Green Plum Cooking School – Saturday, June 26th, 2010
As I walked outside this morning to see what the growers had brought to the market today, The Secret Garden had an unusual but beautiful item: bitter melon. I’ve never cooked bitter melon before but I want to use it for today’s class, so I get a quick schooling from the Leungs. Apparently, the white melons are less bitter than the green ones. I turn to Lisa and wisecrack, “I’m pretty bitter….”
We also get some amaranth — the leaves, not the seeds — and some pretty leaf spinach that is lighter in color than the spinach we are used to seeing. Also, amongst the bounty of the day, a woman attending the class, named Carolyn, gifts me some beautiful eggplant, peppers and tomatoes from her garden.
My plan was to make a cherry tomato dressing. Now that I have eggplant, I am going to pan-fry breaded eggplant and top it with the tomato dressing. Today, I have some young assistants helping me with the tomato prep. At some point, Carolyn (who is sitting in the front row), asks if I ever need unskilled labor to help out. I think about this for a second and respond, “That’s all I’ve got!,” and look over at my sous-chef/volunteers who are proceeding to smash the cherry tomatoes rather than cut them in sixths or eights as I had instructed. The boys were having fun, though, so I changed the title to Crushed Cherry Tomato Dressing. There’s always a bright side, right?