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

September in the Kitchen

September 2, 2015

An Invitation

You and a co-worker are invited to a “Welcome, Neighbor!" lunch at Paulding & Company! We want to introduce our services, and invite you, who know us, to bring a decision maker from your business in for a quick sample of what we do. We’ve scheduled three lunches, one September 16th, another October 7th, and the third on November 4th. We promise to keep them to a one-hour experience, which means only a small taste of our culinary teamwork will be offered, so that you have time to eat and ask questions. We’re limiting the group size, and prefer to have no more than two people from a company (or if it’s a large company, from a department). We’ve kept the price very low, so you don’t have to spend more than you might on a food truck wait-in-line experience. And, we’ve created a different menu for each date, so pick the one that pleases you most.

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Holidays in the kitchen

Yes, it seems early to even mention them. But I know from experience, that if you don’t book your event early, you risk not getting your preferred date. We do fill up for December! Fill out a schedule an event form (to your right) and we’ll get back to you with info. In case you wonder, we easily accommodate 70 for a seated meal (and cooking too, of course), or up to 100 for a cocktail party (also including cooking). We love having you come cook with us, but you can also ask about in-house catering for your holiday party, if that’s what you prefer.  We won’t take catering out, but we will feed you in our kitchen.

Kids Classes

Tracy is working on a calendar for the fall, winter and spring. It’s not quite ready for this newsletter, but if you want to get it “hot off the press” you can sign up for the Cook! Programs newsletter, where she will announce very shortly. There are many classes in the works, including Holiday classes, Spring camps, and a series of pop-up dinners. Each of the pop-ups will include a class during the day, and the opportunity to stay and help cook and serve. Parents and the public will be invited, and the dinners will benefit our scholarship fund. Each will also include a donation to a different local charity that helps children and families. 

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Dim Sum and Other Classes for Adults

We have a new series of classes, and they’re pretty exciting. After recruiting Doug Eng to head up a dim sum birthday bash cooking session, and enjoying it immensely, I asked him to teach interested students about dim sum, and share some of his family’s recipes. Way back in the ‘70’s Doug’s family made bao and distributed all over San Francisco Chinatown, so he’s pretty much an expert, having grown up in the business. So, we present a series of three classes — you can sign up for any or all, with a bit of a discount for the three, and learn to make this delicious food. You’ll also gain a great respect for the skill and perseverance of the dim sum chefs in your favorite restaurant, because it does take a lot of skill to make the dishes as pretty as they do. The first Dim Sum class is Saturday morning — so don’t delay signing up!

Eric E. Weiss has another Knife Sharpening class scheduled for Monday evening, the 21st of September. You know, because I always say it — a sharp knife makes prep work a breeze, and a dull knife is dangerous, it can slip right off the food and cut you. So, if you’ve not taken the class, and need to learn how to sharpen your knives properly, do sign up.

Rosetta is off to Italy, leading two groups on cooking adventures, and will be back for October classes. She’s got several on the schedule, starting with A Taste of Calabria on October 9th. She’s put her schedule up right through to Christmas Eve in Calabria, a 13 course celebration on Saturday, December 5th. Check the Calendar on our website for the rest!

A Worthy Endeavor

Cook! Programs veteran Elazar Sontag started at camp when he was 11. Now he works for us during the summer, and just started his senior year of high school. Along with the demands of student life, Elazar decided, a year ago, to write a cookbook with his friend Anya Ku, and the pair have almost completed the project. For Flavors of Oakland, Elazar and Anya traveled through the city, connecting with residents from all different cultures and backgrounds. They collected recipes and stories, and compiled them into a narrative cookbook that celebrates the beauty of Oakland’s melting pot society. These stories are shared through written biographies and photographs, to truly capture the essence of each "flavor" of Oakland. The project aims to use food as a means to bring people together over a meal, and break down barriers between the many cultures represented in Oakland society.

The interview section of the project has been completed, and the recipes have all been tested. Now, as Elazar finishes writing the stories and Anya edits the beautiful photos, they want to raise the funds to print the book. Donations to the crowd funding page, besides reserving your copy of the book, will additionally contribute towards donating books to local organizations. Check out their crowd funding page and website, and if you feel motivated make a contribution. I’m sure the resulting book will be wonderful — after all, I got to taste a lot of the “tester” recipes! 

In the Market

As we head into the heat of early autumn, there is plenty of good variety in the market, despite the shortening days. Apples have made their debut, with a great variety showing up at the Berkeley market, and at least some at every other market I visit. Much to my surprise, so have pomegranates, quite early compared to other years. Figs are very strong right now, with Greek, candy stripe, mission, and others showing up in sweet splendor. My Mission fig tree is just starting to ripen, and I’m hoping the bobble head owl I just ordered will help keep the squirrels and birds away. Table grapes are everywhere — I hear it’s a very early harvest for wine grapes, too. Melons of every variety are in plentiful supply. Stone fruit is still in play for the next month or more, before the peaches start to get soft and funky. Pluots and plums will last a little longer. Berries are mostly still around, with less blueberries and plenty of strawberries, ample blackberries, and at least at Grand Lake, raspberries. I’m still seeing rhubarb at the stores (and occasionally farmers market). Try a fruit crisp for an easy dessert. The strawberry rhubarb crisp in the recipe archive has a great topping, which you can use with any variety of fruit you want to substitute.

Vegetable selection has been subtly changing, with a frustrating lack of tender young green beans (my personal favorite), and lots of shelling beans in the market. These are the fresh version of familiar dried beans, and while they require a bit more prep to get from the shell, they also cook quickly, most of them in 20 minutes. When you cook them, remember not to salt the water (although it’s fine to flavor it with herbs of course). This will keep the skins from getting tough. Simply salt the dish later, when they are tender. Padrone peppers are great blistered in olive oil in a frying pan. The smaller ones are not spicy, the larger they get, the hotter — there’s always a surprise hot pepper in any batch. Long, mild red peppers are also wonderful treated that way, so try a combination. A little smoked salt on top, and they are a great treat. Pair with some cheese for a very lovely lunch. The other wonderful pepper is the Hungarian yellow, which is great stuffed and braised. Here’s my recipe, from our archives.

Summer squash, eggplants, tomatoes, corn (see the recipe below), snap peas, cucumbers, lettuces, carrots, artichokes and if you hit the right market, broccoli di cicco are all great now. The first of the winter squash has also arrived. Try my green salad with marinated vegetables for a refreshing hot-day dish. 

About eggs: since everyone in California has to provide hens with a better home, egg prices have doubled. Which means buying at the farmers market, where they have stayed stable (albeit high) is less of a stretch. You can get great, pastured eggs at every market. The hens do double duty, as their home is rotated around from field to field, fertilizing as they go. And the eggs are just wonderful, and scrupulously fresh.

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Recipe of the Month

This recipe for Sweet Corn Soup is a favorite of ours. You can see the guests enjoying it in the 7 On Your Side news video at the bottom of our home page. It’s pretty simple to make. The technique is interesting — you want to slice the tops of the kernels off the cobs and then scrape the flesh off with the back of the knife. That way, you get the tender corn, and leave the tougher outer part of each kernel behind. Then, you make your broth from the cobs, getting all the flavor from every part of the ear. I’ve included a simple basil-scallion oil which makes a great garnish for the soup, and also a delicious addition to other dishes, including using it in a salad dressing. Try it, you’ll love it!