San Francisco Cooking School

There is a reason I’ve been remiss at posting to Food Wednesday lately.  I haven’t been able to reveal the big news until now.  I’m happy to announce that come this fall San Francisco will be home to an amazing new take on culinary education, San Francisco Cooking School.

The school will offer culinary arts training, as well as classes for home cooks.

When I started my culinary career, my goal was to open my own cooking school and, after fourteen years, it is fantastic to say that my dream is actually coming to fruition.

The culinary training at SFCS takes a contemporary look at training cooks.  We’ve built a curriculum based on a Bay Area point of view and integrated all the amazing food resources of the city to make it something that can only happen here in SF.  We’ve assembled an incredible group of advisors, all active in the food scene here today, to help ensure that everything we’re teaching is relevant.

Check out the website and excuse me if I’m not back here for a bit.  Duty calls!



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What I’m Reading Today

If these recipes don’t get you to the farmers’ market then I don’t know what will.

Kirk McKoy/The Los Angeles Times

Galettes are the perfect desserts for the pie-phobic.  If you have a dough that cooperates well, it simply means rolling out a rough circle (perfection is absolutely not required here), filling it with fruit, and folding the edges over.  In the LA Times this recipe for an Apricot Almond Galette uses the best of the season.  As stone fruits and berries show up at your farmers’ market, this is the ideal dessert to play with-any summer fruits work well here.  If you’re more of a savory tart person, the LA Times still has you covered.  Savory Tomato Galette anyone?

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

Grilling veggies is a no-brainer when the sun comes out.  If you’re already firing up the BBQ for dinner you should absolutely throw on some of your favorite vegetables.  Look no further than the Washington Post for a Grilled Zucchini and Eggplant topped with Chickpea and Raisin Relish.  I love the recipe because it makes a lovely side dish, but would easily satisfy a vegetarian if you grill some bread along with it.  The veggies can be served warm or, antipasto-style, at room temp.

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

It’s hard to improve on salsa verde.  The bright mixture fragrant with parsley, mint, and lemon is the acidic balance you often see married to a rich cut of meat.  Melissa Clark, in the NY Times, takes it a step further buy using fresh green garlic and chives.  A little less piquant, the sauce is used with Seared Pork Cutlets.  Green garlic season is short so head to your farmers’ market to find it asap.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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What I’m Reading Today

Spring at its best…enjoy.

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

I adore rhubarb.  It’s tart flavor is bold and vibrant–it’s my favorite sign of spring.  In today’s NY Times, Melissa Clark explores Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl.  Having made two kinds of homemade ice cream to bring friends last weekend I can tell you that everything about it is worth the effort.  Home ice cream makers are cheap and they work surprisingly well-try yours out with this recipe.  The rhubarb is stewed with sugar, which keeps it from freezing into rock hard bits (works great for strawberry ice cream too).  The caramel sauce is key here too-homemade and salty-sweet it works perfectly with the rhubarb.  And, just to prove she really knows how to balance out a dish, Melissa makes her custard base with sour cream to cut a bit of the sugar and fat.  This is definitely taking a turn in my ice cream maker.

Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

Cauliflower pasta may not sound like the most seasonal dish but when you’re looking to make dinner without breaking the bank, I have to admit it’s a killer ingredient.  This Sicilian Cauliflower Pasta, from the Washington Post, uses the classic ingredients of Sicily-saffron, raisins, and pine nuts.  Combined with sun-dried tomato paste, this makes a hearty and vegetarian friendly pasta dish.  In the time it takes to cook the pasta you can throw together the sauce-perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Ellen Silverman/Kyle Books

You know I love almost anything with an egg on top.  Nothing beats breaking into a sunny yellow yolk and stirring it into a salad, soup, or pasta dish.  This combination of Wild Rocket (arugula), Summer Squash, and Asparagus, from the Guardian, will rise to a whole new level when topped with an egg.  To gild the lily, the egg is cooked in garlic-infused oil.  I think the dish needs a crusty piece of toasted bread and it might just be spring perfection.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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What I’m Reading Today

Mayonnaise, Kale, and Macarons?  It’s actually quite a lovely combination…enjoy.

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

Have you ever made homemade mayonnaise?  It’s takes practice but I can assure you, even if you’re one of those mayo-haters out there, it tastes nothing like what you get from Best Foods or Hellman’s.  If you go to culinary school you’ll be asked to master the art of making mayo, by hand (that means no mixer/processor/blender allowed).  It’s one of those skills cooks love to show their friends-one hand madly whisking, one hand adding oil (at the pace of water torture, I might add), and all while managing to keep your bowl from flying off the counter.  Once you have it down you’ll find yourself making it all the time.  In today’s NY Times, Melissa Clark is kind of enough to guide you through the mayonnaise process, giving you the mixer and processor method, plus tons of flavorful variations.  Her best hint, which I learned in school too, is to add a few drops of water to keep the mixture from separating.  Give it a shot-you’ll feel like a pro once you have it mastered.

Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post

Kale has gone from the health nut veggie of choice to what might just be the produce of the year.  It’s in juice, salads, soups, sandwiches…you name it.  I happen to love the bitter green, raw or cooked, and these days you can find it everywhere (although the farmers’ market is still your best bet).  In today’s Washington Post you’ll learn the art of the kale massage in this recipe for Kale and Cucumber Salad.  Yes, I said massage.  Having nothing to with it’s recent elite status, the massage is actually a way to tenderize the leaves by rubbing them with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice.  If you haven’t tried a raw kale salad, where have you been?  Kidding-if you haven’t tried one you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  The crunch and bright flavor really are worth the massage.

Felicity Cloake

First it was the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Now, in the Guardian, Felicity Cloake has created what she deems to be the recipe for the perfect Chocolate Macaron.  Making these delicate French cookies is a commitment-there are egg whites you want to get  whipped just right, there is piping to keep each cookie consistent in size, and there is frosting to ensure the filling is perfection in each one.  None of these steps are difficult, but getting each one just right ensures you’ll have bakery-worthy cookies.  I’ve read so many recipes for macarons but I love that Felicity has done the work to come to, what she believes, is the ideal version.  I’m trying it this week…stay tuned.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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What I’m Reading Today

Sun is out and it’s time to start thinking about outdoor menus.  Here are a few ideas to rev up your spring and summer entertaining-enjoy.

Amanda Lucidon/The New York Times

Canning can seem like a daunting task.  Sterilize this, boil that, seal this.  I “put up” some strawberry jam last year and it was actually a process I learned to love.  Yes, it takes time but nothing about it is difficult.  In today’s NY Times, Cathy Barrow makes it easy, walking through each step to help you preserve the best of the season.  Think Rhubarb Strawberry Jam (my absolute favorite) or, on the savory side of things, Pickled Asparagus and Spring Onions (hello Bloody Mary!).  You’ll thank yourself in the winter when this spring produce is sitting right in your pantry.

Anne Cusack/The Los Angeles Times

We bought a small outdoor smoker when my husband caught a freezer full of fish in a Alaska a few years ago.  It’s served us well in the seafood department but we’ve yet to test it out with meat.  Now that I’ve found this Smoked Briket recipe, in the LA Times via La Sandia restaurant, I’ve no more excuses.  This is not a last minute recipe-you’ll make a rub and a salsa (both can be done a few days in advance).  Then you’ll let the meat sit overnight with the rub on it before you bake it at a low temp for 12, yes twelve, hours.  The last step is a very quick trip into the smoker to give it that warm, toasty last bit of flavor.  Truth be told, you can skip that step if you don’t have a smoker-the rest of this recipe looks so outstanding you may not even miss it.

Michael Temchine/The Washington Post

Looking for something to serve with that brisket?  Well, when something has to cook for 12 hours you have no excuse for not whipping up a few fabulous sides.  Then again, you could head to the beach for the day, in which case you need a quick recipe or two to make at the last minute.  This Chickpea, Cucumber, Tomato, and Avocado Salad from the Washington Post is perfect.  It’s crunch and acidic bite will balance out the richness of the meat, plus it’s cool and light which is ideal for a summer meal.  The recipe says the salad can be made eight hours in advance but I actually think the leftovers would taste even better the next day.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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What I’m Reading Today

Savory wins today…enjoy!

Mark Bittman/The New York Times

If you’ve ever had skate wing with brown butter, lemon, and capers, you know that it is a stellar way to prepare this delicate fish.  Sadly, like so many other fish in our waters these days, skate have become over-fished and their “stock” has diminished almost completely.  Be weary if you see it on a menu somewhere.  All is not lost, however, as Mark Bittman, in the NY Times, treats a lovely piece of halibut in “skate style“.  Pan-seared to form a brown, caramelized crust and sauced lightly with the obligatory butter, lemon, and capers…there is no doubt in my mind this dish will be a stunner.

Glenn Koenig/The Los Angeles Times

Fermented black bean sauce may not sound all that appealing but, trust me, it is a secret weapon in many Chinese dishes and it packs a ton of flavor.  When people talk about adding “umami” to a dish, that savory, meaty taste we all love, fermented black beans can do just that.  A Chinese pantry stable, they can easily be found at any Asian market and even most big grocery stores.  A good hint from Andrea Nguyen, in this LA Times article, is to rinse and mash the beans first, avoiding the over saltiness that can be a pitfall.  If you want to try them out, give these Pork Riblets Braised in Garlic and Black Bean Sauce a try.

John Shepard/Stockphoto via

Caramelized Onions…I could eat them in almost anything.   A true caramelized onion should be golden brown, have no hint of bitterness, be naturally sweet, and melt in your mouth.  This doesn’t happen fast and, as Tom Scocca suggests in his article for, many food writers would have you believe otherwise.  My mantra for a perfect batch of caramelized onions is always “slow and low”…cook them for a long time over low heat, even when they feel like they’ll never brown, let them keep going.  You don’t need to add sugar, onions are full of them anyways, just give ’em time.  I loved Tom’s article as he spent the time trying all the “cheat” methods to get around the normal 45 minutes it might take to do this the traditional way.  The net-net?  Slow and low, my friends….slow and low.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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What I’m Reading Today

Quick, Cheap, and Sweet…here you go.

Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times

I don’t know why I don’t cook mussels more often.  I have a couple fish mongers who get gorgeous clams and mussels, the price is usually right, and they cook up in no time.  Melissa Clark, in the NY Times, inspired me to get some this week with her recipe for Spicy Coconut Mussels with Lemongrass.  Side note: put coconut and lemongrass in anything and I’m in.  Fragrant with coconut milk, chile, lemongrass, you’ll have this dish ready in ten minutes.   Once you inhale the tender mussels, you’ll quickly realize that the broth might be the real star of this dish.  Melissa sops hers up with a porous croissant but I might serve mine over a bowl of steamed rice.  Either way, it’s dinner in a snap.

Paulette Philpot

Ignore the technicolor photo of this Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Croutons and go right for the recipe, from the Washington Post.  Coriander, fennel, and cumin give it a decidedly Indian flavor and, frankly, broccoli needs that punch.  The croutons are basically crunchy torn bits of grilled cheese toasts.  Like the mussels, this soup is easy on the pocketbook but big on flavor.  I’d add a simple salad and call this dinner any time.

Felicity Cloake

It seems a bit odd to see an article called “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” in the London Observer.  The chocolate chip cookie is, after all, a very American invention.  Felicity Cloake admits this freely, then proceeds to tackle the “best” recipes to come up with her own.  The versions she draws on range from the original Toll House to the addictive Jacques Torres to the thoughtful Alton Brown.  She covers fat, sweetness, texture, and more and finally comes out with a recipe she’s happy with.  I love it because she ups the salt-a trick I use in most chocolate recipes as it really balances the flavors.  Heck, if you want to decide for yourself conduct your own recipe test-try ’em all out and let me know what you think (better yet, invite me over for the taste test).

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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