In-Store Demonstrations

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

All demos are open to the public and free of charge.

Toque Blanche - Half Moon Bay

Toque Blanche - Santa Cruz

March 18th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Domingo Rojo Beans

Domingo Rojo in Chamba – A favorite bean cooked in our favorite bean pot.

March 18th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Cranberry Bean & Bacon Ragout

Cranberry Bean & Bacon Ragout, a warming winter side dish.

March 25th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Masabacha, think of this as an inverted hummus—whole or lightly smashed chickpeas served in a warm tahini dressing.

March 25th1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Bean Dip

3 Chili Midnight Bean Dip with Corn Chips. It’s party time!

April 1st11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Shakshuka Scramble

This spicy scramble will definitely get you going in the morning, and cleanup is a breeze when you use a Swiss Diamond Skillet!

April 28th, 29th & 30th
Santa Cruz Sidewalk Sale

Santa Cruz Sidewalk Sale at ChefworksThe Downtown Santa Cruz Sidewalk Sale will be happening all weekend long! Stop by during your afternoon outing and see what’s on sale!

April 8th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Cornmeal Waffles 

Cornmeal Waffles with a Strawberry and Grains of Paradise Topping – See the Chef’s Choice Waffle Iron in action, and enter for a chance to win one on our Facebook Page!

April 8th, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Chia Pudding

Good and good for you, chia pudding is quick to whip up in the Vita Mix. Come try our Chia Banana pudding!

April 15th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Inna Jam Tasting

Make your Easter Brunch even more special with Inna Jams.

April 15th, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Juice Tasting

Start the day with some vitamin C. We’ll make Sparkling Rosemary Ginger Grapefruit juice using the Novis Juicer.

April 22nd11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Get your mornings started off right with Tea Pigs Matcha.

April 22nd, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
We’ll have samples of Spicy Cheddar and Green Onion Biscuits hot off the waffle iron.
April 29th11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
French Toast

Challah French Toast with Honey Butter made from Bariani Farms Raw Wildflower Honey.

April 28th, 29th & 30th
Santa Cruz Sidewalk Sale

The Downtown Santa Cruz Sidewalk Sale will be happening all weekend long! We'll have plenty of discounted Chamba and more!


Posted in Upcoming Demos

March Newsletter: Crazy About Beans

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

Singing the Praises of Beans!

What food is high in protein, has virtually no fat and has more fiber than most whole grain foods? The answer is beans! Now a new U.S. dietary guidance message says that diets including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. See? They really ARE good for your heart! (We’ll deal with the other part of that equation in a moment!)

When it comes to beans, we are huge fans of Rancho Gordo Beans for MANY reasons. First and foremost is flavor. These heirloom beans pack a punch in that department that you just can’t get out of a can. Simply cooked with a little sofrito/mirepoix of vegetables and in water, you get an amazing pot liquor, or as Steve Sando calls it, free soup! We also love the fact that RG is a local company, and most of their beans are grown in California or Washington. They also work with small farmers in Mexico to protect both small family farming and specialty heirloom varieties of beans.

 And the love is mutual! From Steve Sando's blog:

"Chamba was my first unglazed clay that I fell in love with. It's from Colombia and I first saw it in Half Moon Bay at a great shop that has since morphed into Toque Blanche. They've become the leaders in supplying  the fanciful cookware, in their store and over the internet. The website even has information about how the unique pots are made."

Tip of the Month: 
Dealing with those “side effects”

 There are a few types of multi-chain sugars in beans that are harder for us to digest, and when these start fermenting it causes gas. The benefit of this is that it helps create more good gut bacteria, so eating more beans (increasing gradually) will help these effects decrease, and more good gut bacteria has been shown to help with many other health issues as well.

Question of the Month:
Why does rice go with beans?

Personally, we think it tastes great and helps “lighten” up the dish. (A bean burrito without rice just seems a little heavy.) But there is a real practical side Beans contain most of the amino acids to make up a complete protein. The few they are missing are found in seeds and grains. While research has now shown that the two complementary items don’t need to be eaten at the same meal, certain things have been combined culinarily in the past such as beans and rice or chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste) to make hummus. Which leads us to….

Recipe of the Month
Classic Hummus

Stuart has combined recipes and techniques from Paula Wolfert’s Clay Pot Cooking book, Laura Pazzaglia’s Hip Pressure Cooking and depending on the result you want, an Alton Brown recipe to come up with his take on the classic recipe.

 Book of the Month
Supper at Rancho Gordo by Steve Sando

Take a very beany trip around the world in this wonderful collection of recipes from the kitchen of Rancho Gordo’s founder, Steve Sando. 



 Bean-Making Made Easier!
Fagor Multi Cooker-
Have it your way: beans in 40 minutes (pressure cooker) or 4 hours (slow cooker)! From $129.95
Chamba Medium Soup Pot-
It looks and cooks like a bean pot should! Great size for cooking 1 pound of beans. On sale, $49.95
RSVP Veggie Masher-
For making refried beans you'll love this handy tool. $9.95 
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet-
What's the best pan for frying those refried beans? Nothing beats cast iron! From $24.95
RG Deluxe Gift Set-
Let's get started right away with a great selection of beans and the  bean book. $58.95
March Facebook Giveaway:
Rancho Gordo Cassoulet Gift Set

This sampler box features two pounds of new-crop Cassoulet beans, grown in the USA from French Tarbais seed, and a copy of the new book, Cassoulet: A French Obsession by Kate Hill, published by Rancho Gordo Books.

To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway.

Posted in Articles

Classic Hummus Recipe

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

 Stuart has combined recipes and techniques from Paula Wolfert’s Clay Pot Cooking book, Laura Pazzaglia’s Hip Pressure Cooking and depending on the result you want, an Alton Brown recipe to come up with his take on the classic recipe.


1 C dried chickpeas
Course sea salt
¼ C tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 t ground cumin
¼ cup lemon juice
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil


Soak the chickpeas in 3 cups of water and 3 tablespoons coarse salt for 12 hours. Drain and rinse. Use right away or freeze for later use.

Cook the chickpeas either stovetop (about 1-2 hours), pressure cooker (40 minutes dried or 20 minutes soaked or brined) or, for the smoothest texture, in the slow cooker (4 hours on high or 8 hours on low). Drain the chickpeas, reserving ¼ C of the pot liquor.

Stir the tahini in the jar to make sure it is well blended. Place the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and cumin in a blender or food processor  and blend until the mixture “whitens.”  With the machine running, add the reserved pot liquor.  Add 1 ¾ cups peeled chickpeas (reserving some whole ones for garnish if desired) and process until smooth and glossy.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lemon juice.  Allow to mellow at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

To serve, place on a plate and flatten out the spread, making a small well in the middle. Pour in the olive oil and sprinkle with sumac or za’atar as desired.

Posted in Recipes

Cooking Classes

Posted on March 08, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

The next Toque Blanche Cooking class will be held Thursday, March 30th, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.min the beautiful courtyard at La Piazza in Half Moon Bay.Cost is $36 ($60 for two). Bring one child under 16 free! Wine pairing is optional and can be purchased separately. Sign up here

Breakfast for Dinner Menu

Toque Blanche cooking classes are prepared by Stuart Cristol-Deman with assistance from Toque Blanche staff. Includes a 4-Course meal cooking demonstration and small servings of each course. Wine pairing is optional and can be purchased separately, here.

Have a Question? Call (800) 936-1055 10am - 6pm PST or email us 24 hours a day

Posted in Classes

Feb. Newsletter: Chocolate is not Candy; Chocolate is Food!

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

Valentine’s Day, when love is in the air and our hearts and thoughts are filled with chocolate. We carry a delicious variety all year long: whether you are looking for a quick pick-me-up (Chocolate does nice things to your brain!), a gift for a friend or loved one or for baking with, we have you covered in chocolate… so to speak. And no need to feel guilty, this year Chocolate is a Superfood! 

Question of the Month:
How do you pick the chocolate you sell?

Over the years our focus has become a bit more, well, focused. We have always searched out the good and the great and sometimes they find us. We go to the San Francisco Fancy Food Show (which unfortunately has some decidedly UN-fancy foods!) and we have to taste some bad chocolate to find the good stuff. We suffer through that for one reason only, because we love you. Like our selection of olive oils, we also prefer to keep it local, and we are very fortunate in the Bay Area to have some great people doing amazing things with chocolate, such as Kathy Wiley at Poco Dolce and Christine Doerr at Neo Cocoa. Stuart is also an occasional judge at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. This year we did find some great single varietal chocolate created “farm to bar” by K’ul Chocolate based in Minnesota. And loved the bold statement on their website: CHOCOLATE IS NOT CANDY. CHOCOLATE IS FOOD!

Tip of the Month:
“Bloomed” Chocolate

Some chocolate will get light streaks in it during storage. This is just cocoa butter melting and coming to the surface, then solidifying again. It is perfectly fine to use in recipes, as the melting or tempering of it will make the streaks go away.

Book of the Month
Dorie's Cookies

Sweets for your Sweet! Dorie’s Cookies has been out a short while, but has already made several “Best Of” lists this year! It’s with good reason; Dorie Greenspan is a multi-award winning author and expert baker, but with a writing style that makes it easy even for the beginner.

Dorie Greenspan, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2016 

February Facebook Giveaway:
Swissmar Fondue Set

Staying in the love and chocolate spirit, our monthly giveaway is a Swissmar Chocolate Fondue Set, perfect for just the two of you.

To enter the drawing, go to our Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz Facebook page and comment on the giveaway post. 

Posted in Articles

Dark Chocolate-Caramel Truffles with Sea Salt Recipe

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments


20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon flor blanca (Mexican Sea Salt)  
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Additional flor blanca


Put 8 ounces chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is smooth. Remove chocolate. Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides and swirling pan occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Stir over very low heat until caramel is smooth. Mix caramel and 1/4 teaspoon flor blanca into melted chocolate. Chill until truffle filling is firm, at least 3 hours.

Place cocoa in bowl. Using 1 Tablespoon truffle filling for each truffle, roll into balls, then roll in cocoa. Arrange on baking sheet. Cover and chill overnight.

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Place remaining 12 ounces chocolate in medium metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth and thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 115°F. Remove bowl from over water. Working quickly, submerge 1 truffle in melted chocolate. Using fork, lift out truffle and tap fork against side of bowl to allow excess coating to drip off. Transfer truffle to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. Sprinkle truffles lightly with additional flor blanca. Let stand until coating sets, at least 1 hour. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Posted in Recipes

January Newsletter: A Healthy New Year!

Posted on January 16, 2017 by Adriana Nelson | 0 comments

A Healthy New Year!

This is the time of year we all strive to eat healthy--a desire that gets renewed each year after our overindulgence during the holidays. Whether it is a food item, like Rancho Gordo beans, great heart healthy olive oils from California or spices to enhance your dishes  or tools to make things easier like the kale and herb Stripper , the Fagor LUX Multicooker to make healthy meals in minutes or the best juicer we have found (which is great for making quick vegetable broths as well!) ; we have the stuff that will make it easier to help you stick to your plan.

Tip of the Month

Kale can get a bad rap, but there is no denying its health benefits. Our favorite variety is the Lacinato variety, sometimes called “Dinosaur Kale.” When juicing kale we recommend adding some lemon into the mix for two reasons: the vitamin C in citrus actually helps your body absorb the iron in the kale better, plus it hides that “green” and slight bitter flavor some people don’t like. When eating kale raw, we like to put a little olive oil and a small pinch of salt on it and then give it a little massage. This helps break down the fibers (you will see a noticeable difference in volume after a few minutes!) which makes the kale less chewy as well as a bit easier to digest.  Oh, and did we mention the kale stripper

Question of the Month:
What can I do if I’m not supposed to use salt?

If you are just trying to cut back, the number one source of high sodium is processed food, so cooking fresh will drastically reduce your intake. When cooking, salt can play an important function even beyond taste. If you season with salt as you cook it will get into the food, will help break down fibers and draw out moisture allowing other flavors to go in. When you cook with salt you actually use LESS than when shaking it on at the table. And the food will taste better. If you are trying to use no salt at all, then we recommend adding a dash of something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice or use an ancient salt substitute, sumac. Sumac is the dried berry of the sumac tree (no, the berry is not poisonous!) and has been used for centuries in place of salt on food because salt was very expensive. (Roman soldiers were paid in bags of salt, giving us the word “salary.”) Sumac actually hits the same receptors on the tongue as salt and its slightly tart flavor helps heighten the taste of food.

Entre Nous

2016 was a rewarding year for us, to say the least. In the spring our Half Moon Bay location was named “Best Homegoods Store” in the Bay Area in a readers poll and our Santa Cruz store received a similar honor as “Best Kitchenware Store” in The Good Times Santa Cruz. Our Half Moon Bay cooking classes were touted as one of the 5 Best Bay Area Cooking Classes. In February one of our products (the Chamba Comal) was featured in the Front Burner column of the New York Times!

The frosting on the cake was when our company as a whole was named the national “Retailer of the Year” Gourmet Retailer Magazine and concurrently the U.S. entrant in the international Global Innovator Award (gia).

Rather than rest on our laurels, we will strive to be even better and continue to be the best stores we can and keep improving and innovating in 2017. Thank you to all our customers for your support. You are why we do what we do.

Looking Backwards
Here’s a list of some of our top sellers in 2016.
  1. Oxo Spiralizer. The essential “play with your food” tool, we sold more than two a day throughout the year. $14.95 
  2. SCI Nylon Pan Scraper. What can you buy in a fancy kitchenware store for less than a buck? And, yes, they really work. $0.50 
  3. Rabitos Chocolate Stuffed Figs. Pure Decadent Bliss! Decadent brandy fudge stuffed dried figs dipped in chocolate. Imported from Cáceres, Spain. Our customers couldn’t seem to get enough of them. $19.95 (box of 9) 
  4. Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler. Best $5 bucks you can spend. Choose your color or collect the whole set! $4.95 
  5. Dream Farm Tools. Colorful, fun and functional, the tools from this Australian company solve everyday kitchen problems with clever, original designs. Our customers caught onto this right away and we could hardly keep them in stock.  
  6. Chef’n Kale and Herb Stripper. Sales of this took off as the demand for kale exploded. Works great for removing the stems from kale or smaller herbs like rosemary. Invite a stripper to your next party! $7.95 
  7. Chamba Comal. We couldn’t keep up with demand after this versatile piece was featured in a New York Times article. Great for heating tortillas and grilling vegies. $34.95 
  8. Lekue Popcorn Popper. Make healthy popcorn in just a few minutes with this microwave popper. Made in Spain. $19.95 
  9. Norpro Mini Whisk. Just the thing when you’re beating only a couple of eggs. $0.79 
  10. Kuhn-Rikon Paring Knife. A sheath, non-stick surface, inexpensive—great for picnics. $9.95 



January Giveaway

This month’s Facebook giveaway is a Chamba 6 Qt. Soup Pot (SS4), the perfect vessel for healthy soups, beans and whole grains. To enter, just go to one of our Facebook pages for Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz and follow the instructions for the giveaway post. Tag a friend in your post and if you win, your friend wins one, too!

Posted in Articles

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