During a winter vacation in Mexico, I decided to take an all-day cooking class.
A shuttle driver picked me up in the morning from my hotel and took me (and the other class attendees) to a private home in a nice residential area in Cancun.
We were escorted to a covered backyard dining area.
This was Lorenzo, our host.
He started our day with some coffee called Cafe de Olla and some bunuelos.
This was a brewed coffee made in an earthenware pot, accented with cinnamon and an unprocessed cane sugar called ‘piloncillo’. The bunuelos are a fried pastry accented with cinnamon and sugar. Bunuelos are popular throughout latin america as well as Spain and Greece and Turkey, typically made from wheat based flour, but today’s treat was made from rice.
We were also treated to some fresh fruit, splashed with lime juice, salt and dried chili powder.
This was followed by ‘salbutes’.
These were fried corn torillas topped with a little refried beans, shredded chicken, a slice of avocado and pickled onions.
This was Claudia, our hostess, chef and teacher.
Claudia started the cooking class with an overview of the regional Mexican cuisines, as well as an examination of some of the essential ingredients in Mexican cuisine, and how to shop for them. Today’s class was focused on the cuisine of the local region (the Yucatan peninsula).
Then we went hands-on, taking turns preparing different dishes that would later be used for a grand lunch. My dish was ‘chile de arbol salsa’.
This salsa was made from roasted tomatoes, garlic, chipotle peppers and diced onions, and a little vinegar.
These were the ingredients used to make a Milpa soup.
It’s a vegetable soup made with tomatoes, corn, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, shallots, pumpkin and chicken stock.
And these were the ingredients to make a green mole called Pipian Verde.
It’s made with raw pumpkin seeds, diced onions, diced serrano peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin, cilantro, and chicken stock.
We also had some mexican rice.
This is a white rice, started in a hot pan with hot oil until fragrant (like popcorn). Its accented with diced onions, garlic, and chicken stock. Once the liquid boiled, it was it topped with a spring of fresh cilantro and covered until cooked.
This was a fresh Tomatillo salsa.
It’s made with tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, onions and jalapenos.
And this is the resulting fresh salsa, topped with more diced onions, avacado, queso and more cilantro.
Everyone did some hands-on making fresh corn torillas.
And we also all made some tamales.
These were sweet tamales made with masa harina, fresh corn, milk, butter and baking powder. It was accented with jalapeno pepper and fresh cheese.
While we were busy in the kitchen, Lorenzo prepared some tequila for us.
And while we were tasting the tequila as well as some Corona beer, Claudia and her kitchen assistants finished preparing our lunch.
These are all the salsa prepared, including the cooked salsa I made, the tomatillo salsa, a pico de galla salsa, and a habanero salsa.
This was the milpa soup, topped with crispy corn torilla strips and fresh avacado.
We had a fresh guacamole with crunchy corn torilla chips.
Battered Fried Zucchini with tomato sauce and oaxaca cheese.
The steamed tamales.
The mexican rice, topped with sliced fried plantains, avacado slices and crema
And the pipian verde was used here, to braise some chicken breasts.
Not pictured, but we also had pan seared corn torillas that we had prepared earlier.
And Lorenzo provided some fizzy sangria to wash everything down.
After lunch, Lorenzo presented us with a small parting gift (a kitchen towel with the logo from the cooking class), and the driver shuttled us back to our hotels.
This was a fun class, I enjoyed the learning experience and the hands-on activity. Claudia and Lorenzo are charming and pleasant hosts, and have a lovely home. On a return visit, I would like to take another cooking class with different recipes or a different regional focus.