Posted by: Santa Barbara Dreaming | September 30, 2008

Cooking Class Through Adult Education at SBCC, and recipe

I discovered an amazing thing: Adult Education classes through SBCC!

For those of you who haven’t discovered this wonderful system yet, the Adult Education is a program for members of the community to continue learning and taking classes. Classes are available in pretty much any subject you can think of. Apparently, one in three local adults participates in at least one class a year!

This is great news for me, since I have been wanting to take cooking classes for a WHILE. My dream is to go to culinary school (ahhh, sigh….) but since funding is limited for now, I was STOKED I could start taking cooking classes! I signed up for the GLOBAL VEGETARIAN CUISINES class, which is a 10 week class for only 60 bucks! How great is that?! We make vegetarian dishes from around the world, and I truly enjoy discovering new flavors and spices I have never tried before. Last night was my third class, and we made a fantastic 5 course meal consisting of:

Grilled Bread with Tomato (Catalonia) with Goat Cheese topped with Za’atar
Fennel, Onion and Olive Salad
Tagine of Yam, Carrots, and Prunes
Persian Wedding Rice
Seasonal Fruit Salad.

Cooking Class in action

Cooking Class in action

Here is the cooking class in full swing. I was in charge of much of the chopping yesterday, and I got to try out a vegetable I had never tried before: Fennel.
What do I think about the fennel?…… ick. It tastes like licorice, but has the texture of celery. I have an intense dislike for licorice, so the fennel was NOT my favorite. But it was cool to try out a new food!
My favorite of the night was the Toast with Goat Cheese. Now, I’m half European, and so my love of all things cheese is quite insatiable. I have never met a cheese (yet) that I haven’t appreciated. This goat cheese was topped with a spice mixture called Za’atar, which had some Cajun seasoning and lemon zest in it. This gave it an unexpected KICK to it, and paired well with the crunchy bread and tomato flavor. And LUCKY for me, there was a lot of goat cheese left over after everyone had gotten their share, so I was able to go back for seconds, and even thirds! Yessss! Victory is mine! 🙂

This is what a little piece of heaven looks like to Julia

This is what a little piece of heaven looks like to Julia

Here is the amazing 5 course meal all laid out; doesn’t it look so yummy? Don’t you wish you could have been there?

This week's 5 course meal all laid out

This week's impressive 5 course meal all laid out

A close second following the goat cheese was the Persian Wedding Rice. I’m not very familiar with Persian cooking, but the one other time I ate Persian food, I remember thinking “wow, this is good!” Our rice concoction last night had a pinch of saffron in it, and that’s what makes the rice yellow. I loved the toasted almonds on top, and the plump raisins and dried apricots that were mixed throughout the rice. The rice also had orange zest in it, which lightened up the flavor of the dish, and really made it POP! The rice, even with all the spices, was very mild tasting, and not overpowering at all. This is definitely something I would like to make again. I will share the recipe with you so you can make it too!

Persian Wedding Rice. Mmmm yummy.

Persian Wedding Rice. Mmmm yummy.

Persian Wedding Rice (recipe from our teacher, Margaret Riesen) Serves 6 to 8 (though I think it can serve up to 10!)

2 cups long-grain white rice (basmati or jasmine also works)
3 tbsp melted butter
Pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp of boiling water
1 medium onion, cut into fine half rings
3-4 carrots, grated
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup mixed dried fruit (we used apricots, raisins, dates)
Dash of ground cinnamon, to taste
Dash of ground cardamom, to taste
1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
olive oil

Place rice in pot of cold water with 2 tbsp salt and allow to soak for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Prepare a large stock pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
Caramelize the onion and carrots (in separate pans) by sauteing them in small amount of olive oil, until golden brown.
Drain and rinse rice well, and put into boiling salted water and cook until almost done, but still al dente – this takes only a few minutes. Drain the rice and pour it into a large pan or bowl. Carefully fold in the saffron, caramelized onion and carrots, dried fruit, orange zest, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Season to taste with with salt and pepper and extra seasonings.
Melt butter in the bottom of a heavy pot and pour in the rice mixture – do not stir!
Add a little water (about 1/2 cup), then cover pot with kitchen towel, place lid on top, and bring up the towel on top of the lid so it doesn’t burn! Place on medium heat for another 20 minutes. Ideally, the butter on the bottom will create a crust.
Arrange rice on serving platter, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon and cardamom, and garnish with almonds.

And there you have it. I can’t wait to find out what we are making next!
If you want to check out what other classes are available, go to their website by clicking here.



  1. […] Vegetarian Cooking, with Recipes I really enjoy my Global Vegetarian Cuisines class (read my previous post) through the Adult Education Program at SBCC. I enjoy cooking in general, […]

  2. […] Cooking is fun! I really look forward to my Global Vegetarian Cuisine class every week. It’s a lot of fun to make new and exotic veggie dishes and hang out with my new friends! (find recipes from my previous cooking classes HERE and HERE) […]

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