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

Summer In the Kitchen

July 13, 2017

What's up

I know this newsletter has gotten more erratic — but I’m still here, albeit not working in my old kitchen anymore. Nevertheless, lots going on in my life, home repairs, travel, and trying (boy is it hard!) to organize my recipes for an eventual e-book. Anyone who has words of wisdom on that process, bring it on!

Summer Camp

Cook! Programs camp is busy, busy, busy! There are still some openings in the upcoming camps. Next week’s Improvisational Cooking and  Cakes, Tortes, Pies & Tarts, for 9 - 13 year olds, both have a little room. The following week (24th-28th) reprises both Improvisational Cooking and the Cakes and Tortes class, but for 12 - 16 year olds. The final week, the 31st to the 4th of August, still has two open spots, in the Dinner and Desserts class.

Note that camp is now around the other side of the building on 63rd, with convenient parking lot drop-off and pick up.

In My Old Kitchen

Doug Eng, owner of ITK Culinary, invites all of you to join his mailing list, here’s the link. He’s planning lots of classes and fun events, so do so and stay in tune with what’s coming. Right now, you can register for his Stir fry Workshop on Saturday, August 5th — you will know how to stir-fry like a pro after this great offering! I'll probably ask Doug to do a 'guest column' next newsletter, so you can get to know him! 

Rosetta Costantino also has a fantastic class Saturday, the 22nd in the kitchen. If you’ve not learned from her how to Make (and use) Fresh Ricotta, check it out. I use her recipe all the time, and highly recommend this class. You can sign up from the ITK website,  or go directly to Rosetta’s website and do so (and sign up for her newsletter, as well.

Farmers Market

Wow, it’s all there right now, from okra to sweet corn to sweet peaches. Apricot season is fleeting — and at least one farmer I spoke with, who usually has great ones, lost 80% of the crop to heavy rains during blossom time; get them while you can. Fruit prices are high, in general, although there are some of my favorite vendors still keeping to last year’s cost — 3 baskets of raspberries/blackberries for $8, for instance. Grand Lake is ‘berry central’ with some of the best of all berries, all summer. If I had to rank fruits from most favorite down, every berry would be at the top of the list. I eat them every day for breakfast, in fact. So good for you, and simply delicious. Cherries are also on the feast list now, and until August we should be able to get great ones, although most are from Washington and Oregon, with a few late harvest locals. Crisp, sweet, meaty. I made cherry almond brown butter clafouti for dessert, for guests, a week or so ago — a huge hit.

Every farmers market has a ‘personality’ so to speak. My son tells me the Kensington market, Sunday mornings, is great, with a good selection, and has fantastic smoked fish at a reasonable price. Our long-time knife sharpening teacher, Eric Weiss, has a table at the Berkeley Saturday market, if you need a blade honed to perfection; I rarely go to that market, preferring the Tuesday one, which I find more convenient. There (and Saturday, I think), I love that Blue Heron is back for the summer, after a long break. The best lettuce anywhere. Sunday in Montclair, there’s one vendor (sorry I can’t remember the name of the stand) has always got a wide variety of vegetables that are incredibly fresh, picked young, and gorgeous, and not the ‘same old stuff’ you see at other stands.  I also like that market because parking in Montclair on Sunday is easy.  And, the Claremont DMV market, also Sunday, has a great selection of fruits and vegetables, and a ton of prepared food.

Recipe for Summer

Elevating the fare I grew up on in the ‘50’s by making it fresh, is so much fun. There is nothing remotely resembling the canned version in my Creamed Corn recipe. It is so very simple to make — a few short minutes, and you can start with fresh or cooked corn. Buy the freshest you can find (the farmers market is my choice, but Berkeley Bowl often has fresh Brentwood corn too). You can tell when it’s getting old — the husks dry out, the kernels sink into dimpled exteriors as they, too dry out. If I am going to cook corn (easiest: either husk and add to boiling, salted water for a minute past back-to-boiling, or grill in the husks then peel), I always get a couple of extra ears, and make this dish another night, with the leftovers.