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Dia de Muertos-Day of the Dead-Family Altar and Offerings


The tradition of celebrating Day of the Dead dates from Pre-Columbian times, when the natives of Mexico focused a great deal on the manner in which someone died and rituals were created to commune with the dead and deities from those ancient times. As often happens when two cultures meet, the Spaniards combined the native rituals with their own beliefs which produced a festival that assimilated the ideology, religion, art, agriculture and all the ingredients of the existing culture and resulted in our modern “Dia de los Muertos”.
In 2003 The Day of the Dead, was named by UNESCO as a patrimony intangible of humanity. It is a symbol of Mexico’s cult to the dead and the fascination for the unknown. It is a remembrance of life and the necessity to keep our bounds that seem so impossible to achieve and maintain when our loved ones depart. It is of great importance to remember and maintain these traditions of a rich and colorful culture. Mexico has a lot of good traditions to share with the world…

In Mexico, Day of the Dead is celebrated over three days starting October 31st. November 1 day of all saints, and November 2nd day of all souls. We celebrate the people who departed in hope that they might come back and visit to celebrate with us. And if they are coming all the way from a different dimension we better have some feast worth the trip!

Family altars are decorated with the remembered ones’ favorite foods, photographs, possessions,sugar skulls, drinks and flowers. Candles are placed to illuminate the way for a safe journey back home. This phenomenon it is assimilated with respect and irony, defying the dead as they laugh about her. With a sarcastic bitter-sweet humor Mexicans celebrate the ones that are no longer with us but with the biggest respect they built altars to commemorate them singing, drinking and praying. Now a days people also makes altars for their Favourite historical characters, artist, singers, anybody who means or have influenced in some way your life, or that you just simple admire.

Our family altar

This year our altar is dedicated to our family. Starting at the top, my great grandma Elvira Soto Herrera, my mother’s grandma. A beautiful and strong lady she was born in Jalapa, Veracruz and became a widower at early aged. She was a strong, honest and intelligent woman who educated and supported her five children with an exemplary motherly courage. One of her looks with those incredible eyes and you knew what she meant. She always used to received me with a big smile and tell me “Como está Mi Reina?” showering me with hugs and kisses. Her flour tortillas were legendary, as well as her refried beans with her not so secret ingredient lard! and her unique sazón. She just needed to make one phone call: “Im making tortillas” and the whole family would be there in a flash. Her white stove was a beautiful workhorse in her kitchen.

She loved to spend time with her canary birds that will warmly sing back at her, it was a remarkable symbiosis I was fortunate enough to presence. She faithfully blamed Noxema for her flawless skin. Her lavender eyes where unique and they will turn periwinkle or aqua green upon the color the garment she was wearing. Im almost sure that Bisa Elvira’s –they way I used to call her a short for Bisabuela– happiness and good appetite was do to the little bottle of Tabasco sauce she always carried on her handbag, always prepared to eradicate blandness. She worked at a flower shop until her late eighties, by conviction. She had a beautiful laugh and had a great sense of humor. I miss her and remember her dearly.

The next photo frame, the gentleman in the fedora hat is my grandpa Alfredo Ruiz Sandoval my mom’s father aka Tito Alfredo. He was born in Yahualica, Jalisco. At a young age he defied his family prohibition of becoming a bullfighter and with all his courage, his first “corrida de toros” was a success until his father pulled him out of the ring plaza in the middle of a bullfight, he had to fight a bigger bull. After his bullfighting dreams crashed, he travel to the North of the country and studied and work in USA. A few years later he become a successful merchant and restauranteur. For me its clear that Tito Alfredo, was a bullfighter by heart and although he never became bullfighter in real life, he always showed all his courage in each life faena by always helping and supporting his family, Ole Matador! I know he must be “Toreando Estrellas”.

Beside Tito Alfredo is Margarita Sanchez Guzmán my Grandma Margarita, my dad’s mother from whom I learned my love for cooking. This tall, strong and beautiful Lady from Ciudad Guzmán, Jalisco also became a widower at a young age, she managed to support her seven children by herself through cooking for other families. Although I always remember being with her in the kitchen or going with her to el mercado, one of my favorite downtimes with her was listening to her old records of “Los Churumbeles de España” and Juan Lejido. We would seat at the sofa with a photo album and she would tell me stories about her dancing with my grandpa along her favorite song “El Beso”. Since I did not met my grandpa Guillermo, these stories were music to my ears. I will close my eyes and imagine them dancing.

With no doubt some of my happiest memories and moments with my Abuelita Mago were lived in her little kitchen. From my first given task in the kitchen: shelling peas to the magic moment when she taught me how to drive the “tejolote-pestle” in the molcajete and I made my first salsa martajada. Aromas, flavors, textures, craft, laughs, all the love she put in her cooking was nurturing me at a time when I needed the most. Her company and caring always will be with me. Thank you Abuelita Mago aka “bolita” how we the grandchildren used to call her for a short of Abuelita.

The first picture of the last portrait row, is Betsy Cleghorn-McEnroe, Ians’ mother. This beautiful Lady was born in a small town in Michigan. Betsy raised her four children out in the country. She had a gardener soul, learn how to grew corn, potatoes, zucchinis, green beans, strawberries, and all sort of vegetables to feed her kids. Quilter extraordinaire, loved to cook, craft, an insightful soul, funny and loving person. Every time we spoked with her on the phone we were left with a delightful peaceful feeling. She truly cared, she listen and gave you the most surprising advice, facts and interesting feedback. I have not ever met somebody that loved Christmas more than her. She would go crazy with the decor, dinner and presents.

Her Christmas trade mark:”the thrift shop present”. She will give the most funny-obsolete-thoughtful presents that made you believe you were born to own that funky object. Once you opened the present for some strange reason you were stroked by a feeling and inner voice that said: “you have been wanting this for so long, I just didn’t know it!”. Later in the year seeing that present hanging in the closet or on a shelf, will produce an spontaneous burst of laugh that will hug you. We miss Betsy dearly, and every year we remember her departure on her favorite day on Christmas Eve. We will always love you Betsy.

The following photo is my dear cousin Badir Saleme Ruiz aka “Dirba di-du” the nickname I used to call him by. This young gentleman was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Had the most beautiful green eyes I’ve ever seen!, along with a humble heart. Smart, intelligent and always willing to help. At a young age his ingenious nature led him to disassemble a whole radio and re-assemble it back again. Then he kind of did the same with every electro domestic object around his home. Later, intuitively he concocted a stereo-computer-monitor to function into a TV with a stereo sound. He also motorized his bike around, just genius! He would call me Mananiux, and fixed my hairdryer every time it burned out, until he figured out some sort of device added to the electrical components and fixed for good. That hair dryer last me about 12 more years!.

Dirba loved arroz con leche, enfrijoladas, quesadillas and carne asada with extra chard, grilled cebollitas and a good michelada. Dirba left us early, he was young, many more things to fix, circuits to create and left us all with his sincere smile. Thank you Dirba Didu for being so humble and generous. I miss you. Im preparing you arroz con leche, stop by!

Last frame in this altar is Manuel Nuño Sánchez, my father. He was born in Guadalajara Jalisco, a rebellious and curious soul. A loving person, that gave all his efforts always beyond his best. From him I learned to be extremely curious. To handle any homework or task I was given with extreme importance and abandon. From little school projects taking them to unimaginable heights to life attitude.

I particulary remember a time when I was in 3rd grade and we where asked to bring a model or a maquette representing the Discovery of America. Huge task for a 3rd grader. He took it to heart and made me read all about the history and asked me what impressed me the most? “I Said the Carabelas-Caravels” So he glanced at me and next day he brought home tree small scale assembling caravel model boats of Columbus caravans: La Niña, La Pinta y La Santa María. He taught me how to assemble them and we painted each piece and glued every single detail, we basted every cloth sail of each ship and assemble the maquette. It was a masterful class of dedication, patience and perseverance. Beyond belief. Almost no body believed I had made that. Teacher had to speak to him. So there is my first lesson of how to handle a task at every level. He had the best sense of humor, and made me laugh with his funny jokes. Sometimes we would laugh so much that our stomach hurt, just about simple little things.

My father was a free soul, he loved to read, eat and he loved fresh fruit. When mandarins were in season he would buy 5-8 kg and we used to seat down on the roof top or at a park and eat them all! We used to eat tomatoes sliced with a squeeze of lime juice, sea salt and Valentina and eat them with abandon. Freshly squeezed juices beets, carrots, apples, spinach you named it. Tacos, tortas de queso fresco, my grandmas pozole Blanco and Mole were some of his favorite meals. He liked to listen to Carmina Burana and Gregorian Chants. He made lamps out of old instruments like trumpets and horns. But most important of all, He wanted me to learn how to be daring, to be-my-free-self, he gave me wings. I remember him and miss him more often than I should.

Food Offerings

This year, we are treating our souls guest with this altar. We will receive them at the fist hour of November 2nd at midnight, I will set the food offerings November 1st around 10 pm and with for them to arrive. We will take a second photo and a video to incorporate in this post to include the food and how is placed in the altar.

The menu for the offerings will be: For my Bisa Elvira, her favorite food was mole poblano and “asado mazatleco”. This year Im making mole for her. For my Tito Alfredo his favorite food caldo de pollo or res (chicken or beef stock Mexican style, Birria or mole. This year Im making Mole Poblano for him as well.
My grandma Mago loved Frijolitos de la olla /Beans from the pot and a good molcajete salsa, so Im making a good bean pot for her to receive her. Betsy loved fish. so Im preparing cod with butter-lemon caper sauce and corn cob on the side. She also had a sweet tooth and Im sure she will love a piece of pan de Puerto with a cup of hot cocoa. For Dirba, Im making arroz con leche and some burritos of machaca-dried meat-and a cold beer. And for my father Im making tortilla soup, and planning on eating tons of mandarinas.

For all of them and for us I’m making Pan de Muerto, since its one of the most important elements that can not be missed on an altar. This bread resembles a skull with bones and represent each soul in transit.  Im sharing with you this link with my recipe for Pan de Muerto.

 

 On November second Day of the Dead we will celebrate with our departed we will have diner with them,

set up the food offerings and enjoy Pan de Muerto with a cup of hot cocoa.

As we warm and sweeten up the memories of the ones that are no longer with us.

It is a good excuse to make this delightful bread and maybe…

acquire a new family and tasty tradition…

Music is always a must when we are remembering, waiting and celebrating with our departed family.

Who better than Chavela Vargas to make the waiting more pleasant for our departed. I hope you enjoy it.

This song “Las simples cosas” The simple things,  talks about the important things in life, about love and time…

The next song “El último trago” The last drink, is about saying goodbye to a loved one…

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Very Berry Crostata

Very-Berry-Crostata_Yes,-more-please!

Crostata, Galette, Free form pie, you all know my idilic love with this pastry goodness. Four ingredients for the crust, berries and sugar, never haved tasted so good. Talk about simplicity and mayor goodness. I think I have already 4 crostata recipes on this blog, and I did not even hesitate to add a new variation.

There is a warm gratifying feeling about making this simple crust, using your hands, an effortless crust, that when is baked you can stop smiling. With all this berries in season, you will need so little sugar to enhance their flavor. What is not to crave about fresh fruit baked in a thin almondy crust? I feel like  this crostata is a guiltless pleasure…that leaves more room for ice cream. hehehe

Very-Berry-Crostata_Summer-Berries_Yes,-more-please!

My advice, avoid wasting your time thinking what to do or bake to celebrate this weekend, if you have 15 minutes to spare to make a crust in the morning, 15 minutes to roll and prep,and 45 minutes to careless baking while you relax zipping an ice tea, these berry beauty is all you need for a great Summer afternoon.

I only know, that for this Summer this is all what I want, a slice of this berry crostata slightly warm, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream or a dollop of whipped cream, an ice tea on the side, and sparkling objects on the sky to celebrate the 4th,  5th, 6th…or 28th of July…Enjoy!

Very-Berry-Crostata_ingredients_Yes,-more-please!

Very-Berry-Crostata_slice-of-berry-crostata_Yes,-more-please!

To make the Crostata you will need…

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Maximus Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Eggnog Glaze

Maximus-Apple-Cinnamon-Rolls_Yes,-more-please!

Oh! Sweet Christmas, It is that time of the year where you want to enjoy yourself in the kitchen, to give and to allow the time to go by with no remorse while indulging the guiltless pleasure of a Holiday morning…. Waaahw Wahhw Wahhw Wahhw… Rewind that… you wake up and your children are screaming “Can we open the presents?” Dog barking, Phone ringing, hubby half sleep, you are feeling cranky because you stayed up late making these rolls for breakfast… this is more like it right?, But where is the Christmas spirit?… No worries, it’s coming out of the oven in a few minutes. Make coffee, place the tray of Apple Cinnamon Rolls in the oven to warm up while you open a few presents. Twenty minutes later your house will start to smell like the north pole kitchen. Cinnamon is in the air! Drizzle the glaze, and scream “Breakfast is ready!”

I know this recipe is not the 1,2, 3 mix and done cinnamon rolls. But, why settle for less?, let’s make it AWESOME, It’s Christmas! I promise you it’s all worth it.

One bite of these rolls and you will feel how the world is merry, joyful, and your efforts so worth it when making these rolls. Time to sit, relax and enjoy!

Undoubtedly, these Maximus Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Eggnog glaze will ungrinch-ify the grinchiest Grinch.

Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, Joy and Hugs!

Ian & Mariana

Apple-Cinnamon-Buns_ingredients

For the recipe you will need…

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Irish Stout Soda Bread

Irish Stout Soda Bread_ingredients

I think I have a new bread love; Irish Soda Bread, the traditional kind. I remember trying some version of sweet Irish Bread with raisins and caraway seeds but honestly it was not remarkable at all.

So I did my research and gave myself some time to bake a couple of loaves. I experimented with different types of flour, combining them and using different ratios, like buckwheat flour, rye, whole wheat, oatmeal and regular all-purpose flour. Some of the recipes I used called for egg, and butter others called for oil an buttermilk, some sugar and toppings, like currants, rains caraway seeds…Oh my! There are many varieties.
What I learned by making all these recipes and by reading the origin of the bread is that less is more.

The loaves kept becoming denser and denser as I played with the egg- butter and butter milk ratios and were not great in flavor. So I decided to start eliminating ingredients and get a bit closer to the more traditional 4 ingredient loaves. The last loaf I made using whole wheat flour, oatmeal flour and Guinness beer was spot on, supremo! This is the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

This bread is one of the easiest and quickest breads you can make. No need of proofing time, no kneading and the result is a tender crumbly bread that resembles a light biscuit. The bread bakes in about 40-45 minutes, so in less than an hour you have freshly made bread! How’s that? What is not to like about this bread, after knowing all this good attributes?!

I will recommend this bread to be a side for soup, great for breakfast with some butter and jam. And of course it goes well with some cheese and beer. I made a compound butter with garlic and scallion that goes perfect if you are just having a simple beer snack or accompaniment for a more robust dinner.

Enjoy!

Irish-Stout-Soda-Bread-Yes,-more-please!_rustic-bread

Irish Stout Soda Bread

Makes 1 – 8″ round loaf

1- ½ cups whole wheat flour (I used unbleached white whole wheat flour King Arthur’s)
1-½ cups oatmeal flour (I used Bob’s red mill)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk or ¾ cup milk +1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
¾ cup dark stout Guinness

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven at 375 F/ 190 C and place the oven rack in the first third of the oven.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, make a well in the center.
3. In the center of the well, add the butter milk and the stout.
4. With a wooden spatula, combine all the ingredients until you have a rough dough.
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. No kneading required.
6. Bake on a pizza stone a cast iron pan or a baking sheet; place the ball in the center and with a sharp knife make a cross in the center

Irish-Stout-Soda-Bread_mixing-the-doughIrish-Stout-Sode-Bread_shaping

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Checking for doneness: the bottom of the bread looks golden brown heavy crusted and it should sounds hollow when tapping the bread. Place on a cooling rack. wait at least 25 minutes to cut. Enjoy!

Irish-Stout-Soda-Bread_-Yes,-more-please!_rustic-bread

Compound Scallion, garlic and Parsley Butter:

1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3  scallions including the green parts chopped
1 tablespoon of parsley chopped
1  garlic cloves grated
1-2 good pinches of sea salt

Preparation:

1. In a food processor combine all the ingredients and pulse 4-5 times until well combined, and the butter looks a little green.
2. cut a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and make a butter cylinder, tighten the edges by twisting them opposite ways.
3. Refrigerate until it holds its shape or live it room temperature to use as creamy bread spread.

Irish-stout-Soda-Bread_Compound-butterIrish-Stout-Sode-Bread_slice-and-compound-scallion-and-garlic-butter_Yes,-more-please!Irish-Stout-Sode-Bread_slice-and-compound-scallion-and-garlic-butter02_Yes,-more-please!

Enjoy!

 

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Day of the Dead, a Tasty Mexican Tradition!

Dia-de-los-muertos_Altar_Frida_Khalo_Diego-Rivera_corazon-de-melon

Dia de los muertos translates into “Day of the Dead”.

The tradition of celebrating Day of the Dead dates from Pre-Columbian times, when the natives of Mexico focused a great deal on the manner in which someone died and rituals were created to commune with the dead and deities from those ancient times. As often happens when two cultures meet, the Spaniards combined the native rituals with their own beliefs which produced a festival that assimilated the ideology, religion, art, agriculture and all the ingredients of the existing culture and resulted in our modern “Dia de los Muertos”.
In 2003 The Day of the Dead, was named by UNESCO as a patrimony intangible of humanity. It is a symbol of Mexico’s cult to the dead and the fascination for the unknown. It is a remembrance of life and the necessity to keep our bounds that seem so impossible to achieve and maintain when our loved ones depart. It is of great importance to remember and maintain these traditions of a rich and colorful culture. Mexico has a lot of good traditions to share with the world…

In Mexico, Day of the Dead is celebrated over three days starting October 31st. November 1 day of all saints, and November 2nd day of all souls. We celebrate the people who departed in hope that they might come back and visit to celebrate with us. And if they are coming all the way from a different dimension we better have some feast worth the trip!

Family altars are decorated with the remembered ones’ favorite foods, photographs, possessions,sugar skulls, drinks and flowers. Candles are placed to illuminate the way for a safe journey back home. This phenomenon it is assimilated with respect and irony, defying the dead as they laugh about her. With a sarcastic bitter-sweet humor Mexicans celebrate the ones that are no longer with us but with the biggest respect they built altars to commemorate them singing, drinking and praying. Now a days people also makes altars for their Favourite historical characters, artist, singers, anybody who means or have influenced in some way your life, or that you just simple admire.
Our Altar in the picture above is made for the 2 most representative artist in Mexico, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera which I admire the most.

Pan de Muerto is one of the elements that can not be missed on an altar, a bread that resembles a skull with bones. Enjoy it with a cup of hot cocoa, warmed up and sweeten up the memories of the ones that are no longer with us. It is a good excuse to make this delightful bread and maybe… acquire a tasty tradition…

And ofcourse you need some music to go with it… who is better than Chavela Vargas to accompany this recipe and also to sing to their friends…I hope you enjoy… This song talks about the simple things in life, about love and time…http://youtu.be/-mnZcErj-SA

DIa-de-muertos_Pan-de-Muerto-and-Sugar-skulls

PAN DE MUERTO

Makes 3 -6” round loaves or 4- 4” liltte round loaves.

Printing recipe at the end of the post

1 lb / 500 gr. unbleached all purpose flour* plus 1/2-3/4 of a cup more flour for dusting when shaping and  kneading. 
¾ cup / 200gr. Sugar.
¾ cup / 200 gr. Butter room temperature and cut into small chunks.
½ cup / 125ml. Whole milk
2 teaspoons dry active yeast or one little dry active yeast package of 7gr.
3 whole eggs
2 yolks, save the whites for egg wash later…
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange blossom water /extracto de flor de azhar
1 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1 teaspoon ground mexican cinnamon
the zest of one small orange

For the Egg wash:
2 left over egg whites you saved when making the dough…
A dash of milk

Coming out of the oven:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

Day one:

1. Measure and gather all your ingredients.

Pan-de-muerto_mise-in-place-ingredients
2. Start by warming the milk just about luke warm, add a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle the yeast until bloom. About 10-15 minutes. The yeast should look foamy and creamy.
3. Meantime, on a clean flat surface make a “wheel” with the flour using your bowl to make a perfect circle.
4. Sprinkle the sugar around the flour wheel. In the center add the eggs, egg yolks, spices, extracts, anise, cinnamon, salt. Check on your yeast and if its ready add it to the center of the wheel. Mix all this ingredients using the tips of your fingers or a fork.

Pan-de-Muerto_-Flour-wheel
5. With your hand in a spider position, start incorporating little by little the flour from the edges. Be careful and gentle not to break the flour ring. Start in circular motions all around the inner flour circle until you have fully incorporated all the flour and almost all the sugar.

Pan-de-Muerto_incorporating-the-flour-and-liquids
6. Now using both hands start incorporating the butter. At this point you can decide, kneading the dough by hand for about 20-25 minutes, it is hard work, but I love the way the dough develops as the warm of your hands soften the dough and help the yeast making the dough smooth and shiny. This efforts shown when the bread is baked, it comes out with a tender finer crumb. The other option, using your mixer with a dough hook for about 10-15 minutes. Both routes work is just about preference and time. ~for me, the key to making a good dough is to feel the dough, that’s why I prefer to mix it by hand~
As dough is kneaded, you can add up to 1/2 cup more flour  if needed, if after kneading, the dough feels to sticky, sprinkle  1/4 cup  and knead, until your dough feels soft, moist, smooth,and has a shine to it. This dough is very easy to make and as soon the kneading develops the right texture you will know. It will feel soft and it looks a bit shiny, as you can see on the last picture below. So be patient, give the love and knead gently and confident that everything will come out  at the right time.

Pan-de-Muerto_kneading,-kneading

7. Once the dough is ready dust a large bowl with flour, place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place it in the refrigerator over night. I’ve tried different methods and the bread did not come out as tender and buttery as traditional good bread. 8 to 10 hours over night gives the right time for the dough to develop flavor.

Pan-de-muerto_Dough-texture

Day two:

1. Pull dough out of refrigerator, punch your dough and reshape kneading gently and briefely.
2.Flour a clean surface and cut into 4 equal parts. Shape each part using your hands creating a concave shape, gently surround the dough with your hand like a little cave, and gently, create circular motion with the dough rubbing against the table until you have formed a smooth round ball. Place each ball into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover gently with a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour and a clean kitchen towel.

Pan-de-Muerto_Punching-and-shaping

Pan-de-Muerto_shaping-the-Bread
3. Shape 3 parts of the dough and save one to make the bones and skulls for the tops. Divide this ball into 6 stripes and 3 small 1” balls equal sizes.
4.With your fingers make a little cylinder strip and gently pressing in between your fingers make the bones. (see picture below)

Pan-de-Muerto_-Sahping_Bones-and-Skulls
5. Place the bone strips, forming a cross and then place the a small ball in the middle, flattening a little making sure it sticks with the rest of the dough.
6. Cover the tray with a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour to prevent to stick. Let the bread rise for a second time for about 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. Once they are doubled apply the egg wash evenly.

Pan-de-Muerto_Egg-wash,-proofing-ready-for-the-oven!

7. Preheat the oven at 375F / 190C Place tray in the oven, and lower the temperature to 350F/ 175C .Bake for 25-30 minutes.Until golden brown and hollow sound.

8. Remove from oven, brush them with melted butter and drench in sugar. Cool bread on a rack. Prepare the hot cocoa, a cafe de olla and be ready to celebrate!

Pan-de-Muerto_sugar-dusting

Pan-de-Muerto_Dayof-the-dead

Pan-de-muerto_delicious-buttery-crumb!

Pan-de-muerto_with-coffe-od-hot-cocoa

Enjoy your Pan de Muerto and Celebrate life!

*   *   *

Altar dedicated to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Sugar-skulls_La-catrina_Frida-y-los-caudillos

Traditional Sugar skulls are made with sugar and in the shape of skulls. One of my favorites Mexican cartoonist illustrator artists is José Guadalupe Posada who is the autor of the Famous Calavera Catrina. If you want to know more about him: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/11/02/the-calaveras-of-jose-guadalupe-posada/

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Sugar Skulls

www.yes-moreplease.com

How to make Sugar Skulls its easy and fun, you can decorate with sugar icing , sprinkles, candy, colored sugar crystals anything that rocks your imagination, have fun!


Course Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 2"x 3" small flat skulls

Ingredients

Royal Icing, for decorating:

  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 1 teaspoon meringue powder
  • 1-3 teaspoons warm water
  • 2-4 drops of natural food coloring of your choice, start with one drop at the time until you achieve the desired color saturation.

For the sugar skulls:

  • 3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white, from a large egg

Instructions

  1. 1. Mix troughly until you have a mixture that resembles like sand.

    2. Using a plastic mold pack the sugar into the mold really well and level it. Un mold carefully placing a piece of tick cardboard behind the mold, flip and remove the plastic mold carefully. Place cardboard on top of a baking tray and Bake for at least 1 hour on 200F/90C. Remove from oven carefully. Leave  tray on a safe place and let them air dry for an extra day.

    3. Proceed and decorate with royal Icing and a little black coloring or melted dark chocolate.

    This sugar skulls are not meant to be eaten, it is just for decoration since they will just taste like plain sugar…But you are welcome to eat them if you have a strong sugar tooth, have fun!

    You can buy this awesome Guadalupe Posadas Skull Molds and many more on the following link: Mexican Sugar Skulls

posada2-catrina

Day of the Dead a Tasty Mexican Tradition

~ Viva la vida! ~

Music Pairing: Chavela Vargas “Las Simples Cosas”

5 from 1 vote
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Pan de Muerto

This recipe is traditional style, that bread that tastes buttery and the egg yolks give the color and richness to the bread. Anise and orange zest give this bread a unique aroma and flavor. The texture is soft and with a strong crumb to hold up dunking the bread in to a cup of hot cocoa! Enjoy!

www.yes-moreplease.com

Cuisine Mexican
Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 lb /500gr. Unbleached all purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup more for dusting and kneading
  • 3/4 cup/200gr. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup/200gr. Butter, room temp and cut in small chunks
  • 1/2 cup/125gr. whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast, equivalent to 1 7gr.package.
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water/ extract de flor de azhar
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground mexican cinnamon
  • 1 the zest of one small orange

Instructions

  1. DAY ONE:

    1. Measure and gather all your ingredients.

    2. Start by warming the milk just about luke warm, add a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle the yeast until blossom. About 10-15 minutes. The yeast should look foamy and creamy.

    3. Meantime, on a clean flat surface make a “wheel” with the flour using your bowl to make a perfect circle.

    4. Sprinkle the sugar around the flour wheel.

    5. In the center add the eggs, egg yolks, spices, extracts, anise, cinnamon, salt.

    6. Check on your yeast and if its ready add it to the center of the wheel.

    7. Mix all this ingredients with a fork.

    8. With your hand in a spider position, start incorporating little by little the flour from the edges. Be careful and gentle not to break the flour ring.

    9. Start in circular motions all around the inner flour circle until you have fully incorporated all the flour and almost all the sugar.

    10. Now using both hands start kneading into the butter. And at this point you can decide, mixing your dough by hand for about 20-25 minutes (which is hard work but I love the way the bread comes out tender crumb and the warm of your hands will soften the dough making it really smooth and shiny. Or using your mixer with a dough hook for about 10-15 minutes. Both routes work is just about preference and time. The key to making a good dough is to feel the dough. That’s why I prefer to mix it by hand. You can add up to 1/2 cup more flour if needed, if after a bit of kneading it feels to sticky, sprinkle 1/4 cup and knead, until your dough feels soft, smooth, fluffy. This dough is very easy to make and as soon is the right texture you will know. It will feel not sticky and it looks a bit shiny, as you can see on the last picture below. So be patient, give the love and knead gently and confident that everything will come out at the right time.

    11. Once the dough is ready grease the inside of a bowl with butter and place the dough ball cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place it in a warm place over night. I’ve tried different methods and the bread did not come out as tender and buttery as traditional good bread. 10-12 hours over night is great. You can plan ahead and make it over the weekend. Wake up Sunday or Saturday and bake your bread and have it for breakfast with a cup of warm hot-cocoa or a coffee, cafe de olla.

    DAY TWO:

    For the Egg wash:

    1 egg slightly beaten, or those egg whites you saved when making the dough!

    a dash of heavy cream

    For the Glaze:

    1 teaspoon flour

    1/4 milk

    1 egg

    1/2 3/4 sugar for sprinkle the bread

    Directions:

    1. Punch your dough and reshape dough kneading gently and briefely.

    2. Dust with flour a clean surface and cut dough into 4 equal parts.

    3. Shape each part in circular motions. Until you have formed a round ball. Place it into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

    4. Shape 3 parts and save one to make the bones and skulls for the tops. Divide this ball into 9 stripes and 3 small 1” balls equal sizes.

    5.With your fingers make a little cilinder and gently pressing in between your fingers make the bones. (see picture below)

    6. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash and then proceed to place the bone stripes, Egg wash it lightly.

    8. Cover the tray with a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour to prevent to stick. Let the bread rise for a second time for about 30 minutes.

    9. Preheat the oven at 375F / 190C once the bread is in the oven lower it to 350F/ 175C and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    10. Remove from oven brush them with the flour glaze and top with sugar, bake for 5 more minutes. Pull them out of the oven check the center for doneness. Sprinkle a little more sugar on tops and cool them on a rack.

    Enjoy your well deserved Pan de Muerto and Celebrate life!

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Pumpkin doughnut bites (baked)

 

Pumpking_doughnut_bites_texture cinnamon-sugar

October, the month of the most beautiful moons, weather changes and…pumpkins.
Pumpkin shakes, pumpkin coffee, pies, cheesecake, soup, bread, cookies, everything pumpkin!
It’s all about the pumpkin season, spices, aromatics, baking!…what Am I baking? Pumpkin doughnut bites!

Pumpkin is so versatile,it can easily be used in sweet and savory dishes, and it makes the most comforting warm soup for the fall. For me it is always 100% worth the effort to roast them. Its so easy; the house warms up and it taste so much better than the canned stuff. My advice is to buy 3 to 4 small to medium pumpkins roast them puree them and keep them in small batches that you can freeze for feature dishes. Why small or medium pumpkins? They are easy to cut, they cook faster and you do not need 2 oompa loompas to carry them into the oven. But, if you prefer to buy a bigger one they are definitely more meaty and you can cut it into smaller pieces so it will bake faster. The more pumpkin the merrier.

This recipe is incredibly easy and rewarding, so few ingredients transform into the most delightful bites. The pumpkin flavor is enhanced by all the aromatic spices, they are like pieces of pumpkin clouds in your mouth, little pillows of comforting goodness. The pumpkin keeps the batter moist and when you bite into them, the contrast between the soft inside and crunchy sugar crystals make these doughnut like bites irresistible!..

They make the perfect little bite with your morning coffee, or afternoon cup of tea… I love them with a glass of cold milk.

Pumpkin_dougnut_bites_got-milk?

Pumpkin -baked- doughnut bites

Makes 25-30 bites

Dry:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Wet:

1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup whole milk

Roll them in:

1 stick of butter melted in a small bowl

In a separate bowl combine the next three ingredients:

2/3 cup fine granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice

Directions:

Preheat oven at 350F/ 176C

1.-

In a medium bowl whisk all dry ingredients. In a medium bowl whisk all wet ingredients.

With a spatula, combine wet and dry ingredients until well incorporated. (do not over mix).

Pumpkin_doughnut_bites_mixing process

2.-

Proceed and grease 2 mini muffin pans with non-stick spray.

Using a small Ice cream scooper (1.5” inch diameter works best for a mini muffin pan)
scoop the batter immediately.

Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.

Pumpkin_dougnut_bites_scooping method

3.-

Cool them on a rack for about 15 minutes.

Proceed to quick coat them into the melted butter, making sure to drip the excess butter before dumping them into the sugar-cinnamon dust. Roll them until well cover and tap the bites to remove any excess sugar-cinnamon. Place them on a cooling rack and allow to dry for about 30 minutes. Keep them in an air tight container far away from reach… they are highly addictive. Enjoy!

Pumpkin_dounught bites-butter,cinnamon sugar dusting

Pumpkin_doughnut_bites_complete batch

Keep them in an air tight container far away from reach… they are highly addictive. Enjoy!

Pumpkin_doughnut_bites_beauty creaturesBite me!

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Devil’s Chocolate and Ganache Cake…get happy!

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_close up delight

Chocolate, One of the most beautiful words in the world!… Just to say the word makes me happy, and reminds me of the Judy Garland song… when I’m making this Devil’s Chocolate and Ganache Cake. I always think positive thoughts. When it comes out of the oven, Hallelujah!.. get happy… forget your troubles…you better chase all you cares away… Oh yeah! That’s how happy this chocolate cake makes me. And well what else is there to say about the comfort that brings you when you bake your own cake?. The whole house smells like warm endorphins that activate your happy brain cells.
It’s a simple batter. You’ll need one bowl or two, and the best quality butter and cocoa powder you can get. The better your ingredients, the better results you will get.
That’s one of the keys when you are baking: always use good quality ingredients (from the eggs to the vanilla extract). If you care about them, it will be fantastic!. All ingredients when you are baking MUST be at room temperature. Read the recipe twice. Measure everything correctly using measuring cups for dry ingredients and a larger liquid measuring cup for wet ingredients. Get in the baking groove, nice music, enjoy yourself…
Here is some music link that will set your baking mood…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGk3tY4yP7k

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_Coseup slice

Devil’s Dark Chocolate Cake… get happy!

Makes 1 -12 cup bundt cake

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped *
½ cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ – ¾ cup dutch Process cocoa Powder (Valrhona, Cocoa Barry)
1 tablespoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee -not hot just warm.(I used Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso powder)
1 cup of butter milk ( or 1 cup of whole milk + 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat the oven 350F / 176C
Butter and dust with cocoa a 12 cup bundt pan.
Melt the bitter sweet chocolate, using a double boiler on low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the melted chocolate into a medium size bowl and let cool slightly.
Whisk in the melted butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and mix.
In a small bowl, Mix the dry ingredients, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt.
Start by combining half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with ½ cup of the coffee and ½ a cup of the butter milk. Whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and butter milk and whisk. until smooth.
Poor the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for about 10-15 minutes, then turn it out and let it cool completely.

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_baking chocolate

* My favorites: 70% Cacao Bittersweet Scharffen Berger, 72% bitter-sweet Michael Cluizel, El Rey Venezuelan chocolate, 70%- 80% Callebaut.

Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream
10 oz. Semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate finely chopped.
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of brandy or cognac or any liquor of your preference. ( omit this ingredient if cooking for kids)

Method:

In a small pot heat the heavy cream until small bubbles form around the pan ( do not let it boil)
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium size bowl, pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate let it stand for 3-4 minutes so the chocolate warms through. Whisk gently until the mixture is smooth, add butter mix until is melted, add the liquor mix. Add the agave nectar for a shiny finish.

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_How to make Ganache

Spoon the Ganache over the cake… save extra for plating.. for when you want a little more …

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_spreading ganache
Sprinkle cayenne pepper or cinnamon for a little  accent on the cake…

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_Cayenne

Devil's Chocolate and Ganache Cake_ with cayenne

Get happy, Chocolate cake!

Music Pairing:Judy Garland “Get Happy”

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Heirloom Tomato Crostata

Heirloom-Tomatoe-Crostata-Yes,-more-please!

This is one of the recipes I being waiting to make with the gorgeous tomatoes from the market, Heirloom tomato Crostata!…Last time I went to Boggy Creek Farm,( my favorite urban farm here in Austin, TX.)  I bought about 5 different kinds I could not resist! (honestly, If you have 3-2 or even just one kinds it will be great too) Looking at all this colors and shapes made me turn my sweet crostata dough into a savory one. I read about this tomato pie with Corn Meal, and honestly I’m not very fond of Pies, I love crostata because of the dough-filling ratio. In a pie usually you have thin crusted and lots of filling versus a crostata in which you have little more crust-less filling (which makes it lighter and balanced to eat. The exposed fruit or vegetables or in this case the tomatoes can get a little roasted and it adds lots of character to it.  I hope you like it. Enjoy!Heirloom-Tomatoes-Variety_Corn-Meal-Crostata_Yes,-more-please!

Tomatoe-Crostata_heirloom-tomatoes,-thyme,-great-fresh-seasonal-ingredients

Heirloom Tomato Crostata

Serves 6-8

For the Dough:

2 Cups of Unbleached All-purpose flour
¾ Cup Corn Meal (I used Larry’s Corn Meal from Boggy Creek Farm, I highly recommend to look for a good quality Organic no GMO coarse ground cornmeal it really makes the difference!)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes.
1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
¼ to ½ cup iced water

How to make the crust:

Measure all your ingredients, and place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place bowl in the freezer. Meantime cut your cold butter, and Iced water ready to measure. Remove the bowl of dry ingredients from freezer and add the butter. With a pastry blender incorporate the butter and flour until the mixture resembles to a coarse meal, and the butter pieces are small like the size of a pea. Slowly add the cold water and carefully with your hands form a dough that just holds together. Do not work the dough.
Once that the dough barely holds together cut a piece of plastic wrap and place your dough. Wrap it and shape it into a disk.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, 4-6 is best.(see pictures )

Tomatoe-Crostata-how-to-make-the-dough-step-by-step!

How-Dough-Texture-should-look-like-for-a-Crostata,-galette-or-free-form-pie

When the dough is ready Preheat Oven at 400 F/ 205C
On a clean work surface, dusted with flour unwrap the dough let sit for a couple of minutes and roll the dough into a 20-22” round and about 1/8 “ thick. Once is rolled place it into a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Tomatoe-Crostata_Rolling-the-dough

For the Filling:

4 medium size heirloom tomatoes cut into ¼ inch tomato slices, from at least 2 kinds of heirloom tomatoes. I used green zebra, yellow Oaxacan, prudence and Cherokee. Use whatever is best fresh available at your farmers market.
1/2 cup cherry gold or cherry tomatoes

I used:
1/3 cup of goat cheese.
3 fresh sprigs of thyme.
Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper.
A small drizzle of Extra virgin Olive Oil.

Directions:

Spread ½ of the Goat cheese into the rolled dough, place the tomato slices, thyme, rest of the cheese, sea salt, black pepper and drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil all over the tomatoes. Fold the dough edges into circle creating a 2” border.

Brush the edges with egg wash and sprinkle sea salt all around the edge.

Bake at 400 F/ 200C for 35-45 minutes. Serve warm.

Heirloom-Tomato-Crostata_How-to-make-a-Crostata,-Gallete,-Free-form-savory-pie

Heirloom-Tomatoe-Crostata_Tomato-Season-Cornmealcrust

Heirloom Tomatoe Crostata

Music Pairing: Pink Martini- Hang on Little Tomatoe

Heirloom Tomato Crostata

Serves 6-8
Course bakegoods, Brunch, Lunch, Main Course, vegetarian
Cuisine vegetarian, wholesome
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Author Mariana McEnroe

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 2 Cups of Unbleached All-purpose flour
  • ¾ Cup Corn Meal I used Larry’s Corn Meal from Boggy Creek Farm, I highly recommend to look for a good quality Organic no GMO coarse ground cornmeal it makes a huge difference.
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 sticks 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes.
  • 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt
  • ¼ to ½ cup iced water

For the Filling:

  • 4 medium size heirloom tomatoes cut into ¼ inch tomato slices from at least 2 kinds of heirloom tomatoes. I used green zebra, yellow Oaxacan, prudence, and Cherokee. Use whatever is best fresh available at your farmers market.
  • 1/2 cup cherry gold or cherry tomatoes
  • I used:
  • 1/3 cup of goat cheese.
  • 3 fresh sprigs of thyme.
  • Sea Salt freshly ground black pepper.
  • A small drizzle of Extra virgin Olive Oil.

Instructions

How to make the crust:

  1. Measure all your ingredients, and place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place bowl in the freezer. Meantime cut your cold butter, and Iced water ready to measure. Remove the bowl of dry ingredients from frezzer and add the butter. With a pastry blender incorporate the butter and flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, and the butter pieces are small like the size of a pea. Slowly add the cold water and carefully with your hands form a dough that just holds together. Do not work the dough.
  2. Once that the dough barely holds together cut a piece of plastic wrap and place your dough. Wrap it and shape it into a disk.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When the dough is ready Preheat Oven at 400F / 205C

  1. In clean work surface, dusted with flour unwrap the dough let sit for a couple of minutes and roll the dough into a 20-22” round and about 1/8 “ thick. Once is rolled place it into a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Assemble the Crostata:

  1. Spread ½ of the Goat cheese into the round rolled dough leaving a 2-3" outside border. Place the tomato slices and halves, fresh thyme, rest of the goat cheese, sea salt and add a few cranks of fresh ground black pepper. Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil all over the tomatoes. Fold the dough edges into the circle, creating a 2” dough border. Brush the edges with egg wash and sprinkle some sea salt all around the edge. 

  2. Bake at 400 F/ 200C for 35-45 minutes. Serve warm.

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