Category Archives: Food Charities

Organizations and individuals who make, share, and serve food for charity.

Soup for Syria

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A timely and meaningful cookbook to aid Syrian refugees, Soup for Syria contains a collection of recipes contributed by international chefs; moreover profits will be donated to help fund food relief efforts for Syrian refugees via the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

The book isn’t out yet but an  article in Publishing Perspectives by Olivia Snaije tells the moving story behind the creation of the book by Lebanese writer and photographer Barbara Abdeni Massaad:

“Lebanese food writer and photographer Barbara Abdeni Massaad lives in the Bekaa Valley close to where nearly half a million Syrian refugees subsist in camps. Unable to ignore the situation, Massaad writes in Soup for Syria’s introduction that she began to visit the refugee camps throughout last winter, each time filling her car trunk with food. “After several trips, I got to know many of the families…the more I visited—the more stories I heard and the more desperation I witnessed—the more heartbroken I became. I was determined to help no matter what. Are we not all human beings seeking the same things for our families—love, food and shelter?”

Already the author of three cookbooks, Massaad worked with publisher Michel Moushabeck of Interlink Books to invite renowned chefs and cookbook authors to be a part of the book. Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, Claudia Roden, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi all donated recipes and stories. With such soups as Claudia Roden’s Borlotti Bean and pasta soup and  Greg Malouf’s fennel soup with lemon and cinnamon, Feed Your People is hoping to host a Soup for Syria Supper soon.  As Anthony Bourdain writes, “Soup is elemental, and it always makes sense, even when the world around us fails to.”

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Sausages, Sauerkraut and How Good Food Leads to Great People: A Community Dinner at 18 Reasons

IMG_6001It was a Wednesday night and I had no plans. “A night all to myself with no where to be!” I thought gleefully. But when I came home to an empty house and a few meager plastic containers of cold pasta, my delight turned to despair.  I texted a few friends but everyone was busy. All dressed up with no place to go! But then I remembered reading about a Community Dinner at 18 Reasons.

Based in the San Francisco Mission across the street from the Bi-Rite Market, 18 Reasons is a community cooking school and so much more. Each month they offer a $10 community dinner featuring local producers. On the menu that night were Fatted Calf  sausages and homemade sauerkraut made by 18 Reason’s Executive Director, Sarah Nelson. I arrived to find about forty happy eaters seated together at long wood tables– from Mission hipsters to families with kids. 
IMG_6012Whether you are passionate about cooking, sharing a meal with friends, or learning about the food system, 18 Reasons has something for everyone. Their motto is “empowering your discovery of good food” which is exactly what they do through gamut of events and classes that engage  eaters, drinkers, cookers and crafters across the good food spectrum. Some of the most popular classes include a Basic Knife Skills (sells out every month!) and classes on the exotic (Flavors of Azerbaijan) to the fundamental (Whole Grain Primer) all taught by Chef Michelle McKenzie. Their film and lecture series includes both fun and serious food topics, from a screening of Babette’s Feast to a discussion of what it takes to be a farmer.  They also reach over 2,000 low-income families each year through their Cooking Matters program, a cooking and nutrition course that teaches adults, kids, and teens how to plan, shop for, and prepare delicious, healthy meals on a limited budget. Volunteer chefs and nutritionists contribute thousands of hours each year to the program, which is offered at partner sites throughout the Bay Area. Check out their full calendar and their schedule of Cooking Matters classes.
Through eating good food together, we discover our community. Our sausage and sauerkraut dinner felt like a big family feast with a bunch of long lost relatives. Of course the food was delicious, but even more so was the little girl who sat next to me. Now when I have a free night, I’ll know where I’m welcome: The next community dinner is on Wednesday, Jan. 29. The menu: Buttermilk Waffles, Benton’s Bacon, with Bourbon Barrel Matured Maple Syrup. Hope to see you there!

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Party with Pizza Dough! How to Feed a Crowd on the Cheap with The BrokeAss Gourmet

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Gabi Moskowitz (aka The BrokeAss Gourmet)  knows how to throw a party on the cheap. One of her secrets: Pizza dough. She made this discovery years ago, when she made a big batch to bring to a party and the host cancelled. What was she going to do with all that dough? It turns out, a lot. The next morning she twisted the dough with butter, cinnamon and sugar to make cinnamon rolls; that night she made naan to go with Indian curry. After that, she made bagels, calzones, empanadas, and more, the recipes for which, are captured in her wonderful new book, Pizza Dough: 100 Delicious, Unexpected Recipes.

Gabi has a lot to celebrate! In addition to her new book, the pilot for her show Young and Hungry was just picked up by ABC Family. The show, loosely based on Gabi’s life and starring Emily Osment is the story of a feisty young blogger who “not only has a true gift for cooking, she has the ability to figure out what people want to eat.”

This was certainly true of the book launch party. Gabi arrived at my house with five pounds of dough at 5pm. By the time the guests arrived at 7pm, the table was filled with pinwheels, flatbreads, and kale salad for thirty.  While the guests chatted and ate,  Gabi continued to pull pizzas (and me up after I slipped on a piece of kale). The finale: freshly fried mini-doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Illustrated with gorgeous photographs by Frankie Frankeny, the book is both beautiful and practical and will be your go-to for delicious, easy, inexpensive entertaining.

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Published by Egg and Dart Press

Pizza Party Pinwheels 

Gabi used homemade tomato sauce, fresh basil and Provolone to make a big batch of crowd-pleasing pinwheels. But you can use any number of toppings and sauces to suit your taste. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and these pizzas are portable so you can bring the party with you!

Yield: Makes 20 pinwheels

Flour for baking and rolling

1 pound pizza dough (either from scratch or store-bought, brought to room temperature)

1 cup sauce (tomato, pesto, red pepper even cooked sweet potatoes pureed with spices like ground chilies or curry powder)

1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (Provolone, goat, aged white cheddar, fresh mozzarella OR feel free to skip the cheese if you are vegan/dairy-free)

1 to 2 cups toppings  (caramelized diced red onions, spinach or fresh basil or anything you’d put on a pizza, from cooked/raw vegetables to chopped salami or ham–just make sure it’s cut into small, bite-size pieces)

Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly flour a baking sheet and set aside.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough out into a large rectangle, about 14-by-10 inches and spread the dough with the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese and scatter the toppings over the sauced, cheesed dough (remember not to go too heavy). Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Roll the dough up the long way, pinching as you go to ensure a tight seal. When you finish rolling the dough, you should have a 10-inch log.

3. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into twenty ½-inch-thick pieces. Lay each slice on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Fondue Party on the Fly: The Good Food Awards and Making the Most of a Good Thing

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If life gives you lots of cheese, make fondue. That was the strategy for the Good Food Awards after party held this year at The Mill, Josey Baker’s wonderful bakery on Divisadero Street in San Francisco. Tia Harrison (co-owner Avedano’s and Sociale and co-founder of The Butcher’s Guild) and Marrissa Guggiana (co-founder of The Butcher’s Guild and author of  Off the Menu: Staff Meals at America’s Top Restaurants)  took charge of this year’s fondue extravaganza.

Created through a collaboration of food producers, farmers and independent grocers and organized by Seedling Projects , the Good Food Awards is an annual event celebrating the best artisan foods based on flavor as well as sustainability:

The Good Food Awards recognize that truly good food—the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities—contains all of these ingredients. We take a comprehensive view, honoring people who make food that is delicious, respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions.

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Seedling Project founder Sarah Weiner and her sisters.

Though the actual award ceremony isn’t until January, the panel of  130 judges were in town for the tasting which included beer, charcuterie, chocolate, coffee, oils, pickles, preserves, spirits and of course CHEESE.  Over 140 samples (approximately 200 pounds) of cheese were submitted this year. After all the cheese had been carefully tasted and evaluated, the mandate of not wasting any leftovers resulted in a thank-you party for all the judges and volunteers. Extra cheese =fondue =delicious and fun.  Understanding that extra cheese is a luxury, fondue is still relatively simple and inexpensive to make for a crowd. 

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Fondue comes from the French word fondre, or to melt.  There classic recipe calls for good melting cheeses Emmentaler (Swiss) and Gruyere cheeses and includes alcohol or acid, a binder, and flavorings.  Since in our case, we didn’t have much control over the cheeses, Tia used these basic guidelines, approximating the proportions and adjusting for flavor and consistency.  The key was making one large batch at a time and pouring into smaller fondue pots.  If you feel more comfortable making multiple small batches (that serve 6 at a time),  we highly recommend Laura Werlin’s tried-and-true recipe for Classic Cheese Fondue from her book The New American Cheese.   We served the fondue with bowls of cubed Josey Baker bread generously donated by the Mill and side platters of charcuterie, fresh sliced vegetables, and pickles.

Now you can fondue too.

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Josey Baker gives the fondue a swirl.

Big Batch Equipment, Cooking, and Strategy Notes:  Tia made big batches of fondue in a 5 quart-sauce pot before pouring into smaller-sized fondue pots to serve.  She would then make additional batches and re-fill as needed.  A large-sized whisk is recommended as are multiple packs of long bamboo skewers.

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Tia Harrison whisks up some fondue magic.

On the Fly Fondue

Tia created this recipe adjusting the seasonings and the proportions to the characteristics and flavors of the cheeses  available. Making fondue isn’t difficult but you must pay attention and “listen” to what it needs.  Cheeses have different moisture and fat contents and they react differently to heat. If you have the choice, chose cheeses that melt well and yield a smooth consistency. The ingredient amounts are approximations so you will need to taste and test for flavor and consistency as you go along and  we offer this recipe to you in this spirit. For the bread, a rustic thick loaf cut into 1-inch cubes makes the best swirling. 

Serve with platters of sliced vegetables, charcuterie, and pickles!

Makes 3 to 4 quarts or 12 to 16 cups; serves about 50 people at a party supplemented with other edibles. 

1. 6 pints (1 bottle) dark beer

Approximately 4 pounds good melting cheese, (Emmentaler, Swiss or Gruyere, Fontina, Jack, or Cheddar), cut into 2-inch cubes, approximately 8 to 10 cups.

Approximately 1/2 cup whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 bunch rosemary

1-2 cups heavy cream

Approximately 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Approximately 5 to 6 loaves rustic-style bread cut into 1-inch cubes

1. Pour beer into a large (5-quart) stock pan. Add 8 cups of cheese and bring to a simmer over medium high heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the cheese melts and the consistency is smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too runny add more cheese xx at a time.

3. Use a large whisk to stir in the mustard, rosemary, chopped garlic, and stir constantly until blended.

4. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the cream and the cornstarch to create a slurry.

5. Pour the slurry into the cheese mixture and continue to whisk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the the cream 1/2 cup at a time, checking to make sure the consistency is thick and smooth.  Check the consistency by dipping a cube of bread into the fondue to see how the cheese coats the bread adding more cheese if needed.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Pour into the small fondue pots and serve with the cubed bread.

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Feast of the Momo—How to make Nepalese Dumplings for a Crowd

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The day we met Bini Prathan, owner of Bini’s Kitchen  at La Cocina, she had just finished making 15,000 momos (Nepalese dumplings) for the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Big batch cooking is in Bini’s blood. Born in Nepal, her mother cooked for the Nepalese royal family in the 1960s and big gatherings were the norm. “A typical party at my house was 160 to 180 people, it wasn’t unusual to have 35 people over for dinner.”

Whether for a party of for a mid-week dinner, friends and family would gather in the kitchen to cook together  “It’s how you catch up on the days events. It’s one of the things you love to do together.” When she was a child, she and her friends would run to her house from school because everyone knew there would always be good food. Nowadays, Bini counts on her assistant Sopa who is from Tibet as well as family members to help with big events. But she doesn’t have much trouble convincing people to help, even some of her clients have joined in the fun,  “They like to be a part of it.”

Big gatherings are typical in Nepal where it is said “the Nepalese people observe more festivals than there are days in a year. There are different festivals celebrated to honor Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses and others to recreate important events from ancient mythology and epic literature.”  Bini is looking forward to the Dashian, a religious festival that lasts for 15 days at the end of October.  For this festival, her family would cook a goat and buffalo and make curry with chicken and “whatever else was possible.” Usually 100 to 250 people would come to that event.

Bini went to culinary school in Mumbai before moving to San Francisco and joining La Cocina’s business incubation program nearly a year ago. Her menu includes sumptous curries, dahls, rotis and other Nepalese specialties including her beloved momos.

Also found in Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, and other parts of India, a momo is a type of steamed or fried dumpling that boast numerous variations of filling. Bini’s specialties include turkey, lamb, and cabbage (vegetarian).  She says the secret to her momos is her spice mixture that includes spices she brings back from Nepal.

Folding a momo is like making pleats for a fan. It takes a bit of practice and technique shown here by  Sopa.

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The little hole in the top is for putting in the sauce.

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Bini says that when you eat a momo, it is important to grasp the top with all 5 fingers  and place the whole dumpling in your mouth. “God gave you 5 fingers. When you eat with your hands you are saying thank you to god; when you lick your fingers you are serene from the inside, and this means you are feeding your soul, not just your stomach.” 

Cooking  For  Crowd Strategy: As noted above, having lots of eager volunteers is the best way to make momos for a crowd. For steaming the dumplings, if you don’t have an industrial scale steamer (!!), Bini recommends the Asian stacked steamers in which you can steam 20 to 30 at a time. For big gatherings you will need a dedicated person to steam the dumplings in batches.

Serving a Crowd Strategy: At big events, Bini spoons about 8 momos per person into little paper boat bowls.  For the sauce, pour into plastic bottles with squirt tops for more fun and easier service.

Bini’s Turkey Momos

Bini recommends using a sturdy round dumpling wrapper.  She prefers Nasoya round wrappers which come in packs of 60.  For the filling,  you can add spices to taste; fry a little pinch to test the flavoring before you stuff the wrapper.

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*Note that the proportion of spices is to taste. To test your filling fry up a pinch and taste it before you stuff your dumplings. Also each pack of Nagoya round wrappers includes 60 wrappers, so count on 1 pack per batch.

 

 

1.  Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently until all the ingredients and spices are evenly disbursed. Try to handle as little as possible.

2. To fill each dumpling, place a table spoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and gather the edges together pasting with little water. Fold, wrap and pleat to make neat joint for each individual momo leaving a little “well” at the top.

 3.  Take a tray spray it with nonstick spray and place each wrapped momos in a row and put it in a freezer until ready to cook.

4.  To steam the momos,  fill the steamer to the half-point half  with water and boil. Place a colander (steamer) on top of the vessel and grease it with nonstick spray.

 5.  Lightly spray each momo with oil and place on the greased colander leaving inch between each momo .Cover the steamer with lid and steam for 15  minutes.

 6.  Serve steaming hot momos with spicy tomato cilantro sauce. Recipe follows:

Spicy Tomato Cilantro Sauce

This recipe calls for a Nepalese spice called timur which is available online. If you can’t find, it just leave it out.  If you are making a big batch, it is helpful to place sauce in bottles with a squirt top for easier serving.

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1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a baking sheet,  roast the tomatoes for about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside to let cool.

3.  Place all of the ingredients in a blender or a food processor  (roasted tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, timur, asafetida powder, salt and oil). and process until the sauce is smooth and light orange in color.

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La Cocina–Big Batch Cooking in the Heart of the Mission

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Last week I stopped by La Cocina where the kitchen was full of women food entrepreneurs and volunteers baking, stirring, wrapping, and roasting—prepping for the annual Night Market and San Francisco Street Food Festival.

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These ladies really know about big batch cooking!  Bini Pradhan of Bini’s kitchen had made over 15,000 lamb momos (Nepalese dumplings ).  “It took 17 volunteers working for over 2 weeks!,” she said. Meanwhile, at least 6 women dressed in lime green tee shirts from Alica’s Tamales  Los Mayas scooped and stuffed corn while a giant pot of crimson-colored jamaica (hibiscus tea) by Chiefo’s Kitchen boiled on the stove.  Mariko Grady of Aedan’s fermented Foods,  broiled pans of chicken yakitori while Azalina Eusope, a beloved Malaysian food entrepreneur, folded crepes with her crew.

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The room was full of energy, purpose and hope. La Cocina, a non-profit incubator kitchen, is all about hope: Its mission is dedicated to ” changing San Francisco’s food scape by working with food entrepreneurs doing what they love to do.” In addition to providing state of the art kitchen space, La Cocina also provides mentors, business classes, and a real community.

“la Cocina was born out of a belief that a community of natural entrepreneurs, given the right resources, can create self-sufficient businesses that benefit themselves, their families, their community and the whole city. The food that has come out of this kitchen and the whole city since 2005 reflects that aspiration and, quite simply, tastes amazing….As a result of these businesses and La Cocina’s support, community jobs have been created and thousands have been introduced to the flavors of the world. As a testament to their quality, the businesses of La Cocina sell their products locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally.”

 The festival and the Night market brought together the Mission community as well as chefs and food enthusiasts from all over the city.   In addition to the La Cocina businesses, the 80 plus vendors included booths by local businesses and some of San Francisco’s most beloved restaurants.

A gift, provided by la Cocina at the Night Market, included this  lovely quote by  Cesar Chavez:

“Las Personas que le dan su comida, le dan su corazon.”

which translates to

“The people who give you their food, give you their heart.”

Over the next few months, we will tell stories (with recipes!) of many of these big-hearted people.

La Concina

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Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

When my dear friends Jill Santopietro and Meredith Arthur asked me to make cookies for their “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” bake sale, I decided to use my stand-by recipe for butter cookies. Since the bake sale was going to be hosted by San Francisco food professionals, I knew that there would be an assortment of gorgeous treats so my strategy had to be simplicity. I hatched a plan to distinguish my cookies by decorating with blue sprinkles–targeting what I perceived to be the underserved “Hanukkah Christmas Cookie” market, but we only had pink and purple sugar crystals (and I burned the first batch) so my plan was thwarted!

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The sale took place in front of 18 Reasons, who had generously donated their space. Inside a group of volunteers hosted a cookie decorating session for kids while everyone was prepping and drinking coffee.

As I suspected, the table was filled with gorgeous silver cake pops and coconut macaroons; peppermint chocolate bark, and elegantly wrapped double chocolate chip cookies. Peanut butter fudge Christmas trees covered in red, green, and white dragees sparkled next to chocolate covered salted caramels, all made by a fantastic group of bakers and San Francisco foodies including Jill, and the amazing bakers at Chow, Bi-rite, and Michael Minna among others.  The team of volunteers took my paltry cookies, bagged them in cello wrapping, and and put them out right next to a bag of Anthony’s famous chocolate chip cookies.

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Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was started by Gretchen Holt-Witt when her son Liam was diagnosed. Gretchen had a crazy idea for a larger-than-life bake sale with the goal of baking 96,000 cookies with friends and volunteers. All 96,000 cookies were sold in three weeks, thanks to the work of over 250 volunteers.  Since that time, other subsequent bake sales have raised over 4.5 million dollars to battle kids cancer and the movement is going strong.

It was a gorgeous day and everyone was so happy to be out in the sun. The best part of the sale was talking to the people who came by, telling them about the cause, because here’s the thing: There are no prices on any of the baked goods. People take what they want and then donate what they have and the cool thing is that each dollar is matched 3 times by sponsors including Starbucks, OXO, and Glad.  We raised $2,225 that day which meant that we actually raised close to $7,000.

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My shift was ending and I didn’t want to leave, and then I noticed a little girl holding a bag of my cookies. I stood and watched as she ate the whole bag in front of me –purple sprinkles and all.

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Take that, Kids’ Cancer!

It’s easy to host a bake sale. For more information, please head to http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org/

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November 26, 2012 · 10:46 pm