Prepare and enjoy an authentic Thai dinner at Urban Element Culinary School in Ottawa

Recently my husband and I went to Urban Element Culinary School in Ottawa to prepare and enjoy an authentic Thai dinner.  Our eldest son had given us this treat as a Christmas gift.  Our session was named Cheater’s Thai because many commercially available sauces were used as the ingredients.  He chose the Thai dinner (as opposed to Italian) knowing that although I am wheat intolerant/sensitive, I would be able to eat most of the food prepared.

It was a fun night out and the food was delicious, yet still fairly easy to prepare.  A group of approximately ten couples prepared the meal under the knowledgeable yet friendly instruction of chef Mark Wells and his sous-chef, and then  enjoyed the fruits of our labor with a few glasses of wine…

We started off the meal with an (pre-made by the chef) appetizer of roasted sweet potato slices topped with goat cheese and tamarind chutney.  In addition to the items pictured (curried coconut and shrimp soup, pork cutlets with peanut sauce, chicken satay and a Thai version of crème caramel), also on the menu were pork dumplings (the only thing on the menu that contained wheat), a green curry stir-fry of green peppers, snow peas, shallots and fish sauce, a sweet chili sauce and a lightly marinated cucumber salad, all of which we made ourselves.

The recommended main ingredients of this and any authentic Thai meal are a good quality coconut milk such as Arrow D or Savoy brands, Maesri red or green curry paste, Thom Yum Thai shrimp paste, 3 Crab Blend fish sauce, bird’s eye chilis, turmeric, cane or palm sugar and cilantro.  All of the commercially prepared ingredients mentioned here are available in Ottawa’s Chinatown near the corner of Booth and Somerset streets.

Urban Element Culinary School is located in a converted fire hall at 424 Parkdale Avenue in Ottawa. Phone 613-722-0885 to register for a similar dinner plan.  If you are looking to plan a private evening out for a group of friends, co-workers or relatives, this would be a great option.


Delicious Wheat/Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad with Lime, Cilantro and Curry.

I made this delicious gluten-free quinoa salad for Easter dinner to have with my turkey when everyone else was having stuffing.  I found the recipe online at   It is easy to make ahead of time and makes a good lunch the next day too!  If you don’t like some of the ingredients, take them out or switch them up, but be sure to leave the quinoa, lime, curry powder and cilantro for the unique flavor…

Ingredients for six servings:

1.5 cups water

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1/4 cup chopped red pepper

1/4 cup chopped yellow pepper

1.5 tsp curry powder

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime, juiced (or equivalent amount of bottled juice)

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

1/2 cup minced carrots

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Cook the quinoa: bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, pour in quinoa.  If you don’t have fresh cilantro, you could add the paste type (found in most produce sections) to the water with the quinoa at his point.  Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until water is absorbed.   Refrigerate the quinoa in a bowl to chill it.  Stir the remaining ingredients into chilled quinoa and serve…

Lorieb is the mother of three sons, residing in Kanata, Ontario, Canada.  She is the proud owner of GARDENS4U, and spends most of her time designing, planting, and restoring gardens.  Her other interests include reading and writing.  Please check out her website at