Valentine’s Baking Class, Lunar New Year Dinners, and A New Brunch

The signature Rachel's Cake. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

The signature Rachel’s Cake. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Hands-On Valentine’s Baking Classes

Sure, you can go out to dinner with your sweetie in honor of Valentine’s Day. But why not bake something together for an especially sweet time instead?

Rachel’s Cakes of Burlingame is offering just that — two-hour, hands-on classes designed for couples to bake and decorate homemade sugar cookies.

The classes are: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 13; and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 14.

Each class is limited to four couples, and includes lessons in rolling, baking and decorating. Appetizers and beverages also will be served. You can take home your decorated cookies, as well as any unfinished ones with a supply of icing to complete them at home.

The class is $150 per couple. Reservations are required by calling (650) 393-4514. If you can’t make it to any of these, you’ll be glad to know Rachel’s offers other classes throughout the year.

On the flip side, if you want to leave the baking to someone else for Valentine’s Day, owner Rachel Richanbach will be happy to create a rustic or custom cake.

I had a chance to try some samples recently. Her cakes are all very moist, and taste quite homey.

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There’s Always Room for (Almond) Jello

An oldie but goodie Chinese dessert.

An oldie but goodie Chinese dessert.

 

Like most everyone, my first taste of jello as a kid was of the wiggly green (lime) or red (cherry) variety.

But my heart belongs to the white type.

Namely, almond jello. As in the Chinese version so often offered at dim sum or — if you’re very lucky — at the end of a banquet dinner (just say “no” to red bean soup!).

It was cut into little cubes, spooned into a Chinese rice bowl, and topped with canned fruit cocktail, lychees or mandarin oranges, with their sugary syrup, too.

OK, farm-to-table it was not.

But after a multitude of warm, savory dishes, it sure hit the spot. It was cold, a fun texture, heady with the taste of almond extract, and sweet from the canned fruit and thick syrup.

As a kid, I would make it all the time at home. It’s that easy. If you can make regular Jell-O, you can surely make this with your eyes closed.

I admit it’s been years since I’ve made it, though. My love for baking won out, and I’m more apt to be baking a batch of cookies than stirring up a pan of flavored gelatin.

But Danielle Chang got me in the mood to revisit this old-school Chinese dessert.

LuckyRiceBook

Chang is the founder of the LuckyRice festival, a celebration of Asian cultures and cuisines, which takes place in seven cities, including San Francisco.

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Join the Food Gal and 2nd Story Bakeshop For A Macy’s Demo

MacysSecondStoryBakeshop

Can you smell the heavenly butter and sugar yet?

You will at 6 p.m. Feb. 10 when Christy Ikezi of San Jose’s 2nd Story Bakeshop joins me for a baking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

The San Jose bakery specializes in long-fermented organic artisan breads, as well as sweet treats such as pear pie cookies, almond crisps, and dark chocolate sea-salt cookies. Its breads are sold at select South Bay farmers markets, as well as Whole Foods in Cupertino and on The Alameda in San Jose.

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Chevoo — A Cheesy Story

Chevoo Aleppo-Urfa Chili & Lemon crown focaccia.

Chevoo Aleppo-Urfa Chili & Lemon crown focaccia.

 

Husband and wife Gerard and Susan Tuck would often entertain at their Australian home with plenty of shrimp on the barbie, and creamy, marinated goat cheese to spread on just about anything.

So much so that when Gerard left his job in corporate finance to run a Melbourne-based cheese importer and distributor, he had thoughts of being a really big cheese.

When he and his wife moved to the Bay Area, and Gerard graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, they decided to pursue that dream and start their own cheese company.

Chevoo (pronounced “chez vous” in a nod to the French phrase that means “at your place”), launched last summer. It takes locally-produced chevre cubes and marinates them in extra virgin olive oil and herbs, then packs it all in convenient jars.

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Volta — A Taste of Modern Scandinavian-French Cuisine

The herring sampler at Volta.

The herring sampler at Volta.

 

Chef Staffan Terje has been cooking up such brilliant Italian food for decades in San Francisco at his Perbacco and Barbacco restaurants, that it’s easy to forget he’s actually Swedish.

Now, the Stockholm-born chef is finally getting a chance to flex and flaunt his Scandinavian heritage with his Chef de Cuisine Keven Wilson, late of Perbacco.

During the holidays, his newest restaurant with business partner Umberto Gibin, opened quietly in downtown San Francisco in the former space of Tom Colicchio’s Wichcraft.

Volta is a brasserie that serves Scandinavian-French food with verve.

Chef Staffan Terje and Proprietor Umberto Gibin.

Chef Staffan Terje and Proprietor Umberto Gibin.

Comfortable and classy, that's the look of this dining room.

Comfortable and classy, that’s the look of this dining room.

A couple weeks ago, I had a chance to dine as a guest of the restaurant, a cavernous space that once was fairly plain and utilitarian, which now is a lot cozier, thanks to half-partitions that section the dining room without enclosing it.

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