Millennium Cooking Class: Southern Comfort Foods
Southern Comfort Cooking was the focus of today's cooking class at the gourmet vegan San Francisco restaurant: Millennium. Taught by Eric Tucker, Millennium's executive chef, this was certainly the heaviest vegan menu I've ever worked on!
We did two opposing versions of Gumbo soup. The Ze Herb green version (above) was a chlorophyll fresh mix of pureed greens, fava beans, green herbs and hijiki sea vegetable. The taste was pure green goodness. The smoky tomato based version below included paprika, vegan sausage and okra, served with a wedge of lemon (the lemon made a huge difference). Both soups involved the traditional roux base of a gumbo and both were excellent.
Prepare yourself for this one: Oyster Mushroom Po Boys! Corn flour and sesame coated deep fried oyster mushrooms (if you've eaten at Millennium, you know to ALWAYS order the deep fried oyster mushrooms!), on freshly baked baguette rolls with tofu mayo/remoulade, olive and rosemary tapenade, tomato, red onion, and lettuce. I'm not big on sandwiches, but this was just incredible. It brought together the creamy, crunchy, salty, and fresh into a messy, super indulgent sandwich:
I got to make the tofu mayo remoulade. Silken tofu, miso, lemon juice, and olive oil mixed with chopped capers, roasted red peppers, pickle, dill, and parsley. This was so creamy, tasty, and indulgent that it has really inspired me to try other silken tofu spreads:
Incredibly, after eating the Po Boys, there was "round 2". Giant red onions, roasted with rosemary, and stuffed with ettouffee. Here's Eric's beautifully plated version:
Ettouffee means "to smother" and describes a Cajun dish served over rice. We made two versions of morel mushroom ettouffee: one smoky, rosemary-based version with tempeh and one with a mirepoix of carrots and fennel, deep fried "bacon" tofu and rich cashew cream. Both were rich and achieved a meaty heartiness of flavor that was pretty amazing. The sweet roasted red onions were the perfect vehicle for the ettouffee. Here's my plate, which also includes the dirty rice and smoky greens:
Eric showed us how to make an impromptu green bean chow chow with some left over mirepoix, raisins, and chili:
We also had some quick pickled okra with red onions and rosemary:
And then, of course, there was dessert. We went for total decadence here, inspired by the brownie-sundae building dessert Eric had featured at the Southern Comfort dinner last week. Brownie with coco cream, over-the-top rocky road ice cream (one version with peanut butter), rice crispy treats covered with chocolate, peanut butter rice crispy treats, and brandied apricots:
Are you feeling full just reading about this meal? I had to take a lot of mine home (after the Po Boy, I was done for the day. Ok, except for the ice cream).
The cooking classes I've taken at Millennium have all been great learning experiences. Working on the tofu mayo remoulade has really inspired me to explore working with silken tofu. Making the coco cream, I learned more about working with agar and some new ingredients to me: lecithin and kuzu. Creating the meaty rich ettouffee has me thinking vegan dinner party!
Plus, the classes are just damn fun!! The people are cool and there's a team sense of camaraderie. Thanks to my fellow students and, of course, to Chef Eric and his assistants, Thomas, Adrian, and LeeAnn for another great class!
Here are links to posts on other fabulous cooking classes at Millennium: