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Start the Summer Off with Fun in Oaxaca

By Jane Butel  March 22, 2022

Oaxaca is such a wonderfully special place to visit and learn their rich culture.  Their cuisine is such a flavorful and artfully presented delight for both your taste buds and your eyes.

Our Culinary Tour captures both the highlights and the fabric of their rich history.  All who participate are treated to three amazingly fun,full participation cooking classes complete with educational information about their historical  cuisine.

The first class encompasses a tour of one of the city's regional markets where the ingredients for the class are selected followed by a cooking class where some of the Zapotec specialties are prepared.  Included is a tasting of the region's special Mezcals and  explanation of the differences between tequila and mezcal.

Learning the art of mole making and side dish specialties in a beautiful rural setting is next.  Everyone will learn the intricacies of the Cocao bean, the various types, history and the  methods of making various types of chocolate.  By the way, chocolate is an Aztec word meaning "bitter water" and chocolate began as a warrior's drink before going into battle and always had cinnamon or chile added--not sugar to make the chocolate more palatable.

Tucked in between the classes is a tour to one of the wonders of the ancient world, Monte Alban, which overlooks Oaxaca and features amazing insight into  how highly developed the culture was so very long ago.

We also visit villages known for their crafts.  Most distinguished are the  brilliantly painted wood carvings  and  beautiful, yet practical pottery types.

In the corn village, Teotitlan, we have our third cooking class and market tour.  We'll learn different ways the cook with corn and how they use the metate to grind corn finely for fresh corn starch.  We'll view their beautiful and historic Cathedral  lavishly decorated with hundreds of fresh flowers and learn how the Spanish preserved artifacts of the Zapotec culture into the architecture.

We'll also learn how they take raw wool, dye it  with natural dyes and weave lovely different rugs, wall hangings and other items.

We stay in a small, very friendly and comfortable  hotel which is in the historical district and a short walk to the Zocolos, churches, cathedral, museums, fine restaurants and amazing shopping.

We are driven about by very courteous, English speaking  driver-guides who are most  accomodating.

For a more complete itinerary, just click this link to view and to register.

We still have a few openings in this week's Pie Class Thursday, March 24 at 5 PM where we will have a  distinguished  winning pie baker assist me with the teaching, Dr  Ron Bernitsky who has won two NM State Fair Championships as well as national championships with his pie baking.  Also there are still openings in  next week's Taco party class, March 31 t 5 PM.

Here are a couple of typical Oaxacan recipes--

OAXACAN STYLE MOLE

This recipe is by Nora Gutierrez of the La Casa de Mis Recuerdos, which she demonstrated 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.

BUDIN DE CHOCOLATE  OAXAQUENO

OAXACAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Yield: 12 – 14 51/2 ounce ramekin or timbal molds

This is a recipe from Susana, the owner of “Seasons of My Heart” Cooking School in the outskirts of Oaxaca in a beautiful dome shaped, Mexican tiled beautiful setting.  This recipe is one she has developed and honed to perfection.  You may freeze the Boudins for up to three months.  The sauce is optional, however a wonderful addition.

For the Boudin:

½ cup raisins

1/3 cup Mezcal  or Tequila

3 ½ cups French bread cut into ½ inch cubes

1 pound Oaxacan chocolate, broken into pieces (semi sweet chocolate can be substituted)

½ cup strong coffee

¼  teaspoon sea salt

3 large eggs

1 cup crème fraiche or Mexican Crema (if unable to locate, substitute, ¾ cup cultured sour cream mixed with ¼ cup whole milk

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

¼ teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon or canela 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the raisins and mescal in a small saiucepan and simmer until the raisins swell.
  2. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake them in the heating oven until lightly toasted—about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Place the chocolate, coffee and salt in a double boiler over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the chocolate is melted.  Whisk until smooth and cool. 
  4. Place the eggs, cream, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. While the stirring the egg mixture continuously—pour in the melted chocolate, continuously stirring until well blended.
  5. Add the raisins with the mescal and toasted bread cuges to the bowl and stir until well blended. If time allows, let it set until the bread has completely soaked up the chocolate mixture.  Or, you can make up to this point a day ahead and refrigerate.
  6. Divide the mixture into 12 well buttered ramekins, allowing about 1/3 inch margin at the top. Using a large 12 by 14 inch 2 inch deep baking pay, place a towel tin the bottom, them place the ramekins in the pan, trying to keep them from touching each other.  Place in the oven, then add ½ inch hot water and bake until set of 50 or 60 minutes.
  7. Cool the ramekins and unmold after about 15 minutes and serve with the fruit sauce and whipped cream dusted with powdered cinnamon.

 

Salsa de Tuna (cactus fruit)

  1 ¾ cup red tuna puree from the prickly pear cactus (or substitute mango, raspberry or strawberry )

8 ounces tangerine or orange juice

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 – 2 Tablespoon Cointreau or Triple Sec 

1.  In a medium sized heavy saucepan, over medium heat, reduce the juice and sugar until syrupy.  Set aside to cool, thenadd the puree ad\nd the liquor.  Taste to adjust flavor.

 

Whipped Cream Topping 

1 cup whipping cream

½ teaspoon Mexican vanilla\

1, 2 ounce bar Mexican chocolate 

1. Whip the cream, adding the vanilla.

Assembly:

Spoon the Salsa on each serving plate, placing the Boudin the middle of the Salsa.  Top with the whipped cream, then dust with finely grated Mexican chocolate.  Garnish the plate with a small flower and serve.

  

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