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The Restaurant in Your Cupboard

Rebecca Flint Marx | September 8, 2014 | Story Restaurants

Brown Sugar Kitchen
By Tanya Holland with Jan Newberrry (Chronicle Books)
This light and breezy cookbook named after Holland’s soul food restaurant launches with a weighty forward by Michael Chabon, full of deep thoughts on Oakland, a city that never gone soft, grown fat, [or] rested on its laurels.” Ponder the historical spirit of the city or skip straight to the fried chicken, which begs for a side of succotash.

Summer Squash Succotash

Serves 6 (and then some)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Tip: While Tanya Holland cooks her own black-eyed peas, we shamelessly cracked open a can, shaving off a good 45 minutes.

1 cup chicken stock
1⁄3 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1⁄4 tsp grated nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
6 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1⁄2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound summer squash, such as zucchini and yellow crookneck, diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Kosher salt
1 can (15 ounces)
Black-eyed peas, drained

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the green onions, bell pepper, garlic, squash, corn, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the black-eyed peas and the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the sour cream, nutmeg, cayenne, and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Bar Tartine
By Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns with Jan Newberry (Chronicle)
Kitchen techniques—143 pages’ worth—preface the recipes in this gorgeous, often mind-boggling cookbook inspired by menus served at its namesake restaurant. Tartine co-owner Chad Robertson’s vivid photographs make everything so beautiful that you’ll want to eat it all.

Chilled Buttermilk and Cucumber Soup

Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Cook time: n/a
Tip: This makes a very generous amount of soup; we halved it and still had more than enough to serve four moderately hungry people. Regardless of how much you make, this may be the easiest soup recipe ever committed to paper.

2 1⁄4 quarts buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 sweet white onion, cut into thin half-moons
1 pound Persian or Japanese cucumbers, cut on a bias into thin half-moons (seeds and skin are fine if not tough)
1⁄2 fennel bulb, cored, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into thin half-moons
1 cup short fenugreek sprouts (optional)
Fennel oil or extra-virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and salt. Fold in the onion, cucumbers, and fennel, mixing thoroughly to ensure that all of the vegetables are evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Chill individual bowls in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Ladle the soup into the chilled bowl and top each serving with fenugreek sprouts and fennel oil (if using). Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

By Sara Deseran (Ten Speed Press)
Written by San Francisco editor-at-large Sara Deseran (who co-owns Tacolicious with her husband, Joe Hargrave), this vibrant, thoroughly delicious cookbook contains all of its namesake restaurant’s greatest hits (see: tuna tostadas) as well as asides on everything from Rancho Gordo’s heirloom beans to the peerless beauty of fresh corn tortillas. If you’re looking for an excuse to throw a taco party, you’ll find plenty of them in these pages.

Potato and Homemade Chorizo Taco serves 4 to 6 (about 16 tacos)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Tip: It turns out that making chorizo is actually really easy—if you can operate a blender, you can make homemade sausage. The chorizo mixture can be made hours ahead of time and kept uncooked in the fridge; stored raw, it also keeps well in the freezer.

1⁄4 cup chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (a mix of chilies and sauce)
3 tbsp cider vinegar
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 3⁄4 pounds ground pork
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Corn tortillas, warmed for serving
Chopped white onion, chopped fresh cilantro, salsa of choice, and lime wedges, for serving

To make the chorizo, place the chilies and sauce, vinegar, garlic, paprika, oregano, coriander, and salt in a blender. Purée until a smooth paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Put the pork in a large bowl, add the chili paste, and, using your hands, mix to coat the meat evenly. Set aside. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat the oil in a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add the potato cubes and cook, tossing them occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Salt lightly, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer to the lined plate. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chorizo and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for about 12 minutes, until cooked through. Add the potatoes and toss and stir for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until evenly mixed and heated through. Serve with the tortillas, onion, cilantro, salsa, and lime.

Originally published in the September issue of San Francisco magazine

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