For beginners and experienced cooks
- Inspire your cooking.
- Master essential culinary concepts.
- Conserve your time, energy and resources.
- Share the joy of living and eating well.
Refer to How Classes Work for sign-up and general class information, Short vs. Main Course Class distinctions, and Private Party Group Class possibilities.
Continue reading for complete Autumn Class Descriptions.
2014 AUTUMN CLASS SCHEDULE, continued...
Unless otherwise noted, short course classes are usually held on Wed only, whereas each main course class with its follow-up review session is typically offered twice—choose either the Wed or Sat paired option. Find specific dates and times in the schedule above.
[You can sign up for a main course cooking class even if you can't make it to the review session; a gratis follow-up 15-minute individual phone consultation about that class material may be booked with Kay instead.]
NOTE: Local availability may necessitate minor menu changes.
Just when you think you can’t possibly come up with another way to use that seemingly never-ending supply of summer squash, it’s suddenly all gone for the year. And although I can’t imagine ever growing tired of truly ripe tomatoes, that here-now-gone-tomorrow aspect of seasonal eating is true for all our summer vegetables. And that’s what also makes it so much fun—both the annual anticipation and having our fill while they last. So in this class we’ll get the juices flowing by roasting some of those sun-drenched tomatoes stuffed with a basil pesto mixture that you can make plenty of to have on hand for other uses too. Then we’ll hollow out sweet peppers to fill with an herbaceous vegetable custard of sautéed onions and grated squash that will puff up and set in the hot oven. Meanwhile, on the top rack, we’ll create a progressively layered crispy golden gratin of thinly sliced potatoes, zucchini, and then fish filets bathed in salsa verde with a crowning veil of heirloom tomato slices on top. All the flavors intermingling to baste and soak each other up. The season’s not over yet, but our review sessions for these classes will arrive just after the autumnal equinox. So let’s make the most of it all while we still can!
When it's time to start pulling on wool socks and sweaters, and we switch from iced tea to piping hot, I find myself longing for those warm-hearted treats that feel like coming home to family, friends and growing up with simple pleasures. Maybe it’s both the back-to-school and holiday seasons whispering in my ears. But who can resist visions of brownies—a plate full all gooey, chewy butterscotch and so dutifully enriched with walnuts and oatmeal? Particularly when the batter stirs up and bakes in about 30 minutes. I first started making these brownies to take a break from homework in high school, and then they later became our go-to goodie that also got packed up for countless picnics after long autumn walks in the crimson gold countryside. Since we also like making up silly names for things, when our son was little, we told him what most people called either baked “German Pancakes” or “Dutch Babies”, were actually “Norwegian Nephews”. And when fall rolls around, instead of dousing their fleeting heights in syrup or a shower of powdered sugar and lemon juice, we serve them up hearty with warm cinnamon spiced apples sautéed in butter. My own mom often made and sometimes slipped a sweet slice of moist banana bread into my lunch box for a surprise that topped recess. I've long since fortified this white flour and sugar classic with some whole wheat pastry flour and oatmeal, brown sugar and molasses instead, to make it more of a wholesome brown bread you can easily justify eating all day long. And, of course, my husband believes that anything with oatmeal in it automatically qualifies as healthy. So in this class we’ll be making a fresh batch of memories along with my latest versions of all these quick and comforting recipes. I hope you’ll be able to come in out of the cold and warm yourself up with this bake and play date together in my kitchen.
Company’s coming. And you either don’t have a clue or know only too well how many different eating preferences you might have to satisfy. Let’s assume you’d also like to be able to relax and enjoy your own gathering once everyone’s arrived. No problem, right? Or maybe it’s just normal life, a crazy week ahead, or the desire to get everything made in advance and still have plenty left over to save some for later too. Well, you can now rest assured, because this menu is a very workable solution in either case. I call it “Pork ‘n’ Beans ‘n’ Greens”, but it can be made with any other braised meat. And while this combination of dishes is a match made in heaven, you cook and can serve the shell beans and braised greens separately, which offers you the opportunity to provide for vegetarians, lactose and gluten intolerant, as well as hearty meat eaters and omnivores all at once. Allow me to introduce you to the concept of a deconstructed cassoulet, made even more nourishing with an extra helping of winter greens. And for a further twist on tradition, we’ll sweeten and soften the pork shoulder pot with caramelized onions, tomatoes, red wine, fragrant herbs and smoky spices. This class is all about the timelessness in slow cooking to create body and soul satisfying foods that ground and comfort us. So come learn how to both take good care of yourself and entertain with ease.
Terrified of making gravy? Always wondered what creamed onions are all about? Wish you knew how to throw together a light little sauce that could magically transform an otherwise ordinary dish? When it comes to feasts like Thanksgiving, I can’t imagine turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes without a ladleful of gravy. Even better if it’s enriched with wild mushrooms, so that’s what we’ll make. And if you’ve never seen how the typically sharp onion family can suddenly slip into silky soft sweetness and cream, then this is your chance. Of course, I’d never want to overlook the possibilities in degreased and deglazed pan juices either, whether they’re from roasting or sautéing something meaty for dishes of all kinds. Any number of companionable ingredients can join that quick reduction process to capture and enhance their combined essence. Maybe a little wine, stock, vinegar, tomato, mustard, shallots, dried fruit, citrus zest, hint of ginger or who knows what might seem best in the moment. We’ll practice all this on duck legs and breasts, just to make sure. Because if it’s all in the sauce, then we better know how. Nothing lumpy, raw, gluey or blah. No, everything coming together instead, to make it simply savory and seasonably saucy time after time.
With only several weeks left until both the New Year and all those sobering resolutions suddenly arrive, this class offers a timely opportunity to further expand our repertoire of holiday indulgences. Last summer, “Going to the Source” was a subject that inspired a field trip to the farmers’ market for truly fresh fruits and vegetables. But when the sunny season is long gone, the harvest gathered in, and the days growing shorter by the second, then it’s often best to head home for that source of so many good things to help us make it through the night. Sweet nothings of all kinds immediately come to mind, and when that means dipping into decadent desserts, then most of us reach for chocolate every time. The richer the better. So how about a little pot of creamy chocolate custard laced with Grand Marnier and a strip of candied orange peel on top? Mmmmm. Or maybe you’d prefer a wedge of moist chocolate-walnut torte to dose or drink with port. And what if you just kept a ready supply of homemade dark chocolate syrup on hand for hot milky drinks you could either sip straight, dollop with whipped cream, or spike with brandy, rum, mint or espresso—whatever your big heart desires. Last year I poured the syrup into jars to give as gifts for folks to wrap their own hands around. And now you can make and share all this too. There’s still time for these crowning glories. And ‘tis the season to spread the best of our love and joy all around.
As We Move from Summer into Fall—
Just when you think you can’t possibly come up with another way to use that seemingly never-ending supply of summer squash, it’s suddenly all gone for the year. And although I can’t imagine ever growing tired of truly ripe tomatoes, that here-now-gone-tomorrow aspect of seasonal eating is true for all our summer vegetables. And that’s what also makes it so much fun—both the annual anticipation and having our fill while they last.
To Inspire and Sustain Us the Whole Week Long—
Choosing to frequent a really good local farmers' market can transform resigned sighs over grocery shopping boredom into exclamations of riveted wonderment, when we find ourselves surrounded by the seasonal abundance of such truly fresh foods. And that's exactly what happened when our last class took time out for a field trip to the Marin farmers' market, so everyone could discover for themselves the very real and immediate benefits on offer there.
One of the Best Ways to Both Come & Go Home to Cooking—
A few days into our son’s first trip to Europe the summer before he started high school, we all laughed when he suddenly declared, “Oh, I get it! Everything we do each day is determined by where and when the next farmers’ market is.” It was true. And this also gave him the opportunity to see for himself how the timeless gathering of freshly harvested food, together with people who pay close attention to both their sources and each other, is not only delicious fun, but where it all begins. At least unless you have the inclination and ability to grow everything for yourself. And now I’m grateful that we have that sustaining source of connection, inspiration and creation more readily available here in the new world as well.
And the Table Already Set to Serve Us Well—
I got up from up from working too many hours at the computer, stretched, turned on some lively music, poured myself an icy aperitif, and pulled out the chicken I had salted and thymed the day before. I was more than ready to change stations and move into the rhythm of my cooking.
“So much more than a cooking class…. it is a relaxed community sharing love, joy and fantastic food around your family table…
Just magical!” R.R. More feedback...
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