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)
1 TBS arborio rice
1 tsp of thyme (dried can be used when adding the stock, fresh can be used later)
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.