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When it comes to food, my husband is a simple man. He’s a vegetarian. And he would eat Mexican food 100% of the time if I would allow it. 

For his birthday last month I surprised him with a vegetarian cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education. Last night was show time. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how he’d do in a five-hour cooking class. I love cooking. The Fella cooks because eating raw food (at least certain raw foods) is a surefire way to end up with salmonella. But as it turns out, he had a good time and made some pretty delicious eating. I will never underestimate my husband’s culinary prowess again.

I’ve taken quite a few recreational cooking classes over the years (when I was a kid my aunt sent me to camp at the cooking school she where she was trained to be a chef), and I have to say this one was by far the most intricate in regard to the recipes. The instructor decided to focus the class on foods in Mexico that are naturally vegetarian as opposed to adapting traditionally meat-centric recipes for the vegetarian palette.

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On the menu:

  • Corn and Squash Blossom Soup
  • Pumpkin Bean Tamales
  • Mushroom and Cheese Empanadas
  • Plantain and Goat Cheese Gorditas
  • Cactus Paddle Casserole
  • Mexican Grilled Corn o the Cob
  • Pureed Black Beans
  • Mexican Rice
  • Roasted Tomato Salsa
  • Homemade Tortilla Chips
  • Flan
  • Agua Fresca with Watermelon and Lime
  • Margaritas

That’s quite the ambition cooking list and the class broke down the recipes in groups. Roy and I were in charge of the Pumpkin Bean Tamales, Roasted Tomato Salsa, Homemade Tortilla Chips, and the Agua Fresca. 

I have to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of the tamales because I’m not all that into pumpkin, but people who are into pumpkin said that they were delicious.  I think I may adapt the recipe to be pumpkin-free and see if I like them more. I have no idea why why I’ve been buying salsa for all these years, it’s so easy to make and so much better when you make it yourself. As are the fresh tortilla chips–but I can’t see myself deep frying in my apartment; I don’t have the tolerance for the oil splatter in my kitchen. And the agua fresca, well that I could drink all day and night. 

All of the food was amazing (including the flan, which I’m not usually a fan of), but the standouts were the Corn and Squash blossom soup (which I inhaled before I thought to take a picture) and the cactus casserole. I’ve never had cactus before. It was awesome. 

I consider this particular birthday gift an investment in our next 60 years together. The way to Roy’s heart is most definitely through his stomach (and comic books) and now we have the skills to fill said stomach with some amazing Mexican fare. 

Since I don’t have the patience to type out all of the recipes we made, I will leave you with the Corn and Squash Blossom Soup recipe, and I’ll post the others and I reuse the recipes in our day to day life. 

Corn and Squash Blossom Soup
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 3 chile poblano (fresh)
  2. 5 ears yellow corn, shucked, cobs reserved
  3. 3Tbs butter
  4. 4 baseball shaped squash or 6 small yellow squash, pealed, cubed
  5. 1 cup chepiles or 1/2 cup epazote or cilantro leaves
  6. 1 medium white onion, chopped
  7. 1Tbs salt, plus more to taste
  8. 24 squash blossoms, leaves only, remove stem and pistil (optional, we had it without the blossoms)
Instructions
  1. Char the chiles directly in the gas until black all over. Place them in a paper bag and close to steam for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off charred skin; remove stem and seeds. Slice fine.
  2. Cut kernels off cob and simmer corn and cobs in 3 1/2 liters of water (15 cups), until corn is cooked through. Dispose of cobs.
  3. Grind corn and cooking water in a blender (work in batches) or use an immersion blender in the pot.
  4. Strain, placing liquid in a bowl. (If you work in batches, put the strained solids back in the pot to further blend and extract the flavor).
  5. Clean the stockpot, and then melt the butter in it and saute squash, herb, onions, and poblano until soft (not browned). Add corn liquid and salt. Bring soup to a boil and adjust salt to taste.
  6. Right before serving bring to a boil, add blossoms, bring back to a boil and cook 5 additional minutes. Add salt to taste.
Adapted from from the recipe of Nora Andrea Valencia di Guiterrez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Adapted from from the recipe of Nora Andrea Valencia di Guiterrez, Oaxaca, Mexico
The Kim Challenge http://thekimchallenge.com/
I have a feeling I have a lot of Mexican meals in my future, so stay tuned for more recipes. In the meantime, this was my dinner plate. I could not finish it all, but by golly I tried.
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