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Curry night @ The Picnic Basket – a fundraising for Thai flood victims

It’s not easy to cook a hot meal in 5ft of floodwater. This Sunday November 13, my friends at the Picnic Basketthe Penny Ice Creamery and I will take the time to appreciate our warm, dry kitchen by making a delicious Thai curry to benefit the people of Thailand who have been struggling with catastrophic floods and unable to cook a meal of their own for some time.

Come join us in a bowl of Khao Soi, a curry noodle dish from the Northern region of Thailand. Picture a piping hot bowl of tender egg noodles, smothered in fragrant, warmly spiced curry, topped with squiggles of crispy noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, and a wedge of lime. The cilantro on top is optional. As are the fried chili and the smoky, spicy chili oil that you can add if you like it super spicy. Sounds good, no? Even better, the curry will be made entirely from scratch, and with no shrimp paste (so no need to worry if you’re allergic.) There will be two versions of the curry available, one with Mary’s free range chicken, the other tofu (and no fish sauce) – because vegetarians love people too.

All proceeds go directly to people on the ground in Thailand working to feed those in need. And if you’re on Facebook you will be able to follow our progress and see directly how your money goes to help.

Now you’re interested? Good! To make sure things go smoothly, and that we have enough food for all of you, we’ve set up a ticket system on EventBrite. You can buy a bowl of curry now (for $10, $20, or $50, your heart and/or pocketbook may decide), and tell us which block of time you’ll be coming for your curry (5-7pm, 7-9pm, or 9-11pm). There will likely be curry for walk-ins that day too, but the priority will be given to those who bought the tickets. There will also be other refreshing and delicious items to purchase too, and the proceeds from that go as well to feed those in need in Thailand.

I hope to see you all there. We’ll have a great time and make some good karma together. Thank you ever so much!

P.S. Even if you can’t come, you can still help us by buying a ticket. You’ll get a virtual bowl of curry and a very huge thank you from us! And did I mention extra good karma too? (We’ll bring all leftover to a local shelter so your virtual bowl of curry won’t go to waste but instead will go to help feed those in need right here in Santa Cruz.)

What: Curry Night with Pim at the Picnic Basket

Where: The Picnic Basket, 125 Beach Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (right across the street from the Santa Cruz Wharf)

When: Sunday, November 13, from 5pm – 11pm

Buy your curry ticket(s) here: http://currywithpim.eventbrite.com/

P.P.S. Julia Hartz, Co-Founder & President of Eventbrite, who also happens to be a homegirl here in Santa Cruz, just told us that Eventbrite will waive their fees on the tickets so that more money we raise goes to support the relief efforts in Thailand. This is awesome, thanks so much Julia and Eventbrite. You’re awesome!

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New Fall/Winter classes at Love Apple Farms

Edible Holiday Gifts: Dec 3 (sold-out), Dec 2 (just added)

Learn how to make delightful salted butter caramels, perfect madeleines, luscious chocolate truffles with armagnac prunes, New Orleans pralines, French gingerbread pain d’épice, alfajores and other delectable, edible gifts that’ll make you the toast of the town come this holidays. We’ll also show you some great packaging ideas so your gifts are as delicious outside as they are inside!

Macaron Madness Workshop: Nov 5, Dec 10 (sold-out), Dec 9 (just added), Jan 14

We keep adding new dates for this incredibly popular workshop, and they keep filling up just as soon as we add them! If you’re ever interested in learning how to make proper, dainty, delicious French macarons, this workshop is for you. Go and sign up now. If you’re still thinking about it, take a look at the photo right above this paragraph. Pretty macarons, aren’t they? And you know what? I didn’t make any of them. The students in one of the previous workshops did! How cool is that? They did it, and so could you.

This is not a demonstration class, by the way. The only way to learn how to do macarons properly is work on it yourself. You’ll be getting your hands dirty and learning how to make perfect macarons just like they do in fancy French pâtisseries. You’ll also learn how to do three types of fillings: chocolate ganache, buttercream (with and without fruits), and caramel, Once you master the technique, you can go totally crazy with your own combinations. The limit is your own imagination. Plus, you’ll leave with the macarons you’ve made in class to share with [read: show off to] your friends and family afterwards.

Pâtés, Rillettes, and Terrines: Dec 17

Many home cooks think that pâtés, rilletes, and terrines are daunting recipes best left to the professional chefs. Je vous dit contraire, I beg to differ! They are so simple to do in the home kitchen, and the results are so spectacular you might never look at another store-bought pâté again. We’ll be making the robust French country pate (pâté de campagne), a classic rillette (which we’ll make with a local, sustainably-raised rabbit in class but you could do with a chicken if preferred), plus a beautiful vegetable terrine that’ll be a great accompaniment to any meal. We’ll also make a scrumptious foie gras terrine. (Yes, foie gras. And, no, sustainably raised foie gras is not cruel. If you’re wondering about it I’ll invite a discussion in class.)

If I were on a midnight infomercial I’d tell you this class will pay for itself after three pâtés de campagne!

Pad Thai and other Thai stir-fry favorites: Nov 12 (sold-out)

You’ve always loved Pad Thai but felt too intimidated to try them at home? Come take this class with me. We’ll not only make the best Pad Thai at home, but we’ll also cover other Thai stir-fry favorites like Pad See Ewe, Pad Kee Mao, Pad Kaprow, and more. At the end of class, you’ll get to make one (or more) of these noodle dish and eat the results. So come hungry! Oh, and go ahead and throw out your take-out menu right now. You won’t need them anymore, I promise.

Thai Curries: Nov 19 (sold-out), Nov 26

If you adore Thai curries, this class is for you. Learn the ins and outs of shopping for the essential ingredients and how to make curry paste from scratch. You’ll learn how to make authentic, delicious Thai curries with the very best ingredients, at the same time demystifying the spice cabinet. Learn how to tell good store-bought pastes from bad (for a rainy day) and the best sources in the area to find what you need to make a great pot of curry from scratch. We’ll also be talking about wine pairing with curries, which is a fascinating subject in itself. At the end of the class we will sit down and enjoy the fruits curries of our labor together.

Artisan Marmalades: Jan 28

In this workshop, I’ll teach you the fundamentals of marmalade making and my unique take on it.  From start to finish, you’ll learn three different styles of marmalade: the classic, bitter, English-style made from sour oranges; a sweeter marmalade made from sweet citrus such as Mandarin or Clementine, and spice-infused marmalade. You’ll get three master recipes to work with and build your own repertoire of marmalade recipes. Plus, you’ll get to take home the marmalades we make in the class. This class is a repeat from the popular and much loved class from last marmalade season. Don’t miss it this time.

The Perfect Pie Crust (+other tarts without tops on), Feb 4


Few things are as intimidating to home bakers as pie crust can be. Take this workshop and we will together demystify the art and science of baking tender, flaky crusts. We’ll be playing with a basic pie crust, a sweet tart crust, a chocolate crust, a nut crust, and even a cheese crust. We will You will gain the confidence to experiment with different fillings and crusts, just in time for holiday baking! This is a hands-on workshop so bring your rolling pin and be ready to get down and dirty!

Check out more classes offered at Love Apple Farms here.
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More summer classes: mid-summer jams, Thai curries, tomatoes, and, yes, more macarons!

I’m having so much fun teaching at Love Apple Farms’ gorgeous teaching kitchen space I’m adding more classes to fill up the summer schedule. Check them out.

Mid-summer Jamming, Saturday, July 23, 12pm-4pm

White peaches, yellow peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, mid to late summer is the time for stone fruits. In this class we will cover the fundamentals of stone fruit jamming. This includes the best method for coaxing natural pectin out of the fruits (so that we won’t have to add commercial pectin), safe uses of the delicious noyaux (the “stone” part of the fruits), and how to infuse herbs and spices to your jams (so that you can experiment with unique flavor combinations).

Plus, you’ll get to take home the jams we finish in the class, like the five in the picture above. Those are the jams we made in the Early Summer Jamming class in June, they were (clockwise from top) apricot-vanilla, whole strawberry compote with rose geranium, whole cherry compôte with lemon verbena, raspberry-ginger, strawberry-tonka bean.

Sign up here.

Thai Curries: Sunday, August 28, 11am-3pm (sorry, sold out)

Do you adore Thai curries?  This class is definitely for you. Learn the secrets of making fantastic curry pastes from scratch. (Plus, learn how to tell good store-bought pastes from bad, just for rainy days.) We’ll acquaint you with ingredients that may be foreign to you so you know how to shop, use, and store them properly. We’ll be making three different curries from the pastes, discuss wine choices that would go with them, and sit down to enjoy them together after class. Toss your Thai take-out menu right now, once you had a taste of your own curry you’d never order out again.

Sign up here.

Macaron Madness Workshop: Sunday, August 7, 11am-3pm (sorry, sold out)

This upcoming workshop will be the fourth one this summer! Yes, it’s an incredibly popular workshop at the farm. If you’re ever interested in learning how to make proper, dainty, delicious French macarons, this workshop is for you. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the photo right above this paragraph. They’re pretty, aren’t they? And you know what? I didn’t even make them. The students at the last workshop did! How cool is that, huh?

This is not a demonstration class, by the way. The only way to learn how to do macarons properly is to feel it and make it yourself. You’ll be getting your hands dirty and learning how to make perfect macarons just like they do in fancy French pâtisseries. You’ll also learn how to do three types of fillings: chocolate ganache, buttercream (with and without fruits), and caramel, Once you master the technique, you can go totally crazy with your own combinations. The limit is your own imagination! Plus, you’ll leave with the macarons you’ve made in class to share with [read: show off to] your friends and family afterwards.

Sign up here.

Ingredient: tomato, Saturday August 20, 11am-3pm

Cynthia over at Love Apple Farms calls this class Master Tomato Cookery. I think it sounds all too official. I prefer calling it tomato in all its beauty, or forms. Tomates dans tous ses états if you want to sound artsy and French. Either way, this class is about all tomatoes. If you’ve taken one of Cynthia’s famous tomato growing classes, your backyard garden will probably rain tomatoes later this summer. Even if you’re not a gardening type, come August and September our area farmers’ markets will be awash in tomatoes. Come and explore new ways to cook, savory and sweet alike, with this fantastic fruit. Yes, don’t forget, tomato is a fruit!

You’ll learn how make a simply spectacular tomato-parmesan tart, how to preserve your season with a savory tomato confit and a sweet tomato jam (or two). You’ll finish with Alain Passard’s famous stuffed tomato dessert: tomates confites aux douze saveurs.

Sign up here.

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Marmalade and “Day-off Dinners” Series at Love Apple Farm

Just in case you haven’t heard, I’m teaching a bunch of classes over at the new Love Apple farm, which moved last year to Santa Cruz from up the hill in Ben Lomond. The new farm has teaching kitchen that’s well-equipped yet intimate enough to create a cozy learning environment. You really get to see, smell, taste, and even get your hands little dirty in the process. So far I’ve taught classes on Thai curries, a produce-centric class about Meyer lemons, and a bunch of others. One upcoming class you might be interested in, especially if you’re a fan of my marmalade, is the “artisan marmalade” class.

Citrus season is not over yet, there’s still plenty time to try your hands at making your own marmalade, so come to my class! We’ll be making three different styles of marmalade: the classic, bitter, English style made from sour oranges; a sweeter marmalade made from sweet citrus such as Mandarin or Clementine, and a spice-infused marmalade. With these three different techniques, you can adapt them to just about any citrus you could get your hands on. This class will be just as fun and useful to both beginner and experienced marmalade makers alike.

This class will be on Sunday March 13, and if you’re coming, remember to bring your own very sharp knife and a small cutting board. You’ll be getting your hands dirty in this class! (Plus you’ll get a jar of marmalade to take home!) Go sign up here.

Another upcoming class is a part of a series we call “Day-off Dinners”, which I co-teach with my boyfriend David Kinch. Even though we both work in food – me here and David at his 2-Michelin-star restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos – we still love cooking together on our days off. What we make are often simple (ok, sometimes only deceptively so), relying on the fresh, seasonal ingredients we’re so lucky to get here in the Bay Area and Central Coast. The first of this series took place early in February, and not only did we not kill each other during the class, our students seem to have had a grand old time in it. Ha.

The next date for the Day-off Dinners series is March 6, and there’s still a couple spaces available there, then the following ones are March 27, and April 17.  Go sign up here if you’re interested.

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Simple Roasted Delicata Squash

Here’s an alternative for the far too cloying candied yams for your Thanksgiving table. To my absolute delight, the tender and delicate Delicata squash seems to be everywhere this year, far more than years past. If you’ve ever wonder what to do with them, try this recipe.

Actually, this is so easy I can hardly call it a recipe. Here’s what I do. Take some beautiful Delicata squash, cut each one straight in half, and scoop out off the fuzzy bits in the middle and discard. Then each half again into two, but this time cut in the diagonal so you get two pieces of squash vaguely resembling little boats. You’re following me?

Read more »

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