Sunday, August 14, 2011

Millennium Cooking Class July 2011

The last day of July took me back to Millennium, the high-end vegan restaurant in San Francisco, for another vegan cooking class.Taught by Millennium's Executive Chef Eric Tucker, I was really excited to work with one of my favorite summer ingredients, squash blossoms. The picture above shows two versions of tofu-stuffed squash blossoms. At one o'clock, traditional cornmeal-encrusted deep-fried squash blossoms with a spicy cilantro sauce and cucumber salad; at seven o'clock, an asian-riff stuffed squash blossom with charred corn and eggplant salad; and at eleven o'clock, a chickpea flour pannisse with an almond garlic sauce.

Following tradition, the cooking class divided into two teams who cook variations on the basic menu dishes. Classmates are invited to the Saturday Ferry Building Farmers' Market and are offered the opportunity to provide input into dishes on the Sunday Cooking Class menu. This time around, we focused on gluten-free dishes.

My team opted for the non-traditional treatment of squash blossoms. Typically, squash blossoms are treated in a Mexican style, stuffed with a cheese filling, and floured with corn meal and deep-fried. There is no doubt that this is a delicious treatment and the other team used a tofu-cheese and followed the typical presentation. Our team decided on an Asian treatment, our tofu cheese incorporated toasted sesame seeds, along with nutritional yeast to add that cheesy element. Squash blossoms are incredibly attractive:

We then brushed the tofu-cheese stuffed squash blossoms with soy and toasted sesame seeds:

And finding the broiler full, Eric demonstrated the cheat-broil using the blow torch (we also got to try our hand at this):

I have to say, I loved the charred result:

But, damn, it's hard to beat the deep-fried cornmeal encrusted version with an amazing spicy cilantro sauce and a super fresh cucumber-red onion salad:

Not familiar with panisse? It's a chickpea flour, fried polenta-like dish from France, gluten-free, and just incredibly delicious. My team added a fair amount of oil to the recipe, along with the recommended summer savory.

With the rich Almond-Garlic sauce and eggplant & tomato agrodocle, this was just incredible:

I wish I had worked on the incredible Tofu custard dish, made with Hodo Soy soy milk. It had an elegance, a simplicity, that I think is rarely found in food:

We paired it's coolness with charred snap peas and fried yuba (tofu skin):

We did two version of risotto with vanilla-marinated grilled abalone and oyster mushrooms - one with potato and the picture version with sunchokes:

With a side of romaon beans with garlic and green olives:

And, I have to say, even though I had no part in the dessert, the Spelt Zucchini Rum Cake with Rose Geranium Sorbet and Lemon Verbena Sorbet, put a whole new spin on Spelt. My experiences with spelt bread have been seriously awful, but this cake rocked! And the sorbets were to absolutely die-for.

Many thanks to my classmates, Eric, Ann, and Thomas for another wonderful vegan cooking experience!

Postscript: Here's a link to Jennifer Chen's write-up of the class on the Veg News Blog : Veg News Blog: Millennium Farmers Market Cooking Class

Here's links to my previous 18 classes:

  • Mushroom Cooking Class January 2011

  • Sept.2010 Cooking Class

  • July 2010 Cooking Class

  • June 2010 Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class 2010

  • Chiles Cooking Class 2009

  • July Cooking Class 2009

  • June Cooking Class 2009

  • Spring Cooking Class 2009

  • Mushroom Cooking Class

  • Holiday Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest 2008

  • Indian Summer

  • Southern Comfort Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class

  • Chiles Class

  • Tomato Class