New year and new classes!! After running cookery classes teaching Greek food for almost three years, what started as a simple cooking class, evolved into me hosting and cooking for supperclubs and private dinners and birthday parties, teaching at other cookery schools like Divertimenti and Leith’s and finally starting my own little Greek Cookery Class Course.
On the first class of 2012 we made Gigantes, fasolia – butter beans – from Florina! For the first time we had more boys than girls in the class, it’s pure coincidence I am sure! The cliché that boys prefer to eat rather than cook and that girls want to learn cooking might not be true after all!
Comparing the butter beans you get in most big supermarkets in London/UK with the real deal, Gigantes or giant beans from Greece, the price is the first thing that hits you, they’re more expensive, but they’re worth the price as they taste much better and also look much better.
One place to buy the Greek butter beans that we call gigantes is in Bayswater, there’s a small little shop on Moscow Road called Athenian Grocery! So if you plan to cook this dish it’s worth using Greek beans, instead of normal butter beans. And since we’re talking about Florina, we also baked piperies Florinis, red long sweet peppers for one of our salads.
Nothing goes better with beans than some home-baked bread, but being busy with cooking all the dishes for the class, there was no time for the students to get into bread making as well. So I prepared that in advance, and baked bread using white spelt flour, wholemeal spelt flour, sea salt and of course Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
During a long cooking session we’re all being teased and tempted by all the smells from the food slowly simmering away. So at some point we had a 5 minute break and a tasting with some bread and Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece but also some pieces of the vegan banana bread cake I had made the day before.
There was no plan to make this class vegan, but realising we’re so soon after Christmas and New Year’s when most people have been stuffing themselves with all sorts of goodies, meats, cheeses and chocolates, I thought it’d be a good idea to introduce an all vegan meal, where the olive oil plays a very important role.
I prefer the olive oil (extra virgin always) to any margarines or spreads containing some small amount of olive oil, not only is the pure olive oil healthier it also tastes so much better. In my opinion, most spreads (not including the real 100% butter) leave an aftertaste which is not very pleasant.
Aside from the beans, the class also made pereski, this is a pontic dish that my mother and her mother always made as a starter or light snack for meals including soups or beans. Pereski is usually made with a dough that you then use to make little pies that you stuff with a mix of potato, onions and herbs, before you deep fry them in olive oil! But we used phyllo pastry for the pereski and we baked them in the oven instead of frying them in loads of olive oil.
As I told the class, this is hardly an item you’ll find on the menu in a restaurant. Usually, only a grandmother – the Greek giagia – will be making those and offering to her guests and mainly family. Having said that there is a small little restaurant in Thessaloniki, serving Pontic and Cretan dishes!! So they might still have it on their menu.
Finally, we made a simple salad of winter vegetables, Politiki Salata, it’s a salad whose name refers to the big city Poli, Constantinople or Istanbul as it’s now called. The salad from the Town, Poli, consists of cabbage, carrots and celery and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar.
And here it is ready, garnished with some piperies florinis:
Next week we’re doing Kleftiko!
A thank you goes out to Kenwood, whose blender was used to grind the nuts used in the banana bread cake.
If you are interested in booking yourself in for a course or joining a supperclub, contact me to be put on the mailing list for future events.
Or read more details on the classes for January and how to join here: https://greekcookeryclass.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/greek-cookery-class-three-sessions-in-january-for-gigantes-beans-kleftiko-and-mousaka/