A Decadent Demonstration: Learn to Cook in Mexico (Slideshow)
October 28, 2013
Our contributor experiences an interesting cooking demonstration at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Chopped lobster gets sautéed with shallots, leeks, serrano peppers, and garlic before it is stuffed into pumpkin flowers, which are called zucchini flowers in the United States. Also shown is the cod simmering in a pan of olive oil for the cod salad.
The pumpkin flower, which is called a zucchini flower in the United States, is gorgeous to look at and quite tasty to eat.
Peeling the Flower
Gently peel back the leaves of the pumpkin flower and stuff the inside with the cooled lobster mixture. The flowers are then seared, very briefly, before serving. I know I will hear lots of "oohs and aahs" when I make this appetizer at home.
It sounds strange, but adding oil to fish that has just cooked in oil for 30 minutes works and the final product doesn’t taste oily. Chef Daniela and executive chef Joseba demonstrated the benefit of drizzling the oil down the side of the bowl rather than directly into the center.
How gorgeous is this plate? Starting at the top right down to the bottom left: pumpkin flowers stuffed with lobster, cod salad, roasted vegetables. All are drizzled with a freshly made mushroom vinaigrette dressing.
The best Serrano ham comes from Spain’s black-hoofed pigs. The first layer is not usable. The next layer makes delicious bacon as well as fat used for cooking. However, it is the Serrano ham layer that is, truly, to be treasured.
I even got a chance to slice the Serrano ham. My slice may not have been as thin as chef Daniel’s, but it sure was delicious!
I learned the secret to removing a very slippery avocado pit from a knife… use only the bottom point of the knife’s blade to "grab" the avocado pit. Slide the pit right off the knife using your thumb. Great news for my fingers!
I loved watching executive pastry chef David demonstrate how one makes a chocolate soufflé in a siphon bottle. After simmering for 20 minutes in a Bain-Marie, the soufflé is piped out onto the cooled Bailey’s crème brûlée.
The biggest surprise of the demonstration was executive pastry chef David drizzling coffee granules over a Halls Mentho-lyptus cough drop that he then bakes in between Silpat sheets. Once out of the oven, he smashes it down and, after cooling, peels off gorgeous deco pieces for his desserts.
It was time consuming for chef Rafael to place each ingredient into the paella pan and yet, seeing this gorgeous dish, I now understand the reason behind such discipline. The presentation is magnificent.
The combination of Bailey’s crème brûlée, chocolate soufflé, coffee ice cream, cookie crumbs, and Halls caramel (chef David’s name for his creative cough drop) work beautifully together. If you have yet to acquire the taste for an improvised breath mint, remove the deco and dig in. You won’t be sorry!