A Feast of Local Titles


Whether you’re looking for gifts, ideas for holiday meals, or a good book to curl up with this winter, the titles below from local writers should provide plenty of inspiration!


Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland 

By Tanya Holland with Jan Newberry
Chronicle Books, 2014

Tanya Holland is chef and co-owner (with her waffle-wrangler husband Phil Surkis) of Oakland’s beloved Brown Sugar Kitchen. Holland describes the Mandela Parkway spot as “a soul-food restaurant on an isolated corner in West Oakland.” But geographic isolation is offset by the enthusiastic crowds of regulars who gather there for good company and Louisiana-style comfort foods like chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, barbecue shrimp and grits, Andouille gougères, pulled pork sandwiches, and oyster po’boys. Try 86 of Holland’s signature dishes at home and read about the regulars who frequent the Kitchen.

Find the recipe for Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake from Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland (pictured above) by clicking here.


Gone Feral : Tracking My Dad Through the Wild
By Novella Carpenter
The Penguin Press, 2014

Novella Carpenter is known for her unconventional lifestyle raising livestock, keeping bees, and growing produce at Ghost Town Farm, her home in East Oakland. But her latest book isn’t about food or farming. It’s the story of Carpenter’s search for her father, and at the same time, a memoir of her life growing up with her sister and homesteading parents in Idaho and Washington state. The same guileless and unself-conscious style that made her earlier book, Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, a favorite among readers and reviewers is very much in evidence in her new book.



Cinnamon and Gunpowder
By Eli Brown
Picador, 2014

Urban farms must be good breeding grounds for storytelling talent, at least if we take Novella Carpenter and Eli Brown’s successes as examples. Brown lives on a small experimental urban farm in the east end of Alameda, and from there he’s penned an extraordinarily imaginative, cleverly detailed, and entertaining novel. In this high-seas, swashbuckling adventure set in the early 1800s, a chef to the aristocracy is kidnapped by a pirate and forced to serve a weekly meal to the ruthless captain, Mad Hannah Mabbot, from the limited stores aboard the ship. Despite scant supplies, he manages to turn out tea-smoked eel, pineapple-banana cider, and other delights. An NPR Best Book of the Year and California Book Award finalist.




The Culinary Imagination: from Myth to Modernity
By Sandra M. Gilbert
Norton, 2014

North Berkeley resident Sandra Gilbert is Professor Emerita of English at UC Davis, a poet, and a literary critic, published widely in feminist and literary theory. She co-authored the seminal feminist book The Madwoman in the Attic and co-edited The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. In her latest book, Gilbert explores our relationship with food and eating in literature, art, and popular culture, tracing the social, aesthetic, and political history of food from myth to modernity, from ancient sources to the current mania for all things food.




Grow a Little Fruit Tree: Simple Pruning Techniques for Small-Space, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees
By Ann Ralph
Storey Publishing, 2014

Horticulturist Ann Ralph, an expert pruner, may be familiar to East Bay gardeners, since she worked at Berkeley Horticultural Nursery for many years and continues to offer pruning workshops at backyard locations around the East Bay. (More info here.) Her instructive and well-illustrated manual will help you to grow your own apples, plums, cherries, and peaches in the smallest of spaces. Learn to keep your fruit trees manageably small to require less space, less care, and offer easy harvest.



Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade
By Rachel Saunders
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014

Oakland-made Blue Chair jams and marmalades can be found at many East Bay specialty stores and farmers’ markets. In her latest book, Rachel Saunders, Blue Chair owner and author of James Beard Award-nominated The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, shares 150 recipes for cooking with preserves. Try Brussels Sprouts with Kumquats & Smoked Salt (uses kumquat marmalade), Finnish Meatloaf (served with lingonberry jam), Chickpea-Carrot Soup with Tumeric & Lamb (includes apricot jam), or a Chocolate-Bergamot Tart (with bergamot marmalade).




Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes
By Dana Cowin
Ecco, 2014

Unfortunately, we can’t claim Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine, as an East Bay resident. But some of the chef-mentors in her new book, like Alice Waters, hail from here. Her amusing and instructional guide is aimed at home cooks and others who aspire to success in the kitchen. She shares her own plentiful cooking mistakes and offers tips and guidance from the heavyweights for creating tasty, failsafe dishes, like the beloved Spiced Nuts from Wente Vineyards and Asparagus with Gribiche Vinaigrette with tips from “vegetable whisperer” Alice Waters.



My Paris Kitchen
By David Lebovitz
Ten Speed Press, 2014

David Lebovitz spent nearly 13 years cooking at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before he left to write cookbooks. Living in Paris, he took to penning his hugely popular blog at davidlebovitz.com. His latest cookbook shares stories and 100 sweet and savory French-inspired recipes with lovely photographs taken in the author’s Parisian kitchen and around the city. He includes many updated traditional French dishes, like Butternut Squash Crumble and Haricots Verts with Snail Butter. As with most of Lebovitz’ books, desserts, like Warm Chocolate Cake with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce, Duck Fat Cookies, Bay Leaf Poundcake with Orange Glaze, and French Cheesecake, are standouts.




French Roots: Two Cooks, Two Countries & the Beautiful Food Along the Way
By Jean-Pierre Moullé and Denise Lurton Moullé
Ten Speed Press, 2014

From 1975 until he retired in April 2012, French-born Jean-Pierre Moullé was the executive chef at Chez Panisse. He met his wife, Denise Moullé, a French wine importer, on a Berkeley street corner in 1980, and six months later, they married. French Roots is the story of their lives told through food, beginning with old-world food and the simple preparations of the post-war period. Readers follow their arrival in the Bay Area and at Chez Panisse in the 1970s, when California cuisine was just emerging, and then on to their homes in Sonoma and Bordeaux. Back in their native country, the Moullés explore the classic French dishes and the forgotten skills of foraging, hunting, and preserving.



Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours
By Alice Medrich
Artisan, 2014

In a generous collection of delicious-sounding recipes, Berkeley-based chocolate and dessert queen Alice Medrich shows how to bake with and enjoy the extra flavor dimensions inherent in white-wheat-flour alternatives. She teaches us how brownies made with rice flour can taste more chocolate-y, and how buckwheat adds complexity to a date and nut cake. Her Ricotta Cheesecake gets extra flavor from a chestnut flour crust. The Buckwheat Gingerbread, Chocolate Chestnut Soufflé Cake, and Blueberry Corn Flour Cobbler are all rich and flavorful. As with all of Medrich’s books, there is a wealth of useful information on taste, flavor affinities, and other instructive detail.




Twelve Recipes
By Cal Peternell
William Morrow Cookbooks, 2014
Cal Peternell, chef at Chez Panisse, produced much of the content in this very charming, personal book (suitable for kitchen and bedside table) as an introduction to the kitchen and cooking for his son when he was leaving for college. With 12 basic recipes for dishes he and his son had prepared together, like eggs, beans, pasta, rice, potatoes, and even toast, the collection gets to the heart of home cooking. In addition to excellent recipes, Peternell provides advice on basic ingredients and tools. Forewords by Alice Waters and Michael Pollan complement the recipes in this lushly illustrated and photographed book for home cooks. Photos and inset illustrations are provided by Peternell’s wife and sons (all artists).




Arts & Eats Oakland: A Collaboration Between Oakland Restaurants and Creative Growth Artists
Compiled by Susan Kay and Teri Hauswirth
Council Oak Books, October, 2014

Susan Kay and Teri Hauswirth founded Creative Rescue in 2011 to work with arts organizations to create products with proceeds to benefit animal rescue groups. Arts & Eats Oakland is just such a collaboration. A lively mix of inventive new dishes and familiar classics, recipes come from 25 acclaimed Oakland restaurants and bars. Try delicious dishes like Cosecha’s Posole Blanco with Pork and Hominy; Wood Tavern’s Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad; Kimchee Garlic Noodles from Fusebox, Cherry Tomato Chutney from Juhu Beach Club; Pizzaiolo’s famous Meatballs; and Hawker Fare’s Blistered Beans with Bacon and Dried Shrimp. The cookbook features the colorful work of 16 artists from Creative Growth Art Center, the oldest and largest organization of its kind, providing adults with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities with a professional studio environment and gallery representation.