When Lebanese families come together to share and enjoy a meal or even when you walk into a Lebanese restaurant, the word 'sahteyn' if often said. Loosely translated it means 'twice your health'. Sahteyn was an appropriate way to start tonight's vegetarian cooking class with chef, Adam Guthrie from 'I Feel Good'. The business was founded when Adam and his artist wife, Ruth (Roo) saw an opportunity to help people achieve the skills needed to live a healthy life.
"We are all about providing you with the tools and resources necessary to help you on your journey to creating and maintaining a healthier, happier, more conscious and meaningful life."
Adam and Roo (and their two young daughters) have been living a vegetarian lifestyle for many years and Adam's recipes and cooking style reflects his philosophies on life. There are no animal products used in Adam's recipes so whilst the classes are called 'vegetarian' they are also suitable for vegans.
|Loubiab' Zeith - Green Beans Cooked in Tomato with onions, garlic & lemon juice|
|Adam demonstrating how to prepare fresh herbs - the secret is in the motion of the knife AND not over chopping.|
|As I said...it's a hands-on (or hands-in) kind of class. Here one of the guys prepares the falafel.|
As always, Adam's classes attract a wide variety of people: men & women, young & not so young, some come with their partners or a family member, others come alone. All guests, however, come in the quest of learning how to cook delicious, healthy food for themselves, their family and friends. If you were strangers at the beginning of the night, by the time you sit down to dinner you're all talking as if you've been friends for years. Cooking and eating together tends to have that effect.
So with introductions over...it was down to the business of cooking!
Aubergine, tomato and chickpea casserole
Green Beans Cooked in Tomato
Batata Bil Kizbara
Potato with Coriander
Rice cooked with lentils
First we needed to prepare our dessert - Baklava. We gathered around the table to watch Adam demonstrate the art of working with Filo pastry. Filo is one of my favourite pastries however having tackled this paper thin and sometimes tricky pastry many times, it was good to learn some techniques from a professional.
|Preparing the sugar syrup for the baklava|
|Concentrating - guest cook Debbie prepares the baklava...|
|Working with paper-thin filo can be tricky!|
|Brushing each layer of filo with melted 'butter' (actually, Nuttelex)|
|...and this is the result. A sweet to die for!|
Adam believes that the food we eat should be as fresh and natural as possible. That means he uses organically grown food with the least possible processing. Adam uses Sydney grocers Doorstep Organics at home and for his cooking classes. Doorstep organics, as the name implies, delivers beautiful fresh organic produce throughout Sydney, as far north as the Central Coast and down to Berry. Whilst the prices are a little more than you'd pay at your local supermarket, you do get what you pay for - fresh, pesticide free fruit and veg that hasn't been stored for months.
Check out 'Doorstep Organics' http://doorstep.com.au/
Back to the kitchen...guests pair up and are given a specific course to cook, the recipe and ingredients at a 'station' situated around the benches of the kitchen.
|Where possible Adam always tries to use fresh, Australian produce.|
|A rather unconventional way of roasting aubergine - just put it straight on the flame of a gas burner.|
|The aubergine is turned until the skin blackens and the flesh in soft. The aubergine is then placed into a plastic bag to sweat and then the skin is removed. This became the major ingredient in the baba ghanoush - the smokey flavour was amazing!|
|Adam demonstrates how to dice an onion - the trick is keeping the bottom of the onion in tact. Great to be able to finally produce those perfect little pieces of onion - I (almost) felt like a real chef.|
|Preparing the ingredients for Musakka -|
Aubergine, tomato and chickpea casserole
This was my favourite dish of the night.
|Guest cook Su gets a helping hand from the chef.|
|The secret ingredient for the Mussaka - Molasses. This thick, black liquid adds a rich taste and colour to dishes.|
|Cooking onions and chickpeas for the mussaka.|
|Browned aubergine for the mussaka - fried in a little olive oil the eggplant turns a lovely caramel colour.|
|How to chop herbs, keeping them crisp and green without losing their beautiful texture and flavour.|
|The kitchen was full of delicious aromas coming from every direction - and lots of laughter.|
|...a sprinkle of rock salt|
|Mussaka - looking good!|
|The soaked bourghal ready to be added to the Tabbouleh|
|Potatoes are cut into small cubes and fried for the Batata Bil Kizbara or Potato with Coriander. Add some paprika, fresh garlic and coriander - I was lucky to even get to taste this one, it was so popular.|
|Beautiful crushed pistachios for the baklava.|
|Strangers only a few hours before...friends sit down to enjoy the fruits of their labour!|
... I wonder what part of the world Adam will take us to next time?