Pumpkin and Tofu Thai Curry

Pumpkin and Tofu Thai Curry | blog.sfcooking.com

Happy Halloween! We thought it only fitting to serve up a pumpkin recipe today. Our pumpkin of choice? Tender kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin. We love kabocha not only for its mild, round flavor and soft, starchy texture, but also because it is so easy to prep. Leave the skin right on!

Like all the Thai food we love, this Pumpkin and Tofu Curry is full of vibrant and aromatic flavors. Rich coconut milk is the base of this red curry and it melds beautifully with the natural sweetness of the kabocha.

Pumpkin and Tofu Thai Curry | blog.sfcooking.com

Kaffir lime leaves add a heavenly part citrus, part floral fragrance to the curry. If you’ve never cooked with Kaffir lime leaves before, hunt them down!  And be sure to give them a good whiff before you add them to the pot.  This dish also uses another classic Southeast Asian ingredient: fish sauce.   This stuff packs a strong punch, a little goes a long way.

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Gingered Cranberry Chutney

Gingered Cranberry Chutney | blog.sfcooking.com

Maybe we’re jumping the gun on Thanksgiving plans, but we just can’t help it! It’s our favorite holiday (spoken like true food lovers). There’s plenty of time to talk turkey – today, we’re focusing on cranberry sauce, because you can’t have a Thanksgiving turkey without cranberry sauce! This one is a tried and true favorite from our upcoming Everything But the Turkey class.

So banish all thoughts of jiggly canned cranberry sauce. Seriously. Don’t even think about it. Sweet, tart, and full of warm spices, this from-scratch Gingered Cranberry Chutney blows that stuff out of the water, and it is unbelievably easy to make.

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Why I Believe in Culinary School

Catherine Pantsios | blog.sfcooking.comToday’s column is from Catherine Pantsios, Director of Culinary Arts at SFCS. Catherine teaches our full-time culinary program and was instrumental in developing its curriculum. A career chef and instructor for twenty-five years, Catherine’s own culinary education began by learning on the job in various kitchens. There are countless things a cook can learn by jumping into the fire, and no doubt, there are many accomplished chefs who never had formal training. Here’s Catherine’s take on why she believes in culinary school, and how her experiences inform the framework she’s set out to create for her students.


When I started cooking in restaurants, there weren’t a whole lot of options as far as formal education went. The few culinary schools then in existence required previous experience, which I didn’t yet have or, like the trade school in the city where I lived, had long waiting lists. So I started out the old-fashioned way, working around, first in a school lunchroom, then in a large hotel, a “continental” restaurant, a Japanese macrobiotic restaurant, and a fish grill.

I worked in three different cities, learned many things and acquired a lot of skills, but it was all pretty much at random. At a certain point, I realized that I lacked a framework for all that I was learning. I needed to organize my knowledge base, and that meant going to school. I was lucky to be accepted into a two-month program taught by master chef Madeleine Kamman in France, and everything I’ve done since then owes a heavy debt to her teaching and mentorship.
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Not Your Average Bake Sale [VIDEO]

A few months into the pastry arts program, our students turn into benevolent pastry elves – they bake off trays upon trays of sweet and savory treats, pack them up into gift boxes, and send them off to lucky recipients all over the city. It’s like a well-coordinated butter-and-sugar blitz.

This bake sale project puts lessons to work in a deadline-driven, high-production environment. It also let’s our students showcase some of their favorite recipes and techniques learned to some of SF’s most highly regarded chefs and food writers like Bill Corbett (Executive Pastry Chef of The Absinthe Group, and Dean of SFCS ), Liz Pruitt (Chef/Owner of Tartine Bakery), and John Birdsall (Senior Editor at CHOW.com).
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Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup

Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup | blog.sfcooking.com

Soup is the perfect one-pot meal, especially when it’s this rich and comforting Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup. Think of this like a creamy chicken noodle soup by way of Burma. If you’re a fan of coconut milk based soups, bookmark this one ASAP. Like many of the Asian noodle soups we love, this one is a wonderful balance of flavors – sweet coconut milk, salty fish sauce, herbaceous cilantro, and just a spritz of lemon juice at the end to wake things up.
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Culinary School: Change your Career. Follow Your Dream.

Jodi Liano, San Francisco Cooking SchoolToday we’re hearing from our own Jodi Liano. The founder of SF Cooking School, Jodi talks to each and every prospective student, many of whom are looking to culinary school as a way to change direction. As a career changer herself, she knows all about that. Here’s a look into Jodi’s own journey into the culinary world, and how she landed at SFCS.


I had a mid-life crisis. Not the stereotypical one: no fast cars, infidelity, or plastic surgery involved. In fact, to say I was “mid life” is a stretch in and of itself but at the time I was older than I’d ever been, and back then 29 seemed old.

Having worked in tech for eight years, I had a good thing going. The paycheck, great benefits, and an industry that was moving faster than I could possibly imagine were counter-balanced with working 24/7 and having a job that was all encompassing in every way possible. This was fine at first. I’d just finished college and was that student who wanted nothing more than a secure job to start the day after graduation. I threw everything I had into it, got promoted quickly, and really loved what I was doing. I stayed with one company for seven years before I was hired at a start up as the director of advertising. That start up would go on to be one of the biggest companies on the Internet but back in 1997, who knew?

Culinary School: Change your Career. Follow Your Dream. | blog.sfcooking.com

Cooking was something I did for myself, my friends, and with my family anytime I had a spare moment. I loved eating out and had subscribed to Bon Appetit and Food & Wine since I learned to read. So, when I took the job at the start up I rewarded myself with a one week cooking vacation with Giuliano Bugialli in Tuscany. By the time I got there I’d already spent six months in my new job. Truth be told, I didn’t love it but I certainly wasn’t looking for any kind of change.

As I sat in this farmhouse, surrounded by late summer produce, I watched Bugialli explain his method for making a perfect Panzanella salad (stale Tuscan bread, sweet ripe tomatoes, torn fresh basil) and a few more items from the garden. The light bulb went off! “Wait,” I thought, “That’s his job — teaching people how to make food? What the hell am I doing in an office?”

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Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese

Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese | blog.sfcooking.com

October is the golden month here in San Francisco. The sun is out, the Giants are in the World Series, life is good. This is the month of low-key get-togethers, before the whirlwind of holiday fun comes. Whether it’s a picnic in the park, brunch at home, or an impromptu dinner party, these easy days call for an easy app.

Our Crostini with Tapenade and Goat Cheese fit the bill nicely. A homemade tapenade of Kalamata olives, anchovies, and garlic packs a salty, briny, umami-filled punch, while creamy, mild goat cheese counters those strong flavors to balance it all out.
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Today’s Special: Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken | blog.sfcooking.com

If this doesn’t make your mouth water, we don’t know what will. Crispy, meaty, juicy, and messy in the best way possible, this Korean Fried Chicken is coated in an addictive, sweet gochujang-soy glaze and topped with black and white sesame seeds.

Dying to taste it? You’re in luck! It’s one of the fried chicken dishes we’ve got on the docket for our upcoming Killer Fried Chicken class.

Sign up for finger lickin’ goodness:
Killer Fried Chicken (Sat 11/1)

Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Panini

Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Panini | blog.sfcooking.com

Yesterday, we promised you that caramelized onions were building blocks for tons of delicious uses – well this is a prime example of how to use them to build a next level sandwich.

Yes, I said sandwich. Cooking doesn’t always have to be a long, fancy, or complicated affair. Often the most satisfying dishes are the simplest ones. Case in point: a killer grilled cheese sandwich.

If French Onion Soup and Grilled Cheese had a love child, this Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Panini would be it! Sweet, caramelized onions with a touch of balsamic meld perfectly with melty, gooey, smoked Gouda to create one satisfying bite.
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