’s burger season! What makes the burger especially appealing is that it’s easy and intuitive: a seasoned patty on a bun with whatever additions and condiments strike one’s fancy, no recipe required. But with local markets overflowing with summer produce, it’s the perfect time to experiment with different additions and special flavors, and to learn some history about this simple, earnest fare.
 

Burger Lab: The Art and Science of the Perfect Burger
by Daniel Wilson
(Hardie Grant, 2017)

In a colorful, creative cookbook, burger restaurant owner Daniel Wilson presents burger elements and demonstrates how to get the chemistry exactly right to make the perfect patty. Constructions include combinations like a Wagyu cheeseburger deluxe; a Tonkatsu Pork Burger with Apple and Fennel Slaw; a Chickpea Burger with Tahini Yogurt; and a BBQ pulled pork bun with pickles. You’ll also find recipes for accompanying dishes, chips, and milkshakes. Condiments can elevate a burger from ordinary to special, and these do the job. They feature mayonnaise combinations like Green Peppercorn; Jalapeno and Thai Basil; and Bloody Mary mayo. Relishes include Tomato and Quince, Tomato Kasundi (an Indian relish made with mustard seeds, chilis, turmeric, cumin, and other spices) and other flavorful combinations.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

Lamingtons & Lemon Tart:
Best-Ever Cakes, Desserts &
Treats from a Modern Sweets Maestro

By Darren Purchese
(Hardie Grant Books, 2017)

A lamington is an Australian sponge cake that’s draped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. Australian pastry chef Darren Purchese, who makes a particularly good lamington, is known throughout his native Australia for his elaborate, technically challenging sweets and what he describes as “a scientific approach to food and ingredients.” Purchese describes his new cookbook, Lamingtons & Lemon Tart, as one that “everyone can use,” with no super fancy ingredients and minimal special equipment necessary.
 
In a book filled with instructional color photographs and detailed text, Purchese takes classic desserts and puts his unique spin on them. His fruit-rich recipes work well for bakers in regions like ours, where abundantly available local ingredients can go into delicious combinations like hazelnut and chocolate; raspberry and rose; or almond, nectarine, and fig. Recipes are divided across eight chapters focusing on cakes, choux pastry, desserts, snacks, tarts, breakfast, confectionery, and frozen desserts. 
 
More than 250 pages of original recipes include tempting classic combinations like Jamaican Ginger Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream (Purchese loves everything caramelized); Banana, Chocolate, and Mango Bread served with chocolate ice cream; and Peanut Butter and Jam Chocolate Ice Cream Profiteroles.… Read More

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Kristina’s Bookshelf

 

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
By Samin Nosrat with illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton
(Simon & Schuster, 2017)
 
Chef, writer, food visionary, Chez Panisse alum, and Berkeley resident Samin Nosrat says it up front in her new book: “As you can probably tell, this isn’t your typical cookbook.” And she’s right. With a foreword by Michael Pollan, a charming layout, 150 illustrations (no photographs), lots of personal stories and anecdotes, and more narrative than recipes, Nosrat instructs readers on how to master four basic elements essential to good cooking: salt, fat, acid, and heat. Salt enhances flavor, fat delivers flavor and generates texture, acid balances flavor, and heat determines food texture. With the right balance, whatever you cook will be delicious.

Weighing in at over 450 pages, it’s a detailed book that includes 100 recipes and dozens of variations for putting the lessons into practice while preparing essentials like dressings, roasted vegetables, braised meats, and light, flaky pastry doughs. Especially engaging is the way Nosrat weaves together her cooking education and philosophy with her personal history—family outings, overseas travels, and work in the Chez Panisse kitchen. In Nosrat’s words, “This book will change the way you think about cooking and eating, and help you find your bearings in any kitchen, with any ingredients, while cooking any meal.”

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

Meat-Less: Transform the Way You Eat and Live –
One Meal at a Time

by Kristie Middleton
(Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2017) 
 

Oakland resident Kristie Middleton, senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States, is a passionate advocate for animal welfare. Part of her passion is a commitment to eating a meat-free diet. Her new book shares scientific and nutritional research regarding the negative effects on people and the environment caused by meat consumption. To give a human dimension to the facts she provides, Middleton presents stories of individuals who have changed their diets to eat lower on the food chain and shares her own advice for more plant-based eating.
 
Although it includes more than 60 recipes (no photographs or drawings), Meat-Less is less a cookbook than a book about the benefits—in terms of health, the environment, and sustainability—of eating less meat and fewer animal products. The small steps Middleton advocates for changing eating habits and behaviors, together with advice, tips, and recipes, will be helpful to anyone looking to make the transition to a diet with less meat.
 
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

 

Taste of Honey:
The Definitive Guide to Tasting and Cooking with 40 Varietals

By Marie Simmons
Andrews McMeel Universal, 2013

This book came out several years ago, but it’s still a good resource for anyone looking for recipes that use honey. Veteran cookbook author Marie Simmons helps readers to understand things like how the terroir of a bee’s habitat influences both the color and flavor of the honey it produces, and how each honey has a different flavor profile that is best paired with certain ingredients. She includes over 60 sweet and savory recipes like Flatbread with Melted Manchego, Rosemary, and Honey; Honey, Scallion, and Cheddar Scones; Honey Glazed Beets with Cinnamon, Orange, and Mint; Roasted Eggplant Slices with Warmed Feta and Honey Drizzle; and Micki’s Special Honey Fudge Brownies. A comprehensive glossary describes 40 different varieties of honey.
 

Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes
By Jami Curl
Ten Speed Press, 2017

A candy-making cookbook from the owner of QUIN, a popular Portland-based candy company, features more than 200 recipes using natural ingredients including honey. Make marshmallows with honey and sea salt, lollipops with cherry honey vanilla, honey and hazelnut caramels, and dozens of other confections.… Read More

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