October begins preparation for my favorite tradition, Dia De Los Muertos. You can’t forget the dead nor should you, and in addition you should bake for them. two simple recipes from the center of Mexico(Read about he history of the tradition HERE). Enjoy. – Corinna
Calabaza en Tacha (courtesy of Inside Mexico)
1 4 to 5 lbs Pumpkin approx.
8 Cinnamon sticks
Juice of 1 Orange
4 cups water
2 lbs Piloncillo (you can use brown sugar or raw sugar)
Cut the pumpkin into medium (2½” to 3″ squares or triangles). Remove seeds and strings. With a sharp knife make diamond designs over the pulp
Put the sugar in a pan with the cinnamon, orange juice, and water. Bring to a boil and stir until the piloncillo has dissolved.
Place the first layer of pieces of pumpkin upside down so they absorb as much juice as possible. The second layer should be with the pulp upwards. Cover and simmer. When ready the top of the pumpkin pieces should look somewhat glazed, and the pulp soft and golden brown.
Let cool and serve with the syrup. You can also add cold evaporated milk!
I prefer to have the pumpkin after it has been in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Pan De Muerte (courtesy of Chow.com)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon anise seed
- 1/2 ounce (2 packets) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 4 large eggs
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
- Vegetable oil, for oiling the bowl
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water
- Combine the sugar, salt, anise seed, and yeast in a small mixing bowl. Heat the milk, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is just melted; do not allow it to boil. Add the milk mixture to the dry mixture and beat well with a wire whisk.
- Stir in the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of the flour and beat well. Add the remaining flour, little by little, stirring well with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and knead it until it’s smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, about 9 to 10 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Punch down the dough and divide it into 2 pieces. Cut 3 small (about 1-ounce) balls from each half and mold them into skull-and-bones shapes. Shape the large pieces of dough into round loafs and place the skull-and-bones on top. Place the breads on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them rise another hour.
- Brush the loaves with the egg yolk mixture and bake. Halfway through baking, about 20 minutes, remove the loaves from the oven and brush again with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Return to the oven and bake until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about another 20 minutes.
Nothing better on fall day than a hot bowl of spicy chicken soup. My tiny, ex-pat American abuela living in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico used to make a soup similar to this for me when i was a kid. Of course the limes came from our back yard and we ate it then as a family on a patio overlooking most of the country…but hey, it’s pretty good even in an apartment in Brooklyn.
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 Bay leaf
2 Carrots, chopped
1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped
1 Whole chicken
8 Cups home made chicken stock
3 Ears of corn, shucked, slice 2 ears into 1/2″ disks and cut the kernals off a third.
1 Bunch fresh cilantro.
1 Lime, sliced
1 Tomato, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
2 Corn Tortillas, cut into strips about 1″ thick
Spices: Chipotle, Salt, Pepper, Cayenne
1. In a large pot on high heat: combine Olive Oil, onions and saute until just brown.
2. add bay leaf, 2-3 full sprigs of cilantro, jalapeno, whole chicken (no need to cut it up), and 8 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered.
3. When chicken is cooked through (no longer pink…test by cutting into the flesh. about 20-30 minutes), remove chicken from pot and let cool for a few minutes. When cool, remove the meat from the bones/skin with your hands. Set bones and skin aside to make stock with later.
4. Add to the simmering pot: chicken meat, carrots, and corn. Using a spoon, skim excess grease from the top of the soup while it simmers.
5. Let soup cook for another 15 minutes or so, until vegetables are soft but not mushy, and the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
Corn Tortilla Chips
6. In a large skillet: heat Coconut Oil (it handles heat better for frying then Olive Oil). Add Corn Tortilla strips and fry until light brown.
7. Remove strips from oil (draining off as much oil as possible) and place on a clean cloth (or paper towel). sprinkle with chipotle powder, Cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and toss until covered in the spice.
Spoon hot soup into bowls and top with fresh tomato, avocado, cilantro leaves, lime wedges and at the very last second, the crispy tortilla chips so that they don’t get soggy.
To Make Stock for next time
1. In a large pot, Combine:
Chicken bones and skin
1 Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Bay Leaves
9 cups of water
optional: Add any other veggies you have getting a wee bit soft in the fridge. Stock isn’t a set recipe, it’s perfect for veggies past their prime.
2. On High heat, bring the stock to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes to an hour, until flavorful. I use 9 cups of water to make stock as some will evaporate, leaving closer to 8 cups to make the next batch of soup with.
3. turn heat off and strain the liquid from the bones and vegetables. The point is to KEEP the liquid stock.
4. Toss the bones/veggies, and freeze the stock for use later.
This fresh, yummy hummus takes 5 minutes to make and will keep in the fridge for several weeks if properly stored. Perfect as a quick and healthy snack.
1 16oz can Chickpeas
1/8 cup tahini
1/8 cup Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 tblsp Cold Water
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
When serving, top with anything you like. Olive oil, pine nuts, chopped olives, etc. The picture above is topped with a sprinkling of Cayenne Pepper.
To store, simple place in a clean glass jar and keep in the fridge.
I like simple things and simple cooking. My tattered copy of The Joy Of Cooking is always with me, and I refer to it often for basic recipes that I adapt to make my own, and I highly recommend it for every kitchen, whether antiquated or not. This recipe is a slight variation on the Joy Of cooking Quick Banana Bread recipe. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350°
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
The juice of 1/2 lemon + 1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups ripe banana pulp
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds
place batter in a 4×8″ greased bread pan. Top with 1/4 cup more nuts or seeds, and bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
(or juice day for that matter)
Blender Breakfast (2 servings)
1 cup grapes
2 cup spinach
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons freshly ground flax seed (i use a coffee grinder)
1/4 teaspoon Vitamin C-1000 powder
Combine ingredients. blend. enjoy.
Crostini is a great use for home dried herbs, and is my current favorite snack. Crostini, meaning “little toasts” in Italian, it is easy to make, works great as a use for day old bread, and keeps for up to a week in a plastic bag or glass container. They are also amazing served as appetizers, topped with fresh mozzarella, pate, roast peppers, or anything that strikes your fancy.
Fresh Herb Crostini
1 loaf French bread, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Extra virgin olive oil
Dry herbs: Any combination you can think of (this batch is simply Rosemary & Thyme)
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400*F
2. Arrange the bread slices on the baking sheet and generously brush with olive oil.
3. Combine herbs, Salt & Pepper and sprinkle over bread slices.
4. Bake for about 6 minutes, turning the baking sheet around in the oven halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.
5. Cool Crostini completely before serving.
- Corinna Mantlo