There are no shortage of top chefs who call the Bay Area home, but few are more beloved than Joanne Weir.
I first met Joanne last fall when I received an invitation to join several Bay Area food bloggers for an intimate potluck dinner at her San Francisco home to celebrate the release of her eighteenth cookbook, Kitchen Gypsy, Recipes & Stories from a Lifelong Romance With Food. The mouth-watering collection chronicles her life through beloved recipes gleaned from family and travels around the world.
A fourth-generation professional cook, Joanne began her culinary career under the tutelage of renowned French master Madeleine Kamman before making her way to the esteemed ranks in the kitchen at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters. Her accomplishments include authoring James Beard award-winning cookbooks (18 and counting), Consulting Editor-at-Large at Fine Cooking Magazine, PBS TV producer and host of her own cooking shows, Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence and Joanne Weir Gets Fresh, and savvy restaurateur. Her celebrated Mexican-style eatery and tequileria, Copita, opened in downtown Sausalito, California in 2012 and recently won a 2016 People’s Choice Saucy Award for Best Restaurant of the Year!
Over the course of her career, Joanne has gained a devout following through her innate talent for making everyone who crosses her path feel like a genuine friend. Her signature tousled russet curls, and charismatic Cheshire grin, always give her away instantly. In a field where ego can dominate, she is that rare person who has managed to stay grounded despite her hard-earned celebrity. She’s like your best friend who made it big, but didn’t let it go to her head.
In addition to her many entrepreneurial pursuits, Joanne hosts a series of delicious culinary travel tours throughout Europe, as well as themed cooking classes in the gourmet kitchen of her San Francisco Victorian flat (which is also the studio set for her cooking shows).
If you’re pondering what to gift that special foodie on your holiday list, consider booking one of Weir’s culinary adventures abroad. The 2017 line up has week-long excursions in Italy, Spain, Morocco, and Greece that include luxury accommodations, hands-on cooking classes, memorable meals, and exclusive tours and tastings at local wineries, farmers markets, and more–all in an intimate group setting.
If a weekend commitment is more to your liking, her San Francisco-based culinary cooking classes offer novices and experienced cooks the chance to mingle, prepare a lavish shared meal from scratch, and enjoy time with new friends as you listen to Joanne pepper her teaching with entertaining personal stories.
I had the pleasure of attending her Tapas & Tequila weekend course, where we prepared some of her favorite Spanish dishes including ceviche, Gazpacho salad, handmade tortillas, Chicken Tinga and Flatiron Steak Tacos with Chipotle Crema, and the most decadent Mexican Chocolate Soufflés with Tequila-Chipotle Creme Anglaise (and that was all on the first day!)
We began the morning around her large dining room table reviewing the recipes we would prepare, and discussing techniques while noshing on homemade muffins with coffee.
Each of us chose the dish we wanted to work on with another member of the group, then grabbed our aprons and hit the kitchen.
The bulk of the afternoon was spent cooking, laughing, and creating community through our shared experience. Joanne was like a hummingbird, flitting effortlessly from station to station to check in with each group and keep us on track.
When we sat around her table again later that afternoon to enjoy the amazing feast we had prepared, there was a sense of celebration, accomplishment and camaraderie. We toasted our efforts with Copita margaritas, and journeyed home with memories (and new recipes) that will last a lifetime.
I still dream about making her Mexican Chocolate Soufflés with Tequila-Chipotle Creme Anglaise.
While this recipe takes some doing, it is well worth the effort. Be sure to save room at the end of your meal for this rich, flavorful dessert that is destined to become a personal favorite.
Mexican Chocolate Soufflés with Tequila-Chipotle Creme Anglaise (makes eight, six-ounce servings)
*shared with permission by Joanne Weir
Printable recipe: mexican-chocolate-souffles-with-tequila-chipotle-creme-anglaise
- 10 oz. best quality Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra), finely chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons Reposado tequila
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs, separated
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- Confectioner’s sugar for garnish
- Tequila-Chipotle Creme Anglaise (recipe follows)
- Combine the first 9 ingredients (chocolate through salt) in a heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Note: the chocolate base can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Stir over low heat until lukewarm before continuing.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter eight, 6 oz. ramekins and coat lightly with sugar. Whisk the egg yolks into the lukewarm chocolate base. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the chocolate base in three additions.
- Divide the shuffle mixture among prepared ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Bake on center oven rack until puffed, but still moist in the center; about 15 minutes.
- Dust warm shuffles with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.
- At the table, make a hole in the center of each shuffle and pour some of the Tequila-Chipotle Creme Anglaise into the center.
Tequila-Chipotle Creme Anglaise (serves 8)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 vanilla bean, split & scraped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon tequila
- 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
- 3 egg yolks
- In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the egg yolk. Over medium-low heat, bring mixture to a scald. Remove from the heat and let steep 15 minutes.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk the yolks to break them up. Slowly add the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the custard begins to coat the back of a spoon and the temperature of the sauce is 170F on an instant read thermometer. Be careful not to overcook.
- Strain immediately into a clean bowl, and immediately whisk to incorporate some cool air. Allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. If not using immediately, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temp just before serving.
What a sweet post Karen! I love the enthusiasm for cooking and learning that Joanne Weir ignites in others. It is contagious. Your class looked like so much fun and a great way to spend a weekend. And enough cannot be said about the gorgeous souffle. What a treat!
Thank you Shahla! She is one of a kind–such a good ambassador for the culinary arts. Perhaps one day we will join her in Morocco for a week of fun and feasting . . . 😉
What a fun weekend; soufflés look divine!
It was a great experience Joan! I highly recommend Joanne’s classes, and “divine” is the perfect word to describe these soufflés!
Hi Karen, is the tequila a strongoing flavor cooked? Wondering if one might change the liquor to something like orange brandy, and use orange zest in the custard to carry the flavor?
An interesting idea Penny. The alcohol does dissipate during cooking, so you get the essence of tequila but it doesn’t hit you over the head. If you aren’t a fan of tequila, I would definitely experiment with the orange brandy and zest. Orange and chocolate marry quite well! Let me know the outcome. Happy holidays!
mmm, mmm good:)
These souffles look delicious and would be great to serve holiday guests.
Agreed Jovina! The only tricky part is the timing. They need to be served warm from the oven, so I recommend them as the finish to an elegant dinner party and not on the buffet table.