Empanadas de Ciruela y Nuez
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 stick), diced
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 pound plums, pitted and diced (about 11/2 cups)
1/4 pound apricots, pitted and diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup dark brown sugar or shredded piloncillo
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 teaspoon five spice powder
1 egg beaten, for brushing
Granulated sugar for dusting, or you may use turbinado or dark brown sugar
La Lechera dulce de leche or cajeta, to drizzle on top or on the side for dipping (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and sour cream.
With your fingers, combine the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles a coarse meal (it should be crumbly). Rinse your hands and pour the beaten egg and sour cream into the large bowl with the crumbly butter mixture. Mix with a spatula until it comes together into smooth malleable dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
In a large bowl, combine the plums, apricots, pecans, brown sugar, cornstarch, lime juice and five spice powder and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Generously flour your kitchen counter and rolling pin. Roll out the dough about a to 1/4- to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds about 4-inches in diameter. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with any leftover dough scraps until you have used up all your dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of the plum filling in the middle of each circle to make chubby empanadas, brush around the edges with the beaten egg and fold to make a half moon, gently pressing with your fingers to close the edges. Finally, use the back of a fork to seal the dough without breaking it.
Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and arrange the empanadas on them, as you may need to bake 2 batches or use 2 baking sheets. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the empanadas for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Serve warm or cooled and, if desired, drizzle with dulce de leche or cajeta.
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FLUFFY PLANTAIN AND PECAN BREAD
Pan de plátano macho y nuez
Makes 1 10-inch loaf
1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 pound ripe plantains, peeled, sliced, and roughly mashed (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter sides and bottom of the loaf pan and lightly dust it with flour; set it aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the sugar and keep beating until fluffy. Beat in the eggs until well mixed.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Lower the speed on the mixer. Alternate between adding the plantains and the sifted dry ingredient mixture.
Add the vanilla and pecans and mix until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and gently place a piece of aluminum foil on top. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, or until the top of the bread looks golden brown and puffed-out. If you inset a toothpick, it should come out moist but not wet.
HIBISCUS AND PECAN MOLE
Mole de flor de jamaica y nuez
Adapted from Patricia Quintana
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)
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.
Forget soy and tofu; these are authentic Mexican recipes where produce, fruits and vegetables are naturally the stars.
Pati takes you to Xochimilco, the legendary floating gardens of Mexico, and sprinkles a few flowers into some impressive but easy Mexican recipes.
Sliced bread brushed with melted butter, toasted until golden, layered with handfuls of nuts and dried fruits, drenched in Piloncillo syrup, topped with crumbled salty cheese and baked until it all comes together…. Once out of the oven, it tastes like a cross between French Toast and Bread Pudding. Crisp-on-the-top and moist-in-the-center, every spoonful a delightful mess.
It reminds me of how my father loves to slice sweet bananas over his savory lentil soup; or how my family goes crazy over piling ates (fruit pastes) with Manchego cheese, as so many Mexicans do; or how I used to love eating a handful of chocolate covered raisins right after a handful salty pop corn, and then repeat it again and again at the movies growing up, as long as the movie lasted. Capirotada has that same wild mix.
Once you finish your piece, I bet you will beg for a bit more of that addicting combination. That’s probably why I have received so many requests for a recipe.
Continue reading Going Nuts and Bananas for Capirotada
BLACKBERRY AND PECAN TAMALES
Tamales de Zarzamora y Nuez
Makes about 20 tamales
25 dried corn husks
1 cup vegetable shortening or good quality lard
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp baking powder
1 lb instant corn masa mixfor tamales, or about 3 1/4 cups, such as Maseca
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
12 oz blackberries, rinsed
To make masa for tamales:
Place the vegetable shortening or lard with 1 tablespoon of cold water in a mixer and beat, until very light and spongy, about 1 minute. Add the baking powder and salt, and then take turns adding the instant corn masa mix and the water. Continue beating until the dough is homogeneous and fluffy.
Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and continue beating until everything is well mixed. You may also do it by hand.
You know the tamal masa is ready if:
1. When you lift a big spoon with masa, drop it into the dough it falls “de golpe” or heavy.
2. It has the consistency of a medium thick cake batter.
3. If you place 1/2 teaspoon of masa in a cup of cold water and it floats.
To prepare the steamer:
Place water in the pan of a steamer and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of corn husks. Use the dough to form about 20 corn husk wrapped tamales.
To make tamales:
Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple of minutes, until they are pliable and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapered ends facing towards you. Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the masa into a 2 to 3 inch square, the layer should be about 1/4 inch, leaving a boarder of at least 1/2 inch on the sides. Place 1 to 2 blackberries in the middle of the masa filling and sprinkle about a teaspoon of the pecans on top.
Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together, causing the masa to surround the berries and pecans and fold them to one side, rolling them in the same direction around the tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.
Prepare the tamales and then place them vertically in a container. When you have them all ready, place them as vertically as you can in the prepared steamer, with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in more corn husks so the tamales will not dance around. Cover with more corn husks and steam, covered for 50 minutes to an hour over medium heat. You know the tamales are ready when the tamales come easily free from the husks.
Finished tamales will stay warm for about 1 to 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in the refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in the steamer. For refrigerated tamales it will take about 15 minutes, and for frozen tamales about 45 minutes.
During the years I’ve been teaching at the Mexican Cultural Institute I’ve been hesitant to demonstrate and serve Chiles en Nogada. There are many reasons…
First, one of my goals has been to open a window into the world of Mexican cooking in an accessible way. I’ve introduced basic ingredients and dishes along with bits of their history, fun facts, cooking methods and new spins, so people can become familiar with this cuisine and feel empowered to play with its basics in their own kitchens.
No sense in teaching how to make something incredibly complex with tons of new ingredients, which can be quite overwhelming, right?
Continue reading OK… Chiles in Nogada, at last!