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Friday, September 30, 2011

private cooking class October 1

Thank you to my friend/colleague Jesse Miner for this referral, a last minute private cooking class has come up.

Going to help 2 enthusiastic beginner cooks learn several new skills, techniques and dishes.  They will be learning to create their own Thai curry paste, a couple of simple desserts like carrot oat cookies and an apple walnut tart, a wonderful Spanish style bean salad using many kinds of fresh beans and more.
They will be discovering new ingredients such as lotus root, yuzu and perhaps touch a mortar and pestle for the first time.
These private cooking classes are always a blast for me and the students. Quite fun to share knowledge and techniques to help people eat better in their own homes and they can then share and inspire their friends.  It is really nice to see the demystification of how dishes are created occur on the faces of students while showing them how to prepare what once seemed like "exotic" food.

I am always available for private cooking classes in addition to the public ones i offer, $50/hour plus cost of ingredients and travel

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

black bean corn salad while Racing Sanandar Ties Real Mdadrid !

We are having a late summer here in the bay area with scorching temperatures showing up. So today on the equinox of fall i am still thinking of cold dishes. Ironic since most of the summer the low temperatures had us making more warm soups than usual.
Black beans are wonderful! Native to Mexico and thus familiar in numerous traditional Mexican recipes. There are actually many varieties of black beans, turtle and midnight beans being the 2 most common types. Rancho  Gordo farms provides us with these and other varieties, rich in flavor, texture and nutrients!

Just finished a couple of shakuhachi lessons and it is lunch time.  And there are Spanish soccer games on today and thanks to the time difference, their night games are about to begin. Racing Santandar vs Real Madrid. 19th place Santandar vs the richest team in the world. Many people predict a bad season for Santandar and they are favorites to be one of the three teams to be releagated.
 however....the Santandar players are at home and they are obviously up for a fight!
I recently promised a friend, after his reaction to the pancake recipe/madid game post the other day that this season, every time the team that represents fascism, Real Madrid does not win this season, i will blog about it. And since this is mainly a food blog and about my offerings as a chef, i will include a recipe with it.

Soak a cup of beans, overnight. then pressure cook them for 5 minutes (more may be needed, depending on the variety and how old they are). If you are not familiar with the beans you have, it is safer to simmer them instead, this way you can check on them. You do not want the beans to become mushy, which happens if you overpressure them. Most black beans take about 40 minutes, simmered, covered. Drain your soaked  beans, put them in a pot with a bay leaf and 3 cup water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer.

Missed much of the first half but what i saw was BORING! come on, owners of Real Madrid, are you not bored to tears watching what this coach is doing with your team? Historically you  did all your ugly business behind the scenes and gave the world great futbol to watch. Now it is ugly boring and vicious crap and you are not even winning. I do not expect a team that had a 4 plus decade affiliation with General Franco to have any decency to why am i asking. 0-0 at the half and i want to turn on a different game but i did make a promise which means i have to watch a lot of madrid games this season. One of the only benefits of not having as much employment as i desire, is i get to watch a lot of games live.
getting hungry, it is noon and the beans are done. Now to make the salad!

Meanwhile, prep the following:
1 red torpedo onion, diced
1 serrano chili, chopped
1 anaheim chilip, diced
1 gyspy pepper,diced
1 flamingo pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 ears corn, shucked (if possible, use one white and one yellow to give more color)
2 green  onions, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
3 limes, juiced and zest

75th minute. Wow, Maurinho looks out of his gourd on the sidelines as his team is not able to score for the second game in a row. Here comes Kaka on as a sub. Got to feel sorry for a guy with a name lke that but he plays for madrid so he could be called much worse. And Racing Santandar continues to defend!

heat up a skillet and add 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 and 1/2 sea salt and the onion. Stir to coat and cook, low heat about 15 minutes, till well caramelized, stirring often.
add 2 tsp coriander powder and the chilis, peppers and corn, garlic, carrot and celery. Mix well, cover, over medium low heat, cook for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so.

87th minute. Have you ever seen desparate young millionaires? Here it is in action as Madrid is attacking but like the other day, they cannot connect. Immense overpaid egos do not make a great team, and how apparent is it right in front of my face.  Sanrandar is defending like crazy and it is working! We are in stoppage time and Madrid looks like they are lost. Yeah, for the second week in a rown they are not going to win.  5 minutes of stoppage time to go and Madrid, when having to defend is pulling their thug tactics out and the usual stoppage of the opponents attack is done with fouls and yellow card moves. This is not a pretty game to watch and is not needed when you have as much talent as this rich team has! Coach Maurinho is about to have a stroke on the side as his face reddens and veins are emerging. As much as the guy turns me off, i hope he does not keel over on the field

Remove the vegetables from the heat and add the cooked black beans, lime, cilantro and green onions. Stir gently season with more salt or lime if needed.

game over, Racing Santandar 0 Real Madrid 0 lunch is good and 2 of the great teams are about to hit the field as Barcelona FC takes on Valencia CF!

Monday, September 19, 2011

pumpkin class october 30

Sunday, October 30, 2011
limited space for 8
for more information or to register, vegshaku8 at gmail or 510 393 6096

a hands on class, cooking up an international array of delightful dishes made from the classic fall vegetable, pumpkin!

from Italy, pumpkin gnocchi with walnut sage sauce

from Jamaica; spicy pumpkin soup

from the United States; pumpkin pie

from Japan pumpkin tempura

from Thailand red curry with tempeh and curry

Sunday, September 18, 2011

berry pancakes recipe while Real Madrid loses

 This is my idea of a great Sunday breakfast.

First find a link online to watch  the Levante-Real Madrid game. If you know me, you know of my love of European soccer and disdain of all things connected to fascism. Thus my least favorite team in the world is Real Madrid, formerly the official team of General Franco and thus a symbol of fascism.  Real Madrid is also the richest team in the world, buying absurd amounts of players year after year, struggling the past few years to try to attain the level of team that their arch rivals FC Barcelona have reached under Pep Guardiola.

Levante is a team from Valencia i know little about as they are rarely in the first division in Spain but last year they were quite impressive. But any team that plays Real Madrid, especially this current version under the despicable coach, the pompous Jose Maurinho is a team i am cheering for, wholeheartedly!

ok, breakfast is needed.

And we happen to have blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries leftover from the last 2 nights of catering gigs! Pancake time!

 first i mixed up the dry stuff:

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt

to this i added: 2 tsp grapeseed oil and 1 and 1/2 cups soymilk (no sweeteners, gums or stabilizers, of course in the soymilk!!) and whisked it together gently Never overmix your pancake batter or it will develop gluten and become rather not pleasant textured. Fold in the berries, again, do not overmix! Let the batter sit a while. Meanwhile....

halftime and it is 0-0. Levante is defending like crazy and the zillionaire players working for the fascists are showing they are overpaid bozaks, looking confused. Pepe is the usual thug, hijacking any player who dares to come near the Madrid penalty box, using his usual by any means necessary tactics, highly encouraged under coach Maurinho.  Gone is thug Khedira as he already took 2 yellows and Madrid plays the second half with only 10 players! Interesting to note that thugs often get  a lot of work for fascist regimes. What is up with this crap under this coach? This stye of play did not happen under Pellegrini and never while Raul was still captain (says wonders how Maurinho wanted Raul off his team as soon as he became coach). Even when Barcelona trounced Madrid in Madrid's, own gorgeous stadium 3 years ago 2-6, Raul and Barcelona's captain, Puyol, walked off arm in arm, talking like old friends! For the sake of the sport, fire Maurinho and play some beautiful futbol! Let us go back to hating Real Madrid because they are rich and connected to Franco (and all the payoffs and cheating that entailed), not because of ugly tactics! :)

Time to cook!
i heated up a pan. Cast iron skillet under a low flame for 15 minutes. The secret of pancakes is a very hot skillet!

Watching  Levante pull off some unreal samurai style defending. Damn, this is good stuff to see! Even though they are a man up, they are still getting attacked intensely yet not allowing Madrid to get shots off!

in goes a spoonful of batter. let it cook till bubbles appear through the top of the pancake and flip it over. 60th minute and it still 0-0! Ole, Levante, Ole!

Universal rule of pancakes, flip once! Never twice or more. Again it is a texture thing. There is simply no way around this. When cooking pancakes, flip once and do not flip too early. or too late..

Cori eats the first one and is loving it.

65th minute and still 0-0. i get the second pancake ad oh this is good stuff (to taste and to see) . Covered in maple, of course! So many different flavors. each bite is a different berry!
75th minute, breakaway, go Levante! Damn, the wing held it too long and shot goes inches wide.
76th, another break, GOAL, Levante scores, 1-0. Best part of the goal is it takes place right in front of thug Pepe who is on the ground, having been spun around and tossed like a ragdoll. Stunning passes to create this goal and a fine finish that sent Pepe flying and Casillas (perhaps the world' finest goalkeeper) was stunned as the shot went out of his reach.
14 more minutes of great defending, Madrid barely gets any shots the entire game and it is 1-0, game almost finished!

  And right at the end, while falling to the ground, a Levante defender clocked  Christiano Ronaldo.  Is this guy a master of drunk monk style kung fu?!? Not full contact but he stunned him, good! And no foul, no yellow, nothing. Just a good shot to the precious chin of pretty boy Ronnie. I told Cori, i bet this guy just fulfilled a dream, punching Ronaldo in his home stadium as his team wins!  4 years ago his friends laughed at him a he said, "One day we will beat Madrid in our own stadium and i will punch Ronaldo in the process".  Levante was a mid level 2nd division team and Ronaldo played for Manchester United, but tonight he is the man as he decked Ronaldo and Levante took home 3 points while Maurinho walked off the field as if he was about to go rape a goat or some other drastic move that overpaid fascist idiots do when they are pissed.  All that money down the drain as a low budget team beats Madrid while i eat some of the best pancakes ever!

game over, Levante 1 Real Madrid 0. how sweet these pancakes taste!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

return to our fave clients for a dinner this Friday in Berkeley

About a year ago, i received a phone call from a friend, Nikolay Georgiev, an amazing landscape architect. He had just started a project for a couple in the Berkeley hills and said the client were vegetarians, wonderful people and wanted food for their garden opening party. A day or 2 later a phone call came in from a very friendly woman with a delightful New Zealand accent asking if she and her husband can come over and meet and talk about food for their party.  Apparently Nikolay had been raving about me and they seemed rather excited about this meeting as was i after such an exuberant call.   Couple of mornings later, 2 very friendly faces showed up for a lunch tasting. Within minutes i felt like i was among friends, not just a potential client. Obviously they were enjoying the samples we were offering them and the 2 of them and Cori and i were having a lot of fun talking about food and many other things. At one point he asked me about my shirt i was wearing (FC St Pauli's 100 year anniversary shirt) and it turned out he was also a huge soccer fan, a former left back and a serious follower of Arsenal FC, an English team i also admire.   The look on Cori's face when he said his team was Arsenal was hilarious as i could tell she was afraid he was going to say Chelsea.

Not only did we get hired for the garden party as they came over to talk about but they also hired us for another party that would take place a couple of weeks from this first meeting. Both of which were truly delightful events! They have a beautiful home in the Berkeley Hills, with a stunning panoramic view of the bay from their main room and balcony. The kitchen is small but designed by someone who knew how to cook and they have a great stove oven and griddle! The serving areas are very spacious as the main room is quite large with no beams or poles, thus a large open space with high ceilings  overlooking the bay. Sunsets are absolutely spectacular!  And like performing music on stage, one truly feels the energy of the audience....

Every time i cater or work as a chef at a party, i know fully well that i am the hired help. And often one is treated like the hired help as soon as they arrive, being put in their place with class distinctions pointed out relentlessly, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes not. Other times i show up and my staff and i are treated with great respect, showing  appreciation for our skills and artisan approach.  There is a huge difference! Sometimes we are never allowed to see or interact with guests or obviously it has to be kept minimal.  (Sometimes we want it to be minimal as well in some situations). And other times guests are in the kitchen observing, joking and checking us out, enthusiastically, particularly if they are cooks themselves. And on unique situations as with this client (i think of them these days as friends more than as clients!), it is insisted that you interact with their friends and family, to the point where as soon as your work is complete you are in the party, 10 year old glass of wine in hand, enjoying the company of friendly people from around the world. Not often i find mysef on a balcony overlooking a winter sunset with a British Parliament member talking to me about his hometown of Bolton.

So i am always enthusiastic to cook for these 2 wonderful people and their friends!

here is what i am preparing this Friday, somewhat inspired by their recent trip to Catalonia and Spain.

chilled roasted corn soup with saikyo miso, saffron and red shiso pesto (my latest blog post is this recipe)

fresh beans (cranberries, garbanzos and purple string beans) marinated in olive oil, sherry vinegar, oregano, thyme with fennel, carrots and baby romaine
-Apple cornbread cooked in a skillet

small plate
smoked tofu plate
3 kinds of tofu, marinated and smoked 3 ways (Japanese marinade -apple smoked, sichuan marinade - cherry/oolong tea smoked and italian marinade- hickory roasted) with 3 dipping sauces (rasperry mustard, blueberry mustard and regular mustard)

paella a variety of late summer veggies cooked with saffron rice in seaweed stock
mushrooms, ajillo syle
homemade seitan, smoked with apple wood, simmered in romesco sauce

pistachio cake with blueberries and raspberries
blueberry sorbet
blueberry port sauce

to put it simply, the kindness and generosity from Erin and Anthony this past year has been tremendous and truly appreciated!! Much love and thanks to 2 great friends!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

dinner in Marin, September 17

Another purple inspired menu

beet nut pate with homemade pita bread
apple smoked tofu with blackberry marinade

chilled beet with dill pesto and cashew cream

purple potatoes, okinawan sweet potatoes, purple string beans with fennel and blueberry mustard dressing

purple cabbage leaves stuffed with Rancho Gordo Farms Goat’s eye beans, forbidden rice with tahini sauce and mushroom sauce.
roasted corn salad
roasted purple kale with garlic and green olives

blueberry cake
blueberry sorbet
blueberry port sauce

Sunday, September 11, 2011

recipe: chilled saffron corn saikyo miso soup w/ red shiso pesto

This is a recipe i developed this summer and have served it at several parties this past month, to very rave reviews. And many are asking for the recipe for this incredibly beautiful, yet easy to make soup.

Step 1: the roasting
4 ears of corn, shucked
1 russet potato, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp grapeseed oil

place the above ingredients in a roasting pan, toss well, cover and roast at 425 for 40 minutes.

put the roasted veggies in a high speed blender (a regular blender will not give you the silky texture that this dish requires), add 2 tbsp saikyo miso, 1/2 gram saffron and 3 cups seaweed/mushroom stock. Puree for 2 minutes or till silky smooth. Chill before serving!

in a mortar and pestle, pulverize a small bunch of purple shiso. Add 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and
1 tbsp olive oil and pulverize down. Add sea salt to taste.


serve chilled soup with a small bit of shiso pesto in the middle.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

party in Walnut Creek, September 9, 2011

Thank you to Gustavo Fernandez for the referral for this gig!

passed appetizers

-sope (homemade tortillas shaped into bowls, fried and filled with black bean puree, guacamole, tomato salsa

-tofu marinated in shaoshing, mirin, homemade chili oil, star anise, smoked with cherry wood and oolong tea leaves. Wrapped in yuba w/ snow peas and served with raspberry mustard sauce

chilled roasted corn with saffron, saikyo miso and opal basil pesto

eggplants sliced and roasted and filled with homemade almond “ricotta”, baked in heirloom tomato sauce
sauteed rappini with garlic and olives
homemade fettucini
romaine hearts with sherry dressing

pistachio cake with blueberries and truffle frosting
raspberry sorbet
blueberry port sauce

Thursday, September 1, 2011

if i was Arsenal's chef

What a scary start to the season for a team i really admire, Arsenal FC! First they lost 2 of their finest players as Cesc Fabregas returned home to Catalonia to play for his home team, FC Barcelona while Nasri went off to big $$ at FC Ejihad (Mancheter City). Then on the third game of the season, they were totally trounced by one of the rich evil teams, Manchester United, 8-2, the worst defensive showing in a century. However awful that beating was, it  seemed to awaken the board and they went out and bought some new players.  So along comes the cavalry with players coming in from South Korea, Germany, Israel and Spain. The kitchen must respond to accomodate!

So if i was the chef at Arsenal, i would be fermenting cabbages to welcome in 2 of the fine new members of the team. If you want to keep a happy Korean player, the kitchen better be pumping out some high quality kim chee on a regular basis! And for Pers Metsaecker, the imposing German defender, a milder Germanic version of kim chee is of course, sauerkraut, simply cabbage and salt and some caraway seeds to keep him happy with tastes from home.

And Arsenal now has what every team always needs, an old Jew! With 31 year old Israeli Yossi Beanyoin coming in from crosstown rival, Chelsea we better whip out some potato dough, fill it with buckwheat and mushrooms and bake up some knishes for the Israeli newcomer to the team. Serve it up with some of Pers' sauerkraut to help unify the team!

And since young Japanese player Ryo Maichi is now playing in London for Arsenal and hopefully around for the long run so let us get some 2 year miso crocks fermenting to help keep him satisfied.

Yeah, lots fermenting in the Arsenal kitchen for what appear to be a most interesting and long season.

Of course, if i was Arsenal's chef, i would be wondering why the kitchen did not add these new ingredients back in June! :)