I love to travel and I love food (surprise!). At this point in my life travel isn’t something I get to do much, but cooking, that’s another story. So, I’m working on a series of dinners over at Wallingford Culinary Studio to quell my desire to travel. As long as I keep my social media reading to a minimum it works pretty well. At the moment I’m spending a lot of time at the library reading cookbooks about different cuisines. My current favorite is Middle Eastern/North African: I put the two together because there is a lot of crossover, from harissa to hummus, preserved lemons to yogurt there are similarities I am happy to explore.
On my bookshelf at the moment is:
- Zahav–Watch the Philly episode of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, if that doesn’t make you want to eat everything in this book then, I don’t know if we can be friends (I can do my best to convert you though, I’ll make you some halvah then we’ll see how you feel).
- Mourad: New Morrocan–A student recently described the author of this book as the hot chef with the tattoos (I know, I know it describes a lot of people, but in addition to being an amazing cookbook author, he is pretty photogenic). His description of spice mixes makes me swoon.
- Plenty–Ok, anything by Yotam Ottolenghi is gorgeous. The man really has a talent for making vegetables sexy.
- The Food of Morocco–Paula Wolfert is on my short list of people I want to be like when I grow up. Part of what draws me to her is her love of the culture that food represents. What each eat is a reflection of family, location, and tradition and she understands that connection.
The menu for the class I’m currently running is:
Muhammara stuffed dates
Hummus and crudité
Chickpea and tomato stew
Cauliflower with pomegranate and tahini sauce
Roasted eggplant with sumac spiked yogurt
If you ever make hummus with me you’ll know I get pretty uptight about it. What many people call hummus in the US is a bland uneventful puree that is fit for drunk college students and pretty much no one else. Hummus should be a creamy, garlicky, symphony in your mouth and for crying out loud, cumin doesn’t belong in it. What better way to enjoy it than with a crudite platter, this is a pre-class photo so the hummus bowl is still waiting to be filled with garlicky goodness.
The tagine is a lot of fun, while I made preserved lemons a few weeks ago, a local treasure here in Seattle,Big John’s PFI, sells some that come from Morocco, so for a recent class we did a taste test. The batch I made was bright and lemony, while the Moroccan lemons were funkier and tasted more like an olive. We put both in out tagine and the flavors added an extra depth that everyone loved. That’s my favorite part of teaching at the Studio. We set a menu, but what you get during class may evolve in the moment, and we get to do that as a group. Having fun in the kitchen gives you the freedom to explore and be flexible, letting the dish lead you to the best flavor.
A Peruvian class is coming up where we’ll take a look at where Japan and Peru collide to make beautiful food. Nordic cuisine, Spain, Slovakia, and West Africa are all on the list for 2017. Join us to travel the world in our kitchen at Wallingford Culinary Studio!