Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #1



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 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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