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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We Get Cooking With Culture.licious

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but the opposite is true when it comes to Wendy Chung’s new cooking class venture, Culture.licious
On a sunny Saturday morning, I was invited to prepare a three-course meal with Panamanian master cook Lizka at Culture.licious’ Mississauga location on top of the Square One Whole Foods Market. 

Inspired by Wendy’s travels abroad and the delicious home-cooked meals she shared with local families, each Culture.licious class features communal cooking and enlists international home cooks to share signature dishes that are simple and easy to whip up in your own kitchen. Equipped with a booklet of Lizka’s family recipes, our intimate class of eleven students set out to tackle our first course, Patacones Fritos en Salsa or fried plantains with seasoned chicken strips and sauce.  

Raw green plantains chopped and ready for the fryer….




While our chicken strips and plantains are hard at work on the stovetop, Wendy shows us how to make a quick ketchup and mayonnaise dipping sauce that pairs perfectly with our fried plantains.

This crispy appetizer was surprisingly easy to make and it’s definitely something I‘ll incorporate into my regular repertoire. 

Paired with a refreshing pico de gallo salad (served in pretty lettuce leaves no less), this dish is sure to impress with simple, homestyle flavours.

Next up were Lizka’s corn-based empanadas with minced beef or cheese filling. 

What I loved about Lizka’s recipe was that she showed us both the authentic way of preparing the dish from scratch (grinding your own corn dough) and a shortcut way to get dinner on the table fast (corn flour and water). 

The fluffy hand-ground corn dough tasted amazing compared to the one made with corn flour, but we weren’t about to turn down the chance to make more empanadas.
Lizka shows us how to use a traditional tortilla press to flatten out our empanada dough
Why buy salsa when you can make your own?
For dessert: a rich Spanish flan made easy on the stovetop
Overall, I really enjoyed my Culture.licious experience and it was a lot of fun not having to tackle every step of the cooking process on your own. Our class was a mix of family members, friends, and people simply interested in cooking flavourful foreign dishes.

Throughout the three-hour event, we all took turns chopping, peeling, frying, and seasoning while swapping stories and shortcuts gleaned from our personal cooking experiences. By cooking together, we learned not only from our master cook, but also from each other as the event naturally encourages conversation, cultural exchange, and team building. 

Each Culture.licious interactive cooking event is $75 + GST per person and includes a recipe booklet, 3 hours of hands-on cooking and eating, and a small souvenir to take home. (I received a creamy De la Rosa Peanut Mazapan candy from Lizka).

To see Culture.licious’ cooking class schedule for November - featuring master home cooks from Korea, Vietnam, Former Yugoslavian-Bosnian, Southern India, and Goa/Kenya,  visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter





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