Millennium Cooking Class: Tomatoes
I can't imagine a better way to have spent this Sunday (my "day" off) than attending a cooking class with Eric Tucker at Millennium Restaurant.
You may remember I recently posted about an incredible meal I enjoyed there, and my all-time favorite summer cocktail, their basil gimlet.
Although I've practically been living off heirloom tomatoes for the past month (which somewhat explains why I've posted less frequently of late), I realized today, I've really not even touched the many tasty and satisfying possibilites those pretty fruits have to offer.
While the tomatoes are so good right now, they're perfectly satisfying with a pinch of salt, some basil, and fresh mozzarella, today I enjoyed them in all their sweet and savory glory.
Here Chef Tucker introduces us to the various different tomatoes we would be working with:
It was a serious team effort with nine other enthusiastic classmates, Chef Tucker, Thomas, and the cheerful intern Ryan, who turned the neatly prepared stations of ingredients into delectable dishes. Below is the prep for the Roasted Tomato and White Bean Galettes:
We were split into 2 groups of five and each team prepared variants of the selected tomato recipes.
I have to apologize up front for the poor quality and rather limited number of photographs. A foodblogger's nightmare, that darned battery warning light showed up on my first shot and resulted in hasty shots before the batteries completely crapped out.
The first recipe I worked on was this deliciously refreshing yellow tomato soup, topped with a melon salad (with serrano chiles, cucumber mint, and methi leaves). Thanks to Shuna's Knife Skills class, the pretty red flecks are peeled and diced red bell pepper. We later added spicy hot chili gel made with agar agar (but the camera crapped out before I could capture them):
The other team made this beautiful version out of green tomatoes (the white garnish is coconut milk) :
Round one also included delicious Tomato & White Bean Galettes with a roasted vegetable salsa that was out of this world:
Round two produced the sumptuous spread below: pooris in the back, (although the ones I worked on were more like puffy crisp flatbreads, they sure tasted good), chanterelle cream, sag paneer, breadcrumb topped lasagna with tomatoes, beans, and chanterelle cream, sauteed peaches, eggplant salsa, and okra with tomatoes and onions):
Here's a close-up of the chanterelle cream (made with cashew cream, imagine heaven):
Sadly, my batteries died completely before I got shots of the incredible desserts: our variant, the fig and tomato upside down cake with pinenut olive oil sorbet, and the original tomato upside down cake with candied rosemary olive oil sorbet. OK, I've said it before, I'm really not a dessert person, but these cakes and sorbets were totally amazing!
I took home my half-eaten tomato jam dot, recharged the batteries, so you could check out these amazing cookies with a pinenut cookie batter:
I think my favorite moments of the class were the adjustments when something didn't quite work out or we tasted a dish and brainstormed on ways to improve or embellish it. And, although the recipe packs provided were absolutely critical, I was very psyched to hear Chef Tucker say "we're just going to wing it on this one." As regular readers will know, there's nothing quite so appealing to me as "winging it" in the kitchen: what better way to learn how to be creative and produce something new and unique with ingredients you have on hand.
I can't wait for the next class!