Healthy Soy Cooking School is a culinary school located in Bondi, and taught by Yoshiko Takeuchi. Yoshiko is the author of a cookbook called Cooking with Soy - of which focuses extensively on soy as a cooking product, and features many fusion Japanese recipes. She offers classes that are beneficial for everyone, with a focus on nutritious plant-based foods loaded with health benefits. The class I attended is called Entertainment with Tofusion, and features a menu that is wholly vegetarian, and uses mostly organic products.
Copy of the recipes that would be cooked and served in class that day
Organic mung bean chips (store-bought) with an edamame dip, which was made in the class.
I'm not a vegetarian and love to eat meat, so I honestly had my doubts about this class. However, the menu for the Entertainment with Tofusion class sounded totally appealing, as well as delicious. The menu included Edamame Dip with Mung Bean chips for an entree. Then for the mains came Marinated Tempeh with Quinoa and Carrot Salad, and a Potato Pie. For dessert we would be having a Choc Banana Power Ice Cream and Tofu Cheesecake.
Some of the ingredients we used at the 'Entertainment with Tofusion' cooking class
Yoshiko holds her cooking classes at two locations, one near Bondi Beach, and the other in Bondi Junction. The location that day was at Glen Street, near Bondi Beach; and due to the size of the location, only allows for a maximum of 12 people to be enrolled in the class. That day, we had a small group of about five people, and therefore it was cosy and intimate. The class was due to start at 10am on a Saturday morning and run until 2pm. Upon my arrival, we chatted for a little bit about nutrition and where to buy organic products, and then we got started.
Putting our freshly cooked food on plates at the 'Entertainment with Tofusion' cooking class
The first product that we cooked that day was the dessert - the tofu cheesecake. For each dish, Yoshiko would assign small groups of two or three people to cooking and preparing. One person would be assigned one task for each dish.
Rinsing the edamame before making the dip
Yoshiko assigned a group of three people to preparing different aspects of the tofu cheesecake. A food processor was used to blend the silken tofu and other ingredients for the cheesecake filling, and cashews were cut up to make the nut base of the cake. After all the elements of the tofu cheesecake were finished, the cashew nut base was arranged in the pan, and the tofu mixture was placed over it. It was then put into the oven for about 2-3 hours, during which time we prepared the other dishes.
Making the 'bean-naise' sauce for the potato pie
The edamame dip was the next dish to be prepared. As I wasn't assigned to preparing this, I sat and watched the others prepare and cook it. The recipes were fairly simple, and it was interesting to watch.
It didn't take long at all to make the edamame dip, and Yoshiko had also brought a few packets of organic mung bean chips for us to eat with the dip.
Since everything was so healthy, we didn't have to worry about feeling guilty. The edamame dip was really delicious, and the recipe only used a tiny amount of salt. I was actually really surprised that something so healthy could taste so good, which went for everything else we cooked that day too.
Making the 'bean-naise' sauce, with red kidney beans for the potato pie.
After we'd finished our entree of edamame dip, we began preparing the main of potato pie. I was assigned to chopping walnuts to sprinkle over the top of the potato pie - of which I was grateful for as I'm the worst when it comes to cooking.
The finished 'bean-naise' sauce layered over the mashed potato
Once I'd finished chopping the walnuts, another girl from the class and I prepared the ingredients for the marinated tempeh salad with quinoa and carrot. I grated most of a carrot using a grater, and then it was passed around the rest of the class so everyone could take turns doing it.
We first steamed the tempeh in order to assuage its pungent odour
The potato pie in its almost finished state, with the soy bechamel sauce being layered over the 'bean-naise.'
Cooking the quinoa
Mixing the quinoa and carrot
After the quinoa was cooked, it was mixed with the grated carrot, sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, and a tiny amount of salt. The marinated tempeh was then added to the mixture.
Cooking the edamame soup
Marinated tempeh salad with quinoa and carrot, edamame soup and potato pie with 'bean-naise' and soy bechamel sauce.
When all the elements of our main were finished, we arranged the food on our plates and began to eat. The food that we had cooked was extremely delicious, and completely exceeded my expectations. The potato pie was my favourite dish that day. We hadn't added any butter to the mashed potato mixture, so it was very light. The next layer of 'bean-naise' sauce was very tasty, accentuated with tomato paste and red wine; and the final layer of bechamel sauce was very creamy despite containing no cheese. It was very filling and satisfying.
Yoshiko putting the freshly baked tofu cheesecake on the table
The edamame soup was very simple to make, and I enjoyed the subtle flavour of the soup. Although I don't like eating salads too much, the marinated tempeh, quinoa and carrot salad was really tasty. The warm marinated tempeh added a nice contrast and texture to the cool slivers of carrot. All in all, it was the perfect lunch. The potato pie is something that I hope to recreate perfectly on my own at home sometime.
After our savoury dishes had been completed, the tofu cheesecake was taken out of the oven.
Cutting the tofu cheesecake
I'd had tofu cheesecake at a restaurant previously, and it was a dessert that I hadn't had the opportunity to try again. Yoshiko's version of tofu cheesecake was an entirely guilt-free dessert. It didn't include any sugar, and we instead used pure maple syrup and vanilla bean paste to increase the sweetness of the cheesecake. The base was made with cashew nuts and vanilla paste amongst other ingredients, and was slightly crumbly. Despite not using any dairy products, the tofu cheesecake had a lovely, silky texture that was very similar to that of a regular cheesecake. Now that I know how to make it, I'll be enjoying this guilt-free dessert at home, and going on less sugar binges.
Tofu Cheesecake and Choc Banana Power Ice Cream
The choc banana power ice cream contained no animal by-products, and therefore, is suitable for vegans. Its cooking method was very simple and fast, including blending all the ingredients in a food processor, and voila! Dessert was ready. Due to the simplicity and fast cooking time of the choc banana power ice cream, I'm particularly looking forward to recreating it at home. We had used raw cacao and maca powder in conjunction with frozen banana and other ingredients for the ice cream, and it was really delicious. Maca powder is a superfood that comes from the maca root. Although it has been cultivated in Peru for a long time, it is just beginning to become popular in the West for its many health benefits, which is why our frozen treat was more than just an ordinary dessert. For anyone who hasn't tried it, raw cacao is what chocolate is made from, without the added sugars. To me it tastes exactly the same, and has many great health benefits.
After taking this class, my perceptions of vegetarian and vegan food have completely changed. Prior to this class, I hadn't eaten many vegetarian dishes, and believed that vegetarian/vegan food was boring and quite limited in options. Participating in Entertainment with Tofusion has greatly added to my knowledge about dietary health, while also learning how to cook delicious and simple recipes. I would definitely take another of Yoshiko's classes, and would also highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to cook; to vegetarians/vegans, and/or to people who are interested in healthy cooking.
I participated in this class as a guest of Yoshiko Takeuchi.
Where: This particular class was at 12 Glen Street, Bondi Beach, but there are also other classes held in Bondi Junction and Alexandria.
Why: Learn to cook delicious and healthy food
Cost: $160 per person
When: Time varies, there are classes on Saturdays and also on weeknights.