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Join the Fun in Oaxaca! There's Still Time

By Jane Butel  February 5, 2019

Join our fun tour to Oaxaca--you will have the time of your life!  What makes Oaxaca so special is its ancient history.  The city is set in a beautiful setting  where the Zapotecs settled  many centuries  ago.  These sensitive people seem to like bright, beautiful colors found in all they create--from pottery to clothing to art to wood sculptures to the colors of their homes and enclosed patios.

On the tour, we will visit villages famous for various pottery, sculpture ,art and weaving.  The colors they use for example in their dying of the yarns for weaving are all natural and from nature such as a small cacti beatle provides brilliant reds, walnut shells provide tans to browns, etc.

Participants will learn the difference between mescal and tequilla and how the ancient Chinese used bamboo sticks to learn when the proof of alcohol was just right for bottling by just blowing into the hollow piece of bamboo. There will be a mescal tasting of many various flavors of mescal such as coconut, mango, pineapple and many others.

The open markets are a site to behold.  The friendly vendors have local food specialties, ingredients and  crafts of all kinds.

We will tour Monte Ban where over 30,000 people lived in an enclosed pyramid type structure thousands of years ago and left behind vestiges of their culture such as the area where medicine was taught , a spiritual building where the light shows on the same point only twice a year--May  8 and August 5....real numerology!  

You may register online or call me with any questions or to register at 505-243-2622.  The cost is only $2100 and includes all the classes tours, all breakfasts, hotel and most lunches and dinners including 2 elegant dinners, one a multi-course chef's dinner with one of Mexico's best chefs.  Single supplement  is $296.00.  Airfare is not included and reasonable fares are available and good flights are still available.

Here are two recipes that you might enjoy making.  They are from Oaxaca.


This recipe is by Nora Gutierrez of the La Casa de Mis Recuerdos, which  is where she demonstrated this recipe  during our Culinary Tour to Oaxaca, Mexico, March, 2003.  Estofado is one of the famous moles from Oaxaca. It is a home-style mole served with Mexican rice, hot corn tortillas, and jalapenos escabeche (pickled).

For the Chicken:

One 4 pound chicken, cut for frying into 10 pieces (no innards)*

2 quarts chicken stock or water to cover with onion, carrot, garlic and salt added

Splash jalapeno pickle juice

  1. Place chicken pieces in stock pot, add bouillon or water with the carrot, onion, etc. Liquid should cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.

For the Sauce:

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 pound tomatillos

4 to 6 tomatoes, to equal 1 pound

1 medium onion

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup white sesame seeds

1 cup graham or zwieback cracker crumbs

1/2 very ripe plantain (banana family)

2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

2 one-inch pieces canella (cinnamon)

12 large capers

3 green olives per person

1/4 cup parsley

4 peppercorns

Salt to taste

1. Boil the almonds in 1½ cups water and boil the tomatillos in 1½ cups water.Parch the unpeeled tomatoes and onion on a comal or griddle until browned all over. Toward end of browning, add garlic. When done and slightly cooled, peel each and coarsely chop.

2  Add the oil to a large skillet, then add the raisins and sauté until they puff up. Place in a bowl. Add the sesame seeds and cook them until they brown lightly. Add a teaspoon of salt as they are browning. When they are toasted, add the plantain sliced into ½ inch slices. Continue to cook until lightly browned. Then add the crackers and toast.

3. Place a portion of each ingredient (reserving the spices, chocolate and olives) in the blender jar. Make sure to have some of the more moist items, such as the tomato, with each batch and blend all the ingredients together, creating a smooth paste.

4. When all is blended, strain through a fine sieve and place in a large pot. Add 2 ½ cups chicken stock a little at a time until a sauce the consistency of thick soup is developed. Add the seasoning and olives, tasting to adjust seasonings.

5.  Add the chocolate, broken into pieces, and whole parsley sprigs and cook to melt chocolate. Taste and determine if more chocolate is desired. Add chicken and cook together for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce has flavored the chicken. Serve with fluffy rice.

*Option: Cook chicken whole, then peel and debone, leaving large pieces. Then add to the sauce as above.


(Open Face Tortillas with Refried Black Beans) 

I remember first trying these in the delightful green pottery village of Santa Maria Atzompa outside Oaxaca.  We take our culinary tour to watch these being made and sample, before shopping for their beautiful pottery. 

Yield:  6 main dish or 18 appetizer servings 

Clayuda Preparation 

3 cups canned black beans, drained (2 15-oz. cans)

1/3 cup lard or vegetable oil, divided

2 cloves Mexican or large garlic, minced

1 1/2 dozen white corn tortillas

1 cup crumbled white cheese—queso blanco or feta

2 green onions, thinly sliced on an angle

1 small bunch cilantro sprigs

1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream thinned with a bit of milk

1 cup salsa fresca or chopped pickled jalapenos 

  1. Make refried beans by melting 1 tablespoon of lard in a heavy skillet. Then add garlic and sauté until it becomes slightly tinged or very light brown.   Add beans to skillet, reserving most of the juice.  Use only enough juice to gain a thick mixture like pudding.  Keep warm.

    2. Meanwhile heat the lard or oil in a small skillet. For main dish size, fry each tortilla until crisp.            For appetizers, cut each tortilla in quarters, cutting almost to the center, but leaving the                       center intact     Fry each whole, tap center of tortilla when crisp to break apart; then  place                on paper towels to drain.  The tortillas can also be baked (see note below).  

  1. To assemble, place the tortillas on the desired serving plates or platters and smear with the refried beans, dividing among the crisp tortillas. Top with a sprinkle of cheese, green onion, cilantro sprigs and a drizzle of crème fraiche; dividing the toppings among all the tortillas.  Serve with salsa to drizzle over the top. 

Note:  To cut fat, bake the tortillas at 425° F for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp, placing them on a cookie sheet and using a smaller sheet centered on top to weigh them down for the first five minutes.  Then remove smaller pan and bake until crisp – about 5 minutes more.




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