Monday, August 8, 2022

Newcomer Kitchen Spring Term Ends On A Strong Note...

Already missing these lovely ladies ๐ŸŒธ! But it's never too late to extend the great. Congratulations Global Pan in completing our Spring 12 week Food Entrepreneurship Program at Newcomer Kitchen and a very successful last experiential catering event ๐Ÿ‘! Here's a fond look back on the term...

Started as strangers, they are now almost sisters ๐Ÿ‘ญ. Coming together strong as a team, like professionals they produced several multicultural menus, prepared multiple meals in the kitchen, demoed at the farmer's markets, interacted with the public and served at a party. I couldn't be more proud and honoured ๐Ÿ’“... Way to go!

For our last event on catering, we prepared finger foods for 25 guests invited from our city's immigration settlement agencies to enjoy food and conversations with our ladies at CSI on Spadina Avenue. Meanwhile, we had professional photographers snapping shots for social media marketing. It was bustling pre-party, adding the finishing food touches while taking instructions for photo poses. The team did Ahh-MaZing ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿ’ฅ!

Assembling Chinese app favourite- braised beef slices rolled with onion and cucumber slivers in hoisin sauce basted panfried green onion pancakes. Then sliced to serve as yummy skewered mini rolls.

What a pretty spread! We got Afghanistan stuffed chicken sambosas, fried Bahamian plantain poppers, cold shrimps and snappy asparagus served with a homemade Syrian roasted pepper and tomato sauce and to wash it all down, a refreshing pomegranate twist to switcha (a Bahamian limeade with fresh lemons and concentrated lime juice).

These ladies served a vegan Chinese layered cold dessert with creamy almond jelly topped with fresh fruit suspended in agar agar. So deliciously goood ๐Ÿ˜‹!

This Bahama mama knows her Mac and Cheese ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ. Cut into bite size pieces, her personal touch with green peppers and celery gave it bite and colour to the raving joys of our crowd.

I love the engagement. As part of the exercise, speaking and interacting with the public was just as an important part as delivering great tasting food!

Niiiice work ladies!

At the cooking event prior... Sitting down for a photo op and talk with Len Senator, owner of The Depanneur, who paved the way for the philosophy at Newcomer Kitchen. What an absolute pleasure it was to end a busy two days prepping for his communal picnic with Global Pan ๐ŸŒ ๐Ÿณ to inaugurate the summer events at The Bentway Studio- Canoe Landing.

Newcomer Kitchen started at The Depanneur in 2016 as a grass-roots initiative to create social and economic opportunities for newly-arrived Syrian refugees. After a wildly successful 3-year pilot at The Depanneur, Newcomer Kitchen expanded to become an entrepreneurial training program aimed at helping diverse groups of newcomer women gain experience in the food sector.

The exciting international menu we put together included:
Syrian Muhummara spicy roasted red pepper dip + Cong Yu Bing (Chinese green onion pancakes)
Taiwanese Pickled Daikon
Afghani Chapli Kebab (meat)
Bahamian Macaroni Pie (veg)
Afghani Borani Banjan- simmered oven-baked eggplant and tomato topped with lashes of thick garlicky yogurt and mint.
Caribbean Citrus Salad with a light avocado and lime dressing.
Chinese Almond Jelly with fresh fruit

The Dep, as most who knew it may be shuttered but Len continues to do great things in the name of food and community, including writing a cookbook with newcomer stories and their recipes. Follow him at The Depanneur and be in the know of upcoming delicious events!

And for Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Day....? Delish food kicked off the long weekend celebrations at The Bentway with The Depanneur and Newcomer Kitchen ๐Ÿค—!

Gorgeous multi vegetable platters graced tables for a communal dinner with one of our evening program ladies (Mamas Cuisine) warming up naan on a hot saj ๐Ÿ”ฅ. This is part of the catering experiential learning in our W2W food business program where 100% of the generated profits goes to the ladies.

My new summer term with 4 ladies from Egypt, Afghanistan and India is underway. Stay Tuned...

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

School Year Wraps Up My Kids' Cooking Programs...

Another school year completes! One of my most precious experience this year was getting back teaching inclass (in the Spring) after a two year onsite hiatus as a Culinary Instructor and Consultant with TDSB Community Services. 

It was nostalgic to be starting in the same middle school- Beverley Heights in Downsview where we regularly held a newcomer cooking club over lunch pre-covid! Always healthy, colourful and fun! This time around, it is the period just before school lets out and the group is much larger- 30 grades 6s to 8s. We only got 45 minutes, so at times I devied students into stations to cook together (such as veggie wraps) or held a main area where students came up to help prep (cutting fruit en masse for fruit kebabs)!

For our very last week of schoool๐Ÿ”” ... we went out with a splash whipping up a fun summer treat Mixed Berry Trifle (pound cake cubes, strawberries, blueberries, yes whipped cream, caramel and strawberry sauces plus choc chips).

I have been asked to come back in the Fall, and I look forward to it with more tasty and healthy delights up my sleeve! These grades 6s to 8s are gracious, good and appreciative kids ๐Ÿค—. And the support staff here are truly the best! Thank you all for a fantastic term! Have a safe and happy summer ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐ŸŒž!

These rival Starbuck drink desserts!

Here we grow again ๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒท...

After the success of the first newcomer kids 6 to 12 years old after school Fall virtual cooking program at Culture Link, I conducted another Spring eight-week program funded by the Government of Ontario. CultureLink is a prominent settlement and community organization in the west end with over 30 years’ experience in developing and delivering services to meet the needs of our diverse communities. Recipes and their ingredients were provided to cook along with me weekly ๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ‘จ‍๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ’ž! Here's to looking back at all the wonderful efforts. 

Veggie Pizza Baguettes and Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

I always love to start off talking about fruits!

And making these rainbow fruit kebabs!

Keep the colours going in this gorgeous Caribbean Black Bean Mango Salad

Scratch-made crepes (jazzed up) and homemade lemonade to wrap up an awesome spring term teaching our online culinary afterschool program ๐Ÿฅž๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿฅค!

What a great effort by all including Maida, our moderator who organized weekly grocery bags with recipe ingredients for families and reigned in the kids with questions and offered suggestions, the parents and older siblings who helped in the background while their cheflings shine and of course to this great group of inquisitive kids who wow me week after week with their platings and commentary. I will miss you all!

Have a safe and fun summer and wishing you a continual adventure trying and cooking new foods!

Basic Crepes
Makes about eight 8-inch crepes

1-1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup all-purpose flour

Whisk milk, eggs and oil until smooth. Add flour; whisk until batter is well blended and smooth. Pour into bowl; cover. Refrigerate 30 min.

Lightly coat small pan with cooking spray. Over medium heat, pour 3 Tbsp. batter; rotate pan to coat evenly. Cook 1 min. or until golden on underside. Loosen edge with rubber spatula and turn out of pan onto a plate. Stack, browned side up. If storing to use later, place a waxed paper between each crepe.

Filling Options:
Strawberries, sliced
Bananas, sliced
Apples, sliced
Chocolate chips
Raisins or dried cranberries
Ground cinnamon
Whipped cream
Maple syrup
Icing sugar

A gallery of the kids' finest...

A must mention- What a fantastic graduation lunch cook off we had with the next cohort of ladies in June for the 'Amal Project' (Amal=Hope) at The Arab Community Centre of Toronto @acctonline, a program designed to assist newcomer women in integrating into Canadian society and forming friendships across cultures. Rita and Rasha, Thank you for inviting me again to supervise the kitchen activities ๐Ÿค—!

Feast your senses on this gorgeous and delicious menu of the Arab and Sub-Suharan Africa. So impressed how humble staple ingredients came together to create extraordinary flavours and textures, that were taste-bud blowing ๐Ÿ”ฅ! Take that Harra Osbao (translates to burned his finger) dish- it is essentially cooked lentils and pasta, pumped with cascading rows of crunchy fried pita chips, aromatic garlic cilantro oil and crispy fried onions (on repeat)... soooo ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹❤!

Oh, and the burned finger dish name you ask?... it originated when a cook put their finger in the pot to taste it and burned his finger, hence the name "Harra Osbao" "burned his finger" ๐Ÿ˜„.

- Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Goat Cheese and Zaatar Fatayer
- Himbasha (Eritrean Bread)
- Harra Osbao (Syrian Lentil and Pasta)
- Roz 3a Djej (Chicken with Rice and Minced Meat Pilaf)
- Ethiopian Beef Stew and Injera
- Halawit el Jibn (Syrian sweet cheese rolls)

Preparing Harra Osbao (Syrian Lentil and Pasta)

Making Goat Cheese and Zaatar Fatayer

These ladies are so much fun...

Roz 3a Djej (Chicken with Rice and Minced Meat Pilaf)

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This was incredibly varied and delicious ๐Ÿ˜‹!

Himbasha (Eritrean Bread) and Halawit el Jibn (Syrian sweet cheese rolls)

We cook together... We clean together ๐Ÿค—

This summer I will be busy with a new term at Newcomer Kitchen's W2W Food Business Program for women and a few side projects on the go in my continual committment to food and community! As I don't have time to blog regularly, please Follow Me on Instagram to see all that I am doing... Hope To See You There ๐Ÿ˜€

On a different note- My blog has really taken a turn from consistently posting dinner and inspirational International food recipes since I started my blog 8 years ago. Focusing my time and energy to food educate, teach and cook whether in person or online over the recent years, I have not been able to regularly blog nor check how my site is doing. When I do blog, it is a recap of my continual commitment to impart food knowledge and skills in the schools and community- so a huge transition from the family table to the community table. I was pleasantly caught off guard when I noticed the milestone Total Pageviews over the weekend ๐Ÿ˜Š. A testament that growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together. And that every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.

Thank you all for your support and love๐Ÿ’—!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Another Term For Newcomer Kitchen...

I am well underway teaching a new spring term with Newcomer Kitchen's 'Willing To Work' food business entrepreneurial program with a new diverse group of women who are moms- a mother-daughter duo from Bahamas, ladies from Taiwan, China, Syria and Afghanistan. Our brand logo is Global Pan- sharing from our collective pan to you, our love of cooking from our cultures ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ซ!

With Tamara Chaikin, Newcomer Kitchen's Program Director

We moved and love our new office space at Centre For Social Innovation sharing the same community values! CSI inspires a belief that solutions are possible, inviting everyone, from all sectors and backgrounds, to be a part of the solution because it’s up to us to create a better world. They provide inclusive, over 10,000 sq ft space to supporting newcomers and lower income communities ๐Ÿ™. And did I mention, they house a free Tool Library too!!!

Our kitchen is now at The Neighbourhood Food Hub. The space beneath a church, is an innovative space-sharing model that prioritizes low-barrier access. The Commercial Kitchen is a fully-certified kitchen suitable for food production for all levels of distribution. We got a chance to cook up a storm in it ๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿณ with our first experiential learning event for the term- product to market at the Farmer's Market which was held last weekend at Evergreen Brickworks and Leslieville!!

We came up with a lovely picnic brunch menu repping the five cultures of our ladies from Bahamas, Taiwan, China, Syria and Afghanistan. The ladies first profitable event where they learn, earn and divide the $! Woo hooo ๐Ÿค—!

Sharing a gallery of kitchen photos with the ladies in production mode. Excellent work ๐Ÿค—!

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs, one of seven items in our picnic brunch meal.

Touring the Hub space, I was honoured to meet chef Dinah Koo, caterer and author to 2 cookbooks, who made a huge impact in the Toronto's 80s and 90s food scene with Dinah's Cupboard and Tiger Lily restaurant, and she's not slowing down anytime soon. AmaZing ๐Ÿค—๐ŸŒธ!

Set up as a pop up vendor with our group split over two days at the farmer's markets last weekend, we endured sun, heat, wind, t-storm, rain and cold-  these ladies weathered the elements and did a superb job with a positive attitude and smile ๐Ÿ˜!

At Evergreen Brickworks Saturday 8 to 1pm.

It went from normal to SCARY in an instant ⛈๐Ÿ˜ฎ (flying produce, collapsing signs, sand in our face)...
 Luckily, the storm hit when we were mostly packed and ready to leave ๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ’จ!

Marcella, Intake Coordinator with Newcomer Kitchen wears many hats.

At Leslieville Farmer's Market Sunday 9 to 2pm.

With uncooperative weather and being the Victoria Day long weekend, as much as we wanted to sell well, we need to remember that this was an exercise- the importance goes to learning about what goes into product to market, working as a team and interacting with customers- And the ladies did just that! Bravo ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘!