Team building, cooking events, catering, parties, and classes in the San Francisco Bay Area

In the Kitchen – August 2011

August 4, 2011

Baby Announcement!

Tracy has finally, after a bit of a wait and an extended labor, given birth to Miles Alden Cates. He’s a lovely little boy, the apple of grandma’s eye. He was born Wednesday the 3rd, a healthy 7 lb. 1 oz., and of course all he wants to do now is eat and sleep. No doubt he’ll be running around the kitchen at a young age!


Miles waited until summer camp ended to be born, just like his Mom requested. Camp ended with a great session for the 14-17 year olds, who made dinner every day, and hopefully all left inspired to continue cooking. Altogether a great year for Cook! Programs, with five sold-out sessions filled with happy kids. Samantha and Omri and their able assistants ran a dynamic program, with Tracy guiding and resting.

In the Market

August is the month of bold flavors and silky textures. Peaches that are so juicy they drip down your chin, tomatoes that taste like sunshine and fresh air, peppers of all sorts including padrones, the little Spanish tapas pepper that you simply sauté until blistered and salt well; eggplants in all different sizes, shapes and colors, all the varieties of green and yellow beans. I love finding tender young Romano beans, which I cook with my all-purpose simple method: trim, put in a pot that is not too big (a lot of air space at the top will inhibit cooking), along with 1/2 cup water, a little olive oil or butter and salt, and if you want, a grated (on the microplane) clove of garlic and a little chili pepper. Cover tight and cook over high heat, until the water’s gone—they’ll be perfect. This method works for all fresh, young green beans and lots of other vegetables too—try it with carrots, but add some dried mint to the mix.

Also in the market, berries, cucumbers, lettuces and greens, artichokes, peas, plums—basically, everything. The farmers have garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, spicy cress, summer squash. If there was one time to take a trip to your local farmer’s market, this would be it—it might even become a habit!

Tomato Farm Tour

Wild Boar Farms, premier grower of great heirloom tomatoes, is offering a garden tour and you-pick day next Sunday, the 14th of August. The farm is in Fairfield, only 40 miles from Oakland. The tour is free, but you can reserve a spot at the lunch table, for a modest a $15 donation. The meal will be provided by Terry Letson, Chef-proprietor of Fume Bistro and Bar.


I’m so used to writing “Rosetta’s classes this month are all sold out,” it’s almost a shock—there are still a few places left in her wonderful eggplant class on Friday night the 26th. You get to use eggplant in every course—including dessert—so don’t wait to sign up, or this class will also be full. Next month, her tomato dinner is already booked up—but the Festival del Peperoncino class, where you’ll learn to make the world’s best sausages (among other things) has a few spots too. A unique opportunity if you’ve not been to one of Rosetta’s great classes.

Ethiopian cooking will be back shortly—check the calendar for Selome’s schedule and menu announcement for upcoming classes, they’ll be posted soon.

NEW! We’re getting set to announce an exciting class series. One of our favorite teachers, Charlie Vollmar, is coming back, probably beginning next month, with a five-part series called Mastering the Art of French Cooking, based on Julia Child’s book—which will be very exciting especially if you want a solid technique foundation for your culinary explorations. Watch the calendar, we tried to get these classes scheduled before publishing, but everyone’s vacation plans got in the way.

The Holidays

You don’t like thinking about them in the summer, I know—but we have only so many December days on the calendar, and if you want a fun, delicious and different holiday party this year, now is the time to get organized, and get your event on our calendar. What could be better than cooking a great meal together, and then enjoying it in style? And if you want to to the extra step and book our Valrhona Chocolate Extravaganza, you will get a catered meal, and a chance to work with a world-class pastry chef, Derek Poirier, Executive Pastry Chef for Valrhona Chocolates for North America, on dessert and chocolate sculptures. Derek was just in the kitchen training chefs from some of northern California’s top chefs and pastry chefs—including some Michelin starred restaurants like the French Laundry and Plumed Horse. This is a rare and exclusive chance to work with the best!

Recipe of the Month

I’ve been happily combining farm eggs, summer tomatoes, and mushrooms for a great brunch dish—with some Calabrian pepper thrown in. It’s very easy to make, and it’s a great brunch. I thought I’d share my technique.