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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Millennium Cooking Class: Tomatoes


I can't imagine a better way to have spent this Sunday (my "day" off) than attending a cooking class with Eric Tucker at Millennium Restaurant.

You may remember I recently posted about an incredible meal I enjoyed there, and my all-time favorite summer cocktail, their basil gimlet.

Although I've practically been living off heirloom tomatoes for the past month (which somewhat explains why I've posted less frequently of late), I realized today, I've really not even touched the many tasty and satisfying possibilites those pretty fruits have to offer.

While the tomatoes are so good right now, they're perfectly satisfying with a pinch of salt, some basil, and fresh mozzarella, today I enjoyed them in all their sweet and savory glory.

Here Chef Tucker introduces us to the various different tomatoes we would be working with:


It was a serious team effort with nine other enthusiastic classmates, Chef Tucker, Thomas, and the cheerful intern Ryan, who turned the neatly prepared stations of ingredients into delectable dishes. Below is the prep for the Roasted Tomato and White Bean Galettes:



We were split into 2 groups of five and each team prepared variants of the selected tomato recipes.

I have to apologize up front for the poor quality and rather limited number of photographs. A foodblogger's nightmare, that darned battery warning light showed up on my first shot and resulted in hasty shots before the batteries completely crapped out.

The first recipe I worked on was this deliciously refreshing yellow tomato soup, topped with a melon salad (with serrano chiles, cucumber mint, and methi leaves). Thanks to Shuna's Knife Skills class, the pretty red flecks are peeled and diced red bell pepper. We later added spicy hot chili gel made with agar agar (but the camera crapped out before I could capture them):



The other team made this beautiful version out of green tomatoes (the white garnish is coconut milk) :


Round one also included delicious Tomato & White Bean Galettes with a roasted vegetable salsa that was out of this world:


Round two produced the sumptuous spread below: pooris in the back, (although the ones I worked on were more like puffy crisp flatbreads, they sure tasted good), chanterelle cream, sag paneer, breadcrumb topped lasagna with tomatoes, beans, and chanterelle cream, sauteed peaches, eggplant salsa, and okra with tomatoes and onions):


Here's a close-up of the chanterelle cream (made with cashew cream, imagine heaven):


Sadly, my batteries died completely before I got shots of the incredible desserts: our variant, the fig and tomato upside down cake with pinenut olive oil sorbet, and the original tomato upside down cake with candied rosemary olive oil sorbet. OK, I've said it before, I'm really not a dessert person, but these cakes and sorbets were totally amazing!

I took home my half-eaten tomato jam dot, recharged the batteries, so you could check out these amazing cookies with a pinenut cookie batter:



I think my favorite moments of the class were the adjustments when something didn't quite work out or we tasted a dish and brainstormed on ways to improve or embellish it. And, although the recipe packs provided were absolutely critical, I was very psyched to hear Chef Tucker say "we're just going to wing it on this one." As regular readers will know, there's nothing quite so appealing to me as "winging it" in the kitchen: what better way to learn how to be creative and produce something new and unique with ingredients you have on hand.

I can't wait for the next class!

17 Comments:

Anonymous Samuel said...

Delicious post, I am also a big tomatoes fan, I am happy you enjoy it. Check this sauteed zucchini with cherry tomatoes and rosemary I hope you like it

5:00 AM  
Blogger margaret said...

That sounds like such an incredibly awesome class! I'm intensely jealous!

I'm actually working on a website right now that sort of has the theme of "winging it" in the kitchen. You should check it out ... I think you'd like it! The URL is www.alteRecipes.com.

And oh, just the idea of tomato upside down cake is making me drool.

7:53 PM  
Blogger margaret said...

I suppose I could just give you a link too. You know, make life a little easier! :)

alteRecipes.com

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Christine Vitale said...

Hi Catherine!

Great "learning" with you @ Millennium. I love your "try-anything" approach to cooking cooking.

Ciao,
Christine

9:44 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Samuel & Margaret - thanks for the links. Great pics!

Christine - it's always fun to think on your toes and come up with something based on what you have. Glad you enjoy that!

10:25 PM  
Blogger Almost Vegetarian said...

I totally agree with you about winging it. Otherwise, all cooking is is just following directions. And where is the creativity (and fun) in that, I ask you?

Cheers!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Melody Polakow said...

Oh wow! I would have LOVED to have had the opportunity to take that class!

I just received the cookbook yesterday, and am having so much fun reading it... It's giving me tons of ideas.. and I am actually going to follow some of their recipes.. because.. they HAVE to be good..

3:30 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

i might have to come with you

11:43 AM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Wow, this is serious high-end vegetarian cooking! What a terrific class.

12:10 PM  
Blogger bazu said...

I am in awe. I just might have to move back to the Bay Area to take classes at Millenium!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Holler said...

Don't worry about the photos, the ones you added, really gave a flavour of the day! I loved the sound of the Tomato & White Bean Galettes with a roasted vegetable salsa!

6:10 PM  
Blogger winedeb said...

Pine Nut Olive Oil Sorbet !!!
I am loving this tomato class that you participated. Everything looks and sounds great, but the desserts are what's catching my interest. Any way to get some recipe's??

3:49 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Sam - I'd luv to take a class with you!

Cookie - yep, high-end winging it cookin"!

Holler - they were so good, but the fab roasted vegetable salsa was key!

winedeb - I think it was the best sorbet I ever tasted. I almost can't believe it was vegan. Tasted like heavy cream was involved. And the toasted pine nuts were unbelievable!

11:46 PM  
Blogger Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

This looks great! And I am SOOO happy to find a fantastic looking Veggie site - we are trying to eat more veggies and less meat and I have been running out of ideas! Will be here very often!

1:01 PM  
Blogger Ms. S said...

I just found your site and am very excited about trying out some new recipes. Is the recipe for the chantarelle cream on the sidebar? I've been searching for a really good recipe for a nut cream and would love to try out your cashew cream.

Thanks and keep up the amazing bloggin.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Ms S.,

The recipe is Chef Tucker's, not mine. The cashew cream was premade. They may be in one of the Millennium Cookbooks - I'll check.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Saffron said...

Hi Catherine,

I have visited your blog accidentally when i am searching for food bloggers. Nice to see your blog. Interesting Receipes With Excellent Photography. All The Best. Hope to see more :)

3:48 AM  

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