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Dynamo Celebrity Cookbook Writer Carolynn Carreño’s BOWLS OF PLENTY:

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(Gerry Furth-Sides) “I’ll have what she’s having”- or making to eat – from her new cookbook, BOWLS OF PLENTY. Dynamo Carolynn Carreño is as trim as Giada with a sunny personality and an empathy for anyone who has ever been faced with limited food choices that do not promote well being.  She is also very funny and anyone of her career phases would make a book and a film.

Quinoa, beet and goat cheese salad

James Beard award-winning food writer Carolynn  brings one-dish meals to the home cook in BOWLS OF PLENTY: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals. The book compiles over 100 inventive recipes of “mix-and-max hearty, one-dish meals that layer flavorful veggies, meats, sauces, and vinaigrettes on a foundation of whole grains, revolutionizing whole grain cooking.

We were lucky enough to meet engaging dynamo Carolynn at Melissa’s Produce and taste her food prepared with the best of products the company has become known for nationally.  Here chef Allison helps with the prep work.

Chef Allison adjusts the stove for the corn dish

Carolynn feels that “Gorgeous, satisfying bowls have become the next wave of healthy eating. From food blogs to Instagram, farm-to-table bistros to chain restaurants, ‘the bowl’ has become part of our culinary vocabulary.   However, she joked, “I have this thing for cooking for flavor not instagram.”

The corn rice recipe with baby zucchini and pulled pork – delicious right out of the pan

A midnight snack of corn rice — so satisfying and with even more intense flavors the second day

A friend prepared the corn rice recipe, which included cooking rice in  corn husk stock, a trick Carolyn learned during her internship at Chez Panisse Restaurant.  It was delicious  right out of the pan and the next few days. 

 She added that it is such a new trend that a lot of restaurants still need to find the proper entree size bowls because “so many of them are too small or too flat for easy eating.”  Carolynn thinks of everything.  She says “I’m a control freak” but she says it with a smile.   

According to Carolynn, whole grains are not just for hippies and health nuts anymore. Hearty grains like quinoa, farro, millet, and spelt are replacing flour or corn tortillas, bread, pasta, white rice, and mashed potatoes as the base for other, richer, more complex ingredients.   The grain-based bowls are easy-to-make, and family-friendly, and convenient for busy home cooks and weekend chefs alike.

Shaved Brussel Sprout salad

Chef Carolynn calls herself a “professional home cook” although she has coauthored over a dozen acclaimed cookbooks, including most recently, Nancy Silverton’s Mozza at Home and Pat LaFrieda’s Meat: Everything There is to Know.  Yes, she’s spent months on end at Nancy’s home in Italy, preparing for TV shows and co-writing books with her, and loving it.

Unlike perfectionist Nancy, Carolynn insists that her style of cooking is “healthy-ish” and not health food driven — citing early on that some of the “health” food products her mother served at home were packed with sugar.  At the same time she revealed that when she did a recipe she would ask herself if Nancy would approve!  

The chef told us  that she is a “vegetarian — except when she eats meat.”  Reading the book reveals how she became educated on what kinds of tasty, properly raised meat and poultry she means by that after doing the book with Pat LaFrieda.  And her last section is on desserts and they do include sugar.

The design of Bowls of Plenty reflects Carolynn’s desire to inspire, encourage and assist home cooks with no-fail, easy-to-follow recipes,, including recipes for sweet and savory breakfast bowls, salad bowls, flexible composed main dish bowls that work with all diets, sweet dessert bowls, and Build Your Own Bowl spreads for easy, casual home entertaining.

Carolynn added conspiratorially:  “I know that everyone tells you to fill the book with vibrant, mouth-watering photographs, but I put into  BOWLS OF PLENTY the photos of the ones I want the reader to try first.  

Carolynn Carreño is a James Beard award-winning food writer and co-author of twelve cookbooks. Her work has appeared in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Saveur, and the Los Angeles Times. 

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Gerry Furth-Sides

Gerry Furth-Sides

Content Editor/Columnist

Photo-journalist Gerry Furth-Sides has been covering the ethnic and American culinary scene in California since it first came into prominence 25 years ago.