Ariana’s family decided to take a last minute trip to the Poconos a few weeks ago, so her mother Deanne gave Jill and I tickets to a cooking class put on by Christine Scalfo-Glover. I had spoken with Christine back in December to get her take on new years resolutions, and thought that it would be fun to take one of her classes.
Christine’s cooking classes focus on using healthy ingredients and cooking methods with the goal of achieving wellness through diet. In these classes, she cooks in the vegan tradition, which means there is no meat, eggs, nor dairy used. The stereotype is that meat, eggs, and dairy add all the flavor needed to enjoy food, but Christine bucks this stereotype by making some bangin’ food!
Jill and I arrived at the new Evolutions for Conscious Living building, located at 1350 Southwest Boulevard. It was dark, and drizzling outside, and we quickly walked inside. As we entered, Tony greeted us at the reception desk. Off to the left, we could see a yoga class that was in session. Warrior pose was being practiced, and it was silent and serene inside Evolutions. Tony guided us to the right, around the corner and into the smallish, brightly lit kitchen behind the reception desk. Christine was inside, talking with a woman who had arrived before us. No one else was there yet, so Jill and I removed our jackets and found a seat at a tall bistro table.
The kitchen was very nice, open and spotless with an island in the middle that had some workspace and gas burners. A free-standing exhaust hood hung over the burners, ready to remove the heat and cooking fumes. The kitchen was decked out with standard culinary wares; oven, dishwasher, big sink, fridge. Wood cabinets lined the rear of the kitchen, and several bistro tables sat towards the front, where we were. More chairs lined the island, providing an excellent view of the demonstration area.
More folks started trickling in, and pretty soon, the kitchen was filled up with people hungry to learn a thing or two. Christine opened the class by having everyone introduce themselves and say why they were there and what they hoped to learn. After introductions, Christine passed out menus and recipes. We would be preparing a whipped white bean purre, sautéed mushrooms, spicy roasted sweet potatoes, and broccoli with shallots and walnuts.
The cooking portion of the class began with the sweet potatoes. They would take the longest to cook, so Christine sliced them into wedges and placed them into a bowl. She tossed them with olive oil, salt, curry powder, a little chili powder, and cinnamon. The wedges went onto a tray and into the hot oven.
In a pan on the stove, a little oil was heated. Into the pan went chopped leeks, which cooked until softened. Then white beans were added, along with veggie broth, garlic and thyme. This mixture then simmered for eight or nine minutes, and then it was seasoned with salt and pepper. Then the contents of the pan went into a food processor, where everything was blended together into a yummy white bean puree.
A large pot of water went onto the stove and was brought to a boil with a little salt. The broccoli was cut into pieces and went into the water. Christine blanched them for just a few minutes, long enough to cook them but not long enough so that they turned a dull shade of army green. The shallots were then sautéed in a pan until they got some color, and the broccoli was added with a loud sizzle and spatter. She quickly tossed the broccoli in the pan to coat with the shallots and oil, and with a quick seasoning, they were done.
The mushrooms were sautéed in a bit of oil, salt, and pepper until they were soft and brown. At this point, the timer for the sweet potatoes went off, which signaled that they were done. Christine took them out of the oven and drizzled a little lemon juice on the browned wedges. It was time to eat!
The plates were stacked next to the gas burners, and the food began to be portioned out. A large spoonful of the white bean puree, followed by a sprinkling of mushrooms on top. Several wedges of sweet potatoes found their way next to the white beans. The bright green, perfectly cooked broccoli was spooned onto the plate next. Everything was very pretty and fresh looking, and man did it smell good.
The sweet potatoes were awesome. The curry, lemon and sweet potato was an interesting combination and it worked really well. The beans supplied the meal with copious amounts of protein, and the mushrooms added an earthy, meaty flavor to the dish. The broccoli was fresh tasting, and delicious. All-in-all, quite tasty, and not a drop of animal product!
Eating healthier is not easy. It takes a lot of work to learn how to cook well, but it just takes practice. If you ever need a little inspiration, or want to learn how to cook without using animal products, I highly suggest that you give Christine a call at 856-696-4234. You can also read more information on her website at http://www.foodforliving.net