An Evening of Cooking with DK

The grande dame of Mexican cooking, Diana Kennedy, paid Sacramento a visit last night and gave a cooking demonstration class for about 70 of her appreciative fans, my mother and I included. If you have heard of Diana Kennedy, you know that for the last 40 years she has almost single-handedly introduced authentic Mexican cuisine to the English speaking world through her classes and popular cookbooks – The Art of Mexican Cooking, My Mexico, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, and her latest, From My Mexican Kitchen: Techniques and Ingredients.

The evening was filled with amazing food (especially one guacamole prepared with avocados, peaches, grapes, and pomegranate seeds), anecdotes of Mexico and Diana’s environmental home there (read outhouse), and amusing banter between the great lady and her sous chef for the evening, Peg, a local Sacramento chef.

“More than anything in the world, I hate that canola oil,” was one remark that found resonance in the crowd. Ms. Kennedy has a clear and strong opinion about the use of fat – lard, and chicken fat, olive oil – in her cooking. It’s good for you and it is needed for the flavor.

“Never take the seeds out of serrano chiles,” was another instruction from Ms. Kennedy; “they never do in Mexico,” she added. I usually take them out. Hmm. Must take a note of that.

All in all it was a delightful evening. I highly recommend seeing her if you get the opportunity. She claims that this is probably her last tour through the states. She appears to be in her mid 70s, so see her while you still can. I think it was mentioned that they are up in Seattle next.

Diana Kennedy in the Wikipedia
Diana Kennedy cookbooks


  1. Elise

    Hi Jeff – you can find the recipe in Diana’s My Mexico – but it is very simple – chop and then crush together a couple of serranos with a quarter of an onion. Mix with a couple avocados, a peeled and diced firm peach, a handful of seedless grapes, halved, the juice of a lime and a third a cup of pomegranate seeds. Salt to taste.

  2. Bosko

    Were those serranos in the guacamole a little spicier – I don’t mean hot – than usual? Perhaps, more flavorful? Was it the evening or the molcajete? Friday I’m off to Winters to gather some “green” walnuts for a weekend Chiles en Nogada.

  3. Elise

    Hi Bosko – is this chef dad? I’ve got to get a molcajete, don’t you think? do you have one? The problem I have with the chiles en nogada recipe is that our pomegranates get ripe at the same time the walnuts are falling – mid November. By then the walnuts aren’t early any more. I think that recipe is special to Mexico where because of the different elevations and the tropical latitude you can get a wide range of produce at the same time. I may try to knock down some of our walnuts just to see if it makes a difference to being able to remove the paper skins.

  4. Bosko

    Not ‘chef dad.’
    “I’ve got to get a molcajete, don’t you think?” Yup.
    You’re right about walnuts and pomegranates, but, I think, that it can be done.
    I gathered ‘Lara’ and ’76-80′ walnuts yesterday – both late varieties that were still green (I like them when the husk is whole – no cracks – but break apart easily with a couple of knife cuts. The membranes are a very pale white and just rub off. And, alas, I was not able to chase down a pomegranate. But sealed in plastic bags and refrigerated the ‘green’ walnuts should keep for a while – hopefully, until the first little red seeds appear. Although, I take the pomegranate as mostly a visual.
    Best, Bosko

  5. mary ornelas

    I’ve never canned anything, this will be my first time, but I do have a question. My husband loves habanero peppers, how can i preserve those? He brought home about 10 lbs. of them hot chiles,,” I don’t know, maybe he’ll eat them faster than I can can them!!?”

  6. Elise

    Hi Mary – 10 lbs of habaneros? Wow. He must really like hot chiles. You might try the escabeche recipe. And or you might try stringing some of them up and drying them. That’s what I’m planning to do with the rest of my jalapeno and serrano crop.

  7. leila karlslund

    Although I live in Denmark, I grow them in my greenhouse. I have succesfully frozen them and also dried them, cutting them in half, removing the seeds and letting them dry on a screen tray.

  8. Karen Kolbinsky

    I really want to comment here. Much of my own life was spent living among the Native American (Navajo, Crow and Cherokee) as well as Hispanic cultures (from Mexico, Guatamala, Colombia, Argentina and Chile)
    I’ve learned from the “experts” (as in Native women cooking for their families) how to make some incredibly “good food”
    I made my own flour tortillas like my Navajo friends taught me …using buttermilk and baking powder to make the tortillas thick and especially good..then turn them into “fry bread” and topping with honey or other sweet toppings as the Navajo love to do..
    The best “tamales” I’ve ever tasted are the ones my daughter’s Guatamalan husband’s mother makes…with chicken, fruit (dried prunes and mangos) …I have yet to get her to reveal her secret recipe but am doing my best to duplicate it..
    My kids favorite dish of all time (including my foster kids) was BURRITO CASSEROLE..
    I made it up to save time so I wouldn’t have to wrap each individual burrito while stuffing with meat, cheese, etc..
    Simply layering it all as I went along, tomato sauce, then cheese, meat (of your choice) and/or beans, mashed potatoes, be creative.
    The basic ingredients are all there..
    Start with tomato sauce, half of a large can poured out into a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine)
    add garlic (or garlic powder) some basil (fresh is best) chile powder and/or salsa, salt and pepper to taste..
    Put flour tortillas on top of the sauce then start layering your meat, beans, mashed potatoes, whatever you choose to use as the filler..
    make sure every two or so layers you add cheese on top of the filling..
    After you are finished with layering it all pour another half of a large can of tomato sauce over the top…add your spices to that and then cover it all with cheese.
    Place aluminum foil tightly over the baking dish and bake for about 35 minutes at 350.
    Serve with sour cream and salsa..and of course a side dish of rice.

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