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Join us in Oaxaca, A Great, Fun Learning Experience

By Jane Butel  February 13, 2018

Oaxaca, Mexico is a culinary and art paradise.  Jane Butel has organized a Culinary tour to Oaxaca to capture the delicious flavors and beautiful experiences unique to this ancient city--home to one of the Wonders of the Old World--Monte Alban.

The cuisine of Oaxaca is virtually untouched by influences from other countries.  The tour will encompass village market tours, where the native artisans and culinarians will be displaying and marketing their craft and yummy foods. 

There will be three full participation cooking classes where the major dishes such as the moles, tamales,  and stews  of Oaxaca will be learned.  Each day will enfold with exciting tours of villages where various specialties will be offered such as the delicate and brilliantly colored  wood carving, beautiful black pottery and special dying and weaving.

There will also be free time to visit galleries, shops, museums and markets.  The tour is set for June 5 to 11, 2018.  The compete itinerary can be viewed with this link where you can also register--


  Here's  a couple of recipes for an authentic taste of Oaxaca-- 


(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. 
  1. 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.



 This is the original Mexican Salsa, known to save lives after one of the country’s revolutions.  This refreshing salsa can be as mild or as hot as you like, depending on the chiles used.  Any leftovers can be added to guacamole, made into salad dressing or chile con queso, and can be frozen for up to 4 months for later use in cooked dishes. 

Yield:  1-1/2 to 2 cups 

1 large fresh tomato (1/2 cup) chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

4 green chiles, parched, peeled and chopped, or 4 ounces (1/2 cup) frozen or canned chopped green chiles (or 2 to 4 fresh jalapenos, finely minced)

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro (optional) 

  1. Combine all ingredients; allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. Sauce keeps for 1 week when refrigerated.




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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.





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