Saturday, July 30, 2011

Group Cooking Class

Ahem ahem *cough cough*...
It has been quite a long time since I've posted anything on here and it's now time to cough my way through the dust and get back on track! A lot has happened in the year since my last post, but the one constant has been my persistent curiosity for exploring vegan cuisine, and so without further ado: cooking classes!

I stumbled across a Melbourne cook who specializes in contemporary macrobiotic cooking and since I had cooked my way through The Kind Diet and Jessica Porter's Macrobiotic book, I was keen to get some more practical tips. I am convinced of the benefits of eating wholefoods and a believer of the mantra: if the ingredient listed wouldn't be recognised by your great-grandmother, then don't eat it! Whilst I am a vegan, I don't eat any mock-meats, processed 'sausages', vegan cheeses or refined sugars/processed foods. I do eat tofu and tempeh, but limit my soy consumption and in terms for milk, prefer almond and rice milk to soy. Shokuiku Australia is the company I stumbled across, and their take is a 'modern and contemporary' approach to wholefood macrobiotic cooking.

My first lesson was a couple of weeks ago and was a one-on-one lesson. I had wanted to get some more ideas on how to creatively incorporate beans and grains into quick, tasty dishes that even Sven wouldn't refuse! A sample of the dishes we cooked were: Quinoa with Ginger-Infused Beets & Wakame, Mushroom, Onion & White Bean Pie with White Sauce Topping, and Warm Spiced Vegetable and Lentil Salad.

I wish I had of taken photos! The dishes were the perfect balance for winter and combined all the fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients that balanced both yin and yang. I was embarrassed at how quickly I ate it afterwards! Still working on my slower, chewing ala macrobiotic-style...

After the success of this class I decided to try one of Shokuiku's group classes today. It was fantastic... The menu (sorry but I can't give away the secret recipes!):
**Piping Hot Whole Grain Gratin topped with Tofu Sauce
**Apple & Raisin Chutney
**Comforting Winter Chickpea Miso Soup
**Green & Red Salad with Ginger & Ume Vinegar Dressing.

There were about 8 of us in the class and we had a great location -a converted warehouse in Brunswick. I find that I tend to learn recipes and cooking tips more if I'm in a setting where it's 'hands-on' as opposed to just reading a recipe book. Yoko (the owner of Shokuiku) ran the class with a very relaxed style and her tips had a lot of us scribbling in our notebooks. For example, did you know that soaking your legumes till they sprout will save a lot of cooking time?? Or that homemade tofu can be whipped with garlic, tahini and miso to create the most amazing savoury crust (when oven-baked)??

It was such a wonderful afternoon. I don't know what it is, but there's something really special and satisfying about preparing a meal and sitting down to eat it, with people that are as equally passionate about food as you are! Plus I met some great new friends!

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