Learn Eight Elegant Dishes In Our Japanese Vegetarian Cooking Class

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As much as I love giving cooking classes (and I do), I only seem to get around to it about once a year. This year, as last, I’m teaching a class jointly with Fumiko Arao.  Fumi, born and reared in Tokyo, cooked with her mother and grandmother from an early age. My exposure to Japanese food is more superficial, but I did live in Japan back in the 1970’s and was an apprentice in a vegetarian restaurant in Osaka.

Our upcoming class is a mixture of traditional and contemporary influences. I’ll begin with a modern soup, a purée of fava beans and sugar snap peas, and we’ll end with a light but rich almond mousse based on agar agar, a sea vegetable much used in Japan and other parts of East Asia. Fumi will show us three ways to prepare diakon, including a condiment made with nori and daikon leaves. She’ll also prepare kinpira salad with arugula, and together we’ll make stuffed tofu pouches simmered in a broth of dashi, soy sauce and mirin.

These classes always attract an eclectic group of enthusiastic cooks, and you’ll likely learn as much from the other participants as you do from Fumi and me. Of course, we complete the class by sitting down together to eat the meal we’ve prepared.  If you live outside the Bay Area and can’t attend in person, email me to register and I’ll send you the recipes after the class. Complete menu and registration information, after the jump.

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Photos: Top–Soup which is the essence of spring, a purée of fava beans and sugar snap peas. Above:  condiment made with daikon leaves and nori.

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May 5th: Save The Date For a New Japanese Vegetarian Cooking Class

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Some of you have asked if Fumiko Arao and I are planning to offer another class in the art of Japanese vegetarian cooking. I’m excited to tell you that the answer is “yes.” We’ve scheduled the new class for Saturday, May 5th, beginning at 10 a.m. Like last year’s class, we’ll meet in the kitchen of First Baptist Church, 305 North California Avenue, Palo Alto. Fumi and I will get together in March to test recipes and finalize the menu, which will be completely different from last year.  Watch this space in March for menu details and a sneak preview. If you have a Japanese vegetarian dish you’d especially like to learn more about, leave a comment and let us know.  We’ll consider including it in the class. Also, if you live outside the Bay Area, for just $10, you can receive the recipes.  I’m hoping we can video part of the class, but I’m not certain if we’ll be able to work that in. In any case, save the date–May 5th. We’d like to meet as many MacroChef readers as we can.

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Photos; Top– Fumi teaches how to prepare chirashi zushi at our cooking class June 25, 2011.  Above: We all sit down to eat a meal together at the end of the class. (Photos by Gerard Lum.)

Menu of the Week: See the Summery Japanese Dishes We Made in Our MacroChef Cooking Class

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The Japanese vegetarian cooking class which Fumiko Arao and I had been planning for months finally happened last Saturday (June 25th), and with 15 participants, we declared it a success. From a teacher’s perspective, cooking classes are a bit of a three-ring circus: at the same time as you are imparting information and answering questions, you are cooking a meal for a crowd (and it better turn out well if your credentials as a cook are to stand up!). This is the first time I’ve done a class with a co-teacher, and it was a great relief not to have to be responsible for every detail and every dish. I so appreciate Fumi’s depth of knowledge when it comes to Japanese food. It is also gratifying that we were able to raise $500, which was matched by an anonymous donor, for a total of $1,000. A check has already been sent to an agency which supports children impacted by the earthquake-tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region.  If you would like to receive the recipes, I will send them to you for a $10 contribution, which will also be donated to the same agency (email me at alindersf@aol.com for details). Thanks to everyone who participated, and especially to Gerard Lum, for photography (watch this space for a short video of the class), and to Bob Griffin for assistance in countless ways.  More photos after the jump…

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Photo above, clockwise from top: goma dofu garnished with wasabi, tofu burger with ginger-kuzu sauce, dried daikon with arame and carrot, chirashi zushi, and turnip-carrot-napa cabbage amasake pickle in the middle. (All photos by Gerard Lum)

To make sushi rice, you need to cool the rice. Fumi stirs, while Kay fans.

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Learn How to Make Six Beautiful Dishes in MacroChef’s Japanese Vegetarian Cooking Class

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Although the Bay Area is chock-a-block with Japanese restaurants, the food they serve gives you only a hint of what Japanese cuisine, in it’s diversity, is all about.  Japan, particularly, has a rich tradition of vegetarian cooking, and it’s that tradition which Fumiko Arao and I will be demonstrating in a cooking class this Saturday, June 25th, at 10 a.m. in the kitchen of First Baptist Church in Palo Alto, the same venue as our Monday Night Vegetarian Dinners. If you’ve admired Japanese food, but been afraid to attempt it at home, join us to see how user friendly this style of cooking can be. Japanese vegetarian cooking is based on shojin ryori, a thousand-year-old tradition which began in Zen Buddhist temples. As you can imagine, through generations of trial and error, a rigorous cuisine arose which is at the same time practical, well-balanced, artful and delicious. We will take you step-by-step through the preparation and serving of six dishes, including rich and creamy goma dofu, (above). There are still openings for a few students to enroll, which you can do by emailing me: alindersf@aol.com. Cost of the class is $50, with proceeds going to earthquake-tsunami relief in Japan, or if you live outside the Bay Area, we’ll send you the recipes for $10. Hope many of you can attend, one way or the other. Complete class details after the jump.

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Fumiko Arao demonstrates the technique for shaving burdock, just one of many skills you can learn in a cooking class this Saturday, June 25th, in Palo Alto.

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New Cooking Class: Unlocking The Secrets of Japanese Vegetarian Cooking

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When Fumiko Arao and I got together in March to cook a Japanese vegetarian feast for this blog, the thought arose that maybe we should teach a cooking class together.  I’m happy to announce that we’ve decided to do it! Entitled “Unlocking the Secrets of Japanese Vegetarian Cooking,” the class will happen on Saturday, June 25th, at 10 a.m. in the kitchen of First Baptist Church in Palo Alto, the same venue as our Monday Night Vegetarian Dinners. If you’ve admired Japanese food, but been afraid to attempt it at home, join us to see how user friendly this style of cooking can be. Japanese vegetarian cooking is based on shojin ryori, a thousand-year-old tradition which began in Zen Buddhist temples. As you can imagine, through generations of trial and error, a rigorous cuisine arose which is at the same time practical, well-balanced, artful and delicious. We will take you step-by-step through the preparation and serving of six dishes which encompass land and sea vegetables (both dried and fresh), soy products, and rice, an element fundamental to Japanese culture and cuisine. I’ll have more to say about the class in subsequent posts, but for now, you will find a detailed menu and information on how to enroll, after the jump.

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Photos: Top, Fumiko Arao, co-teacher for the class, prepares chirashi-zushi. This great summer dish consists of sushi-style rice with seven or eight flavorful toppings. Above: the completed dish.

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Cooking Classes: Mashing Up More Than the Potatoes in Leslie’s Sunny Kitchen

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Steam rising from the potatoes being riced for the mashed potatoes. Butternut squash soup is in the pot in the foreground. (photo by Gerard Lum)

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GREAT FOOD FOR THE HOLIDAYS

As much as I enjoy sharing recipes with people far and wide on this blog, there’s nothing like getting together up close in a kitchen, cooking and eating together, not digitally, but in real life. That’s what happened a couple of weeks ago, when a dozen or so folks joined me for a cooking class in Leslie’s sunny kitchen in Menlo Park. We concentrated on foods one might want to cook during the holidays (see the complete menu after the jump). Although they’re a lot of work, I enjoy these classes because an interesting cast of characters always shows up, people with a lot of heart and a depth of information to share. We all learn from each other. Thankfully, people pitch in with the various tasks, and with the clean-up afterwards (for that I’m really thankful!). And in the end, we share a relaxed meal. In the couple of weeks since, several of you have told me you’ve successfully cooked recipes we did in the class, something I’m always gratified to hear. As of now, I haven’t scheduled another class, but when I do, readers of this blog will be the first to know. Recipes, links to recipes and more photos after the jump–a special thanks to Gerard Lum for photographing the class and to Rodney Wong for helping out with additional photographs.

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At the end of the class, it's time for lunch: Maki, Connie and Rodney. (photo by Gerard Lum)

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Join Me for a Cooking Class of Seasonal Dishes You’ll Want to Cook Now and for the Holidays

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This display of squash and pumpkins at Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley inspires me for the seasonal cooking we'll want to do now and through to New Year's.

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Rarely do I give cooking classes, and the only class I’m teaching this year is coming up on Saturday, November 13th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the comfy kitchen of a home in Menlo Park, CA.  These classes are always  a great social get together–I enjoy them because I get to know people better, and I never fail to learn a lot from those who attend.  There are still openings in the class–if you’d like to attend, email me at AlindeSF@aol.com to register. Fee for the class including a full lunch is $45. Here’s the menu:

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Corn & Sage

Wild Rice Croquettes w/ Mushrooms, Seitan and Mushroom Gravy (or use basic recipe as stuffing)

Heavenly Vegan Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Cranberry Compote

Brussels Sprouts w/Lemon Zest, Golden Raisins, Toasted Hazelnuts and Hazelnut Dressing

Mixed Baby Greens w/ a Special Holiday Vinaigrette

Pecan Tart (Sweetened with Dates and Maple Syrup) with Rich Vanilla Tofu Creme (new recipe!)

MAKE IT A FULL DAY OF COOKING CLASSES!

Meredith McCarty and Susanne Jensen are both giving classes in the afternoon on November 13th, so why not take one of their classes in the afternoon and make a full day of it?  It’s a really good idea if you are coming from a distance. More information on Meredith’s classes here, and on Susanne’s classes, here.

Above: Display of squash and pumpkins at Berkeley Bowl West, in Berkeley.