Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #2

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Chicken Adobo

News and Fun Facts. Mary Berry from The Great British Baking Show turned 85 this week.   How inspiring! That’s the fun fact of the week but read on for a reality check on food safety.

You are probably wondering if your food is Covid-19 safe.   I am quarantining mine in the cooking school kitchen for 3 days before I bring it into the house. This may be a bit too cautious. Read here for some recommendations on food safety. Is it safe to eat produce? How about farmer’s markets? How long does the virus stay on food?

Top Tip. You may know I’m a fan of cast iron. It’s a healthy way to achieve a non stick surface. If you’re willing to manage the weight of a cast iron Dutch oven, I highly recommend Staub cookware.   For a well seasoned skillet, head to the Paly Flea Market. I have bought several skillets from a vendor there. The bonus of buying used cast iron is that it will be well seasoned.   Here is what Cooks Illustrated says about the care, benefits and best ways to use cast iron.

What I’m Reading. Cooks Illustrated is my favorite cooking magazine. I’ve let them stack up over the past 15 years while I’ve been teaching in person classes and I’m having a terrific time reading all of the back issues. The Top Tip is from the January, 2017, edition.   This magazine changed over the years, most notably with the departure of Chris Kimball but it’s still an excellent read.

What I’m Watching. Ruth Reichl is a far of Chefs Table and I am too. Each episode showcases a different chef. It’s on Netflix streaming.

What I’m Cooking. Chicken Adobo from the New York Times was calling out to me this week. I made it and would give it probably 3.5 out of 5 stars. But it got me thinking of the other Chicken Adobo recipes I’ve collected over the years.   All so different but all so good. One is from my supper club. That one is simple but I must have loved it as I’ve kept it in my recipe binder for years. The other is from Cooks Illustrated. This one is very interesting with molasses and espresso powder. Try out all 3 recipes and tell me which one you liked best.  Vote here.

 

 

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Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #1

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West African Peanut Soup

Welcome to the first “online learning” newsletter from La Toque. During this difficult time while we are all trying to stay healthy in the Covid-19 crisis, I aim to give you some practical cooking tips and recipes. Well, also some “fun stuff” will be included.   While I work through my piles of online articles, videos, food movies, cookbooks and cooking magazines which have stacked up while I was busy teaching hands on classes. I will share with you some of what I’m researching. If that gets a bit low on content I’ll send you materials from the nearly 15 years I’ve been teaching.   If you have content you’d like to share with others, please send it to me. I can’t promise I’ll send it out to all but I can promise I will read or watch it.   Write to latoquedecindy@gmail.com if you’d like to refer some to me. If you have family or friends who would like to be on the distribution list, let me know by sending an email.

 

News and Fun Facts. Plant a Seed Kit 2020 from Slow Food USA recently.

We’re springing ahead today and that means it’s time to plant a seed! We are launching pre-sales of this year’s deliciously interesting Plant a Seed kit. We selected six Ark of Taste seeds for the kit, a seed from each of six regions in the United States with a unique relationship to the land and people there.
Read on to find out what’s in this year’s kit and plant a seed with us!

 

What I’m Reading.   I have a stack of cookbooks and cooking magazines I have never cracked open yet they have been yearning for me to read them. They have come from a variety of sources. Some have been donated. Some I bought from the Palo Alto Library Book Sale. “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant” is the first one I’m reading. The Moosewood in Ithaca, New York, serves primarily vegetarian food and their cookbooks are excellent. On Sunday nights they serve cuisine from a specific region, such as sub Saharan Africa.   Not all of the ingredients are available in the U.S. but they have been substituted for those you can readily find.

 

 

 

Top Tip. To easily remove garlic skins, pop in the microwave for 10 seconds then easily push the clove from the skin. This is much easier than the chef knife and hammering techniques I teach in class. Warning! Your garlic will get slightly cooked using this method.

 

What I’m Watching. It’s a great time to watch cooking shows.   Many of my chefs LOVE cooking contest videos.   I will admit these aren’t my favorite shows so I’ll send you some videos and shows I am enjoying. Ugly Delicious. Episode 2 is a good one.   Tacos. On Netflix streaming. You’ll see them pick annatto seeds from a tree. Since they don’t grow in Palo Alto, I bought some from Penzys in Menlo Park and will incorporate them into one of the dishes in the summer program “Mexican Fiesta”.

 

What I’m Cooking. This is adapted from the Africa South of the Sahara chapter. If you like Thai peanut sauce you’ll love this soup.   It’s vegan but don’t let that turn you away from trying it if this isn’t your diet of choice. A super carnivore sampled it and gave it the thumbs up.   I always have chopped or diced tomatoes on hand so use those if tomato juice isn’t in your pantry.   You’re reading it right. There’s ½ teaspoon cayenne in this recipe. Go for the entire amount. I promise the soup won’t be too spicy. It’s just enough to give it a good punch.

 

2 cups chopped onions

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 cup chopped carrots

2 cups chopped sweet potatoes

4 cups vegetable stock (water is okay)

2 cups tomato juice (or diced or crushed tomatoes)

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 cup chopped scallions or chives.

 

 

How to make this recipe

 

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped onions and saute over medium high heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ginger, cayenne and carrots and sauté for a few more minutes.
  3. Mix in the potatoes, tomatoes and stock and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the peanut butter then puree with a hand immersion blender. Taste and add sugar if needed to balance the flavors.
  5. To serve, ladle soup onto a bowl and sprinkle on scallions or chives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Introductory Cooking Class for Kids

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On February 26, 3:30-5:00pm, I’m offering a free class for 8-10 year olds. My classes are both sweet and savory but in my experience kids really love to bake so we’ll be making cookies in this class. This class will be limited to 12 students. If more than 12 register, students will be chosen by a random drawing.

 

Enter the drawing for the free cooking class by clicking on the classes and camps tab.

 

Cindy

 

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Rick Bayless Cookbooks and Frontera

Although not a regular restaurant goer as there are always so many fun dishes to cook myself, I have been a fan of Rick Bayless for 20 years and had the fortune of dining at Frontera in Chicago last week.   It was the best Mexican meal I’ve ever eaten in the U.S.   His chicken mole had a special twist to it.  I couldn’t figure out if it was just some super cilantro or a touch of epizote.  All I can say was it was A1 delicious.  The chocolate cappuccino was frothy with a tad of cinnamon and great Intelligentsia espresso.

Over the years I watched his TV series “Mexico, One Plate at a Time”, cooked from his cookbooks and went to a local Williams Sonoma to have him sign one of my cookbooks.  So you can imagine what a thrill it was to finally dine at his flagship restaurant.  Try out his recipes at home and watch his show.  I’m thinking of an all Mexican cooking week next summer at camp.  Let me give some thought to that but it could be super fun and Mexican food is a hit with the younger chefs.

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Our Favorite Yotam Ottolenghi Recipes

Our Yummy Yotam camp was so much fun and I learned a lot from the young chefs who came to cook with me. Most notable was that their taste buds differ a lot from mine. We all agreed that his shakshuka was top notch. I could eat that every day and never weary of it.   I like the carrot salad with yogurt and cinnamon. They didn’t. They raved about his quinoa salad with cucumbers. I didn’t.   Here is how the young chef votes for the recipes ranked with a yes/no vote for many we tried.  I strongly recommend buying the cookbooks but enjoy the recipes I found online too.Screen Shot 2019-09-05 at 12.06.20 PM

Favorites

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs 25/2

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lemongrass Yogurt Dip 21/4

Coconut fish 19/6

Peach, Raspberry and Watercress Salad with 5 Spice Blend 19/4

Shakshuka 20/3

Tomato Carpaccio with Spring Onions and Ginger 8/3

Quinoa cucumber salad 9/2

 

OK

Meatballs with Fava Beans and Lemon 18/11

Sweet Winter Slaw 12/9

Least Favorite

Carrot Salad with Yogurt, Cinnamon and Dill 0/8

Stuffed Eggplants with Lamb and Pine Nuts 2/11

Tomato Semolina and cilantro Soup 6/10

 

 

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Chocolate Guessing Game

 

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Chocolate is on my mind today. It’s not that it usually isn’t but today is a special day as I head into 15 baking classes, two of which are all about chocolate. One of my favorite activities in chocolate camp is my chocolate guessing game. For this, I hand out samples of chocolates. The wrappers have been cleverly hidden in brown paper bags so no one can cheat.   I have my students “guess” what goodies have been added to each chocolate.   It’s a fun activity to challenge their taste buds and I try to find the craziest flavor additions. We’ve done bacon, pretzels and even gojo berries. This is what we’re tasting in Chocolate Champions summer, 2019.

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Yotam Featured this Summer

 

 

I remember a few months back when I hosted a dinner party starting with an announcement. It wasn’t a toast for someone’s birthday or a grand speech. I just piped up “I have bad news for you. I have never made any of the recipes you’re about to eat”. One of the guests inquired about my source for the recipes. I mentioned they were all from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks. She was delighted as she adored Yotam’s recipes.   As I was pondering something fun and delicious to teach this summer, novel but slightly kid-friendly, Yotam came to mind.   Some of is recipes are much too complicated for the young chefs in my classes but some not, especially with his recent cookbook, “Simple”.   I must admit I’m truly a fan of “Jerusalem” but was thinking “Simple” may be a better fit for young chefs.   After waiting some time for the book to come in at my local bookstore, Books, Inc., I bought the book, marking easy and kid-friendly recipes with hot pink post it notes. Then I incorporated some of them into my after school classes to test them out a bit. I wanted to make sure they would be a good fit from a skill level and palate for kids. Seeded chicken and cornbread were quite popular and very doable so they made it to the camp menu. After a friend brought over the carrot salad with yogurt and cinnamon for dinner one night I thought it was so terrific I fit it into the menu for class that week.   Now the countdown until summer begins.   2 weeks to go until our summer camps called “Delectable Dinners: Yummy Yotam Ottolenghi” begin.

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