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The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook
For Parties, Holiday Celebrations, Family Gatherings, and Everyday Meals

John Vrattos and Lisa Messinger


ISBN: 0-7570-0149-1
Length: 144 Pages
Size: 7.5 x 7.5-inch
Format: Quality Paperback
Category: Cooking / Bread Bowls

Price: $14.95 US

Availability: In Print

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For decades, tens of thousands of visitors to San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf have enjoyed the sublime taste of crusty sourdough bread bowls filled with piping hot chowder. As the popularity of this culinary treat grew, so did the many creative uses of Sourdough Bread Bowls--from beautiful party centerpieces filled with luscious dips to chic edible settings for salads, appetizers, entrées, desserts, and so much more. To answer the question, "How do I get started?" gourmet chef John Vrattos and best-selling food writer Lisa Messinger have created an easy-to-follow, fun-to-use cookbook that provides all the answers.

John and Lisa first guide the reader through the process of carving out a bread bowl. Whether you’re using sourdough or pumpernickel, and whether your loaf is out-of-the-oven fresh or store-bought, you’ll learn the secret of making a bowl that is both beautiful and functional. From there, John and Lisa offer dozens and dozens of sumptuous kitchen-tested recipes, ranging from well-loved traditional dishes such as San Francisco’s famed Clam Chowder to the innovative Warm 12-Layer Baja Shrimp Taco Dip. Included in each recipe chapter is a dish specially developed by one of San Francisco’s top restaurant chefs. You’ll enjoy the creations of Steven Scarabosio, executive chef of Fisherman’s Wharf’s legendary Scoma’s; Jay Veregge of the prestigious Tadich Grill, San Francisco’s oldest eatery; and many more talented individuals who have been inspired by Sourdough Bread Bowl cookery.

Whether you’re hosting a Superbowl party, having the family over for dinner, or simply cooking up an intimate supper for two, make your event a little more special with The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook.

John Vrattos is a gourmet cook who has been in the sourdough bread business for over twenty-five years, working for the world’s top producers of sourdough breads. John is a recipient of the exclusive Antonin Careme culinary medal awarded by the San Francisco’s Chef Association of the Pacific Coast. John and his family reside in San Francisco’s Bay area.

Lisa Messenger is a popular syndicated cookbook columnist, longtime newspaper editor, and the best-selling author of four books on cooking and nutrition. Her writing has been honored for excellence by the Association of Food Journalists. Lisa and her husband live in the greater Los Angeles area.



1. Creating Your Bread Bowls
2. Hits for the Holidays
3. Appetizer Delights
4. Let’s Have Brunch!
5. The Salad Bowl
6. Soup’s On!
7. Savory Stews
8. Casseroles in a Bowl
9. Main Course Creations
10. Show-Stopping Sides
11. Desserts to End It All
12. Pumpernickel, Rye, and Other Bread Bowls
Metric Conversion Tables



San Francisco’s world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf is recognized for more than just its memorable view of the Golden Gate Bridge spanning the magnificent bay. This picturesque stretch of restaurants and outdoor cafes is where the practice of serving piping hot clam chowder in crusty sourdough bread bowls had its start. Visitors make their way to this spot in a never-ending stream just for a taste of this legendary dish.

We have enjoyed this delectable taste treat first-hand. We have also discovered that the crisp, crunchy bowls made from hollowed-out sourdough bread rounds are perfect for holding foods other than clam chowder. What was the reason for this discovery? What piqued our interest and caused us to pool our efforts and come up with new filling ideas for bread bowls? For starters, we both love bread bowls and had been experimenting with new filling ideas for years. John is a gourmet cook, and has been involved in the sourdough bread business for nearly three decades, working for some of the world’s leading bread companies. He was also on the team that created spinach dip in a bread bowl--a contest-winning appetizer for the 1985 Super Bowl that immediately swept the nation. As a syndicated food columnist, cookbook author, and longtime newspaper food editor, I have always appreciated and enjoyed good food and the art of creative cooking. Our common appreciation of tasteful cuisine (and our love of that famous chowder served on Fisherman’s Wharf) inspired us to join forces in compiling other recipes that are perfect for serving in bread bowls. The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook: For Parties, Holiday Celebrations, Family Gatherings, and Everyday Meals is the result of our efforts.

Whether you’re using sourdough or pumpernickel, and whether your loaf is out-of-the-oven fresh or store-bought, we begin with a chapter on bread bowl basics. In it, you’ll find tips for selecting the best bread, easy-to-follow steps for turning it into a bowl, and recommended ingredients for making the best fillings. Simple instructions will guide you toward successful results--bowls that are both beautiful and functional. This chapter even includes a great recipe for baking your own sourdough bread, along with the secret for achieving its desirable crisp crust.

What follows next are over 100 sumptuous kitchen-tested recipes, proving that sourdough bread bowls are not just for chowder anymore. These hollowed-out rounds can serve as beautiful party centerpieces filled with luscious dips and mouthwatering spreads. They are also chic edible vessels for salads, appetizers, entrées, and even desserts that deliciously soak up the dressings, sauces, and other flavorful filling ingredients. You’ll find traditional dishes such as Fisherman’s Wharf-Style Clam Chowder, Chicken Noodle Casserole, and Warm Cobb Salad, as well as innovative creations like the appetizing Teriyaki Chicken Bowl, California Wine-and-Cheese Stew, and Warm Baja Shrimp Taco Dip.

Because we know that holidays are special, and every holiday menu--whether for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the Fourth of July--can benefit from at least one memorable, scene-stealing dish, we present “Hits for the Holidays.” This chapter offers bread bowl recommendations for special days during the year. You can ring in the New Year with Champagne Chicken a l’Orange, celebrate Easter with a Spicy Lamb Easter Basket, and enjoy a Chili Dog Casserole on Independence Day, just to name a few.

Although sourdough--with its thick, sturdy crust and unobtrusive flavor--is a clear-cut winner when it comes to bread bowl cuisine, it is not the only bread type that can house foods successfully. Rounds of hearty rye, pumpernickel, and whole wheat, as well as thick-crusted rounds of Italian semolina bread are other great choices. We have devoted an entire chapter to delectable creations that are served in bowls other than sourdough. You’ll find our Sky-High Reuben piled into a round of hearty rye, a luscious German Raisin-Noodle Casserole nestled in a pumpernickel, and a garlicky Italian semolina round filled with a Caesar Salad that’s fit for a king!

As an added bonus, throughout the book you’ll find outstanding bread bowl recipes developed by top restaurant chefs who have honed their culinary skills at such restaurants as the famous Scoma’s on Fisherman’s Wharf and the prestigious Tadich Grill--San Francisco’s oldest eatery.

Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, preparing a meal for the family, or bringing something special to a potluck dinner, our easy-to-follow, fun-to-use cookbook will help you get started preparing and serving meals in this unique way. Remember, bread bowls are communal centerpieces that encourage shared eating enjoyment and warm conversation. It is our sincerest hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.

Bowl Appetit!


to come