A cooking lesson with Pilar Cabrera

A delightful view of my good friend Pilar Cabrera as she teaches a few students about the art of making tamales, like the ones her grandmother taught her to make. Pilar is the chef of La Olla Restaurante in Oaxaca. Her food is delicious.

Chiapas Explorer’s Trip

Here is a visual summary of the February explorer’s trip to Chiapas. The videos were made by Kathy Martinides.

An opportunity to cook with Diana Kennedy

www.dianakennedycenter.org;www.culinaryadventuresinc.com Diana has turned Quinta Kennedy, her home in Michoacán, into an educational center/foundation. She is offering the first of her boot camps, The Building Blocks of Mexican Food January 18-25, 2015. Many of you have asked repeatedly when the next trip to Diana’s would be taking place, so now is your opportunity to sign up and study the basics of Mexican cuisine with Diana. The trip will start and end in Mexico City. For more details go to her website.

The Diana Kennedy Center (Fundación Quinta Diana) is a culinary research center and foundation based at the property of Diana Kennedy in Michoacán, Mexico. The center will offer intensive Mexican cooking courses with Diana, serve as a research center with access to Diana’s personal library and archives of notes, and fund organic edible gardens in local schools

A Culinary Adventure in Chiapas, Mexico with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Munoz

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A lesson in making tamales in San Cristobal, Chiapas
Photo by Igancio Urquiza

8/25 Trip is full and a waiting list has been started.

Chiapas and Tabasco here we come! We finally decided on these two very southern states for our February culinary adventure with most of the time being spent in Chiapas, a state with a very interesting cuisine, including an incredible variety of different types of tamales—at least fifty that I have tasted, seen, or heard about. We still are not sure if we will start the trip in Villahermosa, Tabasco or Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. I did, however, wanted to give you a heads up on what will be included no matter where we may start the trip.

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

Rick Bayless in San Cristobal, Chiapas

We will be exploring many of the different regions of Chiapas, from the rugged mountains and cloud forest surrounding the 6,900 feet high colonial city of San Cristóbal, to the lowland rain forests where we will spend a night in cabins in the region where many of the Lancandóns live, just one of the many groups of indigenous people in Chiapas.

Most tourists come to this state to visit the spectacular archeological sites, especially Palenque, however my favorite is the isolated Yaxchilan which we can only get to by boat on the Rió Usamacinta that forms the border with Guatemala.

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Yaxchilan

 

 We will explore these as well as Bonampak with its vivid Mayan murals inside one of the temples.

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Murals in Bonampak Archeological site, Chiapas

The first time my husband, Fredric and I were here years ago, we had to hike and climb several really rough miles on a muddy, virtually impossible trail, but now there is a paved road all the way.

 

We hope to have our classes at Casa Ná-Bolom, the former home of Frans Blom an explorer and archeologist, and his wife Trudi Blom, a photographer and anthropologist who explored this region. Trudi is famous for her work on Lacandón culture and her photographs are on display at the house museum which we will visit.

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Church in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

 

We also will be visiting several of the nearby villages including San Juan Chamula and its very unusual church with pine needles scattered on the floor, and sometimes chickens are in attendance. Close by is the village of Zincantán, where we are hoping to schedule another traditional meal like we have had in the past with a local family who also are known for their weaving.

 

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Family in Zincantan, Chiapas

 

 

 

 

On our way to Palenque and Tabasco, we will stop at a very special small cheese producer of the local cheeses, including Rick Bayless’s favorite “doble crema,” and visit the dazzling waterfalls Agua Azul as the water tumbles down the numerous small cliffs.

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Olmec head in Villahermosa, Tabasco

In Tabasco, we will spend time in the fascinating La Venta where gigantic 6-foot tall carved stone Olmec heads weighing at least 20 tons are interspersed throughout a jungle-like setting.

Both Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Ricardo Muñoz will be with us to give classes and share their culinary knowledge and one day, Ricardo’s aunt, an excellent home cook, will give a demonstration of some of the regional foods of her area.

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Chef Ricardo Munoz

Later this summer, we will have the exact dates, but I expect it to be on or around the week of February 14-22. At that time, we will let you know the total cost. Do let me know if you are interested in joining us on this trip. It will truly be a culinary adventure.

 

Chefs’ trip 2014 – Yucatán with Rick Bayless and Ricardo Muñoz

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This September 27 to October 5, we will have our twelfth chefs’ trip to Mexico, and this year we will return once again to Yucatán, where we last did one over 10 years ago. As you can see from the photo, it can be quite intense.

Besides Rick and Ricardo, other local cooks and chefs such as Roberto Solis will be sharing their knowledge of both the traditional foods of the Maya and the more modern renditions, all quite unlike those in the rest of Mexico and their more modern renditions.

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achiote

Many of these dishes will have green, black or red recado seasoning paste with achiote for flavoring such dishes as cochinita pibil, originally prepared with the native peccary cooked in a pit. You will sample my favorite dip, sikil-pák, made with pumpkin seeds and dzotobichay, a huge tamal stuffed with chopped hard-cooked eggs and wrapped with chaya leaves.

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Cochinita bibil

I always like to combine the rather intense cooking classes and other food related experiences with some time to learn about culture, especially in Yucatán so one day we will visit one of the major archeological sites, but, of course, eating some interesting food along the way.

These chef trips do fill quickly, and I always like to leave spots for those who haven’t been with us before so do let me know if you are interested in joining us in September. We have not yet confirmed the schedule so do not have a cost as of now, but I should know soon and will let you know. I expect it to be approximately $4,200, the same as last year. To hold a space, please contact us and we will send you the necessary paperwork for you to send back with a deposit.

Update:  We have had cancellations on this trip, if you are interested, please contact us. The final price for this trip is $4,200 and the dates are Sept. 27-Oct. 5.

Jalisco journey – Jueves

Pictures by Kathy Martinides

More tequila, with a visit to Siete Leguas.

How to Make Three Authentic Salsas with Roberto Santibañez

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Photograph by Romulo Yanes from Roberto’s “Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking.” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011)

Reprinted from Men’s Journal by Carol Reed

According to chef Roberto Santibañez, salsas should be seen as spicy condiments, like steak sauce or ketchup, where a quarter teaspoon is added to main dishes to “create an explosion on the palate.” If you like to down your salsa a cup at a time with a bag of corn chips, by all means. But that’s not their primary purpose. Chiles, roasted over a fire and beaten into salsa, are “part of the foundation of all Mexican cuisine,” says French-trained Santibañez, a native of Mexico City who is the former culinary director of famed New York eatery Rosa Mexicana, and lately, the chef-owner of the upscale Fonda restaurants and La Botaneria small-plates bar in Brooklyn, New York, and Manhattan. Here, Santibañez offers three recipes so you can make classic Mexican salsas – a red, a green, and pico de gallo – to pair with dinner at home.

Salsa Roja de Molcajete

This simple roasted tomato salsa, omnipresent in Mexico, is the one most Americans associate with the term salsa. It’s best when the garlic, roasted chiles, and salt are pounded to a paste in a molcajete, a traditional Mexican volcanic-stone mortar and pestle. But you can easily substitute a blender.
(Serves 4)

Ingredients
1 lb tomatoes (about 3 medium)
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, or more to taste
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or 1/4 tsp fine salt

1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to broil (or 500°). Core the tomatoes and cut a small X through skin on the bottom. Cook tomatoes, cored sides up, with the chiles on a foil-lined baking pan, turning chiles after 8 minutes or so. Roast 15 minutes total, or until chiles are tender, blistered all over, and partly blackened. Remove chiles and cook tomatoes another 15–20 minutes until the tops blacken and they’re cooked to the core. Cool slightly.
2. Peel off tomato skins, and remove the chile skins (you might have to use a paring knife).
3. Put peeled chiles, garlic, kosher salt, and one-third of roasted tomatoes in blender; puree until fairly smooth. Add remaining tomatoes and pulse a few times to keep texture chunky. Season to taste with additional salt.

Salsa Verde Cruda

This tart and spicy fresh tomatillo salsa is chef Santibañez’s favorite (“I live for this salsa”). Learn to tweak the tomatillos’ acidity with a little lime juice and salt “to make it all sing,” he says. It tastes best fresh – no more than a few hours after you make it.
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients
1/2 lb tomatillos (5 or 6), husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, coarsely chopped, including seeds, or more to taste
2 tbsp chopped white onion
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3/4 tsp fine salt, or 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Put the tomatillos in the blender jar first, then add the remaining ingredients. Blend until the salsa is very smooth (tomatillo seeds will still be visible), at least a minute. Season to taste, adjusting flavor if desired with additional chile and salt, then blend again.

Pico de Gallo with Lemon Zest

This raw, saladlike tomato salsa, also known as salsa Mexicana, is a riff on the classic, swapping lemon for lime. It is best made anywhere from a few hours to 30 minutes before serving to marry and deepen the flavors.
(Makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups diced seeded tomatoes
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
Heaping 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh serrano chiles, including seeds, or more to taste
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and stir thoroughly to distribute everything well. Season to taste with more chile, lemon juice, or salt, if desired.