Millennium Cooking Class: September 2012
Last weekend, I enjoyed my 23rd cooking class at Millennium, San Francisco's incredible vegan restaurant. Executive Chef extraordinaire Eric Tucker reduced the number of dishes we made this time around and focused more on technique. I have to say, I love to cook,and I love dedicating my time for those Sunday classes where I'm learning to create more complexity. But the truth is, my style is to prepare simple, really great tasting food in short order that that makes me seem like a culinary genius. This class really spoke to that! I made two variations of the class dishes the following day, so I think there's a lot to be said for simplicity and contentment.
Pictured above, a quick Pickled Cucumber and Cherry Tomato Mint Salad with Diced Apple and a Brown Rice Vinegar-Sesame Oil Dressing. The trick here is to combine those little Japanese/Persian cucumbers with salt (3 small cucumbers to 1 tsp salt), then squeeze out the extra liquid. Use the same technique to create the simple cucumber salad with red onion and mirin commonly available in Asian restaurants.
I'm a big believer in small plates with lots of complex flavors, so I was delighted to work on Socca (chickpea flour flatbreads) with a variety of tasty sides, including the most incredible Smokey Eggplant Spread (recipe to follow), Piperade,
and a delicious Picada of toasted hazelnuts, garlic, baguette and pulla chile:
The class also covered two additional doughs: Asian Dumplings with Ma La Oil, Tomato Carpaccio and Toasted Shallots with Toasted Peanuts:
And Ravioli Pasta stuffed with Tomato Greens and Tofu Cheese with Tomato Confit:
The spectacular dessert: Cardamom Panna Cotta with Caramelized Pear and Candied Chiles:
Here's a close-up of the Socca with the Smokey Eggplant-Garlic spread:
The Smokey Eggplant dish is definitely something you're going to want to try. Super flavorful as a dip with crackers or as a sandwich spread, and pretty darn easy. Here's the recipe:
Smokey Eggplant-Garlic Spread:
2 Globe Eggplant
8 cloves garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed
Salt, Pepper & Lemon Juice to taste
Place eggplant over your gas grill or BBQ and char, turning as needed. To avoid cleaning your stove, when the eggplant starts releasing liquid, finish it off on a foil-covered pan under the broiler. Go for maximum char effect. Saute the garlic cloves in olive oil to 50% char. Combine one of the charred eggplants (skin and all) with the other ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Chop the remaining eggplant (just the flesh) and stir into the puree.
As always, many thanks to Eric, Thomas and Ann for a wonderful cooking class. Also, thanks to Marie, a (rare) French vegan who has worked at Michelin star restaurants in France, for her expert guidance. And thanks to my awesome classmates! Hope to see you again!
Here's links to the previous 22 Millennium cooking classes I've had the pleasure of attending: