Everyone in my family loves, loves loves Vietnamese food (it’s our standard “go-to” Friday night dinner out). The layered flavors and textures, the freshness and brightness make it totally irresistible. High up on my to do list to the beg some of my friends with cuisine knowledge to give me some tutoring in the kitchen, but in the meantime I keep doing my best to chase the flavors that we love by absorbing all I can from every cookbook, article and video I can find. (If you know of good resources, let me know!)
This recipe for banh xeo (Vietnamese-style crepes) from Charles Phan of SF’s always great Slanted Door restaurant, was a fun one that I wanted to share since it’s a new technique and canvas to play with. The batter is simple to put together, and cooking the crepes isn’t too hard, especially if you have some experience with French crepes or other thin pancakes, but in any case prepare to practice a bit before you get “in the zone”. I will probably never get to the level of delicate laciness of Charles Phan’s banh xeo but making them is still pretty fun and my family will happily eat the rejects.
One of the best Instagram accounts I have come across belongs to Liz Prueitt of Tartine Bakery fame. Via her Instagram feed you can follow along with her as she tests and develops recipes which is pretty cool if you’re interested in how that process happens and getting inside the mind of a chef. Most recently she’s turned much of her attention to gluten free baking where she’s been exploring GF twists on classics as well as new, creative inventions, comparing different substitutions and combinations. (She’s got savory cooking projects going on as well). Some posts share the refined, end result of many cycles of testing, other times you get to see the trials and errors along the way. The very best part is that she often throws shorthand recipes onto her posts so you can cook along at home. And since she’s sharing in real-time, her posts always reflect what’s in season right now.
We first encountered these delicious walnuts on our Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Farm Tour last year. They were served along-side some of the amazing cheeses that they make on their farm in Point Reyes (they are particularly good with the Toma). I remember gobbling up a good quantity of these salty-sweet walnuts with ridiculous amounts of cheese. We were delighted when we came across the recipe in a recent issue of Edible magazine and tried making these walnuts right away. These peppered maple walnuts have become a staple at our home – we are totally hooked. They are lovely with cheese, but also with vanilla ice-cream (Straus vanilla – a current favorite) as well! Needless to say, the possibilities are endless, but they are pretty spectacular on their own as well.
Good recipe to make with the kids and it never hurts to have these lying around when unexpected guests drop by. Continue reading
We are both big fans of Bernal Cutlery and our friends Josh and Kelly who own the shop. The are passionate about getting kids in the kitchen and have been teaching basic knife skills at our Cooking Summer Camps since we first started. Their class below on March 13th from 10.30 am -1.30 pm for children aged 8-12 is not to be missed.
Knife Skills for Kids 8-12 year olds taught by Bernal Cutlery at 18 Reasons
Children will spend instructional time discussing knife safety and cutting rules, learn how to make simple cuts and prep a recipe. Class fee includes a 6 inch K Sabatier chef knife, carbon steel peeler and a Japanese hinoki cutting board to take home. Their idea of sending your child home with their own knife is intentional in that the conversation and skill building will continue beyond class. They hope to help families make a commitment to forge ways to cook and eat together on a regular basis. The course will also include a simple nutrition lesson; including whole grains, healthy portions and food combinations that make for healthy plates and eating habits. They will also offer tips for parents on how to get kids more engaged in cooking and eating healthy meals. This particular class will be focused on winter greens looking forward to spring! Continue reading
It’s pretty cool to have a signature dish and for my kids that means risotto. They never seem to tire of making or eating it. Here they are last night collaborating on a super cozy version with Italian sausage, peas, parmesan and cheddar cheese finished with lemon zest, fresh parsley and drizzle of good olive oil! They decided on the flavors and then totally surprised me by needing very little help aside from my hanging around to serve as safety monitor (this mind you is after a dozen or so attempts where they were able to do more and more each time.). It’s been a nice strategy for them to focus on just one dish and really figure it out… and a pretty great feeling for me to stand back and watch my little people knock out this killer meal.
What are your family’s signature dishes?
Pretty much everything tastes great after a dip in this classic, creamy, delicious Green Goddess Dressing: vegetable crudite, steamed or roasted green beans or asparagus, slices of leftover roasted chicken, even potato or pita chips. Make a big batch of this dressing over the weekend and pack it into small containers for easy weekday snacking. I am known to to just grab a spoon and eat it by itself from time to time. In addition, aside from being a “dip”, it is a dressing, and instantly “wake ups” an everyday salad! Continue reading
Slice a few wedges of a savory galette and pack a few pieces of fruit, and maybe some raw vegetables to munch on – and and you’re all set for your picnic. It’s certainly more effort than making a simple sandwich, but it’s not difficult at all if you take advantage of store bought pie crust and whatever interesting ingredients or leftovers you might have hanging around in your refrigerator. We love recipes that use up our leftovers in a creative way, and a galette is the perfect vehicle for that. Continue reading
This past summer the San Jose Mercury featured several recipes that we created specially for them, for picnics and pool time adventures. In the Bay Area, the months of September and October bring us some of our best weather. It has been so super hot on some days the past weeks few, that some of us have found ourselves (secretly) wishing for fog. However, while it is warm, and before the rains come (fingers crossed), some of these grab-and-go snacks are great to have lying around. These cheddar-bacon muffins are a fun cooking project to do with the kiddos on the weekend, before you head out on an adventure. Continue reading
I have these popsicles to thank for my kids’ growing interest in chia seeds and their strange jelly-like properties.
When that old chocolate craving hits lately we’ve been diving into these cool dreamy-creamy chocolate-banana popsicles. I’ve always liked the idea of homemade popsicles, but somehow they’re always a bit icy and never quite get that luxurious consistency I’m after. Well we’ve done it! We’ve finally landed on what is, at least for my family, the ultimate popsicle! These get extra bonus points because the flavor reminds us of the frozen chocolate bananas you get at the county fair or at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Continue reading
We have had an amazing summer doing what we love most – cooking with kids and exploring different cultures and countries with them. With our summer camps behind us, we are taking some time off to recharge, get our creative juices flowing again and will be back and ready-to-go after Labor Day. Meanwhile, with the last few days of summer break ahead of us, do get cooking and experimenting in the kitchen with your kiddos, before the back to school craziness starts up.
After we are back, we have a bunch of cooking classes and pop-ups coming up at venues all over the Bay Area – Ramekins, 18 Reasons and Cavallo Point. In addition, the cooking with kids will continue with a teen immersion course at 18 Reasons, day camps, sessions at schools and other private events. Do get in touch if you need us to plan something special for you or your kiddos – or both together, we’d love to work with you!
Just a tiny sampling of what we cooked this summer with our campers.