Sunday, March 30, 2008

Millennium Spring Cooking Class

So today was another beautiful Sunday cooking class at Millennium Restaurant, the amazing gourmet vegan restaurant in San Francisco. Under the guidance of executive chef Eric Tucker and his assistants Eileen and Thomas, 10 lucky people like myself got to develop recipes, learn vegan cooking techniques, and work our butts off producing superb vegan dishes worthy of Millennium guests. And, happily, we get to eat all that we prepare.

The class theme was spring vegetables. I really wanted to do something with green or spring garlic which is currently in season (green garlic is immature garlic that has not yet formed the garlic bulb and looks like a small leek. It has a milder flavor than mature garlic.) We made a delicious Spring Garlic Bisque with smoked paprika oil and crisp fried green garlic leaves. Chef Tucker came up with a wonderful recipe that was totally amazing and was kind enough to give me permission to post the recipe. It follows at the end of this post.

We made dumplings with chives, pea greans, tofu, and Asian spices which were served in a miso-ginger-mushroom broth:

We also enjoyed these without the broth topped with chili oil and dipping sauce.

Vietnamese Style Stuffed Grape Leaves: stuffed with black beans, tofu, mushrooms, scallions, ginger, and garlic. These were broiled topped with a Kumquat Black Pepper sauce and sesame seeds (they're on the menu if you want to try them!):

We ate these in butter lettuce leaves, with extra sauce:

With a side of watercress salad in a sweet aged balsamic vinegar dressing with two spicy chutneys; one made with carrots, one made with beets:

OK...prepare to be wowed here...injera crepes made with teff flour and yeast in less that 3 hours (soooo good!) with cashew cream raita and two versions of wot; one made with french green lentils, the other with seitan:

And for dessert, a pear mousse, topped with Strawberry sauce, cashew crumbs, and sorbet:

Yeah....don't you so wish you had been there!

The great thing about the Millennium classes is that the focus is not on following a specific recipe, but rather on learning how to cook, adjust, fix, embellish on the fly using creativity, knowledge, and technique. You learn better ways to prep and cut vegetables and are introduced to new ingredients and methodologies that really work.

Plus, it's a social, team-building exercise. You get to meet nine other cool people interesting in vegan cooking and work in two teams of five to produce different variations of the recipe, with a Millennium assistant to further educate you. There's pressure to get everything done before the real cooking crew comes in and takes over the kitchen, so everyone's definitely motiviated to make it happen. Chef Eric is always refreshingly open to ideas and suggestions from participants and those are always great learning experiences. The Millennium cooking class is my monthly gift to myself and always an amazing experience.

Green Garlic Bisque:

4 cups of 1/8" sliced green garlic, roots and outer leave removed, white and green parts of the leek part sliced, leaves reserved for the garnish
filtered lukewarm salted water
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of cognac (est)
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
5 cups of potatoes, peeled and diced (keep in water to avoid discoloration)
vegetable stock
1 TBS arborio rice
1 tsp of thyme (dried can be used when adding the stock, fresh can be used later)

(Serves 10)

Prep the garlic and place in lukewarm salted filtered water for 15-20 minutes (sometimes green garlic can turn purple/blue, this step prevents that by drawing out the minerals).

Heat the olive oil and add the drained green garlic. Cover and cook for approx. 20 minutes (some browning is OK), stiring occasionally. Add the cognac and stand well back (it will flame). Add the potatoes, salt, and vegetable stock, arborio rice and dry thyme, if using (stock should cover ingredients by 1 "). Cover and cook at a boil for 20-30 minutes, until garlic and poatoes are starting to break down. Remove from the heat.

Add fresh thyme, if using.

Puree with an immersion blender. Adjust seasoning.

Smoked Paprika Oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon smoked paprika

In a saute pan, combine oil and smoke paprika. Cook until the oil starts to bubble. Remove from heat and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes.

Green Garlic Leave Chips :
3/4 cup oil (grapeseed oil olive oil blend as it needs to be heated at a high heat)
leaves from 5 green garlic, cut on the diagonal about 1/4" wide

Heat the oil in a saute pan to a very high temperature to mimic deep frying. Fry the cut green garlic leaves unitl crispy ( about 3 minutes). Drain on paper towel.

Serve the bisque topped with smoked paprika oil and green garlic chips.


Blogger cookiecrumb said...

SO cool! I can tell you are excited.
It's great of you to share the recipes.
It's even better to hear that you are encouraged to experiment. Wow, nice.

8:43 PM  
Blogger samael7 said...

Thank you for posting this so promptly! I'm already sharing it with friends and posting it on my own blog.


10:41 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hey cookie - it's really my kinda thing

Matthew - do you write a food blog? Let me know, I'd love to check it out.

8:13 PM  
Blogger jennconspiracy said...

Samael7 was in the class - so was I! We sat at the end/side of the table nearest the door to the kitchen and were on the "Fire" team.

We're going to make the green garlic bisque soon, I hope!

He doesn't have a food blog - yet - but I'm thinking I am going to set up one as soon as I get off my butt and get the WordPress thing going.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Melody Polakow said...

It is wonderful you get to goto these classes... I would LOVE to attend one (or TEN!)... If I ever get out to the Bay Area, I will time it so I can take one of the classes.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Jenn - Yes, I liked the fire message! Hope to see you at another class. Let me know if you get that food blog going.

Melody - sounds like that may be a great future journey! You can hang with me!

7:09 PM  
Blogger VEGAN TICKLES said...

I can't wait to attend one of these classes.
I always look forward to your MILLENIUM entries.
I live vicariously thru you.
I'm in Los Angeles:(.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Welcome Vegan Tickles! It is fun to live vicariously when geography doesn't accommodate. But you have Real Food Daily in LA!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

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10:13 PM  
Anonymous Fearless Kitchen said...

Green garlic bisque.... It sounds almost sinful, but it looks so very tasty! Thanks!

2:55 PM  
Blogger bazu said...

Oh wonderful! I'm on the Millenium mailing list (I don't know why- I live on the other side of the country!) and I love seeing your experience with their classes. Soon, I'm going to be even farther away- I'm going to be spending the Fall semester in England!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Fearless Kitchen - welcome!

bazu - I'm jealous! Where about's in England?

9:21 PM  
Blogger bazu said...


9:06 AM  
Blogger Sheltie Girl said...

What beautiful dishes you and your fellow students created. They look divinely delicious.

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Frabjous Day said...

Sounds fantastic! How did you hear about the classes? Via their email list?

5:36 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Sheltie girl - thank you! and they taste as good as they look!

Frabjous - they email out a newsletter with classes and special dinners each month.

7:06 PM  
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Anonymous shopping said...

nice easy recipes

2:33 AM  

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