Mrs. Bentley’s Cooking Class

May 26, 2014

Quince de Mayo! OLE!

Cooking class #13

Grilling Corn Tortillas

I conducted my first cooking class at the home of a dear friend.  She asked that I put together a class for her networking group.  Since the class was scheduled for the 15th of May, I called it Quince de Mayo!  and came up with a Mexican menu.  Here’s what we made:

  • Corn TortillasCorn Tortilla Chips, Grilled with a Touch of Sea Salt for a No Fat, Crisp and Tasty Dipping Chip.  We laid fresh, uncooked corn tortilla chips on a hot grill and sprinkled them with coarse sea salt.  The heat of the grill causes the sea salt to stick to the tortilla.  Using tongs, we peeked at the undersides and when they had nice grill marks, we flipped them.  After just a few minutes, they were nicely charred and we tossed them into a bowl.  We kept grilling them until we had a nice big pile.  We cracked them by hand into approximate quarters.
  • GuacamoleSkinny Guacamole is Lightened Up by adding Roasted Tomatillos to Fresh Avocado – So Fresh and Yummy!  Tomatillos look like green tomatoes.  They come with a lose papery skin that feels like tissue paper.  They are very acidic and have a flavor similar to a lime, but a little more intense.  I discovered that if they are added to guacamole, the guacamole never turns that horrible grayish brown color.  Yeah!  Also, they are fat free and very low in calorie, so they thin down the calories in quacamole.  Yeah again!  Two problems solved!   Everyone loved this new twist on an old favorite!  It was so good, we had to make a second batch.
  • Roasted Tomato Salsa 500Roasted Tomato Salsa, Earthy and Surprisingly Light.  We grilled whole tomatoes for about 10 minutes, until they had nice char marks and the skin was beginning to peel off.  At the same time, we had pablano peppers on the grill.  The grill was set to high.  We grilled the pablano peppers until they were completely black on all sides.  Then, using tongs, we popped them into a zip bag and sealed it up so the pepper would steam.  After about 10 minutes in the bag, the blackened skin on the peppers slips right off.  We slipped them out of their skins over the sink because it can get a little messy.  Then, we cut the tops off the peppers and removed the seeds under running water.  The tomatoes and the peppers went into the food processor along with a few grilled tomatillos we had left over from the guacamole.
  • MoleChickenLegsSmallChicken Seasoned with Mrs. Bentley’s Secret Mole Spice Blend and Baked for an Aromatic Savory Treat!  I taught the participants how easy it is to make this delicious chicken, and it can me made for a crowd just as easily.  We had 30 chicken thighs in the oven while we made the other items on the menus.  Normally, a tray of chicken for a family dinner would cook in about an hour.  For 30 thighs on 4 trays, it took an hour and a half to cook.
  • GreenRiceI modified my basic Green Rice recipe by adding onions, peppers, garlic and cumin to give this dish a Mexican flair.

 

 

  • PannaCotta5My friend had asked that I make everything “healthy”, so instead of making a Mexican flan, I made Panna Cotta, the Italian gelatin based dessert.  This is another basic recipe that can be changed up in so many ways.  It is essentially, milk or cream and gelatin.  You can add any flavoring you like.  You can sweeten it with sugar or Splenda.  I’ve made chocolate, key lime, raspberry and vanilla before.  Look at the basic recipe and then use your imagination.
  • margarita2Everyone really enjoyed the Skinny Margaritas we made!  We made them with fresh lime juice, orange juice, tequila and the secret ingredient – Diet Mountain Dew!  I’m not kidding, we used Diet Mountain Dew and they were incredible.

 

Cooking class #1a

Participants Watching Intently As Salsa Is Being Made

Cooking Class #8a

Enjoying Skinny Margaritas!

PennySqueezingLimes

Our Hostess Squeezing More Limes Than She Has Ever Squeezed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tamales!

September 11, 2011

Aromatic Mole Rubbed Chicken Legs

I pulled out an old favorite cookbook and immersed myself in southwestern cuisine.  The book is, Cayote Cafe by Chef Mark Miller.   When I aquired this book, twenty some odd years ago, it was so edgy I didn’t know what most of the ingredients were, let alone where to get them.  For example, the book includes recipes for tomatillo salsa, ancho chile rubbed rabbit, poblano pesto and grilled nopales (cactus leaves).  Sounds pretty ordinary for these days, right?

Revisiting the book inspired me to create a mole rub for meat.  I mixed together; Hershey’s dark cocoa powder (unsweetened), instant espresso powder, cumin, ancho chile powder, dried oregano, salt and a bit of raw sugar.  I rubbed it on some skinless chicken legs and cooked them for my husband, David and I.  Wow!  We were both, completely blown away by these chicken legs!  The coffee acted as a meat tenderizer, the sugar created a crusty coating that sealed in all the juices and the chocolate and spices added flavor and aromas that knocked us over. I knew I had to make these chicken legs for company.

Tamales Tied With Corn Husk Ribbons

I was also inspired by a variety of tamale recipes in the cook book.  I had never made tamales before.  I think I had only eaten them once or twice before, but none the less, I ventured forth on a tamale quest.  There is a lot involved in making tamales and a variety of methods, wrappers and fillings.

In addition to the recipes in the Cayote Cafe cook book, I searched through three other Mexican cook books I have.  (I know what you’re thinking.  “Why does she have so many Mexican cook books?”  Ha!  Are you kidding me?  Name a cuisine and ask me if I have a book on it.)

I was a little frustrated with what I found on tamale making.  None of the books were very clear on the tamale process from start to finish.  I watched “you-tube” videos on tamale making and they weren’t very clear either.  The best instructions I found were in the Cayote Cafe book, so with a few minor adjustments, I forged ahead.

Tamales Stacked In The Steamer

You can’t make just a few tamales.  You have to make twenty or thirty at a time because you need to pack them, vertically in a steamer, and if the steamer isn’t packed full, the tamales fall over and the filling runs out.  So my next quandary was, if I make all these tamales, who can I get to eat them all?

I decided to add my newly created mole chicken legs to my tamale menu and I invited my friend Becky and her husband, Ed over for dinner.  Perfect!  They are both good sports about trying new things.  Becky brought the wine and an apple pie for dessert. Ed always brings good conversation with a dash of hilarity, always a great thing to have at a dinner party.

Plum Tomatoes Roasted With Cumin and Lime Juice

I paired the chicken and tamales with a batch of plum tomatoes roasted with cumin and a spritz of lime juice.  This simple side dish balanced the plate with freshness, flavor and color.   I adapted a recipe from Ina Garten that I have made often.  She slices fresh plum tomatoes and places them on a cookie sheet.  She drizzles them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkles them with salt and a bit of sugar to bring out the fresh tomato flavor.  She roasts them in a hot oven for 25 minutes.  They are super yummy and a synch to make.  I changed up her recipe to accommodate my Mexican menu.  Instead of using balsamic vinegar, I used fresh lime juice and I added a sprinkle of cumin.  The changes turned out to be subtle, but perfect for my menu.

The Menu:


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