Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Millennium Cooking Class: Chile Class 2011

So, let's start this Millennium Cooking Class post off with a pop quiz, a classic "What am I?" Can you identify the items in the green bowl pictured above?

If you have no idea (I had no idea), the next picture probably won't help, but here's another shot:

The answer: Physalis peruviana. Eric referred to them as Pohas, which I'd never heard of. That's the Hawaiian name, but they are (perhaps) more commonly known as Cape Gooseberries.

To me, they tasted like a tomato crossed with a lime. These came from Tierra Vegetables and I'm thinking I might take a drive to visit their farm stand very soon! (Also, check out Millennium's website for info on their special dinner at Tierra Vegetables Oct. 30th.) An obvious complement to chiles, the pohas were used beautifully in a mushroom ceviche in class, but I'm thinking exciting salsa!

OK. Pop quiz "What am I?" #2:

Here's a clue: has a strange floral, soapy, gasoline smell!

Answer: Epazote , a Mexican herb that is traditionally used to flavor beans or dishes with huitlacoche (corn smut), with the added benefit that it reduces gas associated with eating beans. We used it in the Smoky black bean mix, along with huitlacoche.

So I spent another happy Sunday in the kitchen at Millennium, exploring new ingredients and recipes with an inquisitive and energetic group of home cooks! The class featured chiles and also October's favorite ingredient, pumpkin.

The plate above shows our lunch menu: two versions of corn flour Araepas, mushrooms ceviche, pumpkin seed sauces, and also a smoky black bean puree.

The Araepas are a thick corn cake made with masa. One version used Tierra Vegetables corn flour in a 1:1 ratio with dried corn masa. Corn kernals were added to the combo version. Here two home chefs form the dough:

The araepas were then steamed:

and pan seared for crispiness.

We made two versions of the pumpkin seed sauce - a red version with tomatoes and habanero, the other a verde version with tomatillos and anaheim and poblano chiles (I worked on this version - recipe is at the end of this post)

We also enjoyed a colorful roasted squash salad with sweet chipotle dressing and raddichio:

With two versions of pumpkin seed brittle (the chewy version with baking powder seen below):

We also transformed soaked mung lentils:

With the help of the deep fryer:

Into delicious golden lentil vadas:

The vadas were paired with two versions of charred eggplant puree, two versions of mung dal (one made with cashew cream and one with coconut cream), and two fresh chutneys:

The second meal was paired with a simple and refreshing Sharlyn melon soup:

Dessert was a decadent combo of pumpkin crepes, hazelnut chocolate sauce (think vegan Nutella) and a knockout rose geranium sorbet:

Another great cooking experience! Many thanks to Eric, Thomas, Alison,my dear cooking pal C. and all my fellow cooks!

As promised, here is the recipe for
Pumpkin Seed Chile Verde:
2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 cups tomatillos (husked, but leave whole)
2 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion, small dice
3 anaheim chiles, rough chop
1/4 olive oil
Juice of 5 limes
2 bunches of cilantro (we blanched one bunch and added the other fresh)
1/4 cup vegetable stock
salt to taste

We later added more chile to punch up the flavor:
2 poblanos, rough chop
1/3 yellow onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste

Toast pumpkin seeds and set aside. Combine the tomatillos, 2 cloves garlic , anaheim chiles with a little oil and "char the crap out of them (= 40% char). Blend in a blender with the toasted pumpkin seeds with additional olive oil and lime juice. Salt to taste.

Then we decided we needed to up the chiles and sauted two poblano chiles in oil with 2 garlic cloves and an additional 1/3 yellow onion. We then put this through the blender and stirred it into the salsa verde.

Eric suggested a tomato version with carrots and fennel for a bolognese sauce.

Here's links to the previous 19 Millennium cooking classes I've had the pleasure of attending:
  • July 2011 Class

  • 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