SF Cooking School: Day 4

This class on Salads and Emulsified Sauces was probably the one in which I’ve learned the most to date. I has no idea what an emulsified sauce was (hint: mayo and vinaigrette are two really big ones) and I had fun making homemade mayo although I think I prefer the stuff in a jar and a tangy, peppery vinaigrette.

We also had the chance to experiment with different oils and I got the opportunity to work with ones that I’d never even heard of; avocado, hazelnut or grapeseed anyone?

The menu for today’s class started with these items:

Appetizer: Zucchini Fritters

Salads: Chinese Chicken Salad, Clementine Jicama Salad, Harvest Salad with Gorgonzola, Bacon and Concord Grapes & Fall Salad with Roasted Delicata Squash, Kale Chips and Persimmons

Entree: Seared Flank Steak with Romesco Sauce

Dessert: Ginger Pear Upside Down Cake (totally simple and crazy delicious when served with sour cream, it sounds odd but it compliments the sweetness of the cake really well)

And then since we polished everything off in about an hour (give or take) our Instructor for the day, Kirsten gave us a few more items to make:

Appetizer: Petit Gougeres with Gruyere

Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Browned Butter

I had no idea there could be so many possibilities when it comes to vinaigrettes and Kirsten was right; I’m probably never going to buy store bought dressings again.

Yours Truly,

Mel


SF Cooking School: Day 3

I’m a little behind, since I’m going to be attending my 5th day of class tonight but really when am I not running behind?

Day 3 was all about stocks and soups and before class I was really stoked to learn about everything. I had no idea there were light and dark stocks and I even got to have my very first encounter with a pressure cooker when I helped make the Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup.

It was finally starting to get cold here and that meant that I was really looking forward to our tasty soups and the added bonus of some hot flaky biscuits!

Here’s the menu for the night:

Appetizer: Porcini [mushroom] and Pecan Pate (completely meatless but you’d swear it tasted like meat)

Soup/Stock: Classic New England Fish Chowder (Fish Stock), French Onion Soup (Dark Stock), Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup (Blonde Stock), Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry & Vegetable Stock.

Side: Buttermilk Biscuits

Dessert: Raspberry Frozen Yogurt with Almond Melt Away Cookies (*btw, super yummy!)

As always the flavors in everything were phenomenal, so fresh and so vibrant. I hate to be that person but the Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup  was probably my hands-down my favorite.

I can’t wait for tonight’s new lesson!

Yours Truly,

Mel


The Harvest Festival – San Mateo, CA

This year I’m trying to be extra good and get a jump on my christmas gift shopping and when I heard about the Harvest Festival at the San Mateo Event Center, I knew this was my sign. The Festival starts, today 11/14 and runs until Sunday, 11/16 and it’s hours are 10AM – 6PM (Friday and Saturday) and 10AM – 5PM on Sunday.

I’ve never been to the Harvest Festival but their website says that it’s,

“24,000 handmade American art & crafts in hundreds of booths, all day entertainment, and kids activity center. [The] Harvest Festival features hundreds of artisans exhibiting American handmade items including beautiful jewelry, clothing, specialty foods, photography, original art, hand-turned wood, music, ceramics and much more.

Enjoy three fun-packed days of shopping, stage and strolling entertainment, and festival food all for the price of one ticket. Remember to get your hand stamped to return as many times as you want without paying again.”

Tickets range from $4.00 for Youth (13 – 17), $7.00 for Seniors (62+) and $9.00 for General Admission and for 3 days, that’s not too shabby.  Plus if you bring a nonperishable food item with you to donate to Loaves and Fish you can get $2 off a Senior or General Admission. If you’re free this weekend and have a few hours to burn it not be a bad way to spend your afternoon.

Yours Truly,

Mel


A “No Egg” Smash Cake

I recently had the honor of making a smash cake for a friend’s daughter, Ellie’s 1st Birthday and I couldn’t have been more flattered with the request and pleased with the result.

A few weeks before the big event I was told that the little Miss Ellie was actually allergic to eggs and my friend hoped that wouldn’t be a problem. Not a problem at all and it really wasn’t. There have been a few times where I haven’t had enough eggs for a recipe and if that ever happens to you it’s pretty easy to substitute unsweetened applesauce, oil or bananas. In my case the recipe called for 4 eggs so I broke it up and used 2/3 C. of unsweetened applesauce and 1 medium sized banana and THIS recipe.

Since there weren’t any eggs in the recipe the cakes themselves didn’t rise too much but that was okay, with a little bit of whipped cream and four layers (I cut each cake in half) it came out to just the right height.

Don’t let the frosting deceive you, it may look complicated but I promise that it might just be the easiest cake you’ve ever frosted. If you want a tutorial this ONE by Alicia of Thrifty & Chic is pretty spot on and easy to follow.

The day of the party, the cake looked fantastic and my friend did a great job decorating without making everything too matchy, matchy.

And that’s how you know the cake was a success.

Before:

After:

Yours Truly,

Mel


SF Cooking School: Day 2

This week the focus was on starter and appetizers and man, there was so much food! Our menu was super ambitious for 16 people with 2 hours to cook but we did it and we whipped out 11 different items ranging from soups to sliders to plum cake for dessert. The format changed a bit and instead of focusing on make a single dish we rotated station so that every person got to work on at least 3 different dishes.

I didn’t really learn that much new information but I did leave very full and very happy AND I even have some great new ideas for the upcoming holiday season so that’s something.

Here’s the menu from our second class:

Soup: Cream of Chestnut & Celery Soup Shooters

Appetizers: Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese, Roasted Butternut Squash and Gruyere Turnovers, Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs, Scallion Pancakes with Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce, Prosciutto and Gruyere Palmiers, Seattle Salmon Cakes, Meatball Sliders, Ceviche with Lime and Herbs served with Fresh Pita Chips & Spicy Thai Chicken Wings

Dessert: Plum Wine Cake with Grapes

I think my favorite one was the turnovers but you tell me, didn’t that all look mouth-wateringly good?

Yours Truly,

Mel



6 Last-Minute Halloween Treat Ideas

I don’t know if you’ve been feeling like me this week but I’ve been dragging. I’ve had zero energy to do anything and with Halloween tomorrow (eek!) and a Halloween party on Saturday I’ve got to play a little catch up.

Luck for me my costume is pretty easy and only requires a few tweaks (with a little help from my trusty glue gun) AND I just happen to have a few tasty treats you can whip together for Halloween too!

1. Vampire Donuts

I did these last year and I absolutely loved them. These were quick, easy and pretty darn cute.

2. Mummy Hot Dogs

Thinking something a little more savory and a lot more filling? These hot dogs wrapped in biscuits may be just what you’re looking for.

Photo Courtesy of Damn Delicious

3. Candy Coated Marshmallows

I’m a sucker for anything that has marshmallows in it and these candy coated pumpkin inspired marshmallows are no exception

Photo Courtesy of Smile Monsters

4. Witches’ Broom

When we had our little Halloween Party last year I made these and they really are ridiculously easy

Photo Courtesy of The Kitchen Magpie

5. Witches’ Hats

Almost as easy as the brooms these little cookies require minimal effort and will make a great addition to any party. All you need is: Hershey Kisses, Fudge Stripe Cookies, Sprinkles and Icing and you’re done.

Photo Courtesy of My House and Home

6. Spider Deviled Eggs

What’s Halloween without a spiders? Everyone knows how to make deviled eggs but these little olive spiders really add a little bit of creepy to these good, old favorites

Photo Courtesy of She Knows

Hope these nummies are getting you excited for Halloween tomorrow because it’ll be here all too soon!

Yours Truly,

Mel


A New (6 Week) Adventure: SF Cooking School

This past Summer seemed to be all about food movie for me and The Husband. From Chef to The Hundred-Foot Journey to documentaries like, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Kings of Pastry and Spinning Plates we’ve been devouring our TV with our eyes and I’ve been completely transfixed.

Aside from the strange enjoyment that I get from watching these Artists crank out phenomenal dishes, I also find myself analyzing their styles and techniques. Afterward The Husband and I spend hours talking about the recipes, the variety of ingredients, the prep, etc. and I swear these conversations have been some of our most animated.

Finally with alot of cajoling and arm twisting last Monday I started my first Fundamentals I class at the San Francisco Cooking School. I was hesitant to take the class for a variety of reason but the biggest one was that I didn’t think I was going to be good enough. This was a legit cooking class at a cooking school that trains professional chefs and not some adult educational class at the community center and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The Husband is my biggest supporter and he insisted that I absolutely needed to take this class and I’d love it.

Boy, was he right; I LOVE the class. It started with a tour of the kitchen, then about an hour of lecture and hands on exercises and then we’re broken into groups to make the food. While I’m not quite the novice that some of my fellow classmates are I’m still enjoyed the refresher on knife skills and technique but mostly I love the food!

I was so afraid that there wasn’t going to be any real cooking until the Fundamentals II class but lucky for me we get to cook a lot of different foods.

Here’s the menu from out first class:

Appetizer: Creamy Horseradish Salmon Spread with Sesame Pita Chips

Salad: Chopped Salad with Herb Buttermilk

Main Dishes: Thai Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice & Steamed Rockfish Fillets with Vegetable Slaw and Miso Dressing

Side Dishes: Cauliflower Gratin & Tortilla Espanola

Dessert: Fresh Peach Crisp with Whipped Cream

As an added bonus we get to sit down and dine with everyone at the end of class and they even pass around a few bottles of wine to enjoy with the meal!

So far I love my class and it was completely worth every minute of the long drive back and forth to The City on a Monday evening and I can’t wait for Starters and Appetizers tonight.

Yours Truly,

Mel

P.S. Did I mention that my Instructor, David looks just like Deacon on Nashville?



ThirTEAth Birthday Party – Pictures

I know these are a week late but if you’ve been a follower of the Blog for any length of time you’ll know that late is kind of my MO; I’m not proud of that, it’s just how it is.

So without further ado, here you go.

A tea party,a  little whiskey in tea cups, a game of cut-throat croquet and an a great group of friends; what a perfect birthday.

Yours Truly,

Mel