Friday, July 13, 2012

June 2012 Millennium Cooking Class

June 24th marked my 22nd cooking class at Millennium, San
Francisco's incredible vegan restaurant. Executive Chef
Eric Tucker leads two teamsof home chefs through the hands-on
cooking class in the restaurants professionalkitchen.  This class
focused on using the last of the porcini mushroom crop and
early summer ingredients, including apricots, squash blossoms,
English peas, corn, nopales (cactus), and nectarines. The porcini's
are pictured below.
The class creates two meals to enjoy during the 10-3:30 class.
The top of the page featues our lunch plate, Larb, a salad stuffed
into a Hoja Santa leaf (also a red lettuce leaf) with two dressing
options - avocado and apricot, which lend the dish it's characteristic
sweet and spicy taste, sprinkled with traditional toasted rice powder.
The Hoja Santa leaf was a new ingredient to me. Common to Mexican
and South American cooking, this heart shaped leaf (pictured below)
has a slight licorice, anise flavor.

One of my favorite summer Farmers' market ingredients are
delicate squash blossoms. There's so many ways to use these,
but perhaps the most satisfying is to stuff them and deep fry them
in batter. For this class, we created a delicious stuffing made from
freshly shucked English peas, bread crumbs, capers, fresh mint and
lemon zest.  Here are the uncooked squash blossoms, filled with stuffing:

The two teams used different mixtures to dredge the squash 
blossoms before deep frying them. Pictured below is the tempura 
version, with a side of raita. Raita is a cooling Indian side, typically 
made with cucumbers and yogurt. Our vegan versions used silken 
tofu in place of yogurt and chickpea miso. The other team used a 
dredge that included ground toasted almonds, tapioca flour, and 
rice flour (see dinner plate below for this version):

Here's a close up of one of the tofu raitas with dill:

The nopales were place directly on the gas burner to char off the
prickly spurs.  These were used to create a nopale-poblano cream to
accompany the  Huitilacoche and Roasted Corn Tamales.  Huitilacoche,
 a.k.a "corn smut", or the more elegant "corn truffle",  is a black paste-like
fungus with a unique flavor, and commonly used in Mexican cooking.
(Eric gets his from Rick Bayles' farm.)  Turns out to be a health food, full
of lysine (an amino acid that strengthens your immune system and
decreases anxiety).

Below, Chef Eric shows the class the correct way to roll a tamale:

We added those lovely porcini mushrooms to the tamales:

So here's our dinner plate, the tomales, two kinds of squash 
blossoms and raitia, along with three different condiments: 
carrot-habenero sauce, nopale-poblano cream and Zaatar oil 
(bottom right):

Dessert was a Macademia nut gallette, topped with nectarine, 
hyme caramel sauce and an incredible coconut pastry cream, 
thickened with kuzu and agar.  The perfect end to a summer meal.

Here's links to the previous 20 Millennium cooking classes I've
 had the pleasure of attending:

  • Chile Class 2011

  • 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


    Blogger The View From The Table said...

    Wow, this is inspiring. Ingredients here that I've never heard of! Fantastic.

    12:45 AM  
    Blogger nikki said...

    great pics.

    8:44 AM  

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