November 1st and 2nd is Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday that is celebrated all over the world, especially where people from Mexico have settled. Here in San Francisco it's a huge celebration, complete with a wild, candle-lit parade through the Mission district ending in an altar exhibit in a nearby park. Since the holiday is primarily about nourishing and celebrating our deceased loved ones, there are a lot of food and food related crafts associated with the holiday.
This week we've talked about making tortillas (with or without a press). Another delicious use for masa harina, or instant corn flour, is sopes. Filled with beans, meat, or vegetables, these Mexican street snacks make fantastic appetizers, but we also like eating them for lunch or dinner. They're easy to make, and with the help of a friend or family member, the work goes very quickly.
These thick, deeply savory sauces aren’t what typically comes to mind when we think of Mexican cuisine. They’re made with unexpected ingredients like chocolate and prunes, and every one we’ve had has been slightly different. They are so very good that we couldn’t end the week without mentioning them. Do you have a favorite?
When I was at the Fancy Foods show last spring I stopped by a little booth in the back that was enveloped in the most wonderful aroma of chocolate. I stopped and watched a woman froth up a short pot of fresh hot chocolate with a long, elaborately carved wooden tool — a molinillo.
Where did this elaborate dish originate, even if we can’t pin down an exact original recipe? Historians believe that this artisanal dish was created 200 years ago by nuns in Puebla, Mexico, as a patriotic dish for Viceroy Agustin de Iturbide.
Since then, the dish has continued to be a classic. It boasts the colors of the Mexican flag and thus is prepared every September when the chiles poblanos are their greenest, the pomegranates a ripe juicy red and the walnuts freshly plucked from the trees, just in time for independence day celebrations.
I usually associate these nutty, round, powdered-sugar dusted cookies with Christmas because my grandmother made them every year of my childhood. We called them Mexican Wedding Cakes, but they're also known by many names like Russian Tea Cakes and Snowballs. Why Mexican? The story goes that they were originally brought by Arabs occupying Spain, and then by the Spaniards to Mexico.
Traditionally a light, buttery shortbread, formed into a ball and rolled in confectioners' sugar, my version of the Mexican Wedding Cookie is spicier, rolled and sliced into a two-inch disks, and just dusted across the top.
One of our favorite things to eat is slow cooked beef and pork — better known as barbacoa and carnitas. Their luscious, slow-cooked tenderness may seem hard to achieve at home, but it's actually incredibly easy. It's all about the technique and the tools. Here are three options.
We make zero claims as to the authenticity of this dish, but we do know that it's extremely tasty! We love how the tortillas get soft and chewy during cooking, absorbing some of the salsa and providing the perfect vehicle for lots of oozy cheese. This is one of our go-to meals when we're out of ideas, and it always hits the spot.