The thing that I like to do most when I have free time is cook so when we were on Vacation in Mexico we took the time to visit the Little Mexican Cooking School. The school is located in a small hotel in Puerto Morelos a picturesque fishing town not far from Playa del Carmen, about a half hour drive from the hotel zone in Cancun.
The day that we attended was the first time their current chef was returning after a break so he was jovial but nervous - without reason! The entire class was well organised and entertaining and the recipes were wonderful. He took the time to plan out the cooking so that our meal was all prepared and ready to eat as a multi course meal.
We started with some lectures on the local food and how to prepare it, some misconceptions about Mexican food and the history of some of the major ingredients. Then we moved into the large kitchen to prepare our dishes; a 4 course meal.
For some of the attendees this included some basic guidance on knife skills, seasoning, mise en place and kitchen cleanliness but it was a great tutorial for the beginner and experienced cook alike. The range of dishes included salsas, soup, appetizers, a main dish and a pastry and covered a great variety of cooking skills was covered like baking, frying, sauteing and more.
The kitchen is large and well kept and perfectly suited for cooking classes, I was particularly enamoured of this above stove mirror system which meant the whole room could see what the chef was doing on the stove. I wish that my school had had something similar for home economics classes as a teen.
The recipes we cooked that day focused on Caribbean Mexican food; tropical and fresh flavours combined with the familiar spicy comfort food that many were used to eating Mexican in the US.
The class took up a whole morning finishing with the meal as a lunch so be prepared to spend an entire day at the school. This was well worth the time out of our sight seeing and relaxing schedule though and was one of the more memorable vacation days we've had travelling.
On leaving the school they provided us with a recipe book of everything we had done that day and a lovely apron each, that I use constantly. Here I'm going to give one of the recipes that they provided but I will say that the experience, the hands on fun and the time we had as a couple make the cooking school experience worth far more than the recipes we walked away with. Much recommended.
Chilled avocado soup with tortilla sticks and chilli oil
Fresh potato and corn gorditas; including all the salsas and salads
Crusted tuna fillet with mango salsa and cilantro lime rice
Chocolate Truffle Tart with Spicy Pecans
Spicy nut topping
1/4 cup dark agave
2tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground orange peel
1/4 tspn dried chile arbol (ground)
2 tbspn brown sugar
2 cups pecans
1/2 tspn salt
- Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set asside
- Mix the agave, cinnamon, orange peel, chile arbol, brown sugar and salt together in a small bowl
- Place the nuts in a skillet and set over medium heat.
- Add the nuts to the skillet and cook while stirring frequently for 4 -6 minutes until they start to brown and a toasty scent is found
- Add the spice mix to the skillet and stir continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts, approximately 2-3 mins
- Transfer the nuts to the sheet pan and separate with a spatula. Allow the nuts to cook then use to top pastry or on their own with cheese or dried fruit
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 tbspn white vinegar
3 - 5 tbspns cold water
- Preheat oven to 220C (425F)
- In a small bowl mix egg, vinegar and 3 tbspn water
- In a food processor combine flour and salt and pulse slowly. Add buttter and pulse until you get a small crumb consistency
- Add the egg mixture and continue to pulse until the dough comes clean off the sides of the mixer
- Portion dough into 2 equal disks and rest the dough in the fridge for 1 hour
- Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface into a 20cm (8 inch) circle
- Transfer to a shallow tart pan, cover the bottom of the pastry with a circle of foil and 2 cups of dry beans (to dry bake the pastry flat)
- Bake pastry for 10 minutes
- Remove the beans and foil and continue cooking for another 10 mins until light brown in colour
- Rest the crust for 30 mins to cool before adding the filling
1 cup heavy cream
5 oz (125g) dark chocolate
1 tablet Mexican chocolate
1/4 cup melted butter
2tbpsn toasted ground coffee
2 oz liqueur - Xtabentun for Mexican flavour or your choice of spirits
2 tspn Vanilla extract
1 tspn ground cinnamon
- In a small pot bring the heavy cream to a boil and then take off the stove
- Mix the chocolates and butter into the cream folding well until you see that the butter is encorporated
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the chocolate and mix
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart shell and place in the fridge for 3 hours to set completely
- Top with spicy nuts, cream or other garnish of your choosing
- Serve with fresh berries and wild honey
The Little Mexican Cooking School
A hands on, all day cooking class
Fun for beginners and foodies alike
Av Javier Rojo Gomez
77580 Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo