Category Archives: Cooking & Chefs

Santa Cruz Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 7

Goodies from Cheese Shop 831
Photo courtesy of Cheese Shop 831

Welcome to the final installment—part 7—of my holiday foodie gift guide with information for several local businesses if you have some last-minute shopping to do. Contact me at tara@santacruzfoodie.com with questions or comments.

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Gift guide part 5

Gift guide part 6

Note: some past installments include events that have taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

I wanted to mention one non-food-related idea: there are so many wonderful artists in our County, and some rely on the annual Open Studios event to bring in a significant part of their income. Due to the pandemic, OS could not take place this year. The sponsoring organization—Arts Council Santa Cruz County—launched a great “curated directory” website to showcase visual artists and provide easy opportunities to support these creative individuals. Visit the Visual Artists Network website at visualartsnetworkscc.com.

My mother, Fereshteh Fatemi, is one of these artists—a talented jeweler—and she’s donating 10% of her sales through Christmas to Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County.

Speaking of Second Harvest Food Bank, another gift idea is to make a donation to them in honor of someone that you care about. This year, more than ever, people are relying on SHFB for food. The organization distributes over eight million pounds of food each year to children, families, vets and seniors in Santa Cruz County.  More than half of the residents they serve are kids. Traditionally, every dollar donated provides four healthy meals to someone in need. Right now, thanks to a challenge grant from the COVID-19 Local Response Fund at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, donations are being matched so your dollars are having a double effect.

Here are a few more gift possibilities:

Captiola’s Brown Ranch Marketplace (the center with Trader Joe’s) recently welcomed the store Cheese Shop 831. Owner Jillian Pirolo was supposed to open her business several months ago but got delayed due to the pandemic. I’ve been told by one friend who shopped there that they have amazing cheese—including local, regional and international varieties—and I’ve seen on Instagram @cheeseshop831 that they have other products like olive oil, handmade cheese boards, truffle hot sauce, towels and oven mitts. Visit cheeseshop831.com.

Aptos gift shop Hammond Glass Engraving & Gifts is open by appointment from Tuesday through Saturday. They carry items like Christmas mugs,  Spode mugs, wine glasses, high-ball glasses and serving dishes. The shop has been around for 30 years, and Jessie & David Campbell bought the business in 2018. I haven’t been there myself, but I hope to check it out post-holiday-season. Visit hammondaptos.com.

Five Star Catering put together a fun Local’s Gift Box; read more and purchase online. It supports eight local Santa Cruz area businesses affected by the pandemic including Mutari Craft Chocolate, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company, Edith Meyer Wedding Cakes, and Magnolia Fine Gifts and Apothecary. They are even offering no-charge, no-contact SC County delivery. Visit fivestarcatering.com/holidayboxes.

Michelle Kneads Dough Monterey County is home to talented pastry chef Michelle Lee. A finalist on Food Network’s recent Halloween Baking Championship and a former staff member at restaurants including The C Restaurant+Bar at Intercontinental the Clement Monterey, Michelle found herself out of work due to the pandemic. She decided to get her cottage food permit and start doing pop-up “QuaranTreats.” I’ve enjoyed her food at The C and at special events, and also bought one of her yummy QuaranTreats and plan to buy more. I don’t know if she does gift cards for future treats, but just telling any “sweets fans” you know about her is a gift in itself! Visit Instagram.com/michelle.kneads.dough.

Lots of wineries and breweries are offering gift cards if you want to give your gift recipient the choice of what exactly they will receive. You can get contact info for many wineries at the Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains website. Visit winesofthesantacruzmountains.com/wineries.

A final list of stores & vendors (without going into too much detail I wanted to make sure and at least share a few more names):

Santa Cruz County

Counter Cultures Kitchen Visit IG @countercultureskitchen

El Salchichero Visit elsalchichero.com

Far West Fungi Visit farwestfungi.com/pages/santa-cruz

Farmer Freed Salts Visit farmerfreed.com

Itso & Notso Hot Sauce Visit makefoodhappy.com

Marini’s Candies Visit mariniscandies.com

Mountain Feed & Farm Supply Visit mountainfeed.com

Sushi Market Sprouts Visit Instagram.com/sushimarketsprouts

Monterey County

Carmel Honey Company Visit carmelhoneycompany.com

The Chef’s Stash (weekly local food boxes curated by chef and restaurateur Gabe Georis and chef Brandon Miller, with omnivore and pescatarian options). Visit thechefsstash.com.

Elroy’s Fine Foods Visit elroysfinefoods.com

Happy Girl Kitchen Visit happygirlkitchen.com

Jerome’s Carmel Valley Market Visit jeromescarmelvalleymarket.com

Other Brother Beer Visit otherbrotherbeer.com

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Santa Cruz Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 6

Aptos Apiary honey, one of many gift options at local farmers markets
Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets

Here is part 6 of my holiday foodie gift guide—with some ideas for bakeries, Italian groceries, farmers markets and more. Let’s shop local and support small businesses as much as we can this season (and beyond)!

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Gift guide part 5

Note: some past installments include events that have taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

Bakery Gift Cards

Your favorite local bakery can use your support right now. One idea: visit in-person and buy a gift card and one bakery item & put them together for a nice gift! Or if you prefer to shop from home, buy a gift card online. Our wonderful local bakeries include Gayle’s, The Buttery, The Farm, and Companion Bakeshop. Going to Gayle’s? You might combine it with a stop to neighboring Lyons and Melrose, which offers floral arrangements plus a variety of gifts like unique ornaments, European candles, soap, home décor, and packaged sweets. Visiting The Buttery? Its Soquel Avenue location is just four blocks down from the shop Home/Work, which features gift ideas like mugs and bowls, bamboo lunch boxes, beeswax wrap, aprons, homemade hot sauce kits, and seed ball kits like “Pizza Garden” (grow your toppings).  The Farm Bakery, Café & Gifts has its own chock-full-of-fun-items gift shop. You can pick up one of their signature fruit tarts plus things like housewares, linens, whimsical water bottles, cookbooks, candles, toys, and more. Companion Bakeshop has two locations; the Aptos one is in the same center as Outside-In, a shop that has enticing items like botanical candles, travel mugs, Talavera dishes, fleece jackets, puzzles, and ornaments.  

Farmers Markets

Your local farmers market is a wonderful place to shop for gifts. Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets runs these markets: Wednesday downtown Santa Cruz (DT), Saturday westside Santa Cruz (WS), Sunday Live Oak (LO), and Felton and Scotts Valley (both closed for the season). Below is information on several vendors and products, and their corresponding markets. A fun gift idea to either put with these products or use on its own? Each market sells gift certificates in any amount at the information table at. These funds can be spent over time at any stand at any of the markets. For exact market locations, hours, and more info, visit santacruzfarmersmarket.org.

Listed alphabetically:

  • Apricot King – preserves and dried fruit – DT
  • Aptos Apiary – honey – DT
  • Ashby Confections – DT, WS
  • Bella Vista – olive oil – WS
  • Blossom’s Biodynamic Farm – DT, WS, LO
  • Blue House – dry beans and popcorn – WS
  • Copper Moon Apothecary – soaps, lotions and salves – WS, LO
  • Dirty Girl – tomato preserves – DT, LO
  • Fruition Brewing – DT weekly, LO & WS rotation
  • Good Faith Farm – olives and olive oil – DT
  • Hakouya Miso – DT, WS, LO
  • Hidden Fortress – coffee beans – DT, LO
  • Home Away – fresh pastas, sauces, charcuterie, olives – DT, WS, LO
  • Il Biscotto – traditional Italian cookies – DT weekly, WS and LO rotation
  • Pottery – DT, WS, LO
  • Prevedelli – preserves – DT
  • R & K Honey – WS, LO
  • Santa Cruz Cider – DT
  • Stocking stuffers – things like persimmons, pomegranates, kiwis – DT, WS, LO

Italian goodies

Some Italian restaurants—like Seabright’s Tramonti and midtown Santa Cruz’s Sugo—have created “miniature markets” inside their dining rooms in order to sell holiday gifts. Both are posting pics on Instagram of select offerings, so it might be a good idea to browse online before shopping. Also, Aptos-based Italian restaurant Mentone has a few items that would make good gifts. Visit Tramonti (IG @tramonti_santacruz) for pre-assembled gift baskets with artisan Italian selections or a la carte items like a package of Italian chocolates or fancy balsamic vinegar. If you can manage perishable items with your gift they have a refrigerated grab and go section with things like housemade marinated artichokes, jarred housemade Italian sauce, and packaged gnocchi. Visit Sugo (IG @sugoitalianpastabar) – for packaged pasta, sauce, and Panettone, an Italian type of sweet bread that’s traditional around Christmas. Visit Mentone (IG @MentoneCA) for tee- and sweat-shirts, beanies, wine, and cocktail kits. They are also taking pre-orders for Xmas Eve dinner with add-ons like a holiday wine pack and ManresaBread cookies and granola. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention downtown Santa Cruz’s Zoccoli’s Deli, which has been in business since 1948 and is fully stocked all year long with Italian groceries including sweets. All four of these places have gift cards that you can purchase as well, either for the entire gift or to combine with other items to make your own special gift.

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Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 5

A floral cupcake bouquet from The Giving Cake
Photo courtesy of The Giving Cake

Here is part 5 of my holiday gift guide to encourage everyone to shop local and shop from small businesses—it mostly has food-related gifts. I’ll post another guide soon.

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Note: past installments include events that have already taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

Restaurant Gift Cards

Just a reminder that your favorite local restaurant (or two) can use your support right now. Same with local ice creameries, breweries, wineries…you get the idea! Buy a gift card and you accomplish two things: you have a gift for a foodie friend or family member, and you are helping a small business survive these challenging times.

Sweets

There are so many sweet Santa Cruz County offerings that I can’t mention them all (I’ve included a couple in previous articles). I’ll highlight a couple here & if possible I’ll include a couple more in a near-future article. Local chocolatiers Mutari Chocolate have lots of delicious gifts like Chocolate Chunk Take & Bake Cookies, craft hot chocolate powder, single origin chocolate bars, and seasonal truffle gift boxes. Order and pick up at 504 A Front St. for someone in town, or have your gift shipped anywhere in the country. Visit mutarichocolate.com.

I don’t know if Anouchka Bakery does gift cards or not, but I just tried baker/owner Anna Landaw’s Snickerdoodle cookies for the first time (her flavors rotate, and she does pies and other items) & I can say with confidence that she knows what she’s doing. And she has free SC County delivery! Update Dec. 13: I discovered she is creating chocolate cream pies & delivering them on Christmas Eve. You can order half-pies or whole pies. Visit anouchkabakery.com.

Last but not least, Anna Lieby launched her new business The Giving Cake earlier this month—but she has been baking for most of her life. She offers boxes of cupcakes or intricate “floral cupcake bouquets” and donates all profits to local nonprofit organizations. Her current list of fund recipients: CASA, Center for Farmworker Families, Digital Nest, Homeless Garden Project, Imagine Supported Living Services, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, Resource Center for Nonviolence, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, Teen Kitchen Project and Ventana Wilderness Alliance. I’m excited to be a first-time customer soon—I think I’ll start by buying myself a gift! For information, visit IG @thegivingcake or facebook.com/TheGivingCakeSantaCruz.

Jam and More

Speaking of Center for Farmworker Families, Love Cultivated’s owner Natalie McKinney donates five percent of her profits to CFF, which “promotes awareness about the difficult life circumstances of binational farmworker families while proactively inspiring improvement in binational family life both in the US and in Mexico.” Love Cultivated offers “small batch artisan provisions inspired by the farm and orchard.” I have bought and loved Natalie’s products which include jam and marmalade (made from fruit sourced from local farms and farmers’ markets using copper jam pans and no added pectin), goat milk soap (with milk from the McKinney Family goat herd, & flowers from the family’s cottage garden), and gardeners’ salve and whipped body butter. There are very limited quantities left for holiday shopping but remember you can always purchase post-holiday-season. Visit love-cultivated.myshopify.com or IG @love.cultivated.

Coffee

There are a multitude of local, independent coffee shops that you can support, including Coffeetopia (see Instagram), Cat & Cloud, Eleventh Hour Coffee, Pacific Coffee Roasting Co. (see Facebook), People’s Coffee (see FB), Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co. & Verve. They all have gift cards and various products for sale this holiday season. Verve is also offering (online only) holiday packages like the Cozy Coffee Gift Bundle. It comes with a 12-ounce bag of Holiday Blend coffee, a Verve-branded Kinto mug, a candle, and a Verve knit beanie. In addition, they are doing “Holiday Drink Happy Hours” at all of their locations from 2pm to closing where customers can get seasonal signature beverages for $3. This season’s specialties include Café De Olla Con Panna, which is a shot of espresso sweetened with spiced piloncillo syrup and topped with spiced whipped cream. Verve refers to it as “a holiday take on a classic Mexican drink.” Visit vervecoffee.com.

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Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 4


One of the gift boxes available through the El Pajaro CDC (Community Development Corporation) Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program
Photo courtesy of EPCDC

Here is part four of my foodie holiday gift guide to support local small businesses. I’ll try to post another guide in a couple days. Happy shopping & stay safe out there!

Also see:

Note: past installments include events that have already taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

Food Gift Boxes from local entrepreneurs

There are two upcoming Kitchen Pop-Ups at El Pajaro CDC, 23 E. Beach St., in Watsonville. The pop-ups include artisan food products for sale, both separately and as part of holiday food boxes that contain enticing product combinations. I have tasted most of these products and they are fantastic. Hours are 3-7 p.m. on two Fridays: Dec. 11 and Dec. 18. Shoppers may order holiday gift boxes at epcdc.square.site, and curbside pickup is available. At this site, you can also order ahead and pick up selected boxes at the Saturday Westside Santa Cruz or Sunday Live Oak farmers market. Some of the entrepreneurs’ products are El Pajaro CDC jam (organic berry jam); Hakouya (miso dressing) Il Biscotto (Italian cookies); Mary’s Fruit Tarts (shortbread cookies); My Mom’s Mole (dry mole mix); Rogue Pye (assorted hand pies); Santa Cruz Balsamics (flavored balsamic vinegars); Scrumptious Fish & Chips (condiment sauce); Teresa’s Salsas (fresh salsas); The Green Waffle (assorted flavors of waffles); and Yoli’s Adobo (sauce). The EPCDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program offers a fully equipped, shared-use facility to help culinary entrepreneurs start or expand food businesses. Learn more at elpajarocdc.org. Since they launched seven years ago, they have helped more than 60 businesses. To shop, visit epcdc.square.site.

Packaged Meals

Have people to shop for that don’t have time for cooking or don’t like cooking? You might consider a gift certificate to a business that offers prepared meals. These three local companies offer pickup and delivery options, with menus rotating weekly. I have been a happy customer ordering from all of them!

Foodsmith, based in Soquel, has paleo, vegan, and keto meals with organic produce. You pick from breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, for two, three, five, or six days. One recent paleo meal was Carne Asada Barbacoa Plate (grass fed beef with roasted peppers, sweet onions, dry-farmed tomatoes, butternut, chili-braised collards, cauliflower rice and avocado lime crema). Since 2017, Foodsmith has donated over 60,000 meals to people in need—including, this year, 1,500 meals to Grey Bears this holiday season (for those who are homebound) and meals to local hospital workers helping fight the pandemic. Buy gift certificates here. For more info, visit myfoodsmith.com.

Golden Roots Kitchen in Scotts Valley offers gluten-free organic dishes. Some are vegetarian or vegan, including the weekly frittata and a recent Roasted Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Pistachio Salad, and a few feature pasture-raised animal proteins including Fogline Farm chicken. Founder and executive chef Melanie Geist emphasizes a farm-to-table philosophy and takes extra steps like “soaking and sprouting to make our plant based food more digestible and bio-available.” Buy gift certificates here. Also, next week they will be offering packaged snacks like warm olives, pan toasted nuts and chai spice molasses cookies and featuring Hanloh Thai Food’s pad Thai kit. “We think this kit would make a really fun gift,” says Melanie. For more info, visit goldenrootskitchen.com.

Golden Roots Kitchen has featured select dishes from Hanloh Thai Food for the last few months, and recently Hanloh joined the same Scotts Valley commercial kitchen as GRK. Hanloh’s founder/chef Lalita Kaewsawang, a former staff member of Michelin-starred restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos, offers a rotating menu of what she calls “Thai comfort food and country-style cooking.” Recent dishes have included vegan green curry (vegetables from Spade and Plow and Windmill Farm), Drunken Noodles, Son-in-Law Eggs, and charcoal-grilled lemongrass chicken. Buy gift cards here. For more info, visit hanloh.com.

Monterey County

The next Big Sur Foragers Festival, an annual benefit for the Big Sur Health Center, was slated for January 2021. Like many events, it’s pivoting to a virtual format—and tickets for one of these offerings, a raffle, would make a great gift. Prizes include a family ‘staycation’ (a suite at beloved Carmel inn Hofsas House plus a gift card for Lugano’s Swiss Bistro, which I still haven’t made it to!), a $500 gift card to popular Moss Landing restaurant Haute Enchilada (one of my favorites when I drive down the coast), and a restaurant trifecta with gift cards from Tarpy’s, Montrio Bistro, and Rio Grill (the first two are Monterey and the latter is Carmel—all wonderful spots). Tickets are only $5 or 6 for $25 and you get to choose which prize(s) you’re trying for. Visit bigsurforagersfestival.org/raffle for more information and a downloadable form.  

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Gourmet Grazing on the Green benefits cancer research: enjoy lots of delicious food and wine

Attendees at a previous Grazing on the Green, photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

The 16th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green—noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Aptos Village Park—is an always-fun annual celebration with more than 75 vendors including local restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries, and spirits distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG) .

 

Buy $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online or pay $70 at the door if it’s not sold out. Adult admission includes food, drinks and a souvenir wineglass. Designated driver tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. Kids 10 and under are free; kids ages 10-20 are $35.

 

Longtime sponsors New Leaf Community Markets, Coke Farms and Watsonville Coast Produce generously donate lots of locally grown produce and products for chefs to create special tastes for event attendees.

 

Participating restaurants, food suppliers, food trucks, and other vendors include:

  • Alterra Solar
  • Ashby Confections
  • Ate3One
  • Back Nine Grill and Bar
  • Brew Dr. Kombucha
  • Café Cruz
  • California Lavash
  • Cantine Winepub
  • Cinnamon Bay Clothing
  • Cruise Coffee
  • Drink La Vie
  • East Side Eatery
  • Efi’s Dutch-indo Kitchen
  • Ella’s at the Airport
  • Fran Battendieri Designs
  • Friend in Cheeses Jam Co
  • Hollins House
  • Hula’s Island Grill
  • Judge Casey’s
  • K Dezynz Jewelry
  • Malone’s Grille Scotts Valley
  • Martinelli’s
  • McKella Jo
  • New Leaf Community Markets
  • Pacific Coffee Roasting Co.
  • Pure Valley Water
  • Sandbar Solar
  • Santa Cruz Fish Co.
  • Shadowbrook Restaurant
  • Smart Chicken
  • SunRidge Farms
  • The Crow’s Nest
  • The Turkey Boat
  • Vital Mystic
  • Watsonville Coast Produce
  • Whole Enchilada
  • Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine

Wineries, breweries and spirits include:

  • Alfaro Family Winery
  • Armitage Wines
  • Bargetto Winery
  • Bonny Doon Vineyard
  • Burrell School Vineyards
  • Carbonic Service
  • Discretion Brewing
  • El Vaquero Winery
  • Hallcrest Vineyards
  • Integrity Wines
  • Kathryn Kennedy Winery
  • Kings Mountain Vineyards
  • Lester Estate Wines
  • Loma Prieta Winery
  • MJA Vineyards
  • Muccigrosso Vineyards
  • Muns Vineyard
  • New Bohemia Brewing Co.
  • Pelican Ranch Winery
  • Roudon-Smith Winery
  • Sailing Shoes Wine
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
  • Sante Arcangeli Family Wines
  • Scrumpy Hard Cider
  • Seabright Brewery
  • Sones Winery
  • Soquel Cider
  • Storrs Winery
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Venus Spirits
  • Via Vega Winery
  • Villa Del Monte Winery
  • Wrights Station Winery

 

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

 

Since 1995, SCCBG has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with cancer in the Santa Cruz community, by raising money to support beneficiary organizations and fund new research that will provide possible cures and better solutions for treating cancer. Just in the last decade, they have distributed more than $2 million to directly support the Santa Cruz community.

 

For more information on the event, see sccbg.org. Parking is limited at Aptos Village Park. There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College (parking lot K); parking is free. If you Uber, dropoff is at the top of the park.

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

 

Attendees at a previous Grazing on the Green, photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

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Valentine’s Day gifts for the coffee & breakfast lover

Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker — one of many gift possibilities from Hamilton Beach for Valentine’s Day or any occasion
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Beach

If you’re looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift for someone who takes their home coffee and breakfast making seriously, I got to sample some Hamilton Beach products recently and can tell you about a few. Hamilton Beach products are generally available online at hamiltonbeach.com, Amazon.com and at select retailers.

First, the FlexBrew Coffee Maker, which is a combination of Single Serve and Full Coffee Pot. If you want a full or half pot of coffee, use the traditional glass carafe. If you want a single cup, use the other side of the machine with either K-cups/pods or ground coffee, depending what size cup you’re looking for. It’s very convenient to have all these options; my family has used all three in the few days since we first got the machine. It retails at $89.99 and can be found at the aforementioned places plus Walmart.

Next, the Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker, which allows you to make quick-yet-delicious customizable breakfast to enjoy at home or on the go. You choose your bread and add ingredients like eggs, cheese, precooked meat, avocado, vegetables, etc. If you need sandwich inspiration, there are enticing recipes on the company’s site like Avocado, Egg White & Swiss Cheese Breakfast Sandwich (see below for one more). You can cook two breakfast sandwiches in five minutes or less, and then cleanup is easy because the removable parts are dishwasher-safe. In addition to Hamilton Beach’s site and Amazon, this one’s available at Target. Cost is $39.99.

Last but not least, the Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker — which as of early February was out of stock on the HB site, but is often available at Walmart or Amazon ($39.99). You can change the browning setting depending how light or dark you like your waffles, and because of the “Flip” style, it’s easier to make thick, fluffy waffles like you find at restaurants. There are easily accessible recipes for traditional buttermilk waffles and unusual spin-offs like Tater Tot waffles (yes, ingredients like 40 thawed tater tots play a part in this concoction!).

No matter what you choose to buy your Valentine—or yourself—for the occasion, I hope it’s a happy one for all you foodies and home chefs out there.

Recipe: Cheddar, Apple, Bacon and Egg Croissant Sandwich

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach / From The Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 mini croissant, halved
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 thin slices Granny Smith apple
  • 1 slice precooked bacon, cut in half
  • 1 large egg, lightly scrambled

Directions

  1. Preheat Breakfast Sandwich Maker until green PREHEAT light comes on. Lift cover, top ring and cooking plate.
  2. Place bottom half of croissant, cut-side up in bottom ring of Breakfast Sandwich Maker. Top with cheese, apple slices and bacon.
  3. Lower cooking plate and top ring. Add egg to cooking plate.
  4. Top with remaining croissant half, cut-side down.
  5. Close cover. Cook 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Slide out cooking plate by rotating handle clockwise. Lift cover and rings; carefully remove sandwich with plastic spatula.

Serves: 1

Test Kitchen Tip: For a lightly browned croissant top, cook the egg in the top ring without the croissant for 3 to 4 minutes or until egg is just about done. Lift the cover, add the croissant and continue cooking until top is lightly toasted and egg is cooked.

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Last-minute Cuisinart gift ideas for chefs and foodies

Cuisinart released this Air Fryer Toaster Oven in 2017. Photo credit: Cuisinart

Have some last-minute holiday shopping left to do? If any of these gift recipients are amateur chefs or just plain foodies, Cuisinart has a few gift ideas. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, Williams Sonoma and Walmart.

 

First, the Air Fryer Toaster Oven, which was released in 2017. This product is a full-size toaster oven with a built-in air fryer. It bakes, broils, and toasts, AND it allows you to air fry inside the oven. Curious about air frying? This is from Cuisinart’s web site: “Air frying, which uses powerful ultra-hot air, is a healthier way to prepare delicious fried favorites, from wings to fritters to fries to shrimp.” The product’s interior is large enough to “…air fry up to three pounds, toast six slices of bread, or bake a four-pound chicken or 12-inch pizza.” Retail price is $199. See below for a three-ingredient “Airfried S’Mores” recipe. Also visit Cuisinart’s online recipes for more.

 

Cuisinart’s eight-cup food processor, originally released back in 2014, is stainless steel and retails at $99.95. The company kindly sent me a sample—I love the shape and size (different than my previous one, which I used religiously for years!). Also, I appreciate that the parts can go into the dishwasher. The last thing I want to do after spending a bunch of time cooking is then using more time washing dishes by hand!

 

I know that many people have two food processors, so that they can use a smaller one for things like pesto and light chopping needs. If you know someone who cooks a lot, that already has a large processor, I would consider this four-cup chopper/grinder. It’s only $39.95 and it apparently comes with a handy recipe book (I don’t have one personally, so I can’t vouch for the recipes).

 

If you’re looking for bakeware, I’ve found Cuisinart’s line to be highly dependable. Actually, I like using the mini heart pans to make savory dishes as well as sweet ones. I often make egg bakes in a glass baking dish or mini-muffin pans, and then save some of the batter for one of the mini hearts. It’s fun to surprise my 7-year-old daughter with a heart-shaped concoction. My latest was simple, with egg, chicken sausage, onion and a topping of shredded cheese, but it did the trick! I have also used my “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet with silicone grip handles ($23.95) for successful cookies and equally successful sheet pan dinners.

 

Airfried S’Mores Recipe (courtesy of Cuisinart)

Makes 8 servings

 

Ingredients:

16 graham cracker squares

8 squares milk chocolate (about 2 ounces)

8 standard marshmallows

 

  1. Put 8 graham cracker squares on the AirFryer basket. Place a chocolate square in the center of each cracker and top each with a marshmallow.
  2. Put the basket in the upper position. Set to AirFry at 350 degrees F. AirFry for 3 ½ to 4 minutes, or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted.
  3. Carefully remove from the AirFryer and transfer to a plate. Top each with the remaining crackers.

 

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Thanksgiving, Hanukkah at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Whole Foods Market’s favorite local wine and cheese pairings for the holidays. Courtesy of WFM.

Thanksgiving is almost here, and after that Hanukkah is right around the corner! Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) have many Thanksgiving selections and several Hanukkah items, and they graciously gave me a gift card so that I could try a few out.

You can place orders in person or online. Thanksgiving pick up dates are through Nov. 23; Hanukkah pick up is Nov. 30-Dec. 9 and selections include wine-braised brisket dinner for eight, and potato latkes with applesauce. Thanksgiving choices at WFM (see a holiday showcase here) include a classic roast turkey dinner for eight (with optional organic turkey upgrade) with a fully-cooked bird, herb stuffing and mashed potatoes turkey gravy, cranberry orange sauce, and green beans with crispy garlic and parsley; spiral-sliced ham; vegan entrees and sides; traditional holiday sides; and desserts. Prime members get a special deal: through Nov. 22, they get organic whole turkeys for $2.99/lb. and whole turkeys for $1.99/lb.

 

Something new and intriguing is a vegan holiday meal WFM has created in partnership with award-winning chef Jeremy Fox, author of the “On Vegetables” cookbook. The meal includes Romanesco Cauliflower Roast with Miso Bagna Cauda, Cremini Mushroom Stuffing with Kimchi, and Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple and Hazelnut Dukkah. You can also order these selections a la carte.

 

WFM is also offering a special seasonal pie from Lisa Ludwinski, founder of Detroit’s Sister Pie and author of “Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit.” The Cranberry Crumble Pie, Ludwinski’s personal favorite for the season, features an all-butter crust, a sweet cranberry compote filling with juicy whole cranberries, grated pear and warm spices, and an oat crumble topping.

Other Santa Cruz and Capitola store highlights that are perfect for the holidays:

  • Seafood: Fresh, Whole Dungeness Crab
    • Crab season is a Bay Area holiday tradition. Pick up at least three sweet and rich whole crab, and save $1 per pound. WFM’s team of local fishmongers will crack and clean free of charge.
  • Specialty Wine and Cheese: Favorite local wine and cheese pairings this season selected by WFM
    • Bay Blue cheese, a mellow blue made in Point Reyes, paired with Sean Thackery Pleides red blend, a “red berry, tangy crowd pleaser”
    • Carmody cheese paired with Jay Vineyards J California Pinot Noir, a “highly drinkable, soft rich wine”
    • Crisp Roederer Estates Anderson Valley Brut paired with Mt. Tam organic cheese, because the wine “goes lovely with soft, ripened cheeses”
  • Local, Organic Eggnog including:
    • Straus Family Creamery, an organic eggnog finished with nutmeg
    • Clover Sonoma Organic Maple Bourbon Eggnog, a non-alcoholic classic
  • Special holiday dishes by Chef Trent of WFM
    • Creations include Ginger Cinnamon Spice Duck or Turkey breast, and Spiced Prime Rib
    • “Pick up your cut at the meat counter, pop into the oven and you are ready to serve your guests,” shared a WFM spokesperson.
  • Humphry Slocombe’s Coconut Shoyu Ice Creamnew and available for a limited time
    • Top your favorite seasonal pie with a scoop of this ice cream, the fourth exclusive collaboration available exclusively at Whole Foods Market
    • Created by San Francisco-based Humphry Slocombe and Chef Melissa King in partnership with WFM—they made their first collaborative flavor, Hong Kong Milk Tea, in 2017
  • Northern California’s Tsar Nicolai caviar
    • Tsar Nicolai sustainably raises and produces top of the line caviar in Wilton, CA.
    • This year, WFM is partnering with the brand for an exclusive trio bundle deal, available in the Seafood dept.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

 

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Upcoming New Leaf classes include miso, paella, beer, anti-inflammatory cooking

 

Madia Jamgochian and Magali Brecke will host an info session/dinner party at New Leaf Sept. 21

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has lots of interesting cooking classes in the near future, including classes on making miso and paella, beer tasting and beginning home brewing with two local breweries, and learning about anti-inflammatory eating. Here are some details; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). Preregistration is required at newleaf.com/events.

 

Friday, Sept. 21, 6-8 p.m.

Anti-Inflammatory Info Session & Dinner Party, Cost: $40

With Certified Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian, and Anti-Inflammatory Chef Magali Brecke, Co-Founder and Nutritional Director of Kitchen Witch Bone Broth

You may have heard that inflammation is the root cause of all disease, but did you know that what you eat has a profound effect on feeding or fighting the issue?

This class offers an intro to New Leaf’s 4-Week Anti-Inflammatory Integrative Wellness Series, held during the month of October. Come to this Dinner Party to learn the basics of anti-inflammatory eating, get your questions answered about the upcoming series, and meet past attendees who have benefited from this particular diet and lifestyle.

Class will start with an introduction to “What is inflammation?” and include the topic of Leaky Gut, as well as a breakdown of anti-inflammatory eating. A full anti-inflammatory meal is included.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Miso Making Workshop, Cost: $35

With Masumi Diaz and Eriko Yokoyama, founders of Hakouya Cooking School. In this class you’ll learn how to make 1.5 lbs. of organic miso to take home. Masumi and Eriko will share different ways to incorporate miso into your everyday diet. Since this is a simple but lengthy process, ingredients will be prepared for you in advance and assembled together in class.

 

Thursday, Sept. 27, 6-8 p.m.

Regional Spanish Cooking: Paella, Cost: $45 or $40 each for two

In this hands-on class, Kristen Valenza will show you how to prepare traditional paella, and pair it with a Spanish red blend. Traditional paella is a mix of spanish rice, vegetables, meat, (like chorizo and sausage) and seafood, (clams, mussels, shrimp) and aromatic spices including parsley and saffron. Wine pairing included.

 

Friday, Sept. 28, 6-8 p.m.

Beer Brewing and Tasting, Cost: $18

Julie Reinhart from Elkhorn Slough Brewing and Emily Thomas from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing will lead you on an evening of beer tasting and beginner home brewing. They’ll go over different beer styles and you’ll get a chance to taste beers from both breweries, along with tasting notes.

 

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Teen Kitchen Project: two brunch dates remain in series, plus new kids’ classes

A scene from TKP’s brunch benefit Sunday, March 25, in Aptos

Teen Kitchen Project has been running a brunch fundraiser series since March. There were two Sundays in March, then they skipped Easter, and now two Sundays remain — April 8 and 15. Entrees rotate each time and have included Huevos Rancheros with rice and beans; orange-zested thick cut French toast with spiced maple syrup; and broccoli cheddar quiche with country style sausage and home fries. There are two seatings each day, 9:30 & 11:30 a.m., and brunch takes place at TKP’s newly renovated teaching kitchen and café at 8061 Aptos St. Cost is $35 for adults and $15 for kids under 12. The TKP teens do the cooking and serving. Entrees include a basket of freshly baked goods at each table, plus coffee, tea and juice. My family and I dined with TKP on March 25, and thoroughly enjoyed the meal–from the delectable scones to scrumptious sausage, Chilaquiles and more! View menus and purchase online at teenkitchenproject.org/brunch.One hundred percent of proceeds benefit TKP.

TKP recently began offering cooking classes for kids ages 8 and up, for $35 each, and they are now expanding to offer a few for kids 5-8. At the first one for “littles” on Monday, April 30, kids will make pizza. “Teen Kitchen Project is excited to open our doors to aspiring chefs ages 5 and up who are interested in learning more about developing their culinary skills,” says founder Angela Farley. “We believe empowering young people with the knowledge and skills to prepare food from scratch is essential to accomplish our goal of building a healthier Santa Cruz County, one meal at a time.”

Topics for the older kids have included burgers, tacos and dumplings. During the 2-hour classes, kids work with other students in groups of two to four. There are also adult chefs and a teen helper present. At the end of class, participants get to eat the food they prepare. Monday and Wednesday classes are at the Aptos location (8061 Aptos St.), and Friday classes are at the Soquel location (2880 Research Park Dr.). Enrollment is limited. Visit the registration page at crm.fundly.com//6708/Pages/Events/#/.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Kitchen Project, executive director Angela Farley launched TKP in 2012 after her son was diagnosed with cancer. Farley decided she wanted to help other families affected by cancer, to at least attempt to decrease some of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed. Today, the organization regularly delivers 600-700 free, healthy meals for clients throughout Santa Cruz County who are in crisis due to illness.  Teen volunteers ages 13-18 prepare meals with the assistance of adult volunteers. The teens gain valuable skills as they volunteer. For more info, visit the web site teenkitchenproject.org.

 

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