Good Deeds, Great Food
May is blooming with opportunities to do good by eating well. Read on for tasty ways to support your favorite local organizations, from the Berkeley schools’ Gardening and Cooking Program to the Alameda Point Collaborative’s supportive housing and job training programs. Feast on offerings from generous local restaurants and food stores while directing your dollars to groups that serve and nurture our community.
Berkeley Dine Out
Mark your calendar for an evening out on Tuesday, May 13, when a group of local restaurants donate a percentage of your bill to Berkeley’s school-based Gardening and Cooking Program. Choose from more than 25 eateries and food stores, including Comal, Build Pizzeria, Phil’s Sliders, Gather, and Zut. Local jeweler M. Lowe & Company sweetens the deal by offering a $100 gift certificate to be awarded to one lucky diner at each restaurant. Berkeley’s acclaimed district-wide learning labs for cooking and gardening serve pre-kindergarten through high school students, teaching kids about where our food comes from, the value of physical activity, and just how good fresh fruits and veggies taste. Due to huge cuts in federal grant funding, the program is operating on a lifeline with a piecemeal budget. Info: here
Oakland chef and restaurateur Charlie Hallowell is dishing up memorable meals to support and celebrate local nonprofits. Through the year, diners can enjoy monthly Sunday gatherings at Hallowell’s Penrose, Boot & Shoe Service, and Pizzaiolo, plus other favorites including Chez Panisse. Hallowell is collaborating with event coordinator Lauren Greis to raise funds for 12 East Bay organizations working in social services, food justice, health, education, and the arts. The first event, on May 18 at Penrose, is in support of Oakland Leaf, an organization that feeds the mind, body, and spirit of youth and families through creative education. Cost of a prix-fixe family-style dinner with house wine is $100. Info: here
Not Your Mother’s Garden Party
Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) hosts this annual event to raise funds for its supportive housing and job training programs. The May 18 gathering at Ploughshares Nursery features a tasting menu from Pacific Fine Foods with produce grown through APC’s Farm2Market program. To accompany the edible treats, Alameda craft distillery St. George Spirits offers custom cocktails made with produce from the APC garden. Located on the site of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, APC serves 200 formerly homeless families through permanent supportive housing, case management, and job training. Tickets: $30. Info: here
Cooking with Neighbors and Friends
By Kristina Sepetys
As the weather warms and we’re spending more time outside and in our gardens, a chat over the garden fence becomes an impromptu bring-what-you-have dinner around the barbecue. Or a bounty of tender new produce discovered in the garden becomes an excuse to assemble a bowl of fresh-clipped greens and invite the neighbors to come by and break bread over a pot of something warm. Below are some new titles to inspire your community building. Happy spring!
Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup
by Maggie Stuckey
(Storey Publishing, 2013).
Cookbook author Maggie Stuckey explains the history of the wildly successful soup night she started in her Portland neighborhood and shares practical tips and nearly 100 recipes for starting your own soup night. On a regular, fixed night of the week, the host provides two or three pots of soup. Guests bring their own dishes and silverware, and perhaps a salad or some bread. Neighbors get to know each other by name, people of all ages connect and socialize, and the neighborhood becomes friendlier and safer.
The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup’s On! More than 100
Quick and Easy Recipes for Every Season
by Mark Reinfeld
(De Capo Lifelong Books, 2013).
If your gatherings cater to vegans or others looking for flavorful plant-based soups that can be cooked up quickly, you’ll like this guide. Find delicious recipes for French Onion Soup, Thai Coconut Soup with Lemongrass, Mayan Tomato and Corn, Himalayan Dahl, Brazilian Black Bean with Baked Plantains, New England Chowder, Creamy Fire-Roasted Tomato and Dill, and Cheesy Cauliflower Soup. Reinfeld also includes recipes for dessert potages like Spicy Strawberry Soup, Golden Gazpacho with Saffron, and Raw Chocolate Mint Soup with Raspberries.
Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors
by Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise
(Workman Publishing Company, 2013).
Two Chez Panisse alumnae and prolific cookbook authors present 250 big, flavorful recipes designed to be served in plate-filling portions. This is updated comfort food: slow-cooked roasts and braises, generous steaks, filling soups, heaping platters of salads and vegetables, hearty pastas and grains, wild game, and rich desserts. Feed a hungry gathering with recipes like these: Stuffed California Pork Rolls; Buffalo Chili with Black Bean and Corn Salsa; Leg of Lamb with Spicy Pecan Pesto; Corn Chowder with Cod, Shrimp, and Corn; and finish with Lime Curd Coconut Meringue Pie with a Macadamia Nut Crust.
African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed
by Bryant Terry
(Ten Speed Press, 2014).
The chef, food justice activist and author of Vegan Soul Kitchen and The Inspired Vegan reworks and remixes some favorite ingredients and classic dishes of the African Diaspora to present more than 100 delicious new recipes. Notes include Terry’s insights about building community around food, and suggest world music tracks and books to enhance the cooking and eating experience. Find recipes like Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil, a recipe inspired by the Kenyan dish irio; Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad with dried apricots, carrots, and almonds, based on a Moroccan tagine; and Crispy Teff and Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts, combining the Ethiopian grain teff with stone-ground corn grits from the Deep South and North African zalook dip. Finish meals with desserts like a Caribbean-inspired Cocoa Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache.
Farm-Fresh and Fast: Easy Recipes and Tips for
Making the Most of Fresh, Seasonal Foods
(Fairshare CSA Coalition, July 2013).
This volume blends culinary know-how with practical recipes to make the most of fresh, seasonal produce. Each chapter is organized by plant anatomy (leafy greens, root vegetables, etc.) to highlight similarities in cooking and preparation among ingredients. Master recipes help home cooks adapt to fit the ingredients they have on hand, and come with four seasonal variations so the recipes can be changed up as the harvest unfolds.
Fresh Food Nation: Simple, Seasonal Recipes from America’s Farmers
by Martha Holmberg
(Taunton Press, 2013)
This is another great book to turn to when you have fresh produce and are looking for recipes to keep the preparation simple and flavorful.
Smashed Potatoes, Peas and Corn,
with Chile-Garlic Oil
Reprinted with permission from Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photography © 2014 by Paige Green
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings
SOUNDTRACK: “Ndiri Ndanogio Niwe” by Mbiri Young Stars from Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & 80s
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
12 small yellow potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter)
2 ½ cups shelled green peas (about 2½ pounds fresh peas in the pod)
2 ¼ cups sweet corn kernels (from about 3 ears of corn)
¼ cup packed chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground white pepper
To make the chile oil, put the red pepper flakes in a small heatproof bowl. Warm the peanut oil in a small skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Pour the oil and garlic over the red pepper flakes and let cool, stirring a few times, for about 20 minutes.
To prepare the vegetables, put 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl and mix. Put 2 inches of water in a large pot fitted with a steamer insert and bring to a boil. Put the potatoes in the steamer, cover, and cook until fork-tender, adding more water if necessary, about 45 minutes. Remove the steamer basket from the pot and let the potatoes cool for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the potatoes to the bowl with the olive oil and toss to coat. On a clean work surface, gently press each potato with the palm of your hand until about ½ inch thick. With a spatula, transfer to the lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browning and crispy on the edges.
After the potatoes have been baking for 15 minutes, put the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in the same bowl and mix well. Put about 8 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, then add the peas. Return to a boil, and cook uncovered until the peas are just barely tender, 2½ to 4 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 30 seconds. Drain well, then transfer to the bowl with the olive oil. Add the parsley and toss well. To serve, top each potato with 3 heaping tablespoons of the pea mixture, drizzle with the chile oil, and finish with a few grinds of white pepper.
Note: If you’d like to substitute frozen peas, thaw them, then add to the boiling water along with the corn and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. To know for certain whether the peas are tender, give one or two a try.