Millennium Cooking Class: Indian Summer
Above: Poori: Brown Rice Salad with Quince, Cucumber, Pistachio and Radish in a Sumac Vinaigrette; Black Lentil-Coconut Curry; Sicilian Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Salad with Mint.
This Sunday, I enjoyed another fantastic vegan cooking class at Millennium with uber-chef Eric Tucker. The theme was Indian summer produce, so lots of chiles, along with a wide range of transitional seasonal produce from tomatoes to fresh beans to squash.
The class is made up of 10 enthusiastic students who break into 2 groups of 5 and prepare variations of planned dishes. While there's an element of competition between the two groups, the set-up creates an enjoyable team cooking approach, with two assistants (this weekend Thomas and Veronica) and Chef Eric to guide and enlighten.
One thing I really love about the classes is that using your brain, creativity, and intuition is strongly encouraged. If you're an absolute beginner, fear not, you'll get detailed explanations of ingredients and how to work with them . If you have some experience and express your own ideas, interests, and suggestions, Chef Eric immediately adapts to your level and starts throwing questions your way "taste this...what do you think is missing here? what do you want to do with this?" And this happens amid a fair amount of kitchen chaos and the need to meet a deadline (the dinner crew shows up at 3:30 pm).
The highlights of the class for me were the black lentil-coconut curry and the delicious Chick pea socca pizza dough (gluten-free).
Chef Eric has graciously allowed me to reproduce the easy and incredibly tasty black lentil-coconut curry recipe (see the end of this post). This was an on-the-fly recipe I made with Eric's guidance. You just have to try this one! It's a crowd pleaser!
Below are the chickpea socca dough pizza's. The dough is simply chickpea flour, a little EVOO, salt and water and a little sauteed rosemary with garlic mixed in. We had a wide range of toppings including cashew cream cheese, tomatoes, fresh herbs, smoked onions, sauteed horseradish greens, grapes, chanterelles and matzutake mushrooms:
Honestly, I think I like the socca pizza dough better than regular pizza dough and (to my total surprise) my 8 year old had some and was, "like...wow...that's soooo good!".
Oven-roasted tomato jam:
White Bean Gratin with Pine nut toasted bread crumbs:
Indian roasted Okra and Tomato (cooked under the broiler to dry the okra and avoid that gelatinous aspect so few appreciate in okra).
And a sumptuous dessert of super-moist apple-pumpkin-roasted pineapple upside down cake with pineapple-coconut sorbet with candied chiles:
Links to previous posts on Millennium cooking classes:
Black Lentil Coconut Curry:
2TBS grape seed oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 chile (seeded and finely chopped), serrano or cayenne (control the heat by removing the membrane ribs)
1/3 cup ginger, peeled & finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 TBSP whole coriander seed
1 TBSP cumin seed
12 fresh curry leaves, whole
1 TBSP black mustard
4 cups black lentils (precooked)
3 pinches of salt
2 cups coconut milk
RCP, sauteed in oil for 30 seconds, as needed to adjust heat
2 TBS chopped cilantro leaves
Chat masala to garnish
Heat the grape seed oil in a pan and add saute the onion and ginger. Add the chile and saute for 2 minutes. Add the spices and saute for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the curry leaves and cook 1 additional minute. Add the precooked black lentils and salt, stir to coat, and cook 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and cook until it starts to thicken 4-5 minutes. Taste for heat and, if not hot enough, saute RCP in oil for 30 seconds and add to mixture. Add the chopped cilantro leaves at the end and adjust for salt.
Serve in a bowl, topped with Chat masala.
Serves 10 as a side, 5 as a main with poori or nan.