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Friday, February 22, 2013

Cooking Up a Storm with SF Cooking School

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About a month ago, I was walking down Van Ness, from having awesome dinner at Zarzuela - I'll need to remember to write up a review about my experience because it was so delicious - when I discovered that my beloved Naan and Curry was gone.  The good news is there's a new fantastic Culinary School now at the corner of Van Ness and Turk, SF Cooking.  SF cooking offers a full culinary degree - is that what it's called because I'm not sure - or you can sign up for one day classes, or multi-week courses.  As soon as I started looking over what SF Cooking offered I was, as my friend Rhiannon would say, "In deep smit." (As in really really smitten with the place.  PS - Let's make this a new phrase.)

I immediately signed up for the "Cooking Fundamentals" six week course, along with a one day class on "Asian Dumplings."  (I signed up for the April 7th dumplings class if anyone is interested in joining me.)  I attended my first class yesterday, Thursday February 21st, "Knife Skills."  I have nine awesome classmates (they classes max out at fourteen) and we had a great time learning about the proper way to slice, dice, mince and chop.  Our instructor for the course, David, is super fantastic.  David previously worked at Zuni, and you can tell that he loves cooking.  

After going over the knife basics the class was divided into teams of two and we started on seven different recipes.  

  • Crostini with Goat Cheese and Olive Tapenade
  • Shrimp Fritters with Grapefruit Cucumber Relish
  • Mediterranean Chopped Salad
  • Minestrone Soup with a Pesto Garlic Garnish
  • French Onion Soup
  • Baked Salmon Filet over Veggie Slaw
  • Apple Crumble with Whipped Cream

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The space we cook is beautiful and very spacious. We were all easily able to work on our separate dishes with plenty of room, but still close enough to check out what everyone was doing. We were all provided with aprons when we arrived, along with printed handouts of all the recipes we'd be making that day. (In my excitement to rush home and tell Bob about how awesome my class was I left my recipes behind. I sent an email and they'll hold onto my recipes until I go to next week's class. Whew.)

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After everything was prepared we all sat down together to enjoy our delicious meal, and talk about things we enjoyed or would do differently in the future. For instance my cooking buddy, Hazel, and I worked on the shrimp fritters and we think adding jalapeƱos to the dish would really kick it up a notch. There was sooo much food and everything was really good. I can hardly wait to see what we're making next week in "Sauteing and Searing."

If you've been looking for cooking classes in San Francisco, you must check out SF Cooking!

Lastly, I'll leave you with some things I learned:

  • My knives at home are not sharp.
  • I had never used a properly sharpened knife until this class. Did you know that with a sharp knife you can cut through an onion like it's butter? Craziness!
  • I can now "supreme" a grapefruit. And you can too with this video.

As soon as I get my recipes I'll add them to the blog so you can all see what you're missing.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Black Cherry Chocolate Devil's Food Cake Mini Brownies with Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Mini Cupcakes

I was in a baking mood this last week, but I'm kind of a lazy baker.  I buy the Betty Crocker boxes of cookies and cakes and then instead of following the directions I turn them into something else.  It's kind of like making it myself, but so much easier.  I highly recommend this process to everyone.  Anyway, my friend Meaghan was having a house warming party and I told her we'd bring some treats and I decided I wanted to try something new.  The original plan was to have blueberry chocolate cupcakes but that plan was sidelined by 1- Safeway not having any pure blueberry juice, and 2 - my eyes landing on a devil's food cake mix.  

One of the first things you need to know about baking with a box, is that you really should never use oil or water.  I will typically substitute butter for oil, and milk for water.  I find that this leaves my baking goodies more chewy and fresher for a longer amount of time.  Everything is also richer in flavor.  Okay, so here's what you need:



  • 4oz Cream Cheese
  • 4oz Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh, or thawed frozen blueberries

Follow the directions on the back of the cake box, subbing the juice for the water, and the butter for the oil. Using a teaspoon, yes a teaspoon. Fill you mini cupcake cups. Bake each batch for approximately 20 minutes. You're going to end up with 48+ mini cupcakes.

While your cupcakes are baking put your cup of blueberries, along with about a 3/4 cup of water in a small sauce pan. Bring the blueberries and water to a boil and then allow them to simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain the blueberries and then mash them up like there's no tomorrow. You can also use a blender if you want, which does work very nicely. Add all your frosting ingredients and stir everything together until you have delicious blueberry frosting.

For easy cupcake frosting I recommend spooning your frosting into a ziploc bag and then cutting a small hole in one corner. Then you can use the ziploc bag like a pastry chef, and feel like a badass as you easily and quickly frost your 48+ cupcakes.

If you're not going to eat all your cupcakes in one sitting you should definitely remember to put them in the refrigerator as the frosting will be super nasty if you don't. Now go enjoy your delicious creating.


P.S. - I wrote/built this entire entry using my new HTML skills. I'm feeling pretty awesome about it.