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October, 2012


October 26, 2012

Do we celebrate Halloween in Mexico? Yes, more so in the big cities, but Halloween is a growing holiday throughout Mexico. However, what is predominately celebrated around this time of year is Day of the Dead. I had a wonderful time speaking with Lynne Rossetto Kasper about the iconic festivities of Day of the Dead, including the many things we do with pumpkins.

For the segment on Day of the Dead, click here.
For the whole show, click here.
For recipe on Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole, click here.

October 25, 2012

I wouldn’t be caught dead without Pan de Muerto during Day of the Dead.

One of the most meaningful, colorful and delicious of Mexican celebrations, Dí­a de Muertos has this bread as one of its trademark treats. It may sound strange to eat fluffy sugared up bread in the shape of bones, but then again, we also eat calaveritas, candies in the shape of skulls. This shows how crucial food is for Mexicans but also how it gets infused with our sarcastic sense of humor, generous spirit and gutsy attitude.

Not that Day of the Dead is such a big occasion here in the United States, but I notice an increased awareness. Teachers are starting to talk about it in schools, sugar skulls and decorations are popping up in stores…It’s becoming trendy. As it happens right on the tail of Halloween, elements from both celebrations seem to cross paths. They both include graveyards and a lot of eating, but they are quite different.

Day of the Dead, which is not one but two days, November 1st and 2nd, is when those departed have a license to come back and visit the ones they’ve left behind. And hey, if they are coming back from another world, it better be a feast worth the trip! Altars are decorated, filled with the visitor’s favorite foods and drinks, candles and flowers placed throughout, to help illuminate for a safe journey back home. There are visits to the cemetery, too, but of a different nature than Halloween: Day of the Dead is a bittersweet, sad and joyous time for gathering, feasting and remembering.

Pan de Muerto, has to be one of the sweetest sides of it, eagerly awaited by all.

Continue reading Make Pan de Muerto at Home!


October 16, 2012

“El Arte de la Cocina” is a short documentary by Alberto Roblest, creator of Hola Cultura, based on conversations with Washington, D.C.’s, top Latin chefs about the many ways culinary traditions connect Latinos with themselves, their families, their communities, and their past, present and future. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of this project along with Chef Nelson Larios of Lauriol Plaza, Chef Javier Romero of Taberna del Alabardero, Chef Ramon Martinez of Jaleo, Chef Ismar Reyes-Cruz of El Nopalito, Chef Beatriz Zuluaga of CentroNí­a, and Chef Tito Vargas of Oyamel. I talk about how the kitchen brings us Latinos together with our culture, heritage and traditions. 

Watch the video…

El Arte de la Cocina-Kitchen Arts from Hola Cultura on Vimeo.


October 14, 2012

I appear on a special live broadcast of David and Nycci Nellis’ Federal News Radio show “Foodie and the Beast” from Poste Modern Brasserie in Washington, D.C., with other guests Chef Dennis Marron and Lead Bartender Jason Wiles, both from Poste, Craig Rogers from Border Springs Farm in Virginia, Tom Hunter from Flying Dog Brewery, and Holly Harter from Subarashii Kudamono Asian Pear Wines.  I am talking about the differences between homestyle Mexican food and the food we associate with many Mexican restaurants in America. 

To listen click here

ROSE PETAL, MARSHMALLOW, MANGO AND PISTACHIO ICE CREAM
Helado de pétalo de rosas, malvavisco, mango y pistache
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups loosely packed rose petals, rinsed
1 10-oz bag mini-marshmallows
3 cups, or 1 1/2 lbs, or about 3 mangos, peeled and diced
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios, toasted

TO PREPARE
Pour the milk and heavy cream into a medium-sized saucepan; set it over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the rose petals, marshmallows and mangos, cooking for about 10-15 minutes until the marshmallows have dissolved, stirring occasionally, but don’t let mixture come to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they become thick and spongy.

Slowly stir 1/3 of the milk/cream mixture into the egg yolk, whisking, until thoroughly combined. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk/cream mixture.

Set the saucepan over low to low-medium heat, stirring frequently with a whisk or spoon until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Once it cools, refrigerate.

Once chilled, process in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions, and add the toasted pistachios 5 to 10 minutes before the ice cream is ready. Alternatively, freeze the entire mix.


HIBISCUS AND PECAN MOLE
Mole de flor de jamaica y nuez
Adapted from Patricia Quintana
Serves 10

INGREDIENTS
9 oz ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 oz pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 cups boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil or shortening
1 cup white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
1 cup pecans
1 cup pitted prunes
1 1/4 cup ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
3 corn tortillas, cut into squares
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup grated or chopped piloncillo or brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 cloves, whole
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Toasted sesame seeds (to decorate)

TO PREPARE
Preheat a comal, cast iron pan or nonstick skillet over low-medium heat. Toast chiles gently for about 10 seconds per side, being careful not to let them burn. Place them in a mixing bowl, cover them with boiling hot water and let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes until rehydrated, place chiles and water in batches in the food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

In a large, extended sauté pan, add oil and set over medium-high heat until hot, 1 or 2 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the hibiscus flowers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes; until lightly crunchy.

Add the tortillas, let them cook for 1 minute. Stir in the pecans, and cook for 1 minute. Add the plantains and prunes, stir and let them start to cook and brown, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Each time you add a new ingredient, let it start to cook and season, before adding the next.

Stir in the puréed chiles along with the chicken broth.

Once the whole mixture starts simmering, add the piloncillo, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 20 to 25 minutes. In batches, purée the mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. Serve over the cooked meat, poultry or seafood of your choice.


SQUASH BLOSSOM QUESADILLAS
Quesadillas de flor de calabaza
Makes 12 quesadillas

INGREDIENTS
2 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon safflower or corn oil
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
12 oz (about 8 cups) fresh squash blossoms, rinsed, dried and chopped
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
8 oz Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups instant Maseca corn masa flour, if making fresh masa tortillas, or substitute 1 package store-bought corn tortillas
1 3/4 cups water, for the masa, if making fresh masa tortillas

TO PREPARE
To Prepare Filling:
Place the poblano chiles on a tray under the broiler, directly on the grill, or directly on the open flame or on a comal or skillet set over medium heat. Turn them every 2 to 3 minutes for a total of 6 to 9 minutes, until they are charred and blistered all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag, close it tightly and let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes. Working under a thin stream of cold water, peel off their skin; make a slit down the sides to remove and discard the seeds and veins, then remove and discard the stem. Cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips or squares.

Add butter and oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the prepared poblano chiles, then the squash blossoms and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the blossoms exude their juices and the mixture begins to dry out. Remove from the heat.

If Using Fresh Corn Masa:
Mix Maseca or instant corn dough masa with the water and knead for a few minutes until soft. Make 1-inch balls and flatten between plastic rounds on a tortilla press.

Place 1 tablespoon of the cheese and 2 tablespoons of the filling at the center of the dough disk and, leaving it on the plastic round of the tortilla press, fold it over and press to seal the edges. Repeat to form the rest of the quesadillas, using all the dough and filling.

In a deep and large skillet, add enough oil so that it’s at least ¾-inch deep; heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, about 3 to 4 minutes later, add a few quesadillas at a time to the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the skillet. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crisp. Transfer, with a slotted spoon, to a paper towel-lined platter to drain. Serve hot, with the salsa of your choice.

If Using Store-Bought Tortillas:
If using pre-made corn tortillas, add the cheese and filling to the center of the tortilla. Place on an already hot comal, griddle or skillet, and let them cook until the cheese has melted and the tortilla has begun to lightly crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.


October 5, 2012
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Purslane or verdolagas, one of those ingredients that Mexicans hanker for when outside of Mexico, is likely to be growing in your backyard. In Mexico, it is considered one of the quelites or edible herbs. It is nutritious and succulent, yet it has long been considered a weed in the United States. Indeed, once it grows roots, it spreads and grows fast.

It is essential to the cuisine of Central Mexico, where it is most commonly added to Puerco con Verdolagas: my favorite way of eating them. There, slowly braised pork is finished off in a seasoned salsa verde and verdolagas are dropped in almost when it’s done.

Continue reading Purslane or Verdolagas


Forget soy and tofu; these are authentic Mexican recipes where produce, fruits and vegetables are naturally the stars.


This episode explores three very different, very authentic and very simple twists on Mexican tacos, one of Mexico’s most iconic foods.

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