Last month I ran a contest to increase blog traffic - Win a Lebanese Brunch Cooking Class.
Today, four winners enjoyed learning, making and eating "a wonderful array of culinary firsts", according to one attendee.
To get all brains focused, we kicked off the class with making "Turkish" coffee.
One of the key lessons about making Turkish coffee is to ensure that it does not boil over the stove. To get the point across clearly, I succeeded in boiling it over!
We were now all set to proceed to the first course - Sahlab.
A breakfast drink, a starter of fancy Lebanese salons' brunches; this is milk cooked with salep flour (you can read all about this at Wikipedia's link).
Easy to make, but you need to find the authentic brands (look for Sahlab, Salep, or roots of orchids mascula on the ingredient list). We made and drank it hot, sprinkled with cinnamon.
We then moved to learning the techniques of making Manakeesh.
While a detailed recipe and instructions on how to make it are on the blog (see Sunday Home Made Manakeesh entry), nothing beats getting your hands dirty (literally) pounding the zaatar and oil mix into the dough.
We baked and ate them hot. Great work "girls", they turned out excellent.
Everyone was then put to work one way or another. One poor contestant was stuck with squeezing lemons on somerville kitchen's cute hand squeezer that can do one lemon well, then becomes completely dysfunctional.
Lemon was used to make Foul Moudamas - fava beans dressed with a lemon, olive oil, garlic and salt. We sprinkled chopped parsley on it. Some even experimented with it on top Manakeesh.
But nothing made the participants more proud of themselves than their perfect Lebanese Baked Omelette. Packed with shallots, parsley, diced zucchini and green peppers.
It must be your excellent chopping, buttering and whisking!
No Lebanese brunch is complete without Kanafeh. There are two versions, one that you can see at Breakfast in Toronto (my favourite), but difficult to make. The other is easier, using shredded dough (Kataifi).
Hands were busy buttering the baking dish, buttering the dough, layering it all. It baked as we cleaned up and geared up to end our learning and feasting.
Kanefeh was drizzled with Kater (Lebanese sugar syrup) and it was enjoyed hot from the oven; served with cafe blanc. This is hot water with a tiny bit of sugar and a tsp of orange blossom water - the ultimate in Lebanese brunch sophistication.
As one participant put it "Wow!!! Great brunch menu! Lots of great flavours!! A very enjoyable way to learn and taste new things!"
All had fun, all were well fed and everyone walked out with a little care package: a can of Foul Moudamas, an envelope of Sahlab and the full recipes of all we cooked.
Thank you all for coming, being great sports, having a big appetite and making this a fun day.
Special thanks for the pictures "girls". As I was busy running the workshop, the participants were helping documenting our fun day.
And glad to hear you enjoyed your time; after all you deserve it, look at the traffic you generated in October - the highest ever with close to 2500 visits in one month. Thank you!