Cookbook Review: Huckleberry


Someday I would love to open a place like Huckleberry, a bakery/breakfast/lunch venue in Santa Monica, CA.  I first became aware of Huckleberry when they were featured in Bon Appetit several years ago with a recipe for a delicious cornmeal blueberry cake.  Now Chef Zoe Nathan has chronicled many recipes in the Huckleberry cookbook, and I have thoroughly enjoyed baking from the book for the past few months.

The book is divided into several sections including muffins, cakes, scones, breads, fried pastries, sandwiches, and grain bowls.  What is immediately noticeable is the use of various different kinds of flours.  All-purpose flour is still the mainstay, but other flours are incorporated including whole wheat, rye, bread flour, wheat germ, and nut flours like pistachio and almond.  These different flours result in a more complex crumb and flavor and hopefully healthier recipes as well with the use of whole grains.

Healthy does not mean lack of flavor.  So far the recipes have been outstanding, with excellent versions of chocolate-chip muffins, chocolate walnut banana bread, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and whole-wheat raisin scones.  The most impressive were the pistachio-lemon cake, the cara cara orange galette, and the pear whole-wheat crumb cake, all of which drew raves.

The one recipe I tried that failed was the cover recipe for blueberry brioche.  This recipe called for double the flour that was required, so there was not enough egg to bind the dough.  I saved it by adding two additional eggs, but the ratio of other ingredients like butter and sugar was then off.  Chronicle Books sent me the following list of corrections:

Huckleberry ingredient and measurement corrections:

Page 43: In the ingredient list, MUFFINS, 5th entry (1 tbsp cracked) “wheat, chai seeds,” should be “wheat, chia seeds,”

Page 105: In the ingredient list, 4th line (bread flour), “1 3/4 cups/185 g” should be “1 3/4 cups/215 g”

Page 108: In the ingredient list, 4th line (all-purpose flour), “+ 2 tbsp/280 g” should be “+ 2 tbsp/140 g”; 5th line (bread flour): “+ 2 tbsp/280 g” should be “+ 2 tbsp/140 g”

The corrected version made an excellent brioche punctuated by a ribbon of fresh blueberries that was delicious hot out of the oven.  Overall, this is a great book for impressive breakfast pastries and brunch recipes, introduces a unique use of different flours, and contains a bunch of keepers.  Huckleberry takes a place among my favorite baking cookbooks including Momofuku Milk Bar, Tartine, Flour, and Bouchon Bakery.

Link to Huckleberry cookbook here.

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Restaurant Review: Gather


Vegan “Charcuterie” at Gather in Berkeley, CA

Gather is my new favorite restaurant in the Bay Area.  It showcases local, sustainable food in a very creative and delicious menu.  The restaurant is located in the heart of Berkeley, across the street from UC-Berkeley campus.  There is a warm open seating area around a central open kitchen, a bar off to the side, and outdoor seating as well.  The vegan charcuterie ($16) is an incredible dish, with four different sophisticated preparations highlighting the possibilities of seasonal vegetables and fruits.  The grilled Cetriolo heirloom tomato was the best tomato I have ever eaten.  Beautiful heirloom melon with an interesting peanut shiso pesto.  The roast chicken had well-seasoned, crispy skin and flavorful meat ($22).  The goat milk semifreddo ($6.50) was creamy and rich and accompanied by a sweet, almost candy-like poached peach, fresh plum, and cashew crumble.  There were so many other interesting dishes on the menu that I did not try but hopefully will soon.  There is something for everyone of the menu, with a variety of vegan and gluten-free options, as well as seafood and meat.  Service was both attentive and unobtrusive.  For vegetarian dishes, Gather compares favorably with Ubuntu in Napa City, CA.  Gather has won many well-deserved accolades, including Food and Wine chef of the year in 2010.  Highly recommended.

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