May 23, 2012
Jim Benson

The Sugar Cube Cookbook is a wheel crowd-pleaser

 
May 23, 2012 – 8:47 AM ET
| Last Updated: May 22, 2012 7:31 PM ET

Handout

Handout

Sugar Cube’s twisted toll house cookies is the stuff of legend.

In recent years, pop-up restaurants and food trucks have been used as promotional tools to launch cookbooks (Martha Stewart did a pop-up bakery just last year, for her Pies Cakes, for instance). Now the reverse is also true: food truck chefs are launching their own cooking tomes, further popularizing their humble mobile temples of gastronomy as culinary destinations.

The sweetest reading treat this spring comes from Sugar Cube, the charming little food cart in Portland, Ore., the birthplace of the mobile gourmet foodquake. It’s called The Sugar Cube, naturally, named for the petite — and very pink — food cart Kir Jensen launched there in 2008. Her “Fizzy Lifting” drink is the stuff of local legend and the cookbook includes 50 crowd-pleasing favourites such as breakfast bundt cake and twisted toll house cookies.

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In addition to Jensen’s retro-sassy recipes (toasted coconut panna cotta or a root beer drizzle, anyone?), there’s advice, too, such as how to best to stock a pantry for a whole lotta baking going on.

Not every gourmet can drop in on Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Charlie Trotter (or aspires to cook like them) and since the 2008 economic downturn, food carts have been a hit with curious culinary travellers on a budget itinerary. They offer destination dining of a different sort — gourmet grilled cheese, schnitzel, or 14 ways to prepare fish tacos. (For a stellar selection of these, James Beard Award-winning John T. Edge’s The Truck Food Cookbook, an anthology of cart recipes from across the United States, came out in early May.) Both the cramped cooking quarters and the customer rush mean that food truck fare lends itself especially well to accessible cooking: those micro-kitchens require inventive recipes and small-space solutions.

Promotionally, Jensen even goes one better than Stewart with a saucy (possibly NSFW audio) cookbook trailer that takes food porn to a delicious new level of double entendre. When you stop chuckling, you’ll definitely want to bake the savoury-sweet confection the couple are sharing: the Sugar Cube signature chocolate coffee cake smeared in gooey ganache, drizzled in salty caramel that’s further topped with potato chips.

The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen is published by Chronicle ($28.95).

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