I’m sure for some of you that follow along, this week’s choice for Woman Crush Wednesday won’t be a surprise. Last week for the Foodie Fieldtrip Friday I ended the day on one of my all time favorite life experiences: Cooking with the incredible Sabrina Ghayour. As young and petite as she is, Sabrina is a giant in the old world cooking of Persian cuisine. Her book, Persiana has won numerous awards and her upcoming book already has foodies salivating its release.
What I admire most about Sabrina is her approachable style. Not only personally but also with her cooking. For a chef who was literally self taught from the age of seven, she has cooked for her everyone from her family to celebs to strangers attending her much sought after supper clubs. Though the middle eastern style of cooking has become more popular thanks to trends set by the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Sabrina brings a woman’s touch to this male dominated world. Hence, she is so deserving of our massive sappy love that we are giving her today. However, she is certainly one that has our affection forever.
Last week as I started to gear up for her much anticipated cooking class I began searching high and low for her cookbook. I knew I wanted to give it to my daughter in law for her birthday but I wanted to have Sabrina sign it. While I was happy for her that every shop was sold out of the book, panic began to set in for me! So I sent her a little email hours before the class asking if there would be any copies to purchase later in the evening. I thought she might be so busy prepping for her class she wouldn’t have time to even check her inbox. But I gave her my mobile number just in case. Literally, two minutes later I received a text from her saying that I could indeed buy a copy of the book there. What a relief on my nerves and what an impression left on my heart. But that sums Sabrina up in one word, heart! The cover of her book is so unbelievably beautiful (and even has a raised tactile texture to it) that I decided not to wrap it just put a pretty ribbon around it. And it is even more beautiful on the inside. It is like Sabrina, totally and utterly gorgeous outside, but inside she is a goddess, a gourmet one!
She gives every ounce of herself in her teaching, in her cooking and in her entertaining. She told the story of how for years she had these supper clubs in her flat and would not only cook, but also do the decorations, the serving, and the cleaning. She cares about every aspect of the experience for her guests/customers. Even with her social media avenues, she shares photos of amazing meals at various London eateries. But she doesn’t shy away from posting a “sickie in bed” selfie, which no other celebuchef would dare do. Or at least their “handlers” wouldn’t let them do it. But she told us that it is pics like that which get the most “likes” because people know that Sabrina is the real deal. Sure she is all girl and when she is dressed up for a night on the town or to attend a food awards gala her followers show her the love. No joke, Sabrina is the one chef that everyone wishes was her best friend!
Speaking of best friends, how I came to love Persian food was through one of my very best friends back in Los Angeles. I remember all the lovely nights at her home with the massive platters of slow cooked chicken, bowls of gorgeous salads, and of course the famous Persian Rice with the crust called Tadig. Yes it is healthy-ish food in that it is made with real non processed ingredients. But it is a style of food that Sabrina calls “home cooking” whereby the mothers and grandmothers would pass down the recipes by teaching them rather than writing down the recipes. So it tends to be made by eye, taste, hearing or even smell. During the middle of our cooking demonstration Sabrina stopped mid sentence because she could smell that the rice needed attention. And when you do “home cooking” according to Sabrina, it is all about LOVE!!! OMG that was the aha moment for me and I was forever hooked. She really is the best!
I had brought along on the night a bit of my humble baking (some peanut butter cookies) as a thank you to her for helping me out with regard to her cookbook for my daughter in law. What I didn’t expect was HER thanking ME for them by posting it on her Instagram page. But that is what sets Sabrina apart from everyone else. She is in this business because she loves food, but she also loves people. Her style of cooking class is the best I have ever witnessed because rather than sit in a chair for two hours while the chef carries on with the demonstration up in front, she is with the students every step of the way. She is side by side chopping the herbs while the students chop the onions. Everyone gathers around the stove/cooker as she stirs the pot of stew while emphasizing the importance of proper seasoning. And ending the evening around the table dining on her sumptuous food she is there answering questions and telling lovely tales of her life as a young girl. She was also very generous giving insight into her foodie world and sharing some of her food heroes and heroines.
I couldn’t think of a more worthy recipient of the Woman Crush Wednesday than Sabrina. I had such a hard time choosing which recipe I might do for my snapchat tutorial as any of her creations are fantastically flavored gems. But I thought maybe one of her salads would be fab to highlight. She shared that the typical Persian salad tends to be onion, tomato and cucumber. She is well known for taking that stereotype and turning it on its head. She has so many lovely salad recipes and not only are they tasty but they are totally sexy to look at as well. Remember, we eat with our eyes first! The most amazing of them all, in my opinion, is the Fig and Green Bean Salad. Healthy, delicious and it is a salad that actually keeps well for more than a day. Since I often do a salad as a main course for dinner by adding shredded poached chicken and grated goat’s cheese, it is nice to have some left over for lunch the next day without it being the least bit soggy.
400g (14 oz) fine green beans, trimmed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp crushed sea salt
3 tbsp date molasses*
8 large black figs, quartered
70g (2 1/2 oz) flaked almonds, toasted
Bring a large saucepan of water to a rapid boil over a medium-high heat and cook the green beans for 5 minutes until they soften slightly but still retain their crunch. Drain them and immediately plunge them into a blow of iced water (or under a running cold tap to stop them over cooking). Once cool, drain well. To make the dressing, mix the oil, vinegar, sea salt and date molasses together in a small bowl, stirring well to create a smooth dressing. Arrange the figs and fans on a large patter and drizzle over the dressing. Sprinkle the toasted flaked almonds on top before serving. *If you can’t find date molasses you can use balsamic vinegar, just omit the red wine vinegar.
It was such a treat to meet her and attend her cookery class. I am so grateful to my Hubby for giving me that as part of my birthday pressie. And I got to get a special treat for my daughter in law for part of her birthday pressie. Wow what an unforgettable year. I really wish Sabrina all the best with her new book and would encourage everyone that isn’t already a fan to jump on the YDP (hearts) SG bandwagon. I think you too will find someone who captures your heart through the love in the recipes.
With Female Foodie inFatuation,
P.S. You can follow along with the love fest via snapchat (user name: blissbakery). Just remember that the “snapchat story” vanishes in 24 hours!