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October 18, 2011
Pumpkin Seeds 4-thumb-510x341-2130

Pumpkin seeds, Pepitas in Spanish, are one of the things I used to stuff in my suitcase when visiting Mexico. That’s because they have a mellow, somewhat nutty, almost sweet, barely chewy and nutritious nature. They are also one of the most nutritious seeds (they are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants).

Pepitas are the seeds of different kinds of pumpkins! They can be seen all over Mexico from stands on the street to bags in the stores. They have been a part of Mexican cooking as long as…well…Mexican cooking and just as well as pumpkins, have been used in a myriad of ways over thousands of years.

Pumpkin seeds were prized by both the Aztecs and Mayans and it is said that the Mayans were the ones who began grinding them to make bases for sauces. In fact, the Yucatan Peninsula, home of the Mayas, has amongst its basic seasoning pastes (one being the famous achiote paste ) a lightly colored pumpkin seed paste that can already be bought in the markets.

Continue reading Pumpkin Seeds or Pepitas


AVOCADO & HEARTS OF PALM CHOP CHOP SALAD
Ensalada de Aguacate y Palmitos
Serves 4 to 6

TO PREPARE
3 ripe Hass avocados, or about 2 pounds, pulp cut into large chunks
14 oz hearts of palm, or about 1 1/3 cups, drained, rinsed and thickly sliced
1 cup corn kernels, from 2 large freshly cooked ears of corn or thawed and cooked from frozen
1 tbsp red onion, chopped
6 oz cherry tomatoes, or about 1 cup, whole or halved according to your preference
Vinaigrette dressing (see below)
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted

Vinaigrette dressing:
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp safflower oil

TO PREPARE
To make the vinaigrette, pour the vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Add the oregano, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Pour the oil in a slow stream, whisking with a whisk or fork to emulsify. The vinaigrette can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated, just emulsify before using.

To toast the pumpkin seeds, place them in an already hot, small saute pan set over medium heat. Stir often, being careful that they don’t burn; until you start to hear popping sounds (similar to popcorn) and they being to acquire a nice tan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl.

In a bowl, gently mix the avocado chunks, hearts of palm, corn kernels, cherry tomatoes and red onion with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.

The dish can be served as a main salad with a side of toast or pita bread. Or serve it as a side salad to grilled chicken, fish or meat.


ROSQUITAS: SWEET ANISE ROPES
Rosquitas de Anis
Makes about 24

INGREDIENTS
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp anise seeds
4 oz, or 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
4 oz, or 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup warm water
Confectioners’ sugar, optional

TO PREPARE
Mix the all purpose flour, baking powder, salt and anise seeds in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the butter chunks and the vegetable shortening in spoonfuls. Begin to mix it with your hands, until the butter and vegetable shortening are mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.

Add the sugar, egg yolks and warm water, working everything together with your hands. In less than a minute, the dough should be soft and malleable enough to be turned into a ball. Don’t knead it more than necessary, as soon as it all comes together in a homogeneous mass it is good enough.

Butter a large cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

One by one, make cookie balls with the palms of your hands, of about 1 1/2″. Then roll it out either with your hands or on a lightly floured surface, into a short rope form, of about 3 to 4″ long and less than 1″ wide. Twist the rope a bit and close the two ends making a loop. It is very easy! Like a doughnut shape!

Place the finished rosquitas on a buttered cookie sheet until you have finished the dough. Place them in the oven anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked and lightly browned on top. Remove them from the oven, let them cool, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.


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