Today we went to Susana Trilling's reknowned cooking school, Seasons of My Heart. We started off with a cheese demonstration from a woman named Silvia.
There are three main types of cheese here: queso fresco (similar to ricotta), requesón (made from the reheating of whey leftover from queso fresco), and quesillo (similar to mozzarella and known as Oaxacan cheese outside of Oaxaca). Silvia showed us how to make queso fresco and quesillo.
For queso fresco you take raw cow's milk (preferably straight from the cow) and pass it through the stomach of an animal (where there are enzymes to curdle the milk). The milk is then left to curdle for about half an hour, when the curds will start sinking. The mixture is passed through a cheesecloth to drain out the water. And then you get queso fresco, not unlike ricotta. (The water (or whey) that's left over can be reheated, and the curds derived from that are called requesón).
For quesillo, the curds from queso fresco are left to ferment. The fermented curd is then rehydrated by adding hot water, which makes the curd melt. The melted curd is stirred, and then the water is drained off and the resulting cheese is kneaded like a dough.
The cheese is then stretched into a long rope, and rubbed all over with sea salt. The rope is then wrapped around itself to form balls.
For special occasions Silvia will make the cheese balls extra fancy, with the help of some toothpicks.
Then we had an almuerzo (almost like brunch) of tomato soup, queso fresco, black beans, and tortillas. Stomachs full, we listened to Susana go over all the dishes we would be making in the afternoon (huitlacoche empanadas, garlic squash blossom soup, beet salad, pork mole amarillo, and chocolate budin). Then we were divided into groups to tackle the dishes.
Jennie and I ended up together on the dessert, chocolate budin (bread pudding). The recipe was created by Susana to showcase Oaxacan chocolate.
First we soaked some raisins in mezcal, and simmered that on the stove til the raisins absorbed most of the mezcal.
Then we cut bolillo bread into cubes and toasted them.
Then while Jennie melted Oaxacan chocolate with coffee and salt I mixed together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cream and sour cream. Then everything we've worked on up until this point all got combined.
The mixture was spooned into buttered glass cups, which went into a baking pan filled with hot water. That went into a 350F oven to bake for a little over an hour.
While the chocolate budin cups were baking, we set to work on the accompanying sauce. First we juiced a bunch of oranges. The juice was combined with sugar and reduced over heat until the juice became syrupy. Then pureed strawberries and cointreau were added.
We also whipped some cream with vanilla and powdered sugar for garnish. After that there wasn't anything left to do so I went around helping other stations and snapping photos.
When the chocolate buding was ready (knife inserted came out clean), they were taken out of the oven and the cups were upended over a rack to cool. We were then told to sit down while the school's staff plated and served us.
Huitlacoche (and quesillo) empanadas
Garlic and squash blossom soup (with hierba santa, cubes of manchego cheese and toasted bread pieces)
Mole amarillo with pork, vegetables, rice and plantains
And last but not least, the chocolate boudin dessert.
Overall a very satisfying day. Susana even gifted us each a molinillo and a packet of Oaxacan chocolate! Now I'll be able to make chocolate con agua at home.