Newsletter #29 & Making Candy Eye Video

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 Reading  To add a little humor to your day and permission to level down your cooking, read “Things Chefs Do that You Should Not Do

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.

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Newsletter #28 & Halloween Classes and Royal Icing Recipe

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 Reading  Don’t lean towards packaged foods as an easy way out. Some foods, think cornbread, brownies, salad dressing, are just as easy homemade vs. a package. If you’re in the packaged foods camp, read “ Jacques Pépin’s Advice For Newbies In The Kitchen: Don’t Stress Out

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

10 2/3 ounce confectioner’s sugar + 2 large egg whites (4 tablespoons)

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Newsletter #27 & Sauted Corn with Fresh Herb Recipe

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).

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Newsletter #26 & Skillet Meatball with Peaches, Basil and Lime Recipe

What’s Happening at La Toque If you’re looking for a fun activity to boost the spirits of your team at work, how about setting up a happy hour and start with a cooking class?  I was thinking it could be fun for your workgroup to start with one of these classes and then have happy hour with what you’ve learned at class.

How to make a few fun cocktails

Bake a dessert with me.  Have your group do a wine pairing 

Learn how to make some appetizers then enjoy them with your group with drinks

Classes this week: Shrimp risotto, sticky toffee pudding

Snap and Cook Photo Drawing  Thank you Caroline for being a regular baker with me.  She’s won a free class by submitting the photos above.  Send yours my way to 

Top Tip  Black pepper is a key ingredient in nearly every savory dish and I highly recommend you grind it rather than using pre ground.  Once an exotic ingredient this is now commonplace and this black pepper know how is my top tip this week.

What I’m Reading I thought I’d send a thought piece  your way.  How America Lost Dinner (the meal kit market craze, or is it not?  Is there a move back to take out?).  Hoping you’re cooking and eating dinner together and bucking the trends mentioned in this article.

What I’m Watching  I haven’t yet started my YouTube channel but many other great cooks have.  Most recently my friend’s son launched his cooking channel.  Check out Adam and Eats and give him a “like”.

What I’m Cooking  I thought this recipe sounded CRAZY but with peaches in my freezer from the summer harvest and the limes and basil ready to pick in the garden this seemed to be a perfect inventory reduction recipe.  It turned out to be so much more than that.  It’s incredible how the flavor combo melded together.  Hats off to Melissa Clark at the New York Times.  Try out her Skillet Meatballs with Peaches, Basil and Lime.  Photos once you’v made it are welcome.

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Neiman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #25

News and Fun Facts   Most of my readers are living in the west coast and it’s tough times with the fires burning, some of you evacuated, some with losses and most everyone experiencing smoky unhealthy air.  So, once again, I’m making this newsletter light.   Light meaning you should all bake some cookies and watch my “escape” show.  Read on for more details and stay safe this week.   

Classes this week: black bean soup, quesadillas, chocolate lava cakes, chocolate cake, chicken tenders, roasted potatoes

Snap and Cook Photo Club Above is this week’s winner of a free class, a student making Indian Butter Chicken in class. Send me a photo ( of a chocolate chip cookie (ideally with you in the photo to enter the drawing.

Top Tip  Think comfort this week.  Think COOKIES.  And see this Cookie 101 article from  Cooks Illustrated to get you inspired and on the right track for fantastic results.

What I’m Reading  Aiming to head you into a no fuss cookie baking week, skip the tools and use your hands instead. Read “Your Hands Are Your Greatest Kitchen Utensil.”

What I’m Watching  Everyone needs a bit of escapism this week.   I recommend everyone watch this fun show “Million Pound Menu” which is a bit of “Shark Tank” meets British restaurants.  Prospective restaurant owners give their pitch to investors and possibly get a BIG investment for their dream restaurant concept.

What I’m Cooking   Cookies should just do the trick to boost your mood a few notches.  Have you heard of the Neiman Marcus story?  Is it a myth or not? Cookies are “it” this week so try the “comfort” recipe, the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip cookie

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Neiman-Marcus $250 Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

  • 5 cups oats
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, such as Hershey’s bars, grated
  • 4 large eggs
  • 24 ounces chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups chopped nuts, your choice

           How to Make this Recipe

  1. Grind in a blender or food processor to a fine powder.
  2. Mix together the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and soda.
  3. Cream the butter and both sugars together with an electric mixer.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla.
  5. Add chocolate chips, grated Hershey Bar and nuts.
  6. Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2-inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 375° or until golden.

 There has been a story about the secret Neiman recipe for years. So many have tried to duplicate the recipe. This is the recipe posted here. But, if you want Neiman’s side of the story, they claim this is the real deal.

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Rosemary Salmon Purses – Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #24

News and Fun Facts   My Toll House Cookie recipe I sent you was a bit of a loser in The Pancake Princess’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake Off.  The winners were Cooks Illustrated (I almost always love their recipes) and the college student tasters chose the All Recipe one.

Classes this week: Milk Chocolate Cookies, Indian Butter Chicken, Profiteroles.

Top Tip  Salmon know how!  Check this out and then try the salmon recipe below.

Snap and Cook Photo Drawing  Above is this week’s winner of a free class, a student making smoked salmon pasta in class. Send me a photo from a recent class or a photo of the rosemary salmon purses or even a chocolate chip cookie to enter the drawing.

What I’m Reading  Fall is cookbook season.  They are top of mind as the gift giving season will soon be upon us.    It’s no surprise many cocktail books are being published in this unsettling 2020.  But I wanted to highlight Ina Gartner’s “Comfort Food” and Yotam Ottolenghi’s  “Flavor”.  If you watched Nadiya Hussain’s Netflix cooking series you may want to check out her “Time to Eat”.  And then I’d like to steer you away from restaurant cookbooks and celebrity chefs.  They are fun and often have fabulous photos but I often find them using difficult to find ingredients and sometime hve errors in the instructions or ingredient lists.  Support a small business and buy them from or Omnivore Books.

What I’m Listening To The Proof podcast from American’s Test Kitchen is very fun.  While it’s not exactly about cooking, it certainly is about food.  Listen to the latest about Oreo cookies or the history of tofu.

What I’m Cooking  This is a simple recipe that’s fancy enough for a dinner party.  I’ve been teaching this for years and it’s been a favorite of my students: Rosemary Salmon Purses.  Just buy some good quality salmon (see tip above), layer a few ingredients and wrap it up with parchment paper to make a purse.  It’s great for each guest to open it up at dinner time and to be surprised by what’s inside the purse.

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Eggplant Parmesan – Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #23


Chocolate Lava Cake with a Dollop of Ice Cream

News and Fun Facts For those of you who are fans of durian (or non fans but just are interested in this unusually smelly fruit there’s a Thorny issue: Malaysian durian industry hit by demand slump and manpower shortage due to COVID-19

I’ve found that some are best served by 1:1 classes so I’ve added private lessons to my list of class offerings. Also, just added is a class option for your next team building event. Classes this week: Southwestern Corn Tart, Salmon Cakes, Gingerbread Cake with Apples. New baking series and dinner series start after Labor Day.

Cook and Snap This week’s winner is the photo above, a Chocolate Lava Cake from last week’s class.  Send me a photo of the Eggplant Parmesan to enter the drawing for a FREE CLASS

Top Tip The fall planting season will soon be upon us. How about visiting one of the local Bay Area Seed Libraries before you start? Here is one close by and read this article for more.

What I’m Reading It’s a bit late to take advantage of the cheery harvest but I’m so lucky to have some canned and waiting for a winter day to make a cherry pie to remember the summer sun.   These are from a “you pick” orchard a friend recently visited.   If you’re more likely to purchase yours at the store, read on to learn how the magic of sourcing cherries happens in The Scramble to Pluck 24 Billion Cherries in Eight Weeks


What I’m Watching I have just finished a marathon of 6 season’s of Chef’s Table on Netflix streaming. Before I move on to a different show I wanted to highlight Nancy Silverton. One of her claims to fame is La Brea Bread Bakery in Santa Monica, CA.   You’ve probably experienced her now mass produced version of her original recipe but serious bakers should also check out her bread cookbook. You can watch Nancy’s show on Netflix Streaming but here’s a recap.

What I’m Cooking Before the summer ends I wanted to point you to one of my summer joys, Eggplant Parmesan. For those of you looking for an easy entry into vegetarian cuisine this one may be fore you as you may not even miss the meat since it’s so tasty.


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Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #22


Strawberry Meringue Torte

News Due to the events of the week, here is a short but hopefully comforting newsletter (that is, the chocolate chip cookie recipe). Classes are “on” this week: shrimp risotto, eggplant parmesan and scones.

Cook and Snap Send me a photo of what you’ve made in my cooking classes or the “recipe of the week”. Each week a photo will be drawn for a free cooking class. The photo above is this week’s winner: strawberry meringue torte.

What I’m Cooking One of the most comforting foods is chocolate chip cookies I must admit.   Try some out this week with the original Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe. Oh, yes, send me a photo please!




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Corn Fritters – Cooking School Online Learning Newsletter #21

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters

News and Fun Facts Announcing the new “Snap and Cook Club”. Each week I’ll be posting a recipe in the newsletter and teaching both savory and baking classes.   Snap a photo of the dish you’ve made from either the newsletter or a class recipe (with you in it or just the dish) and email it to   Each week one photo will be chosen to be posted in the next newsletter and/or other marketing material and the “winner” will receive a free online cooking class.

Come to class this week: smoked salmon pasta, shaking beef and chocolate lava cakes are on the menu. 3 week dinner series also starting this week.

What I’m Reading Tomatoes are taking over the market and perhaps your garden. I’ve had the pleasure of incorporating my garden tomatoes into my recent cooking classes. If you’re in the midst of this tomato wonderfulness, perhaps you’d enjoy the heartwarming story in “The Life-Changing Magic of Canning Tomatoes

What I’m Watching Spice Box Travels has a new YouTube channel. I met Linda when we were writing a book of culinary essays together. Since then she’s taught cooking classes at various schools in the Bay Area, teaches cooking classes at Kaiser, has a newsletter and now a YouTube channel!

What I’m Cooking Smitten Kitchen posted a wonderful Corn Fritters which we loved this week.   The family loved it even more when my song came up with the bright idea of a tasty sauce: mayo, smoky paprika, a bit of chipotle in adobo sauce.   Just play with these ingredients until you get the proportions you like and mix it up.





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