News and Fun Facts With such a successful vaccine rollout I am getting optimistic I’ll be able to open in person summer cooking camp this summer. If you’d like to be one of the first to know, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
Top Tip At La Toque we have a LOT of fun cookie cutters. My favorite are made from copper. If you want to stock your kitchen with unique ones, check out Ann Clark Cookie Cutters. This video will tell you all about how they are made in the U.S. and how to buy them.
What I’m Reading If you’ve joined one of my baking classes, you’ve used baking soda many times as it’s a key pantry baking staple. Did you ever wonder how it works and why we use it? See How Baking Soda Really Works.
What I’m Watching I find Jamie Oliver’s YouTube cooking shows so much fun but what’s even better is his 8 year old son, Buddy Oliver. Here he is making scrambled eggs.
What I’m Cooking I have been enjoying my recipe tests from the “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant” cookbook . One of my favorites is their rum punch which I’ll skip since many readers aren’t of drinking age. Another is sorrel soup which I’ll skip as I don’t know how many of my readers have this growing in their yard and it’s challenging to find this lemony green in the market. So here is one for you: Sweet Potato Balls
News and Fun Facts The fun fact for the week is that covid numbers are plummeting. That means that I can foresee in person classes in the not too distant future. Until then, join Friday’s online bake class at 3:30. Feb 19 Crescent Cookies, Feb 26 Milk Chocolate Cookies, March 5 Chocolate Pistachio Cake.
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing Congrats for this lemon berry tart photographer from a recent class. I love her heart shaped pan (photo above)! Send me a photo of the recipe below something you made in class to win a drawing for a free class.
Top Tip Cooks Illustrated had this great article on Butter Know How. I’m a fan of European style butter these days but read what they have to say. Better yet, subscribe to their fantastic magazine.
What I’m Reading Are you as tired of reading all about the U.S. woes and triumphs as I am? Satisfy your wanderlust this week. Here is what’s happening in other parts of our world. India farmers are protesting.
France is now allowing workers to eat at their desks.
What I’m Watching Here’s another wanderlust option for Francophiles. Éric Kayser, the artisan baker who opened the first of his shops in Paris, teaches you how to make classic French breads, including “la baguette,” on his lively Maison Kayser Academy YouTube channel. Eric Kayser’s YouTube channel Maison Kayser Academy
What I’m Cooking I have seen a LOT of recipes with miso so it must be trending. I’m not a stranger to miso as I’ve enjoyed many bowls of miso soup at Japanese restaurants. Yet I had never cooked with it until this month in this Miso Salmon Curry recipe. Try that out. It’s easy and fun to cook with a novel ingredient. Want to learn about miso? Check this out.
News and Fun Facts Today’s newsletter is random in content but all good as you finish the biggest cooking weekend of the year: some post Thanksgiving tips, some just fun reads, all good. I just listened to a Trader Joe’s podcast. In it they mentioned some of their fun holiday items soon to be on the shelves. Although I’m all about cooking from scratch I may take the night off soon and try out their beef en croute (a take on beef Wellington) and their black truffle pesto. If you’d like to cook with me come to the beef taco class or try out tarte tatin with all of those just picked fall apples.
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing This is a quiet week so no winners. Above is a tarte tatin photo to entice you to join class on Friday.
Top Tip Pouncakes are a fairly easy dessert to make but if you’d like to up your game. If desserts are not your thing, there are also tips to use soda (yes soda) to improve meat dishes in “The Secret to Poundcake That Really Pops”.
What I’m Reading Some of you may be aspiring to be a chef like the pros but here is an article to lower your game right after you up it with the poundcake mentioned above in “Things Chefs Do that You Should Not Do”.
What I’m Watching Ina Garner shows you her kitchen and her favorite tools and ingredients. Check it out in this video.
I was so happy she uses the same scale I own (well I actually have 10) and makes her own vanilla. It’s SO easy to make vanilla. In December vanilla beans are fairly affordable at Costco. Great for your vanilla project.
If you’re looking for turkey leftover ideas, see also this sandwich video from Adam and Eats. It reminded me of a terrific turkey sandwich Oakville Grocery used to serve after Thanksgiving.
What I’m Cooking If you had a small group around your Thanksgiving table yet a large turkey as I did, you would probably be looking for a fantastic leftover recipe. I turn towards Indian flavors after Thanksgiving and really like this turkey biryani recipe.
News and Fun Facts It’s Thanksgiving week and I’m teaching some mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing this week. So, you can make it with me and then have it ready to serve for Thursday. Want a fun fact? Here is what the Pilgrims probably ate. Eels and lobster were on the menu. They had pumpkins but, alas, no mashed potatoes
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing Congrats to one of my regular baking students. She has submitted so many wonderful photos it’s high time she won the drawing for a FREE class. The photos above are from many of her baking creations.
Top Tip If carrots are on your Thanksgiving menu, how about jazzing up the dish with a unique type of carrot? Or think about planting some seeds during the long weekend. Read Getting to Know Carrots to learn about a host of carrot types.
What I’m Reading Onions are probably a key ingredient in your Thanksgiving dishes. You can just pop down to the local market to buy your onions but learn about the Onion Johnnies which were popular 100 years ago in England and France, onion salesmen via bicycles.
What I’m Listening to If you like allrecipes.com you’ll love their podcast “Homemade”. It’s been fun to listen to chefs (and how Jet Tila became one) and learn how to be a social media cooking star with Eitan Barnath.
What I’m Cooking The Thanksgiving pumpkin pie class was so much fun on Friday. If you missed class but want to make a pie for Thanksgiving, perhaps watch my video on “How to make the Perfect Pie Shell”
News and Fun Facts The weather is taking on a chill as it does in California once the Halloween costumes are put away. To brace myself against the morning chill, oatmeal and maple syrup are top of mind. So I have some interesting tidbits about those in this newsletter. Classes have a Thanksgiving focus for the next 2 weeks. Even if the number at your table is small this year a fabulous dessert would be wonderful. So you’ll see pumpkin pie on the class listing for this week and a not so Thanksgiving chicken tender class. Next week we head towards Thanksgiving sides.
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing The pumpkin mousse photo above was shot by a student in a recent class. She won a spot in the pumpkin pie class. You can win a class too. Join a class and take a photo or maybe take a photo of your oatmeal you make with the recipe below.
Top Tip For those of you with pie on your mind for Thanksgiving, learn about pie shields. Or go whole hog on pies and buy the new “The Book of Pie” cookbook.
What I’m Reading When I was young, maple syrup generally came in a plastic Log Cabin bottle loaded with chemicals. We are so lucky today to have real maple syrup from maple trees at nearly every grocery store. Even in the pure form it does beg the question, “Maple Syrup. Is it good for you or just pure sugar?”
What I’m Watching A new season of “Someone Feed Phil” just popped up on Netflix Streaming. Season 4, episode 2 hits close to home as Phil eats his way through San Francisco and hob nobs with some of the Bay Area’s greatest chefs. He raves about Tartine’s chocolate croissants, has a heart to heart chat with Dominique Crenn, tours 3 of Thomas Keller’s properties in Yountville. Check it out and make a list of all of these great restaurants to visit when we are able to do that again.
What I’m Cooking The former Whole Foods CEO wrote an article a while back about making oatmeal in a rice cooker. He would travel with a rice cooker and oatmeal and make it in his hotel room on business trips. I’m not kidding about that. I thought it was a great idea and I’ve been making my oatmeal that way ever since. Here’s how:
I use these ingredients and then press the “on” button to let the rice cooker do it’s magic
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 ½ cups liquid (my preference is 1 cup water and 1 ½ cup almond milk
News and Fun Facts My kind of fun fact and kind of not so fun fact is the same. I was itching to test out a Hungarian recipe book recently donated to me and chose to make peppers stuffed with veal. Alas, veal was no where to be found. It seems it has been banned in California. So scrap any veal recipe on your list. And, really, standard beef is no substitute. As we head into fall, we’ll start by baking this week Traci de Jardin’s favorite Thanksgiving dessert, cranberry walnut tart. And for dinner this week you can imagine yourself in Paris with the quiche class on Wednesday. Hey, this is the week to eat some great food while musing over the election results.
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing We had a fun Halloween week and I wanted to share our winner’s photo with darling Halloween cupcakes. Send me a photo from a recipe posted in the newsletter or from a class to enter the drawing for a FREE class.
Top Tip While we all hope to make a perfect pie or tart shell, sometimes all doesn’t go so well. Try out this way to patch your pie shell, offered to readers in a recent Cooks Illustrated article.
What I’m Reading I’m not saying that corn syrup is a super food but read “We need to Talk about Corn Syrup” to read why’s it’s actually not as bad as you think. It’s a key ingredient for my ooey gooey brownies and this week’s cranberry walnut tart class.
What I’m Watching I’m still watching the most recent season of the Great British Baking show (season 7, episode 4) and I recommend it both to inspire your baking and to build your self esteem. You’ll see that even the experts have some flops. For instance, if you put too much custardy filling in the middle of a bundt cake it can easily crack, sadly this happened to one of the contestants on the show.
What I’m Cooking I LOVE shrimp risotto. If you do, too, try out my recipe. As I tell my students, risotto is a “process”. Once you master it you can swap out the ingredients and let your imagination go a bit wild. Ditto for quiche. We’ll learn how to make quiche this week in class. Once you learn the techniques for quiche you can mix and match the cheese type and main ingredient. In class we’re going classic with either a mushroom or bacon (Lorraine) quiche.
News and Fun Facts Have you been baking bread this year? The fun fact (and maybe not a surprise) is that bread cookbooks are having record sales in 2020. I’m trying out breads from a cookbook recently donated to my collection “Bread” by Ruth Hensperger. Tried their very interesting for oat/pistachio bread and yesterday made a whole wheat loaf which uses part whole wheat pastry flour to make it light and fluffy.
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing To get you into the Halloween spirit, here’s a photo from a family who attended my spider peanut butter cookie class. Very cute!!
Top Tip If you’re whipping up some cream for your Halloween treats, it’s best to start with cold cream. Here’s a recent tip from Cooks Illustrated to get your cream down to a frosty temp super fast.
What I’m Reading In the Cookies with Royal Icing Class this week, we’re using a tad of cream cheese for the cookies, a bit of a twist on the standard sugar cookie recipe. Any cream cheese will do but it may be fun to read “How Philadelphia Cream Cheese Took Over the World”
What I’m Listening To The Extra Spicy Podcast aired an episode about the Meadowood Restaurant in Napa Valley, now lost to the Glass fire. I never had the opportunity to dine there but if you did (or even if you secretly desired to drop more than $300 on your fine dining dinner experience) you may find this interesting. It includes interviews with some of the former employees and some insight into that it takes to rise to a 3 star Michelin rating.
What I’m Cooking Just this weekend the temperatures are dropping in California. That makes me think of fall fruit! We had fun on Friday at my Apple Pie class but I’m posting the recipe here in case you missed it and want to venture out on your own. It’s from the Fog City Diner in San Francisco. When they first opened they felt a proper diner wouldn’t be right without apple pie on the menu yet they had forgotten to purchase pie plates so they quickly created this galette like pie for the opening.
News and Fun Facts Halloween treat classes kick off this week! La Toque’s YouTube channel has launched. It will be a work in progress but come see how to make candy eyes for your Halloween treats.
Snap and Cook Photo Drawing There were no submissions this week except from my ever enthusiastic student, Caroline. She has sent so many photos I’ll batch them up and send you at set all at once. This week come join class: Macaroni and Cheese, Apple Pie, Peanut Butter Spider Cookies.
Top Tip If just learning how to use pastry bags, you can fill them easily and limit mess by placing the empty pastry bag into a tall cup. Fold the bag over the cup to make a cuff. Put your frosting (or melted chocolate) way down in the cup near the pastry tip. Pull the pastry bag out and you’re ready to pipe. Remember to push down to pipe. A simple trick if you’re new to this is to wrap a rubber band around the top of the bag. If you push the frosting up rather than down your frosting won’t leak out.
What I’m Watching The Great British Baking Show, season 7, episode 1, with a 3 layer sponge cake, via Netflix streaming, was a pleasure to watch this week. It brought back fond memories of my British Baking Show summer camp capped off with lots of successful Princess Cakes in a “technical challenge” on camp’s last day.
What I’m Cooking I’ve been spending a lot of time getting ready for Halloween classes so this week I’m offering you a no recipe recipe. For the spider cookies we’ll be making candy eyes. If you’re signed up for that class and want to get a head start on that class OR just want to venture out on your own for Halloween come watch the “How to make Candy Eyes” video.
News and Fun Facts La Toque’s big news is that I’m teaching 6 Halloween classes starting next week. Think spider cookies, ghost cupcakes. Or host a Halloween cooking party with your friends. I’d just like to make this holiday fun this year as trick or treating may not be an option.
Top Tip During a recent class we made chocolate custard pies. They were delicious but I was sad to see so much sludge in the sieve when I strained the custard before baking. To prevent loss of so much deliciousness, try this trick from Cook’s Illustrated – hand immersion blend before straining.
What I’m Watching Christina Tosi of Milk Bar in NYC hosts a weekly Bake Club “class” online. This week was about an Albanian breakfast. Not baking but sounds delicious. Lots of red pepper! See it here
What I’m Cooking In preparation for all of those Halloween classes I’ve mentioned above, I’m weighing out the pros and cons of royal icing with meringue powder vs egg whites. Here are the two options. If you try out both and prefer one over the other, write back. Just mix the ingredients together until smooth. If it works out, the icing should pipe easily but retain a it’s shape. We’ll be using this in the Halloween cookie with royal icing class on October 27
½ cup water, room temperatures + 53 grams meringue powder + 2 pounds confectioner’s sugar + 2 teaspoons flavored extract such as vanilla or lemon
News and Fun Facts This newsletter has a focus on corn as we wave goodbye to the summer crops. Grab some corn while you can! As for classes, head my way if you’re a chocolate lover. This Friday: Chocolate Custard Pie, Next Friday: Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Cake
Snap and Cook Photo Club There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news for me is that I’ve received very few photos in the past 2 weeks. That’s bad news for me but good news for you. If you send me a photo there is a high probability you’ll win the drawing. The photo above was submitted by a Lava Cake class student in celebration of her friend’s new USA citizenship. All dolled up in red, white and blue.
Top Tip Buy super fresh corn and cook it minimally, or not at all. I pop mine into boiling water for a bout 3 minutes but it’s fine to eat it raw. As for shopping, I never peel back the husk at the store. Rather, I feel the ear through the husk for firmness, especially at the tip. Next time you’re at the store do yourself a favor by not peeking inside until you’re ready to cook as the husk will prevent spoilage and your fellow shoppers will be happy to have un-shucked corn in the bin.
What I’m Reading This week I was so happy to see the corn farmer at the downtown Palo Alto farmer’s market. But that won’t be for long so take advantage of the corn while they last. And, read about corn, off the cob and into the world of possibilities”.
What I’m Watching I’m still adding to my restaurant “wish list” and added Mahoroba Bakery in Sacramento after watching “A Few Great Bakeries” this week. Mahatoba is a Japanese bakery which seemed very unique and a great find.
What I’m Cooking Did I say corn? Yup I did. I hope everyone had a chance to make the corn fritter recipe I posted a few weeks ago at the height of corn season. On it’s way out, try out this Sauteed Corn with Herb recipe I’ve taught many times. In case you’re looking for a good weekday meal side, try this (hint, hint-it’s easy).