Cooking with Chef Mark: Episode 3 – Mexican


Well thank you for coming today. We’re gonna do some Mexican style cuisine. We’re gonna do a tortilla soup–chicken tortilla soup. We’re gonna do some–sorry as I stir here–roasted corn and shrimp quesadillas. Oh, shrimp, ewww. And we’re also gonna make some–I’m sorry, no shrimp next time–we’re also gonna do some flan. But, again, I’m gonna get started here with the tortilla soup. So I just have some onions and garlic in here. Now tortilla soup, it has many variations in Mexico. It’s almost always made from chicken stock, like a chicken base. Usually chicken’s involved. And it gets its name from the corn tortillas that are put on the top. And I also put the corn tortillas inside the soup. So these are sweat. It’s important when you make a soup to always sweat your vegetables and your aromatics–your garlic. If you’re making a chicken noodle soup, always sweat your onions, celery, carrots, your mir pua, and that brings out all the flavors. If you just put everything in a pot and bring it up to boil, you won’t have any of the flavors developed. So I’m gonna add my chili powder, some cumin, and then I have tomato puree that I’m gonna add. Now I’m gonna add tomato puree to the pot now and I’m just gonna cook it a little bit to try to get some of the bitterness out of it. Just like other countries and Mexico, soups are used to stretch your food. Just different ingredients, the meat. Here, in Mexico it’s kind of funny because in other countries they use them for meat, but in Mexico they use them to get rid of the stale tortillas. So I’m gonna add to here the chicken stock. So you see it’s kinda got a light tomato broth color and then I’m also gonna add my tortillas. Now what I did with these tortillas is I deep fried them because I have a deep fryer that use at one of the dining halls but you could also just toast them in the oven like it says in the recipe. This is also a very healthy recipe. As you see I sweated the vegetables in a little olive oil but if you really want to take it to the next level, you could also sweat it in just some of the stock and that’ll render down the vegetables and you don’t have to add the oil. So I’m just gonna add the tortillas. This is gonna be a little different here. Usually when you go somewhere you have soup first, but I’m actually gonna serve the quesadillas first cause this is gonna take a little time to cook. One other thing I have to add is my bay leaf. Now again I’m only gonna add a little bit, like maybe half, cause this is very strong. And then I’m also gonna when I’m done with the soup I’m gonna make sure this comes out cause when you cook this it turns into almost like a razor blade. It’s very sharp, the edges, and you could cut your mouth, so I’m just gonna put about half in there. So my soup is gonna simmer I’m gonna have it simmer for about twenty minutes and then I’m gonna puree it with a –I have like a little boat motor here. And then I’ll serve it up to you guys. Now quesadillas are totally universal. You can do anything with them. But if you want to do chicken or if just want to do cheese. In Mexico, traditionally, quesadillas were made from raw tortillas. Today, I’m using a cooked flour tortilla you can get in the store. Traditionally, again, they were made with raw. They were filled, almost like a turnover, and they were deep fried. I’m gonna cook it today on my pancake griddle, my sunday morning pancake griddle for my house that my wife said “Do not break.” So I’m just gonna saute the shrimp off in a little olive oil, some garlic. Now again, kind of the same with the soup, I wanna put my onions and my peppers in and I don’t want them to be very tender but I don’t want them to be raw either so when you bite into the quesadilla you get the flavor of the pepper, the onion, the garlic. And all I have here is some southwestern seasoning. So this is southwestern seasoning, I didn’t give you the recipe for this, we make it here at the dining commons, but you could buy it. Really it’s paprika, some oregano, oregano, cumin, coriander, it has a little bit of cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and then some garlic powder. So i’m just gonna add a little bit of that. Now this is gonna give you the spice and then it’s also gonna have a smokey flavor to it. Now the shrimp aren’t gonna take very long at all, that’s why I started with the vegetables. So I’m just gonna add that. Now the shrimp that I’m using are 51-60s. You can use any size that you want. 51-60, that means there’s 51 to 60 to the pound. 16-20 that’d be 16 to 20 per pound. You could find the shrimp that I’m using here they’d be called salad shrimp and they’d be found in the frozen food section. Now the cheese I’m using today was monterey jack cheese. So I’m just gonna saute my shrimp. And then I have some roasted corn here. This is just frozen corn. I let it thaw out then I dried it out, I just put some cloths on it to get it as dry as possible and then just roasted it in the oven until it became fragrant and it kind of browned like that. It’s really good. So all this is gonna come together. Alright, the shrimp are done, as you can see on here they turn pink and they lose a lot of size. You don’t want to overcook them cause then they’ll get rubbery. As far as making the quesadilla, it’s very simple and it’s kind of fun. The bottom half I’m just gonna add a little bit of cheese here and I’m gonna put my shrimp and corn mixture on. And then I’m just gonna put some more cheese on the top. Now I put on top so that it’ll stick together and then I just put it right on my griddle here. Now if you don’t have a griddle like this you could use a saute pan–a non-stick saute pan. Or you could use, I make mine at my house on my gas grill, but you just turn up your gas grill all the way and then you almost–I almost sometimes turn it off or very low and that’s when you’ll see you get those nice grill marks. These would be almost like a sear like a grilled cheese kinda. But again the recipe that I gave you is just a base. You could add chicken instead, you could add beef instead, you could–or if you just want to add cheese. I mean, that’s perfectly fine too. So I have my spatula now, I’m just gonna, you see how it’s nice and seared. And it has just a little bit of a crunch to it. Now I’m gonna serve these with some cilantro sour cream. Another thing you could serve it with would be guacamole or just fresh salsa. So while these cook, I’m gonna get some quesadillas out to you guys. Alright so I have my soup. It’s simmered away for about, I’d say twenty minutes. And I’m just gonna try to pick out my bay leaf here. Perfect. So I have my bay leaf out. And I’m gonna get my boat motor over here and this is just gonna puree everything. And I need all you little guys’ help now, alright? So when I turn this on, you gotta go [boat motor sound] alright? So I’m gonna puree it. I’m gonna kinda bring everything together, mash up the corn tortillas a little bit more. So here we go, ready? So as you see, you can kinda see the color’s different. At first it was kind of a stock or tomato broth, now with the tortillas in there it’s gonna thicken up. So it’s nice and pureed and now I’m just gonna give it a taste. Now I always think it’s important to taste everything you make, no matter if you’re having a dinner party or if you’re just making it for your family. Cause it’s so easy just to add a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper, just to make the flavors come out so much more. So actually I’m just gonna add a little bit of salt and some pepper. I added a little bit when I was sweating the vegetables initially. I’m just gonna give it a taste. Just a little more salt. Now you gotta watch, too, I’m gonna be putting a lot of ingredients on here like cheese, which is high in sodium. The tortillas are a little bland, so that won’t matter, but you want to look at that too when you’re seasoning something. Alrighty. So I’m gonna go ahead and make up a portion here. So I’m just gonna top it with a little bit cilantro. Now when I chop my cilantro, I try not to chop it like parsley cause I like to leave it a little bit whole cause you don’t want to lose everything on your cutting board and you want to kind of keep it fresh. A few tortilla strips and then I have some chicken here that I just grilled off and I’m gonna put a couple strips of that in here and then top it off with some cheddar cheese. So it’s fun, you can add a bunch of stuff to it. If you don’t like the chicken on top you don’t have to add the chicken or if you don’t like the tortilla strips. Whatever you’d like to do. Alright, so the next thing I’m going to prepare is our flan. Now flan is a caramel custard. It actually is from ancient Roman times, but their flan was a little bit different. They’d make it savory so it had different herbs and spices in it. But they’d also make a sweet flan that had honey. Flan is very popular in Mexico or Spain. It has the caramel, and the custard. It can be flavored with other things too. You could have a pumpkin flan, an orange. This one that I’m doing today primarily contains vanilla. I have four eggs that I’m just gonna whisk. So whisk those up nice. And I’m gonna add my condensed milk. And you could get this in any grocery store. They usually come in 14oz cans and I think that’s what the recipe calls for. I have my condensed milk, my sugar, lot of sugar, some salt, and then just a little bit of vanilla. Now I have these baking cups. We actually did this same exact recipe for Cinco de Mayo dinner that we had, a special dinner we had at the dining commons this past May. Students loved it. If you don’t have these you could use a ceramic souffle cup. And I’m gonna do this in a water bath. Has anybody baked cheesecake or creme brulee? You use a water bath to kind of lessen the direct heat that comes on a custard. It also puts a lot more moisture in your oven. And the water bath, they say, if you do that with the cheesecake it’ll help it from cracking. So I’m just gonna mix all this up. Nice and incorporated. Put that to the side. Instead of making a caramel, I’m just gonna put some brown sugar on the bottom of these that are greased, and that’s gonna caramelize and make your caramel. So you just want to evenly put the brown sugar on there and spread it out. So I’m just gonna add my custard to my cup here, my custard mixture. Just add my warm water. And I’m just gonna fill it up 3/4 or 1/2 way. You don’t want to put it too far up because then it’s kinda hard when you’re putting it in the oven not to get some water in there. So there’s my water bath and this is just gonna go in my imaginary oven down here. Just gonna find room for it and then wait. Ding. And then I lost two along the way. So I’m gonna do here, they come out of the mold real easy. All you have to do is get a paring knife or a butter knife. Just go right around the side. They release like that and you see all the brown sugar how it all caramelized. And I’ll do another one. So again it’s super easy dessert. Only a couple ingredients. Most of this stuff you’d have at your house. Alright there you go. Hope you enjoyed the show. I’m glad everybody had a good time. [Applause] Thank you.

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