As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Hipcooks is a new place in Portland Oregon to take cooking classes and they have several gluten-free cooking classes available. We decided to sign up for one of them, and had our class last night. We chose to do the Hipcooks Persian Immersion class mostly because it was gluten free but also because we didn’t think we had ever had Persian food before and the recipe descriptions sounded really interesting.
We made Shirin Pollow, which is a saffron jeweled rice and Khoresht-e-fesenjan, which is chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. We also drank some wonderful Shiraz wine, enjoyed a meatball and salad appetizer, and ate rosewater and cardamom ice cream for dessert.
Our class was full and everyone was very friendly. Having never taken a cooking class I didn’t know what to expect. The Hipcooks format is that you stand at a half-circle workspace with small portable gas burners and other kitchen tools, and everyone contributes to the dishes. For someone with food allergies it’s almost perfect because you see everything that goes into every dish. Our instructor for the night, Jessica, split us up into two teams and provided guidance about how to chop, dice, zest, portion, and stir our ingredients. The clean-up and dishes were done by Jessica’s assistant, also named Jessica.
First we prepared our dessert, getting the ice cream ingredients ready and putting them into an ice cream maker. Then we started on the Persian meatballs with a greens salad and Maast-o Khiar, which is a yogurt and cucumber sauce that is a lot like a simple Tzatziki sauce. When the meatballs were done we sat down to eat them, which was a good thing, because Sienna and I were starving by the time we had finished cooking the appetizers. The good news is we were amazed at how delicious the meatballs were, considering how simple it was to make them. There was no breading in them so they were naturally gluten-free! The Maast-o Khiar was also really delicious.
(Photo kind of blurry – sorry – but you can use your imagination.)
After the appetizer it was back to cooking. One side of the class worked on the Khoresht Fesenjaan, which is chicken with onion, ground walnuts, some sugar, and a lot of pomegranate molasses.
Part of the Hipcooks philosophy is to throw out your measuring cups and do everything in handfuls and dashes. Then you taste everything as you cook and make changes as you go. In one particularly dramatic case, our instructor Jessica, after having tasted the simmering chicken with walnuts and pomegranate sauce, upturned and poured an entire bottle of pomegranate molasses into the sauce.
The other side of the class worked on Shirin-Polow, which is a jeweled saffron rice dish with chicken. Our instructor said that this is a traditional wedding dish. The saffron rice is jeweled with almonds, pistachios, orange zest, and dried barberries. (Dried barberries are a lot like dried cranberries.) This dish is created by layering the chicken in between the rice and then cooking it until it becomes like a casserole.
Here’s what it all looked like. This isn’t my dish and so it’s got some flatbread on it, which is not gluten-free. (Sorry – the photo of my dish didn’t turn out because of the lighting.) After the dinner, we also had some rosewater and cardamom ice cream with caramel over slices of orange.
Our only real complaint about the class was that it was a little cold in the room. Otherwise it was a perfect evening. The wine was wonderful, the people in the class were very friendly, and our instructor, Jessica, was enthusiastic and sensitive to the people in the room with food allergies. Besides me there were three other gluten-free people (Hi Susan and Maggie!) in the class and a few lactose intolerant folks.
The food was amazing. I’ve never quite had anything like it, and now I’m anxious to try some more Persian food. We had two people in the class who had Persian family members and they were able to attest to the authenticity of the finished dishes. I was especially enamored of the Khoresht Fesenjaan, which I will definitely be making again sometime soon. I love recipes that need no adjustments to make them gluten-free friendly.
Hipcooks sends you the recipes on the day after the class. Classes are listed at the beginning of each month on the Hipcooks website. Not all the classes are gluten-free, so make sure you look for that. The classes happen on North Williams just across the street from Pix Patisserie North (see our review of gluten-free desserts at Pix Patisserie). Did I also mention that the classes are very affordable? We’re used to seeing classes cost twice this much.
We want to know: Do you have a favorite place to take cooking classes in Portland Oregon? And even more important, can someone recommend a good Persian restaurant in Portland? Let us know in the comments!
Times we have visited: once (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same and very reasonable.
3808 N Williams Suite 120, Portland, Oregon 97227