EASTER SUNDAY BRUNCH AND EGG HUNT
Throughout Holy Week or Semana Santa, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, La Manzanilla has its own special kind of Easter Parade. Thousands of neighbors from the North as well as Mexican families from the big cities pour into our little town and parade through the streets and beaches looking for fun in the sun, to pay homage to the Goddess of Spring, Easter. This is a colorful fascinating 7 days of pleasure seeking tourists and newcomers who take up temporary residence all over the city, including sidewalk curbs, plaza benches and beach campsites. At times, this is somewhat disconcerting and trying for permanent residents as the town invariable runs out of bread, milk, water, gas, space and patience.
For most Mexicans, this is a week of solemn religious observance and the churches are decorated with palm fronds, bouquets of spring flowers, fresh fruit and fresh corn in special ceramic bowls filled with blessed water. The old practices of shrouding the altars and saints in purple and replacing the church bells with wooden clappers or matracas are still followed for mourning Christ's death in many areas.
Practically every occasion and celebration provides a theme or a reason for the manufacture of handicrafted articles. According to Elektra and Tonatuh Gutierez in "El Arte Popular de Mexico", popular art is manifested "wherever Mexicans dress, eat or amuse themselves, in their music, dances and popular festivals, when they laugh, work or pray. It accompanies them when they pay tribute to their dead and when they gather with the living. And it is the medium through which they communicate with their gods." During Easter week, palm leaves plaited and artistical¬ly interwoven with flowers from Michoacan and stylized straw angels and crucifixes from Tzintzuntzan are sold at church doorways and after being suitably blessed are taken home and devoutly preserved. Polychromed clay crucifixes with the figure of Christ from Metepec, wooden or tin niches with scenes of the crucifixion and finely carved wooden saints in lacquered niches from Oaxaca are available in the public central market, also known as the flea market by tourists. From Morelos, beautiful tissue paper cut outs with figures believed to have magical properties, colorful crepe paper flowers and ornately decorated candles are displayed in stores and homes. Meringue birds are used to decorate altars in private homes on Friday before Palm Sunday. These delicate toys are pinned to oranges and served on great platters used to cover jars of cooling drinks. Hollow pottery sheep with a distinctive green glaze from Santa Maria Atzompan are filled with water and smeared with sticky presoaked chia seeds on the exposed porous clay.
Everywhere people patiently await the sprouting of a green fleece on the clay sheep which symbolizes the rebirth and renewal of springtime.
As Holy Week approaches, grotesque paper mache figures begin to appear for sale. These figures called Judas dolls take many forms, representing skeletons, horned devils, charros, clowns and popular personalities like Mickey Mouse and sometimes they are made life size. Mexicans delight in fantasy and no¬where is this more clearly seen than in the Judas dolls. Folk crafts have not only inspired the modern artists of the Republic, but they have also contributed greatly to the growth of Mexican nationalism. One of the most talented and famous makers of Judas dolls was Sra. Carmen Caballero, whose works the painter Diego Rivera collected and used for inspiration for some of his masterpieces. Rufino Tamayo, the Father of Mexican contemporary — art, also used Judas dolls as a motif in his primitives. The larger dolls are filled with fireworks to be lit on Resurrection Saturday or Sabado de Gloria, to commemorate Judas' betrayal of Jesus. To everyone's delight, the Judas dolls are exploded to the sound of matracas or wooden rattles after mass as a symbolic way of banishing the evil spirits.
A deeper significance is implied in these flaming noisy explosions. Centuries ago, ancient Mexicans celebrated their new year in the springtime; the new year being when nature quickened into Spring. With great festivities, religious rites of purification through fire, burning out the past in preparation for the new were performed. Another ancient custom after the Mass of Glory, is to lift children up by their ears or stand them on their heads, which suggests growth. "Que to pongan de cabeza en el Sabado de Gloria." "May they stand you on your head on the Day of Glory" is a dicho or common expression used for short people. Tradition also says that pulling on fruit trees on this day will make them bear more fruit.
The Spring season is also the time of year for pageants and tableaux, called Passion Plays, which have been staged through time immemorial. In Mexico, actors and lay people are dressed in brightly colored costumes representing the biblical characters, including the Roman Centurions in plumes carrying lances, angels with tinseled wings and halos and black masked penitents in chains wielding leather thongs. On stages and in street parades, they recreate the dramatic story of Christ's suffering and death. The Last Supper, The Kiss of Judas, The Arrest and Jailing of Christ, The Sentence of Pilate, The Crucifixion and Death on Calvary are startling realistic and touching naive spectacles of color and fervent religious emotion. To witness the revival of all the brutal events of the Easter story is truly a chilling and thrilling Mexican experience for nowhere can one see such a harmonious blending of ancient pagan rites with Sixteenth Century Catholic pageantry.
Easter Sunday is rather uneventful in La Manzanilla. The town is imbued with an air of piety; all music, even the neighbor's radio and the cantina's jukebox are silenced and Masses are held throughout the day. The time honored custom of the devout and not so devout to gather together before or after Mass suggests the idea of a family brunch. A quiet time to celebrate the Spring and Easter and to converse with family, friends and relatives in brotherly love can be enjoyed at an elaborate Mexican Sunday type brunch an almuerzo. it is also a wonderful way to fortify oneself before the late afternoon Easter dinner of the symbolic "Sacrificial" lamb.
A festive buffet table is decorated with plaited palm fronds and colorful straw place mats. A centerpiece of bright spring flowers featuring local grown Easter lilies in. tall hand blown blue glass vases is surrounded by baskets filled with decorated Easter eggs. Scattered randomly among electric skillets, chafing dishes and earthenware casseroles filled with all sorts of breakfast goodies are the chiquihutes or woven reed baskets, lined with colorful napkins keeping the fresh corn tortillas and the Easter hot cross bread hot with an assortment of jams and jellies close by.
Start off with a fruit drink of fresh local papaya and oranges (see Index) for the children to make them feel wanted and a citric tequila sunrise cocktail to welcome the adults. To crack the ice among your Mexican neighbors and Northern visitors, organize an 'egg cracking' game. This Old World custom of egg cracking at Easter time calls for each person to crack the tip of a hard¬ cooked egg held tightly in the hand of the person next to him. When all are cracked, wishes and kisses or abrazos y basitos are exchanged in brotherly love as is befitting a happy family gathering. While the guests are imbibing and playing games, put the finishing touches on your planned menu most of which should be prepared in advance with the exception of the eggs like poaching the raw eggs or saucing the hard cooked eggs.
Some suggestions for an Easter brunch menu, Mexican style, are: Serve a citrus fruit bowl with an avocado dressing (see Index) as a refreshing appetizer followed by a main dish of fried tortilla egg hash called chilaquiles or 'old straw hat' deluxe, covered with a green tomatillo sauce with refried beans (see Index) and honey squash (see Index) on the side. Baked ham slices smothered in fruit with or without eggs are served with fresh corn cakes and black beans as the favorite Easter brunch dish everywhere. The breakfastclassic of classics is poached eggs in a spicy black bean sauce with fresh corn cakes and fried bananas. Gourmet crepes filled with minced seafood or shrimp are a modern practical and different fare for a festive brunch because they can be prepared a day ahead, baked just before serving and are sure to stop the conversation for their special goodness. A traditional Easter sweet bread with an interesting assortment of jams and jellies like pineapple butter or magic raspberry jelly (see Index) along with hot mugs of Mexican coffee (see Index) are the backbone of a successful Easter brunch. Frothy hot chocolate (see Index) served in jicara or lacquered carved gourd bowls with Easter torrejas fritters and Easter hallelujah candies are very popular branch desserts for children and adults. The suggestions in this chapter earmarked for an Easter brunch are also appropriate at any other time of the day. For the more ambitious cook, a late afternoon sit down Easter dinner for 8 can use many of the ideas discussed above to fill in the necessary courses around a roasted leg of lamb (see Index) and ending with an unforgetable fresh corn pudding with corn ice cream, garnished with brandied corn kernels. Whether your style is an informal brunch for a crowd or an elegant luncheon for 8, these recipes will delight your family and visitors any day during the Easter Spring vacation, leaving a memorable taste of Mexico behind.
The informality of a brunch lends itself to the mixing of the generations, the old with the young, for fun and games. An egg hunt using the decorated eggs from the table centerpiece is the perfect sport to follow a satisfying breakfast or an excellent diversion while you put the late dinner together. About 1/2 hour before the big sleuthing begins and all the children are out of the way, hide the eggs (scouts honor, not to peek). Provide each hunter or team of hunters with a little basket and a rhymed or tricky clue to the whereabouts of the hidden eggs. Set a time limit and have an assortment of prizes on hand to fill the baskets for the winners and losers; even those just in the middle will come out ahead. Chocolate eggs, Easter bunny bonbons and stateside jelly beans are great rewards. Be sure to invite some of your Mexican neighbors' children to partake in this stateside tradition. Lots of limonada (see Index) and corn pudding topped with corn ice cream go a long way in the exchange of cultural experiences and Mexican American friendship.
TEQUILA SUNRISE (Amanacer) To greet the day, a tequila sunrise highball, a Mexican original, is as welcome as the gentle cool rays of a Vallarta dawn. The crimson color of the grenadine syrup blushing into the light yellow of the grapefruit juice suggest the jewel like glow of an early morning sunrise in the tropics. Buenos Dias! Como Amanacio!
1 liter bottled grapefruit 1/3 c. grenadine syrup
juice or fresh 2 tsp. orange bitters
1/4 c. fresh lime juice 1 trayful ice cubes
1/2 liter tequila
In a pitcher, blend grapefruit juice, lime juice, orange bitters and tequila. Stir in a trayful of ice cubes and agitate to cool the drink. Pour into chilled clear glasses, juice or highball size. Gently and slowly pour 1 tablespoon or more of grenadine syrup into each glass. Let it sit so that the syrup sinks to the bottom of the clear glass to create the crimson glow of sunrise. Serve and stir before drinking.
EGGS IN SPICY SHRIMP SAUCE (Huevos en Salsa de Camarones
Wondering what to do with all those hard boiled eggs used in the egg cracking game before brunch? Well, simply heat them in a spicy shrimp sauce and serve them with as much animated enjoy¬ment as a brunch hors d'oeuvre with a tequila sunrise cocktail or offer them as a first course on the Easter brunch menu featuring baked ham or shrimp crepes as the main entree.
8 hard cooked eggs 3 Tbsp. dried shrimp
1/4 c. white wine 3 dried chile anchos
2 cans pimentos 1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Prepare chile anchos as directed in Chapter II. Soak to soften and remove seeds. Soak dried shrimp in dry white wine until softened. Puree presoaked chile anchos, presoaked shrimp and pimentos in blender until finely ground. Heat oil in large skillet. Stir in Chile mixture. Cook for 5 minutes. Add peeled hard cooked eggs. Stir to coat with sauce. Cook until heated through. Note: Eggs deep fried sunny side up also may be added to the sauce.
TORTILLA EGG HASH (Chilaquiles de Lujo)
A brunch treat at any time of the year is a holiday version of the classic poor man's dish of leftover tortillas called chilaquiles de lujo. This deluxe casserole baked until golden is a combination of famed Mennonite Chihuahua cheese melted over nutmeg sweetened eggs and fried tortillas soaked in a green tomato Chile sauce, then topped with crisp fried chorizo crumbs and sauteed red tomato slices. Served with refried black beans and fried bananas, it is a hearty stick to the ribs brunch.
1/2 kilo chorizo sausage (4) 16 corn tortillas
oil for frying
4 Tbsp. water 1/2 can Nestle's cream
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1 recipe green tomato Chile
2 c. grated Chihuahua cheese sauce (2 c.) follows
6 radish flowerets (see Index) 3 tomatoes (see below)
Prepare green tomato chile sauce (see below) and set aside. Remove outer casings of chorizo sausages. Crisp fry and crumble. Set aside. Cut corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips with scissors. Fry in 1/2 inch deep hot oil until golden, not brawn. Drain on absorbent paper. Set aside. Note: This can be made the day before and stored in a plastic container. Beat eggs with water and canned Nestle's cream until frothy. Add to fried tortilla strips. Let stand for 30 minutes until all egg mixture is absorbed.
In a well greased earthenware casserole or baking pan, place a layer of 1/2 of the tortilla strips soaked in the egg mixture. Top with a layer of 1/2 of the grated Chihuahua cheese and sprinkle with 1/2 fried crumbled chorizo sausage. Pour 1/2 of green tomato sauce over all and repeat the 4 layers ending with the cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C for 45 minutes or until cheese has melted and casserole has heated through. Serve hot, garnished with radish flowerets (see Index) and sauteed tomato slices: In a heavy skillet, saute' 3 tomatoes, thinly sliced, in 2 tablespoons hot oil. Turn gently just until heated through for 5 minutes. Do not brown. Sprinkle with salt and place 1 slice on each serving.
GREEN TOMATILLO SAUCE (Salsa Verde)
A small light green tomato like vegetable in a brawn paper thin husk known as ground cherry or cape gooseberry north of the border, is called tomatillo or tomato verde in Mexico. It is fre¬quently served as a cooked table sauce or dip. Not to be mistaken for an unripe ordinary tomato, it has a different taste, appearance and texture which cannot be substituted. This green sauce is popular with enchiladas, tacos, grilled fish, chile ed pork, huevos rancheros and chilaquiles egg hash.
1/2 kilo tomatillos (2 c.) 1/4 c. fresh cilantro
1 onion 2 garlic cloves
3 serrano chiles 2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lime juice (optional)
Remove dry outer husks and wash tomatillos. Cook in small amount of gently boiling water for 10 minutes until tender; just before they burst open. Cool in cooking liquid, Purse tomatillos with its cocking liquid, fresh cilantro, onion, garlic cloves and serrano chiles with seeds removed. Cook for 5 minutes in heated oil until sauce is slightly thickened. Add sugar and salt to taste. Lime juice is optional. Serve hot or cold with tortilla chips or cover and store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks for other uses.
SMOTHERED HAM SLICES (Tapado de Jamon)
When the Spaniards introduced chicken, eggs and smoked ham to Mexico, ham and eggs quickly became the mainstay of the Mexican breakfast. Then from the kitchens of the palaces, mansions and haciendas of colonial Mexico with the fruits of the New World, wonderful breakfast dishes evolved combining break¬fast ham slices with fruits and legumes into glorious compositions. One such festive ham dish can be prepared with or without baked eggs on top to be enjoyed in a leisurely manner at an Easter brunch.
8 slices Virginia style ham 1/2 onion
(1 inch thick) 2 tomatoes
2 Tbsp. oil 1 c. fresh or canned pineapple
1 garlic clove juice
1 canned jalapeno chile 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt 2 bananas
1/8 tsp. ground cloves 1 c. fresh pineapple cubes
1 Tbsp. lime juice 1 c. canned or fresh mango
1 c. zucchini slices slices
1 small can green peas 2 Tbsp. sherry
2 Tbsp. chopped capers 8 eggs (optional)
Trim excess fat from cooked Virginia ham slices of 1 inch thickness (available at Chico's Meat Market) and place in a flat baking dish. Prepare a recado: Saute' chopped onion and minced garlic cloves in oil for 10 minutes until onions are wilted. Add peeled and chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir in 1 rinsed and chopped canned jalapeno chile with seedsremoved, pineapple juice, salt, ground cinnamon and ground cloves. Simmer for 10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
Peel, slice and brush bananas with lime juice. Arrange banana slices, pineapple cubes, zucchini slices, mango slices and drained canned peas evenly on top of ham slices. Sprinkle with sherry and chopped capers. Pour recado pineapple sauce over all. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in oven at 170° C for 30 minutes. Serve hot alongside poached eggs in black bean sauce and hot fresh corn tortillas. Or: For a very substantial breakfast known as Huevos a la Malaguena, remove baking pan and make 8 wells by pushing fruit apart on each slice of ham. Crack the eggs one by one into a space. Return to oven at 170° C and bake uncovered for 10 minutes until eggs are just set. Egg whites should remain firm and yolks runny. Serve immediately alongside hot fresh corn cakes.
FRESH CORN CAKES (Panques de Elote)
Corn muffins or cakes are made with fresh young corn rather than with the gritty yellow cornmeal so popular in the U.S. Moist sweet corn bread like cakes, golden brown and crusty on top, creamy and corny in the middle, are served for breakfast as a simple muffin with butter or as a dessert with a honey syrup for an evening snack.
9 fresh ears of corn 1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. fresh white cheese 9 eggs, separated
(requeson or cottage 1/4 c. margarine plus 5
cheese) Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. bread crumbs 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped nuts
With a sharp knife, cut kernels off fresh ears of corn. Then press along the rows with the dull side of knife to retrieve the juice and heart of the kernel. Puree kernels and juice in blender with a drop or two of milk into a thick paste. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and fresh white cheese and blend until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time. Beat egg whites until stiff and lightly fold into batter. Pour into well greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full each section. Melt margarine and saute' bread crumbs for 1 minute. Stir in sugar and cinnamon until evenly distributed. Dot each muffin with a teaspoonful of bread crumbs mixture. Bake in oven at 175° C for 45 minutes until crispy brown on top. Serve hot with butter and/or honey.
FRIED BANANAS (Platanos Fritos)
During fiestas in La Manzanilla, where bananas grow abundantly, honey piloncillo sweetened fried bananas are sold by street vendors and enjoyed right on the spot. They are good hot or cold any time; as a vegetable substitute for sweet potatoes, as a finishing touch to breakfast ham and eggs, as an afternoon treat or as an after dinner dessert topped with corn ice cream (see Index).
6 large bananas 4 Tbsp. butter 1/4 c. grated piloncillo 2 Tbsp. pare honey 1/8 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 c. sherry 1/2 c. sour cream (optional)
Peel and slice bananas in half lengthwise and cut into sections. Melt grated piloncillo sugar, butter and honey, stirring often to prevent burning. Add banana sections and saute' for 15 minutes just until soft and golden brown. Do not overcook or they will get mushy. Turn bananas and spoon syrup over them while cocking. Sprinkle cinnamon over bananas. Add the sherry and simmer gently until sherry is absorbed. Serve warm and garnish with a table¬spoon of sour cream.
POACHED EGGS IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE (Huevos Escalfados en Salsa
de Fritos Negros)
Eggs have been much maligned in recent years because of their cholesterol content with its affect on coronary heart disease. Thinking on the subject is changing however, for the egg is a balanced contribution of nutritional goodness and eating 4 eggs a week is considered good sense. A popular country style breakfast dish is poached eggs in a spicy bean sauce served on corn tortillas and garnished with green peas.
12 fresh corn tortillas 1/2 recipe refried black beans
1/2 recipe ranchero style (see Index for pinto beans)
tomato sauce (see Index) 12 eggs
1 1/2 c. 1 can green peas
1 c. Chihuahua cheese 1 c. chopped cooked ham
Heat together in a saucepan on top of range refried black beans (prepared in the same way as bayo or pinto beans see Index) and tomato sauce ranchero style (see Index). Pour heated sauce into a large shallow earthenware or glass baking pan. Crack the eggs one by one into a saucer. Carefully slide into the hot sauce. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place covered pan in a larger pan filled with 1 inch of hot water. Bake in oven at 170° C for 12 minutes until eggs are set whites are firm and yolks are runny. Remove foil and sprinkle top with grated Chihuahua cheese. Return to oven for 4 minutes longer to melt cheese.
For each serving, arrange 1 heated corn tortilla on a plate. With the aid of a spatula, remove 2 eggs without breaking yolks and place on top of tortilla. Spoon some bean sauce over poached eggs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped ham and 1 tablespoon cooked or canned green peas over all. Serve with hot corn cakes and fried bananas.
STUFFED CREPES WITH SHRIMP (Crepas Rellenas con Camarones)
Crepas rellenas, like their French cousins, staffed crepes, are appearing more and more in the modern Mexican cuisine despite the inherent fear most new cooks have about flipping these paper thin pancakes. Crepes make an elegant satisfying brunch dish that usually requires nothing else for the main course. They can be prepared the day before and filled the first thing in the morning with any assortment of minced shellfish, shredded chicken, meats or stewed fruits. Then to be set aside until serving time, topped with the sauce, heated through and ready to eat.
Basic Crepes Crepas:
3 eggs 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water 3 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. all purpose flour 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper butter as needed to grease pan
1 tsp. paprika 1 c. sour cream
2 c. or 1 recipe shrimp 1 c. or 1/2 recipe ranchero style
filling (follows) tomato sauce (see Index)
Combine eggs, milk, water, melted butter, all purpose flour, salt and cayenne pepper in an electric blender. Blend to a smooth consistency of light cream for about 1 1/2 minutes. Cover and allow to stand for 2 hours in refrigerator to allow flour to absorb liquid for more tender crepes. Batter will keep in refrigerator up to 3 days. While cooking crepes, stir batter often and add more milk if needed. Heat a 6 inch crepe pan or heavy skillet, lightly buttered. Pour 3 tablespoons crepe batter into pan. Quickly swirl it around in pan to cover surface evenly. If too thick, it will not spread evenly. Cook until golden; turning with the help of fingers to cook other side for 1 minute. Second side will be spotted, not evenly golden. Place on rack and stack. Cover with clean tea towel. Repeat with remaining batter, adding liquid to batter and butter to pan as needed.
To fill: Place 3 tablespoons filling on edge of each crepe and loosely roll like a taco. Arrange side by side in a greased shallow baking pan without crowding. Drizzle with 1 cup seasoned ranchero style tomato sauce heated with 1/2 cup sour cream. Top with 1/2 cup plain sour cream and grated cheese. Lightly dust with paprika. Bake in oven at 180° C. for 15 minutes until heated through and cheese has melted. Serve with fried bananas.
SHRIMP HASH FILLING (Picadillo de Camaranones)
2 Tbsp. oil 1/2 onion
2 c. chopped cocked shrimp 1 canned green Chile
(1 kilo of fresh shrimp) 1 pimento pepper
1/2 tsp. salt 1 c. ranchero style tomato sauce
1/2 c. sour cream (see Index)
Prepare tomato sauce as directed in Chapter II. Set aside 2 cups using one for crepe sauce and one for filling. Prepare shrimp. Drop raw shrimp in shells into boiling water with 1 onion, 1 garlic clove and 1 bay leaf to simmer for 5 minutes until pink. Drain immediately and chill. Remove shells and intestinal veins of shrimp. Coarsely chop and set aside. Saute' chopped onion in hot oil until soft. Add ranchero style tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the chopped shrimp, chopped canned green chile, chopped pimento and salt. Heat through. Set aside to cool a bit before adding sour cream and avoid curdling. Place 3 tablespoons of shrimp mixture in each crepe and follow directions given to bake.
HOT CROSS BREAD (Pan de Pascua)
Before the evangelizing of England around 600 B.C. the Anglo Saxon pagans baked small breads as part of the jollity of welcoming Spring. Early missionaries from Rome despaired of breaking this ritual, so they blessed the buns with a Christian cross, symbolizing that "Christ is Risen". Hot cross buns have been an Easter tradition ever since. One popular version in today's busy kitchen is an easy to make, no knead, spice flavored casserole bread with a cross of white frosting served in place of the breakfast sweet roll, or the breakfast coffee cake with Mexican coffee or chocolate during Easter week.
1 pkg. active dry yeast 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar 1 large can (14 oz.) evaporated
1 tsp. salt milk
2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 Tbsp. oil
1/4 tsp. ground cloves 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
5 c. all purpose flour 1 egg
1/2 c. chopped nuts 1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. candied cactus (biznaga) 1/4 c. candied orange peel
1 1/2 Tbsp. orange juice 3/4 c. powdered sugar
Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tablespoon sugar. Allow to sit for 15 minutes until bubbly. Stir in remaining sugar, undiluted evaporated milk, salt, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and lightly beaten eggs. Gradually beat in all purpose flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a very heavy sticky and stiff batter. Stir in raisins, nuts, candied orange peel and candied cactus. Spoon batter into a well greased 3 liter round casserole lined with waxed paper. Lightly coat top of dough with butter. Cover loosely with clear plastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in balk for 1 hour. Bake in oven at 180° C for 1 hour or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Brush top lightly with more butter and cool in casserole for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a rack. Apply sugar frosting. Blend un¬sifted powdered sugar with orange juice until smooth. Sign the casserole bread with a cross of white frosting or any other signature you desire.
EASTER FRITTERS (Torrejas Gallegas)
Torrojas gallegas from the Galician seacoast region of Northwest Spain date back to the 15th Century as a traditional favorite sweetmeat at Easter time. This rich fried bread (stale) referred to as pan fundar or recovered bread is frequently served at the beginning of Lent as a light supper or as an Easter dessert in Latin America. The topping varies according to where it is served from a creamy brandied orange butter to a simple syrup of raw sugar or merely a dusting of cinnamon sugar and/or chile powder.
1/4 kilo stale bread (8 slices) 1 c. milk
1/2 c. sweet sherry 2 eggs
1/2 tap. salt 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind 1/2 tap. cinnamon
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs 1/2 c. oil
2 c. grated piloncillo 1 c. water
I cinnamon stick
Cut stale French bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Soak in mills, then in wine. Beat eggs slightly, adding orange rind, salt and sugar to sweeten. Dip the moistened bread slices in egg mixture one at a time, turning to cost both sides. Drain well. Mix cinnamon with bread crumbs. Cost egg covered slices in bread crumbs on both sides. Pan fry in shallow hot oil until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towel. Combine grated piloncillo, water and cinnamon stick in saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and syrup thickens. Remove cinnamon stick. Cool and serve over fritters. Or, for dessert, spread with brandied orange butter. Melt 1 stick of butter, add 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon grated orange rind and 2 tablespoons brandy. Whip mixture until light and fluffy.
CORN ICE CREAM (Heladade Elote)
1/4 c. powdered sugar 2 c. raw milk
1 small can condensed milk 1 large can whole corn kernels
1 Tbsp. sherry (2 c.)
1 small can whole corn kernels 1/2 c. brandy
(1 c.) 1 recipe raspberry jam (see Index)
Soak and marinate 1 cup canned corn kernels (drained) in brandy and set aside. Drain large can of whole corn kernels and grind 1/2 or 1 cup of kernels with milk in a blender until smooth. Add condensed milk, powdered sugar and sherry. Whip with a rotary beater to aerate. Pour into a metal bowl and freeze until firm. Keep bowl covered to prevent ice cream from drying out. Remove from freezer, break up frozen mold and beat vigorously with chilled rotary beaters. Cover and return to freezer for 8 hours. Unmold by dipping mold in very hot water for one second and turn out onto a platter. Drain marinated corn kernels and garnish top of ice cream mold. Top each serving with a teaspoon of magic raspberry jam (see Index).
HALLELUJAH CANDY (Aleluya Dulce)
Pre Hispanic Mexicans relied exclusively on natural fruits and honey to satisfy their sweet tooth. With the introduction of sugar, eggs, flour, butter and cream by the Spanish, the convent nuns vied among themselves to produce interesting new treats for religious holidays and important occasions. Handed down through many generations, the custom of distributing homemade 'Hallelujah' almond candy on Easter Sunday still prevails in many Mexican homes. What a nice treat to have on hand for the Easter egg hunt. This candy also resembles the milk candy 'jamoncillo' made out of pumpkin seed.
1 1/2 liters milk 1/2 kilo almonds
3 c. sugar 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. baking soda 1 Tbsp. pare cocoa
Blanch almonds by placing in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and peel. Grind almonds in electric blender or food processor. Add a tablespoon of sugar while grinding to avoid oil formation. Dissolve sugar, cinnamon and pore cocoa in milk and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly to preventburning, until the milk syrup thickens. Stir in ground almonds. Lower the heat to simmer. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until the mixture shrinks from the sides of the pan and the bottom is visible. Remove from heat and beat into a smooth creamy paste. Allow to cool to permit handling. Flatten almond paste on a hard surface dusted with powdered sugar. Then mold it into any desired shape with powdered sugar on your hands. Pack in a closely covered tin to ripen for a week.
CORN PUDDING (Budin de Elote)
The Mexican Indians don't only grow corn or maize, they worship it, dance to it and play music to it. You too will sing its praises after you have tasted this corny corn pudding frosted with corn ice cream and decorated with brandy soaked corn kernels. A most for the best of Springtime corn flavor!
6 ears of corn (4 1/2 c. kernels) 1 c. milk
1 1/2 c. butter 2 c. sugar
7 eggs 1 c. flour
4 Tbsp. cornstarch (maisena) 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 recipe of corn ice cream
1 can corn kernels 1 c. brandy
Scrape off the kernels or cut not too deeply with a sharp knife and press along the rows with the dull side of the knife for the cob juice and heart of the kernel. Grind in electric blender or food processor with milk into a smooth puree. Cream butter and sugar, adding eggs, one by one by vigorously beating in electric mixer. Add pursed corn. Sift together flour, cornstarch and baking powder and fold into corn mixture. Mix well into a paste and add vanilla extract.
Pour into a greased and well floured 7 inch tube pan or 8 inch square baking pan. Bake in oven at 175° C for 1 hour. Cool on rack before removing from pan. Loosen sides with a knife and invert onto a serving plate. Soak drained canned corn kernels in brandy for 1 hour. Drain and set aside. Frost pudding with corn ice cream (pg. 303). Decorate top with drained corn kernels.
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