Green Beans in Walnut Sauce
News and Fun Facts Online classes are in full swing with the Lunch Bunch series starting yesterday in which students learn how to cook lunch with me and I’m aiming to teach a baking class each Friday. Come join those either as a series or individual classes. Thursday is hummus today and we end the week with Friday’s milk chocolate cookies.
Top Tip To sift or not. That is the question. Here’s some advice on just skipping that step when you bake. The Baking Step You Can (Pretty Much Always) Skip
What I’m Reading Those at New York Times Cooking are a bit tired of zoom socializing. If you are, too, read their How to Host
a Socially Distanced Barbecue
What I’m Listening To For all of you Totam fans out there (and you know I am), her’s a recent interview with Yotam Ottolenghi on “Splendid Table”
What I’m Cooking I am still in the mode of backyard socializing as this activity is definitely picking up speed in my neighborhood. So I’m including another recipe which would be perfect for yours from my favorite cookbook, “Nantucket Open House”. The list of ingredients is a kind of crazy combo in this Green Bean with Dill Walnut Sauce but trust me. It works! And, oops, I forgot to take a photo in my rush to get this on the table. It was gobbled up before I could snap a picture.
Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti
News and Fun Facts I’m short on fun facts but you may want to try out my class on Wednesday, with a chicken nugget type recipe. No class on Friday so you can enjoy the 4th of July holiday. Here’s a photo of a flag cake we made at cooking camp a while back. Two six week series are starting up next week, once called Lunch Bunch in which your chef can make lunch alongside me and a set of six baking classes (you can sign up for milk chocolate cookie class individually with the first one being Milk Chocolate Cookies). Sign up here
Top Tip If you’re in the market for White Wine Vinegar Ratings, check out the ratings from Cooks Illustrated.
What I’m Reading Backyard social distancing get togethers can be as simple as crackers and cheese. I am a fan of camembert. If you are, too, I suggest you read this article to learn why David Lebowitz (of Chez Panisse fame but now living in Paris) thinks the great camembert comes from Normandy. I recently had some from Denmark and it was positively flavorless. Making French Butter and Camembert de Normandie at Isigny Ste-Mere
What I’m Watching A few issues back I mentioned I was watching Julia Child’s shows. A British friend of mine then pointed me towards an even more hilarious British chef, Fanny Cradock, of that era. Play close attention to the fabulous outfits and fanfare when you watch these snippets from their shows.
What I’m Cooking My favorite experiment this week was “Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti” from Gourmet’s 2006 magazine. For those of you who yearn to bring Gourmet magazine back to life and are nostalgic for it, check out this recipe. I brought it to a friend’s backyard socially distancing dinner to rave reviews. For a simple snack or appetizer, top it with something yummy. I tried mission fig jam and some with caramelized onions. How about some camembert?
News and Fun Facts My all time favorite cookbook is “Nantucket Open House Cookbook” based on a popular gourmet shop, Que Sera Sarah, on Nantucket Island. One can tell by it’s condition, stained and falling to pieces aka well used. What’s your favorite cookbook? Vote here. Classes next up are this week’s raspberry/peach salad on Wednesday and lemon bars on Friday.
Top Tip This week I don’t have a cooking tip per se for you but rather an idea for moving the gamers off the video games. If they love Overwatch check out this cookbook. I’m gifting it to my Overwatch enthusiast son for his birthday.
Cook up more than ninety recipes inspired by the heroes of Blizzard Entertainment’s hit game with Overwatch: The Official Cookbook. Based on Blizzard Entertainment’s global phenomenon Overwatch, this official cookbook is packed with scores of authentic recipes inspired by the game’s diverse heroes hailing from all corners of the universe. Building from the game’s compelling narrative and variety of characters, this cookbook features international food and drink recipes from each hero’s homeland. Each recipe includes straightforward step-by-step instructions, mouthwatering full-color photos, pairing suggestions, and more.
What I’m Reading
The Best Cookbooks For New Home Cooks, According To 8 Professional Chefs
What I’m Watching Michael Pollen explores the four basic elements: fire, water, earth, air in “Cooked” available on Netflix streaming.
What I’m Cooking Great tomatoes are just about to hit the market (or maybe they already have near you). While I wait patiently for the tomatoes in my garden to ripen I’m dreaming of making this simple and delicious bruschetta recipe from “Nantucket Open House Cookbook”
Peach and Almond Tart
News and Fun Facts Peaches are in season. Hooray! Come join this Friday’s Sour Cream Peach Pie class at noon. Salad with peaches class up next week. If you don’t have time for that or would rather try out peaches on your own, go back a few newsletters to learn how to make a peach shrub or read on for more information on peaches.
Top Tip You’ll want your baking pantry well stocked for all of those delicious peach recipes. Here are some tips on Stocking a Baking Pantry
What I’m Reading
A Letter to Sheila Lukins, a Matriarch of American Home Cooking.
What I’m Watching
A Chef’s Life Pretty in Peach. Mrs. Scarlett teaches Vivian the secrets of Gramma Hill’s canned peaches
Did you know that there are more than 1000 types of peaches? Or that they originally came from China? And why do peaches have fuzz? Watch this to learn even more. Peach: How does it Grow?
This show, Iowa Ingredient, has some know how about peaches but also creative recipe ideas
What I’m Cooking With my peach trees supplying me juicy peaches every day I’m baking a LOT of peach recipes. Typically at this time of the year cooking camp keeps me so busy I don’t have time to test out peach recipes so I’m taking this golden opportunity to do so. One of my favorites is this recipe for an Peach and Almond Tart my dear sister passed on to me. I am having it for breakfast today 🙂
No Knead Bread
News and Fun Facts Bread making class last week was comforting in our time of social unrest and unsettling times. I’m posting the no knead bread recipe I taught. This Friday I’m teaching an online eggplant parmesan class. Even if you’re not an eggplant fan, you may find yourself LOVING this recipe. Sour cream peach pie will be taught next week. If you’re like me, I’m harvesting buckets full of peaches every day.
Top Tip Cooks Illustrated printed a very handy article which answers many of your Top Bread Questions Answered. If your burning question isn’t answered in this article, send me an email. I’m always here to help and I love even tricky questions I call “Stump the Chef”
What I’m Reading Flour is still a bit hard to come by as Costco was sold out last week. The Altantic writes “Americans Have Maked All the Four Away”.
What I’m Watching Get inspired to make bread by watching this video on growing what and baking bread (this is a long video but about minute 6 is the amazing part about bread. Tassajara bread book, Julia Child mastering French Bread
Here’s how to make Sourdough Starter and Fermented Dough from San Francisco Baking Institute. A friend of mine in SF sent this to me!
What I’m Cooking While on the topic of bread, I decided to go back to a New York Times, all time favorite, No Knead Bread. This bread is so awesome it has its own Wikipedia page. It’s sticky and gooey but it works like magic. The technique of baking with a covered Dutch oven for the first part of the baking traps in steam to create a fabulous crust.
Short Ribs Alla Genovese
News and Fun Facts Last week’s newsletter was about getting tired of cooking. Today’s is about inspiration. The website Yummly is a great place to get inspired. It’s chock full of recipes from many sources and famous chefs. Check out some of those and, at a click of a button, order the groceries for your recipe to be delivered right to your door. ! The online Zoom pie class went well so now I’ve posted a bread making class which some of my readers have suggested. Bread making is indeed a long process so I’ll do some hocus pocus to capture the key points in an hour lesson.
Top Tip While watching “The French Chef” Julia Child shows an easy way to peel and prepare those delicious mini onions aka pearl onions. In class we slaved away at the peeling when we made this dish a few months ago. She makes it look so easy. Just toss the onions in boiling water to loosen the skin. Put a cross mark with a knife on the root end to allow them to cook well but not fall apart during the cooking. If using a French recipe calling for bacon it means fresh bacon which is hard to come by in the U.S. The workaround is to blanche your American smoked bacon in water for a minute or so then use it as specified in the recipe.
What I’m Reading I’m reading the A16 restaurant cookbook, “A16 Food and Wine”. A16 in San Francisco is well known for their pizza A16’s menu focuses on the cuisine of Campania, Italy. A16 is well known for its wood-fired pizza. Other dishes include braised octopus, fettucchine made with black pepper served with pig’s trotters, sirloin steak and goat chop.
What I’m Watching TIt’s been fun to watch the iconic show “The French Chef” by Julia Child. I didn’t see her drop a chicken on the floor and an not entirely sure if that really happened or if that’s a cooking myth. In her “Beef in Red Wine” episode watch closely to see her “oops” moments. I saw an onion roll out of her hands onto the table, she clangs the lid on the counter and spills a bit of the sauce. It was refreshing to see even Julia isn’t perfect. Just fun, write to me if you see others. What is also funny is her old fashioned electric stove with ringed burners and her usage of basic mined salt in a cylindrical cylinder. What is also a bit funny is that it’s funded by Polaroid and Hillsboro coffee. Now when is the last time you heard mention of those companies?
What I’m Cooking The A16’s Short Rib recipe was a crowd favorite. Okay, I’m getting a bit ambitious as my “crowd” was just our immediate family of 5, including my 92 year old mother. She loved it so much she packed up a few to take home. It’s not too challenging and it’s so worth the time hanging around the house while it cooks for 2 ½ hours in the oven. The sauce with it’s red wine vinegar and reduced red wine is a must so don’t skip out on it. It’s seriously good.
Smashed Chickpea Salad
News and Fun Facts Online classes coming up soon! The online pie class is coming up this Thursday and I posted an online bread class for next Friday. We’re into week 10 of shelter in place and you may still be loving to cook. But I bet some are starting to get into a cooking rut. I’m offering in this newsletter some sympathy via an article I’m reading and an easy peasy recipe, perfect for a quick meal and perfect for a blazingly hot day.
Top Tip Today’s tip is a shopping tip rather than a cooking tip. Cooks Illustrated conducted a taste test taste of Comparison Supermarket Olive Oil and there’s what they had to say about them. By the way, did you know there is a lot of fraud on the olive oil world? Much of it is laced with non olive oil, sadly. It’s hard to know what is the “real deal” but I trust Cooks Illustrated.
What I’m Reading Move over fancy food. In comes easier home cooking and lower pressure cooking: easy and with pantry staples – Foodie Culture as We Know It Is Over
Or how about this for a bit of sympathy for those who have reached their capacity of cooking enthusiasm – I Fell Into a Deep Cooking Rut—Here’s How I Got Out
It’s not that I”m suggesting you all pitch your plans to cook dinner at home tonight but I wanted to know about a good source of restaurant information on the San Francisco Peninsula. Do you know about Peninsula Foodist
What I’m Watching Nadya’s Time to Eat. Many of you know me and how I teach my classes – no shortcuts! We make mayo from scratch, ditto with harissa. For those who are getting weary, Nadya shows you how to cut some corners to save time. I loved Nadya on the British Baking Show and was so happy a friend tipped me off that she has her own show.
What I’m Cooking If exhausted from all of the cooking in the past two months, try out this Smashed Chickpea Salad. It’s what the New York Times calls a “no recipe recipe”, meaning that you can virtually throw it together and serve. So easy and delicious! This was posted in one of Smitten Kitchen’s Newsletters. That’s a great read btw and it’s free to subscribe to it.
Queso with Pickled Jalapenos
News and Fun Facts Many thanks to those who offered to be my first online class customers last week. And thanks for everyone who wrote to me indicating they would sign up for a class. So, I’m going to give it a go May 28 at 3:30-4:30 PM with a Lattice Pie class. The cost is $29 and you can sign up here. I am now selling gift certificates. One of my camps is an auction item at the May 31 Palo Alto Players auction and they asked me to sell gift certificates which their patrons could buy. I decided to let anyone buy them, though, so you can buy gift certificates here. Think about both of those but read on to enjoy today’s Mexican based newsletter.
Top Tip For the queso recipe you’ll need to be handy with a knife and onion cutting. In class I teach various ways to cut an onion based on the skill level and age of my students. Here is how Cooks Illustrated suggests you cut an onion which I teach for my advanced students who want to get even sized diced pieces.
Onion, How to Chop
What I’m Reading This article is for a true cooking enthusiast, one who is curious about where all of that great Mexican food came from and what everyone ate south of the border a long, long time ago. Read “Generations of Handwritten Mexican Cookbooks Are Now Online”
What I’m Watching I had never heard of a shrub. Well, of course I know that’s another name for bush but not a culinary term. Did I make you curious yet? Here is how to make a berry shrub. Mixing it with club soda or mineral water would be a refreshing drink with your queso.
What I’m Cooking I’ve been posting some rather adult recipes so here’s one my kids LOVE. We experimented with this queso recipe a few weeks ago. It was a winner in the house with the teens and they begged me to make it again this week. So I’m sharing New York Time’s rendition of queso with you. It’s great in a bowl aside a pile of tortilla chips or pour it on chips to make nachos. While your munching on that, read Bon Apetit’s “My Four Greatly Held Certainly Correct Opinions on Nachos.”
Fruit Pie with Lattice Crust
News and Fun Facts Thank you for those who gave me a bit of a push to go online. I’ll be opening up in person classes as soon as I’m able but I hope some of you can enjoy my online Zoom classes before then. If you’d like a free pie crust making demo, come to the Paly Wellness Center meeting Thursday morning. I’ll do a bit of demo then answer questions about pies. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. On Friday I’m running my first Zoom birthday party, also about pies. If all goes well, I’ll start zoom classes you can enroll in. Please send topics you’d like me to teach to email@example.com. Since pies are on my mind, this newsletter will be, you guessed it, all about pies.
What I’m Reading I just snapped up some PlusGra butter at the Grocery Outlet . This brand is excellent but there are many European style butters in the market these days to choose from. Kerrygold and PluGra are good ones to use in your pie crust. Years ago my supper club did a butter tasting. Kerrygold won the taste test. Read what Bloomberg Businessweek has to say bout this grass fed Irish butter.
What I’m Watching To get a head start on pie making, you may want to watch this YouTube video showing how to make a lattice pie crust.
What I’m Cooking When I was young, my family picked wild blackberries in the estate behind our house. We were thrilled when we had 4 cups, enough to make a blackberry pie. For the upcoming classes this week I consulted my sister (a fantastic baker) about the recipe we used so many times as kids. Here is a variation of that tried and true Fruit Pie with Lattice Crust recipe. If you don’t have blackberries, other types of fruit will do.
Honey Cake with Candied Citrus Frosting
News and Fun Facts This newsletter is going to focus on being scrappy and getting full use out of the ingredients you can get your hands on. I hope that you took advantage of the flour you can order directly from Central Milling. Mine arrived yesterday. The flour shortage is happening in Europe as well. Here is one solution in England. I just heard that a lot of produce and milk are being dumped since the farmers can’t get them into the grocery stores. So read on for ways to stretch what you have. If Central Milling didn’t work out, try Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur.
Top Tip Stretch out your ingredients and get scrappy with what you have on hand. Make your own buttermilk, crème fraiche and yogurt. I never liked the girl scout motto “when it doubt, throw it out”. One wouldn’t want to eat moldy bread but don’t be a slave to the expiration dates on packaged goods. Read about the food expiration dates you should actually follow. And here is Cooks Illustrated’s article on “How to be a Scrappy Chef”
What I’m Reading I belong to a supper club in which we try out a different cuisine each time we meet, a bit of a glorified potluck. Sometimes we all cook a cuisine from a certain part of the world, say Cuba, one time we all made a dish from lemons, a versatile ingredient. On rare occasions we get quite creative. Our next meeting will be Cooking with Spirits when we are able to gather again with friends. From time to time we all cook from the same cookbook. Think of this of a beta test of a book, a try before you buy. We did this with the Slanted Door book. Serious Eats chats about “Why Cookbook Clubs May be the New Way to Entertain”.
That is for those of you who want to get inspired for the future. For those tired of shelter in place cooking, you may find some humor in “The Myth of Easy Cooking” from the Atlantic.
What I’m Watching While we’re on the subject of humor, if you have used cooking videos to learn how to cook and failed, it’s possibly not you. It could very well be the video. BBC tried out some cooking videos and discovered some of them are “fake news” videos. Here’s what they found out
What I’m Cooking This week I really loved the Honey Cake with Candied Citrus Frosting recipe from Sunset magazine. In the fine print you’ll read that it takes many hours. It’s not many hours of labor but many hours of cooking and refrigerator time so it’s a good one while we shelter in place for another month. Even if you bake a lot this is worthwhile to try as you’ll learn how to make a frosting with flour which needs to be cooked first with sugar and milk then beat with the butter. It’s very unique. Then in an effort to use every scrap (even the pith) of the oranges you have on hand, the candied citrus is a great technique. Layered on top of the cake really added unique flavor to this cake. But, honestly, you could use those candied citrus in so many ways. Just get creative.