To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we took a cooking class at our local community college (Manchester Community College, Manchester, CT). The class was called "Mexican Spring Dinner" and it was such a fun time! A chef, an assistant chef and five students (including us) all spent a warm spring evening cooking, sharing tips and stories, and of course, breaking bread (well, nachos) together - what's not to love?
We paired off and split up the recipes so that our many hands could make lighter work. Chris and I started the Rum Baked Black Beans - aromatics, mustard, spices and rum mixed in with black beans, topped with crumbled bacon and baked for an hour - these were delicious, and the recipe is below. Our second task was to make the Lime Tortilla Soup, a fresh and healthy medley of vegetables and chicken with a tangy hint of lime and crunchy tortilla chips. A great tip from the chef - place fresh corn on the cob (still in its husk) in the microwave for four minutes and the corn steams itself, then you can eat it or remove it from the cob, depending on your needs!
Meanwhile, another pair of students worked on the Grilled Shrimp Nachos with Orange Salsa Fresca and Guacamole. The shrimp were marinated in a garlic/lime juice mixture then grilled and placed on a nacho with a cool, citrusy, tangy salsa made from herbs, honey, oranges and jicama; these also received a small dollop of guacamole. I can't wait to try the salsa with other things!
The final student worked twice as hard as the rest of us on the Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce (Forgot to take a photo! Darn!), a sweet challah-bread concoction covered with a silky, boozy, caramel-colored topping that was a wonderful end to our convivial feast and learning experience.
Here are some photos from the class, and a recipe for that tipsy take on baked beans (yum!). Special thanks to Lisa Montag Weikert for a great class and for permission to take photos and share her recipe for Rum Baked Black Beans.
8 strips bacon
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon gground giner
fresh black pepper (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 15-ounce cans black beans total - Use 3 cans black beans drained and rinsed plus 1 can black beans not rinsed or drained
1/3 cup dark rum
Preheat oven to 325. In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons of the drippings. Place saucepan containing the reserved drippings over medium heat, and cook onions and garlic in it for about five minutes. Add chicken stock, vinegar, ginger, pepper, mustard, honey, brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon. Heat to boiling while stirring. Add the beans and mix well. Remove from heat and add the rum. Transfer to a baking dish and crumble bacon over the top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour; remove cover and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!