But I have to say, this cooking demonstration was very different - it was intimate, relaxed and not forced. The chef, Dante Scott was knowledgeable, friendly and easy-going (and headset-less, even better). The attendees asked questions but were not at all trying to out-smart the chef with ridiculous cooking trivia. It was a welcome change of pace from the cooking demonstrations I have attended in the past.
The cooking demonstration featured five, Mexican-inspired meal options with a copy of the recipes to take and try at home:
- Agua Fresca
- Refried Beans
- Shredded Pork Tacos (Carnitas)
- Portobello Quesadillas
- Huachinango a la Veracruzana
The portobello quesadillas were cheesy and delicious with sauteed portobello mushrooms. This recipe was super simple to make and is a great vegetarian option for a "Meatless Monday" supper or snack.
The carnitas tacos, made from slow roasted Boston butt pork shoulder, were tender with a crispy top coating. The pork was cooked in lard, which made it even more tender and succulent. It was good, but a little too rich and heavy for my tastes.
The Huachinango a la Veracruzana was a whole red snapper fish, covered with tomatoes, olives, jalapenos, and onions and baked in the oven. It was yummy - light and fresh with a savory tomato and olive sauce. The fish was served with the refried beans.
Normally, I am not a fan of refried beans. The texture leaves much to be desired in my opinion (it looks like paste and reminds me of eating glue) and generally they taste bland. A waste of room in my tummy which could be filled with other more delicious items. But HOLD THE PHONE! These refried beans were quite delicious. They were made with black beans (instead of red kidney beans) with the addition of lard, avocado leaves, and pasilla chiles. They had a little salty flavor that balanced well with the queso fresco topping.
And there you have it.... a quick little cooking demonstration in my neighborhood grocery store. I learned about lard, cuts of meat, fruit and Mexican cooking while trying some delicious food. I would definitely recommend trying one of the events at the Whole Foods Market in Springfield -- it's convenient and they have great menu ideas for upcoming celebrations.