For many years Wafa Lahoud had been somewhat of a fixture on Norton Street until recently deciding to close her international fashion store, Rouge on Norton, in order to pursue her passion for traditional Lebanese food and cooking. She has just opened up Wafa’s Kitchen and called in to tell us all about her exciting new venture into the wonderful world of food…
Can you tell us a bit about your new business?
Wafa’s Kitchen is an artisan bakery, coffee and catering hub where we offer traditional homemade style food using freshly made dough as a base to many assorted pockets and luscious pizzas.
Where did you first learn to cook?
In a house of ten girls, alongside nine sisters! Food and cooking was a major focus in our home so we all took turns helping my mum with the preparation, and in the summer break we went to the mountains where we made our own bread under my grandma’s supervision and cooked baby potatoes on open fire in clay pots. It was so much fun, I have treasured memories from these times.
What do you love about cooking and Lebanese cuisine?
The list is endless starting with the freshest of seasonal produce, the fact that everyone is in the kitchen with a task, tasting, cooking and laughing and I love hearing my sons shouting, “Mum, this tastes amazing!” There are lots of precious moments in the kitchen.
Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods? If you really want to indulge, what do you reach for?
Savoury – so things like hummus, baba ghanouj, labneh and sticks of carrots and celery. As for sweets, I do like Lebanese gelato with lots of berries.
What four ingredients are essential in your kitchen?
Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pink salt flakes and fresh tomatoes.
If you could invite anyone in the world over for dinner, whom would you invite?
The late Fred Hollows because I admire his charitable work in third world countries offering sight and hope for a better life to all the underprivileged people. It’s so humbling.
Wafa’s Kitchen: 445 Forest Rd, Bexley. www.wafaslebanesecatering.com.
Wafa’s Arabesque Style Spinach and Feta Triangle
3 cups flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 sachet dried yeast in warm water
1. Mix all your base ingredients to form a ball of dough, then divide into 50-gram pieces and let it rest for 1/2 an hour.
2. Chop 1 bunch fresh spinach and 1 large onion, then add to a bowl with 200 grams of feta and 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil, plus a little salt and citric acid to taste and mix.
3. Flatten all your dough pieces, place a handful of the spinach mix in each one and close as a triangle.
4. Bake at 330 degrees for 5 minutes or until golden, and serve with a squeeze of lemon… or come over to Wafa’s Kitchen and I will make it for you!