Now We’re Cooking: Local East Bay Flavors
Carolyn Jung presents gourmet recipes in a beautiful new cookbook.
Carolyn Jung’s first book, San Francisco Chef’s Table, was published in 2013.
Long overshadowed by its foggy neighbor to the west, the East Bay has captured national attention in recent years for its dynamic and diverse food scene. Now, the region’s culinary cornucopia gets its glamour moment with the September 10 release of East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries. The beautifully photographed cookbook, compiled by James Beard Award–winning food writer Carolyn Jung, overflows with 82 recipes from more than 40 chefs, mixologists, and bakers stretching from Livermore wine country to the island of Alameda and beyond.
The goal, says Jung, was to reflect this uniquely vibrant eating oasis.
“I think the great thing about the East Bay is its incredible diversity, and I wanted that represented in this book in order to do justice to all the communities it encompasses,” she says. “No matter what food you have a craving for or want to discover for the first time, it has a toehold here.”
Flip through the tome, and you’ll find step-by-step guides to making moong dal lentils from Berkeley’s Vik’s Chaat, seafood cioppino courtesy of Walnut Creek Yacht Club, shrimp alambre tacos from Oakland’s Nido, and Old Towne Danville Bakery’s flourless chocolate truffle cake.
The variety of tantalizing selections is enough to make East Bay residents think twice about heading across the Bay in search of their next great meal.
“San Francisco still has more special-occasion restaurants, but I think value for value—especially if you are a more adventurous eater—the East Bay cannot be beat; you can eat so well for a modest amount,” Jung says. “And the food is so memorable because it’s often something you’ve never experienced, and the flavors are so irresistible.”
For more information about Carolyn Jung and East Bay Cooks—including a schedule of her September appearances at East Bay bookstores—go to her website, foodgal.com.
The Author Dishes
Carolyn Jung calls out a few favorite recipes from East Bay Cooks.
Special occasion meal:
Oxtail risotto with mushrooms, from East End (Alameda)
Jung says: “This lusty dish is ideal for entertaining because you can cook the oxtails a day or so beforehand. On the day of the dinner party, cook the risotto just before your guests sit down to eat. Fold the oxtail meat, mushrooms, crème fraîche, and parmesan into the creamy rice, and get ready for the applause.”
Quick weekday dish:
Lamb larb, from Belcampo Meat Co. (Oakland)
Jung says: “Ground lamb gets stir-fried in a flash with Thai chilies, togarashi, yuzu, and fish sauce for a big jolt of flavor. Mound some on a lettuce leaf and fold up to eat. You may need to make an initial trip to an Asian market for the seasoning ingredients, but once you have them on hand, you can whip this up anytime.”
Aloo gobi tacos, from Curry Up Now (locations in Alameda, Oakland, and soon San Ramon)
Jung says: “Ginger, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, and tomatoes wake up a mix of sautéed potatoes and cauliflower florets. This spicy, and hearty mixture gets folded up in corn tortillas to enjoy. It definitely adds new excitement to Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesdays.”
Campfire kulfi, from Componere Fine Catering (Emeryville)
Jung says: “It’s a sophisticated version of your favorite childhood s’mores—with a touch of bourbon, of course. It was created by a former head pastry chef of the French Laundry. Hence, it does require several steps to make, but you can stretch it out over several days. It makes a large portion, but leftovers freeze easily for a month. It’s a rich, decadent dessert that makes you sit up and take notice from the get-go.”
Spicy Q, from Chop Bar (Oakland)
Jung says: “Even folks who don’t like a spicy cocktail will be pleasantly surprised by this rum-based one. I sure was. Pineapple syrup gives it acidity and tropical fruitiness, while serrano pepper lends a tickle of throaty heat as well as a wonderful grassy note.”
Recipe: Pizza Antica’s Meatballs
In East Bay Cooks, chef Angelo Smith—whose four Bay Area restaurants include locations in Danville and Lafayette—offers up this take on a classic Italian dish.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and frying
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds ground pork*
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup (2 ounces) finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped marjoram
1 tablespoon kosher salt
* Pizza Antica uses ground pork shoulder for added succulence. Whatever ground pork you use, be sure it has a fair amount of fat to ensure the meatballs turn out juicy as can be.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 bay leaf
5 ⅓ cups (43 ounces) canned whole tomatoes with basil and their juices
1 tablespoon capers
Grated parmesan cheese
• Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes, until softened and translucent. Set aside to cool.
• In a large bowl, combine onion-garlic mixture, pork, breadcrumbs, eggs, parmesan, parsley, marjoram, and salt and use your hands to mix well. Portion into 1/4 cup measures and shape by hand into balls. Place meatballs on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
• Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat; add onion and bay leaf, and sauté for 7 minutes, until onion is softened and translucent. Add canned tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Purée tomato sauce in a blender on lowest setting for 5 seconds. Keep sauce warm.
• Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a 12 × 9–inch nonreactive glass or ceramic baking pan with oil. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add as many meatballs as can fit comfortably in one layer without overcrowding. Sear meatballs until browned on two sides, then transfer to prepared baking pan. Repeat until all the meatballs are seared.
• Pour tomato sauce over meatballs and sprinkle capers on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Divide meatballs and sauce among individual plates or bowls, sprinkle with more parmesan, and serve.
Makes about 15 meatballs.