The debut cooking class based on The Maverick Cookbook was a big success, with a kitchen full of hungry people eager to hear stories from the book and sample the food. Held at the beautiful Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Ranchos de Albuquerque, the three-hour class was a journey through New Mexico culinary history as much as a demo of foods that were popular with Spanish settlers, 19th-century railroad passengers, 20th-century artists and writers and others.
We began the afternoon with a batch of Angels on Horseback, bacon-wrapped, breaded oysters that were served at Harvey Houses during the country’s railroad heyday. These were a huge hit, at least with those who love oysters, and Los Poblanos’ Executive Chef Jonathan Perno had ordered nearly two dozen delicious oysters fresh from Long Island. Next, we made tortillas using lard—the only way to make them—and served them with Palace Picadillo, a rich dish of ground beef simmered with tomatoes, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and other spices. This is one of my favorite dishes from The Maverick Cookbook, and it’s easy to imagine it was on the menu at Dona Tules’ gambling palace in the 1800s.
Dixon Garlic & Wild Mushrooms was our third course, a savory saute of New Mexico garlic and a blend of shitake, portobello and other mushrooms. If you can make this dish using Dixon farmer Stan Crawford’s fine garlic, it’s that much better. We finished the meal with a dessert loved by Georgia O’Keeffe, Zabaglione, a traditional Italian custard spiked with Madeira.
As I cooked, with the help of Alex, a wonderful chef at Los Poblanos, I shared stories and answered questions about the dishes as well as the people who made them, the mavericks featured in the cookbook. It was a great afternoon with a warm and wonderful group of people who came from Albuquerque as well as from other states, and left sated and full of tales.
The second Maverick cooking class took place at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School in Santa Fe, co-hosted by the venerable Chef Johnny Vee, who kept us laughing and entertained with his own stories of mavericks in New Mexico. This was a larger class than the Los Poblanos event, and included a group of five women celebrating one of their birthdays. This was also a hands-on cooking class, so guests rolled up their sleeves and made Angels on Horseback (a popular dish!), Micaceous Clay-Cooked Beans and Maple-Roasted Squash from the Pueblo era, and Carne Adovada. Capiritoda, another favorite recipe of mine from the book, was dessert, a sweet, rich bread pudding made with Monterey Jack cheese, pinons and raisins and served with Cinnamon-Scented Whipped Cream.
People in this class were visiting from around the country, in town for the holidays, as well as from Santa Fe, and had their own stories to share about the foods we cooked. They also questions about New Mexico’s culinary history, which sparked lively conversations and even debates.
Leading a cooking class is great fun and it helps immensely to have chefs on hand with the food prep as well as presentation. I look forward to the next one, and hope you’ll join me!