To the delight of Turkish food fans in Toronto, Chef Ayse Aydemir occasionally offers cooking classes in the kitchen of her west-end restaurant Anatolia Turkish Cuisine. The hands-on lessons include five or six traditional recipes straight from Anatolia’s menu. Chef Aydemir was an actress in Istanbul before she moved to Canada 30 years ago. “This restaurant is now my stage,” she says.
Famous Turkish Yufka Pastry
On a recent Sunday morning, six students are fortified with Turkish coffee before starting the four hour cooking class. Chef Aydemir is famous for her authentic homemade yufka pastry, featured in several of her recipes. Known as Turkish phyllo pastry, versatile yufka is actually a round, unleavened flat bread that is much easier to handle than phyllo.
Fortunately, students don’t have to learn to make the yufka, just how to use it. And use it they do, in the appetizers Sigara Boregi, a deep-fried, cigar shaped pastry stuffed with feta cheese and parsley and Gozleme, a yummy yufka crepe filled with spinach, onion and crumbled feta.
Hands-on Turkish Cooking Classes in Toronto
While one student stirs a bulgur pilaf simmering with tomatoes, peppers and onions, another monitors a giant eggplant charring to smoky perfection right on top of a gas burner. Directions for cooking the eggplant in the oven are also offered. Manti, which are mini dumplings of seasoned ground beef wrapped in yufka, are premade so students only need to boil them and create the accompanying tangy yogurt sauce. Marinated lamb kabobs sizzle on the grill for Ali Nazik as Chef Aydemir fields questions and dishes up expert cooking tips.
Healthy Turkish Cuisine
All of the recipes are prepared using fresh, natural ingredients without fillers or preservatives. Chef Aydemir even makes her own yogurt. Turkish food tastes comfortingly familiar, yet the spices and cooking techniques add an exotic flair.
Dessert is the final lesson for students to master. Light and creamy Keskul pudding infused with lemon, coconut and topped with toasted crushed almonds, is served with Turkish apple tea. After dining on five courses in the restaurant, class members are able to take any leftovers home.
One of the best things about cooking lessons at Anatolia is that a quick refresher on what the recipes should look and taste like can be had simply by returning for lunch or dinner. And the mythic yufka as well as other Turkish delicacies are for sale at the restaurant.
How to Book Turkish Cooking Classes
Contact Chef Aydemir at her restaurant by phone or check online for information about future classes.
Black Truffle Salt
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