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Friday, November 8, 2013

Vegan Mac and Cheese, Oh My!

By: Chanel Marshall

Thursday, November 7th, Bazaar Spices hosted a vegetarian cooking class with Tiffany Griffin of Como Water. The class was held at trendy Union Market, a modern watering hole where folks in the District come to relax and shop after the hustle and bustle of the day. Tiffany combined her extensive background in psychology along with her love and knowledge of food to facilitate a fun and interactive class for those curious to expand their skills with using spices and vegetarian cooking.

Before we tasted anything, Tiffany gave us some spice basics. She gave us the scoop on the shelf life of spices, what to look for when choosing spices, how to store spices, and how to use spices (Tiffany said “enhance, not hide!”). She even gave some insider tips on how to toast and infuse spices and herbs in our cooking oils. For those concerned about restrictive diets, we received some suggestions on how to supplement spices without losing the flavor of our food. For example, instead of using sugar, we can use extracts and peels (lemon/orange) to sweeten our dishes. We can also use celery seed or celery salt, which is naturally higher in sodium, to season food instead of using table salt.

Next, it was time to taste! We were given tasting worksheets where we were to utilize our senses and record what we experienced. And boy, did we experience a lot! 3 dishes to be exact. 

Dish #1
Sweet Potatoes. She made this autumn staple two ways: with and without spices. Although both versions were fabulously done, you could certainly taste the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and homemade brown sugar. What surprised me was the Pink Himalayan salt she used which added a nice balance to the sweetness of the dish. 

Assortment of vegan holiday dinner menu items
Dish #2
Vegan Mac & Cheese. Yes, VEGAN. Like you, many of us had our eyebrows raised at a dish many of us grew up on. But to my yummy surprise, it was delicious! The nutritional yeast and turmeric gave it an Indian flair and some participants said they tasted a chicken flavor! Who knew?! 

And here is Como Water's recipe so that you can make it yourself!

Dish #3
The final dish I was most excited about because of my enormous sweet tooth: Apple & Pear Hand Pies. Tiffany offered the lemon zest, ginger, and cinnamon enhanced filling separately and with a homemade crust brushed with coconut milk. I had to restrain myself from getting seconds! (I eventually gave in.) Find these recipes and more on the Como Water blog. And of course, you can get ALL the spices Tiffany used and more  at Bazaar Spices!!

I got the sense that the participants really enjoyed this engaging and entertaining event. Folks stuck around to mingle, trade ideas, and talk more with Tiffany on how they could bring their A game with a veggie centered menu. As someone who eats a LOT of vegetables, I’ll definitely be using what I learned at this class!

Want more insider tips, recipes, and event recaps? Visit the Bazaar Spices blog and website anytime!



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