Lebanese Cookery Demonstration by Mona Usher

The Autumn ‘Flowers and Food’ event, held on Monday 19th October 2015 to raise funds for Cherry Lodge Cancer Care, proved to be a very successful mix. Both ingredients – the cookery demonstration in the morning and the flower arranging in the afternoon – were new ventures for Cherry Lodge and both were very much enjoyed by the audience of 40 or so people who attended.

The event began with a very enjoyable and informative demonstration of Lebanese cookery by Mona Usher, a highly regarded chef and cookery writer, who grew up in Beirut and now clearly enjoys sharing her passion for delicious, healthy dishes from the Middle East in general and from Lebanon in particular.

We were taken step by step through the preparation of three dishes, starting with tabouleh, a chopped salad of parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion and bulgar. Many of us in the audience will have eaten this dish before but probably none of us knew that mothers of sons in Lebanon would consider how well a girl could make tabouleh when assessing her suitability as a future daughter in law.

Next to be made was another Middle Eastern classic – baba gamoush, a smokey aubergine dip with the consistency of hummus. Finally we were treated to a recipe of Mona’s own invention – a salad containing fried aubergine, fetta cheese, rocket and pomegranate with a special dressing containing olive oil (always extra virgin), lemon juice, pepper and pomegranate molasses (an interesting new ingredient for some of us that was passed around for sampling).

Mona was a delightful and very clear demonstrator and I feel sure that I was not the only person who went home feeling inspired and confident enough to have a go at making some of her mouthwatering dishes. Proof of the excellence of her cooking came at the end of the morning when we were treated to a fabulous Lebanese buffet.

Thank you Mona – I feel sure that we will see you again!

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