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

In the Kitchen – February 2011

February 3, 2011

My plum tree is budding, a sure sign that spring is coming. I have kaffir limes literally dropping off the tree, and picked the last of my Satsuma mandarins yesterday. The Meyer lemons form a bright yellow focal point up the hill from the window of my newly remodeled home kitchen. It feels like spring—but we know this weather won’t last, so will enjoy it even more as a fleeting reminder of what is to come.

I’m loving the winter veggies and fruits this year, especially the lovely baby chicories I get from County Line Farm at the Saturday Grand Lake market. My Recipe of the Month is for one of my favorite salads using chicories. They have a slight bitterness, offset beautifully by the citrusy blood orange vinaigrette. The salad also works with the big heads of escarole and traviso you can get now, too. Next fall I will plant escarole again—a plant that has the good grace to simply re-grow when you lop off it’s top. I keep wishing I had done so this year.

Announcing Summer Camp 2011

We are very excited about our COOK! Culinary Programs' 2011 schedule. While the season is slightly shorter than 2010, the classes we have lined up are blockbuster!

We will kick off the Summer with a breakfast class, celebrating the joys of eating breakfast at ANY time of the day (waffles for dinner are my favorite!). We will pick it up outdoors the following week with an entire class devoted to The Picnic... it IS fourth of July week, after all. Our third, and most coveted class, is Magical Foods, starring sensations you may have only read about. Our fourth class is all about Pies and Pastas. And last but not least, a class especially devoted to the older kids, Dinner is Served.

Our staff lineup is taking shape with Chef Samantha Smith at the helm and Chef Omri Aronow at her side. Chef Tracy will be shifting into more of an advisorial role this Summer as she is due to give birth to her first baby at the end of July, and may not be able to reach around her belly to get to the stove.

Tuition has remained stable for the last couple of years, despite the rising cost of doing business. This year we will be raising our rates by $35. However we would like to give you all one last chance to get in on last year's prices by registering early. Early registration will close on March 25th at 3:00PM, so take advantage of this window of opportunity.

If you have any questions please feel free to email Tracy at, or give us a call: 510-594-1104

To read more about each class and to register, visit the COOK! website.

We look forward to seeing you this Summer!


Valentines day is coming, and chef Omri Aronow, former executive chef at Adagia in Berkeley, and valued member of our Paulding & Company team (see summer camp, above), will be teaching a romantic Couples Class. Sign up right now, if you want to come—we have gotten a very late start and really want this class to fill. You’ll learn some tricks of the trade from a true professional and a great teacher.

Knife Sharpening, with Eric E. Weiss, sold out—this month and the next. Email Eric if you want to get on the wait-list for either class, as we seem to get a cancelation here and there that can then be filled. This will be the 20th class Eric has taught in our kitchen, and I have no doubt that there are a lot of much happier home cooks who keep their knives sharply honed and love cooking all the more for it. His next open class is Monday, May 9th; if you want a spot, do sign up early!

Rosetta’s Italian classes are all sold out at this time, but if you follow the link to her web page, you have the option of getting on the wait-list for a class. Since people book so far ahead, the possibility of cancelations leading to spots that need to be filled, is very likely.

Parties In the Kitchen (and outside)

New Idea for Spring: Reserve some space in the lovely new park across the street from us, which has an absolutely beautiful lawn, a B-ball court, and a stellar creative play area, and come to the kitchen to make a picnic lunch to enjoy outside. Bring us back the dishes, and enjoy! Needless to say, we’ll also cater the picnic if you want us to.

New Idea for Iffy Weather: Bring a group of friends to the kitchen for a brunch party. We have brunch menus to salivate over, everything from blintzes to Benedict. You get to cook—or we’ll cater!

New Idea for an Evening Party: bring your friends, and make a cocktail party in the kitchen! Once again, we can be your cooking adventure venue, or your catered party venue. For stand-up cocktail parties, we have ample room for a crowd (and for sit-down dinner, for 70).

New Idea for a Baby Shower (something we’ve been thinking about lately): We can rent some sofas and plants from our fave new and creative rental company friends, and turn the room into a cosy den for your shower. Add catered (or group-cooked) food, and tear open the presents.

How to set up one of the above parties? Or one you have thought up that’s different? Simply call us or email Terry.

In the Market

This is an exciting time of year, with blood oranges (see the recipe of the month) getting sweet, pomelos too. See the panna cotta recipe in the archives for a delicious use for these giant citrus. Meyer lemons are everywhere, even saw some at Costco. Baby turnips are wonderful at the moment, the winter greens are at their peak and of course, the chicories featured in this month’s recipe. Winter squashes of all shapes and sizes, the first sweet strawberries from Oxnard (yes, they truck these up to our Grand Lake market), and all the broccoli and cauliflower variations are also sweet and beautiful. Soon to come, the first spears of asparagus—Omri assures me he has had fresh local asparagus every Valentines day, which is why he’s featuring it on this year’s couple’s class menu. Soon we’ll have spring onions and green garlic, definitely before the month ends. Even if we get some more stormy weather, our longer days will win the battle, and soon the spring peas and favas will also start to come in. If you follow the seasons in our recipe archive, you’ll find some great inspiration for your next cooking adventure.

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GoTo the Recipe of the Month.