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Holiday Tamales, Part 1

by Dave Dewitt on December 6, 2016 · 0 comments

tamales_bookMy friend Gwyneth Doland writes in her book, Tantalizing Tamales:  Although we don’t know for sure the exact origin of tamales we can see from pots and carvings that, for the ancient Mayans, tamales were their daily bread. (The word comes from the Nahuatl tamalii and tamal is the correct singular form, but tamale is more common.) Researchers believe it is likely that tamales originated in Mesoamerica and eventually spread throughout Latin America and beyond. As an ancient precursor to fast food, the supremely portable tamale provided satisfying and nutritious meal for people on the go—and it still does. Tamales are a popular menu item in Latin American and Mexican restaurants and market stalls, but for most home cooks, the effort required to prepare tamales (as opposed to tacos or burritos) means they are mostly made on celebration days. Christmas, New Year’s, the Day of the Dead, weddings, birthdays and baptisms are often celebrated with a feast of tamales.

MexGrocer.com is totally on top of the tamale situation, so see their special Tamale Section, here.

Grilled Green Chile Cheese Tamales with Avocado Cream

Grilled Tamales Awaiting the Cream

Grilled Tamales Awaiting the Avocado Cream

Here’s one of the most unusual tamale recipes you will ever find, and your first thought will be: Oh no, not a grilled tamale! But it works–if you can keep the corn husks from burning. And for that, be armed with a spray bottle filled with water. These tamales can be served as an entree or as a side dish. You can tie the tamales together with string or with a thin strip of corn husk. Serve with Mexican rice, squash with tomatoes and green chile, and flan for dessert.

The Tamales:
15 dried corn husks
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon instant masa mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole kernel corn

Green Chile Cheese Filling:
6 to 8 green New Mexican chiles, roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed, cut in strips
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
6 ounces asadero cheese, coarsely grated or substitute Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped black olives

Avocado Cream:
2 medium avocados, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

To Finish:
Sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Place the corn husks in water in a large bowl, weigh down with a plate and soak for 30 minutes or until soft.
Combine the cornmeal, milk, butter, masa, sugar and salt in a saucepan and simmer for a couple of minutes. Cool and add the corn.
Drain the husks, pat dry with paper towels, and lay on a flat surface. Place two together, overlapping a little. Spread some of the cornmeal mixture on a husk, cover with chile strips, then onions, olives, and cheese. Place another layer of the cornmeal on top, pull the husks over the top and tie at both ends. Repeat until you have 6 packets.
Arrange the tamales around the edge of a high heat grill. Cook until the filling sets, turning occasionally, spraying with water to keep the husks from burning. It will take 45 to 60 minutes.
Place all the ingredients for the avocado cream in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth
To serve, slice open the tamale, spoon in the avocado cream, top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with the cilantro.
Yield: 6 tamales
Heat Scale: Medium

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Mole with Sesame Seeds from Oaxaca

When people think of Mexican moles they usually conjure up the chocolate-laced moles of the state of Puebla. But Puebla is not the only state in Mexico with a reputation for moles. Oaxaca, in the south, lays claim to seven unique moles–and dozens and dozens of variations. Susana Trilling, who owns the Seasons of My Heart cooking school located outside of Oaxaca city at Rancho Aurora, was our guide to the moles of Oaxaca. During a trip to her school, I was given lessons on preparing the famous mole negro Oaxaqueño, while Susana described her experiences with the seven famous moles. She later wrote about the moles in a Chile Pepper magazine article entitled: “My Search for the Seventh Mole.”

Susana wondered about the number seven, because there are seven regions in the state of Oaxaca, and, of course, seven days in the week. But then she read Tradiciones Gastronómicas Oaxaqueñas, in which the author, Ana Maria Guzmán de Vasquez Colmenares, noted: “There must be something magical in the number seven, for the number of Oaxacan moles coincides with the wonders of the world, the theological virtues, the wise men of Athens–and for their wisdom which elected the number seven to represent justice.”

“There may be seven moles,” say the locals, “but of the thousands and thousands of cooks, each has their own private version of all of the moles, so how many does that make?” One magazine writer suggested: “Oaxaca should be the land of 200 moles!”

For the record, the seven moles are: mole negro, mole coloradito, mole verde, mole amarillo, mole rojo, manchas manteles (“tablecloth stainer”), and mole chichilo. They are all descendants of clemole, believed to be the original moleof Oaxaca. It was quite simple, being composed of ancho and pasilla chiles, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander.

The Oaxacan moles are characterized by unusual chiles that are unique to the region. In a discussion with chile vendor Eliseo Ramirez, I learned that there are sixty chiles grown only in the state of Oaxaca and nowhere else in Mexico. Of those sixty, he carried about ten. Some of these unusal chiles in clude chiles de agua, which grow erect and are pointed at the end. The chiles chilhuacle, which are short and fat, come in two varieties, black and red. The red variety is called “the saffron of the poor” because a small amount of ground chilhuacle rojo gives are similar coloring to foods. Other unique chiles are the red-orange chiles onzas, the yellow costeño, and the pasilla Oaxaqueña (sometimes called pasilla Mexicana), a smoked pasilla that adds a chipotle-like flavor to moles.

In the market, I also learned an easy way to make moles. Instead of tediously grinding all the ingredients on a metate, the cooks would go to the Benito Juárez market, buy all their chiles, nuts, and seeds, and have them custom-ground in the special molinos, or mills in another section of the market. The result is a dark paste which is later converted into amole sauce.

Susana Trilling describes the more tedious process: “The chiles are toasted black, soaked and ground, and blended with fried tomatoes, tomatillos, and roasted garlic and onions. Then come nuts and seeds–some toasted, some fried. Almonds, peanuts, pecans, chile seeds, and sesame seeds. There are almost always more sesame seeds than any other seed or nut. They have to be fried slowly and carefully, with lots of love and attention. Hence the affectionate Mexican dicho (saying): “You are the sesame seed of my mole.”

Mole Verde goes great with chicken or pork.

There are other special ingredients which characterize the different Oaxacan moles. Avocado leaves, difficult to find in the U.S. and Canado, are used in mole negro. Fresh green herbs such as epazote and parsley are the source of the green color of mole verde. Pineapple and banana are added to manchas manteles, while string beans, chayote and chiles costeños are ingredients in mole amarillo.

Many different meats are added to moles, from chicken to beef to fish, but by far the most common meat served is turkey. In fact, turkey is so important in mole negro, that Mexican writer Manuel Toussaint noted that the turkey in the mole was as important as the eagle in the Mexican flag, and another writer suggested that to refuse to eat mole negro was a crime of treason against the homeland!

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What would you do if someone invited you to a fiesta in a graveyard? Would you go? Or does the mere idea of it give you a major case of the creeps?! Well, you’re not alone, amigo. In the USA we try to deny, cheat and minimize death.

Not so in Mexico. In Mexico, the symbol of death is a grinning, fleshless beauty called La Muerte-Lady Death (La Catrina). An elegantly and colorfully clad skeleton wearing a flower-laden hat, created by press artist José Guadalupe Posada (1853-1913), she’s an amazing metaphor of life embracing death. You can feel this in her name, for she goes by La Catrina-Fancy Lady, La Flaca-Skinny, La Huesuda-Bony and La Pelona-Baldy. There’s humor here, not fear. What’s up with that?!

The renowned Mexican poet, Octavio Paz put it this way back in 1959:

“The word death is not spoken aloud in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, chases after it, mocks it, courts it, hugs it, sleeps with it; it is his favorite toy and his most lasting love.”

How did nextdoor neighbors-the US and Mexico-develop such wildly divergent attitudes toward death? And how did what was originally a pagan holiday survive the invasion of Catholicism? History holds the answer to those questions. Día de Muertos has its roots in pre-Columbian tradition where the people felt deeply connected to and lived harmoniously with the Earth. They viewed the cycle of life-conception, birth, growth, maturity, decline and death as part of a great and mysterious whole. Spiritually, rather than materialistically grounded, they felt themselves to be one with all that had ever existed or would exist-on this planet and in our universe. For these reasons, death didn’t scare them, nor did they try to outsmart it.

Although the holiday’s exact origin is uncertain, it’s believed that it began with the Olmecs about 3000 years ago. They saw life as an illusion and believed that in dying, human beings truly awakened and their souls were set free. The Olmecs transmitted their ideas to the Toltecs and Mayans in Central America, who later shared them with the Aztecs, Tlaxcaltec, Chichimec, Tecpanec and other Indians native to Mexico.

When the Spaniards defeated the Aztecs in the 1500′s, they converted the Indians to Catholicism. However, they encountered resistence when attempting to eradicate all native religious traditions. In a compromise sanctioned by the Church, Día de Muertos was merged with two Christian holidays-All Saints Day on November first and All Souls Day on November second. This makes it a thoroughly unique, cross-cultural holiday, effectively blending two very different traditions. In that regard, it is symbolic of the Mexican people, for they are also a synthesis of the brown-skinned “people of the earth” and their white-skinned conquerors, the “people of the “sky”-as the Spanish were initially called.

True to its roots, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead is a celebration, not of death but of the continuum of life. It consists of prayerful reflection, joy and revelry honoring those who came before. In a culture without written family trees, parents and grandparents pass stories on to their children. These aren’t boring lists of names, facts and dates, but lively, humorous tales about those who came before. Their favorite foods, passions and possessions are discussed, along with their triumphs, their foibles and all sorts of other anecdotal details about their lives-forging a tangible, emotional link between the past and the present.

So now that we have a little background on the holiday-onward-to the graveyard fiestas, amigo! One more thing before we go. Be advised that there’s no connection between Día de los Muertos and Halloween whatsoever. This holiday is as important to Mexicans as Thanksgiving is to us. It’s a time when people travel long distances to be with their families, some coming from as far away as the northern US.

So-here we go! It’s the last week in October in a rural Mexican village. Along the sides of the roads and in the open-air marketplace, homemade stands pop up. They’re filled with pan de muerto – a special sweet bread with crossed bones on top (recipe follows article), amaranth seed skulls with raisin eyes and peanut teeth, candied Marzipan and chocolate skulls called calaveras, roasted corn or elotes, dancing skeletons or calacas carrying cardboard coffins, votive candles, and mountains of golden yellow marigolds-the flowers used to summon the spirits of the departed.

By October thirty-first, we see altars springing up in every home. As we stroll down the cobblestone streets, we notice that the front doors are wide open. We see entire families joining together in decorating tables topped with wooden crates and lace table cloths. They’re covered with marigolds or zenpasuchitl, along with the purchases from the street vendors. There’s an abundances of candles, pictures of saints and photos of the deceased. In homes where there have been children who died, we see toys, balloons, piñatas. Even clothing and tiny pairs of shoes. Suspended from the ceilings are rectangular sheets of yellow, pink, Orange, blue and green papel picado-tissue paper with cutouts-that impart an airy feeling reminiscent of the sky at sunset. We inhale pungent, delicious aromas. The smell of the marigolds. The strong odor of copal incense, mixed with the chocolate-nut-and-chile aroma of mole and the earthy, meaty smell of tamales. We see pottery urns of mescal or pulque (native drinks made from cactus) and bottles of tequila. Our attention is momentarily diverted by a band of mariachis strolling down the middle of the sidewalk, playing, singing and laughing, followed by a troop of children.

November first, All Saints Day is reserved for honoring the children, or angelitos. Early in the morning we head toward the local graveyard, where the family members are cutting down weeds, raking, touching up chipped plaster and repainting the tombs. Decorations are springing up here too. We see crosses made from marigold petals, elaborate multi-colored floral wreaths and artificial flower arrangements, along with more of the fruits, vegetables, goodies, photos, personal mementos and statues we saw in the homes. It’s colorful. It’s powerful. It’s noisy. At 2:00 p.m. a hush falls over the crowd as the priest appears to conduct an open-air mass. Relatives huddle together, mourning their dead with la llorada-the weeping. It chokes every one of us up. At sunset, hundreds of candles are lit, mingling with the powerful scents of the food, incense and flowers. At midnight, the church bells begin to toll, summoning the dead. Many families will spend the entire night here, remembering their loved ones with recitations of the Rosary and praying that they will come and partake of the aromas of their favorite foods.

On November second the entire village gathers in the cemetery for the big fiesta. It’s packed. Every family has a picnic basket, plus beer and tequila for toasting the departed. Street vendors are selling tacos, tamales, shrimp and fruit cocktails, drinks and fireworks. Mariachis compete with one another and with the occasional radio blasting Mexican Ranchero music. At the close of the all-day festivities, multi-colored explosions light up the sky. Then the ancestors return to heaven and it’s over until next year.

To celebrate Día de Muertos in your own home, try making an altar to honor and remember your ancestors. Then cook up some Pan de Muerto, some colorful Sugar Skulls and serve after a luscious, soulful, authentic meal consisting of Mole and Tamales. Some real Mexican tequila for slow, thoughtful sipping with this feast just might be in order too!

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Sugar Skull as Decorated by Casey Barrett

October is finally here and it’s time to make sugar skulls!  You can learn how to make them right at home and decorate them yourself, or you can buy them pre-made. This fun and festive Mexican folk art is a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition.  The decorated sugar skulls are used to adorn the altars of loved ones along with marigolds, papel picado and candles.  It is not a somber holiday but one of remembrance and joy. For more information about Dia de los Muertos and more about Mexican Cooking, visit Mexican Food at About.com

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Chiles in Nogada are very popular in Mexico during the month of August and September a Mexican tradition coming from Puebla. The name comes from the word Nogal meaning walnut. This Mexican recipe is made with poblano chiles filled with picadillo (ground beef with spices), topped with a walnut based cream sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds, this 3 colors combined are the Mexican flag colors: green for the chile pepper, white for the walnut sauce and red for the pomegranate seeds.

Stuffed Chiles in Waltnut Sauce Mexican recipe

This famous dish, native to Puebla commemorates Independence Day and the colors are those of the Mexican flag: green, white and red.

Chiles en Nogada – Stuffed Chiles in Waltnut Sauce recipe by Patricia Quintana

Recipe Ingredients for Stuffing

1/2 cup butter
1 cup olive oil
12 cloves garlic, peeled, plus 10 cloves garlic minced
2 large white onions, grated
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground ham
1 cup raisins or currants
2 1/2 cups prunes, pitted and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups candied citron, finely chopped
1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
6 large pears, finely chopped
6 peaches, finely chopped
4 apples, finely chopped
2 cups pineapple, finely chopped
1 plantain, finely chopped
6 large tomatoes finely chopped
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
10 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs marjoram
1 1/2 tbs freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry sherry
1 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste

Recipe Ingredients for the Chiles

32 medium chiles poblanos (green fresh ancho peppers), roasted, seeded, deveined and soaked in salted water and vinegar for 6 hrs.
2 cups flour

Recipe Ingredients for the Batter

20 eggs, separated
2 tbs salt
6 tbsp flour
3 qts vegetable oil

Recipe Ingredients for the Sauce

4 cups walnuts
1 1/2 cups skinned almonds
14 oz cream cheese
7 oz goat cheese
3 oz fresh cheese, such as feta
1 slice bread trimmed and soaked in milk
2 cups heavy cream or 1 cup heavy cream mixed with 1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
1 tbs grated white onion
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dry sherry
Salt to taste

Recipe Ingredients for the Garnish

Seeds from 6 pomegranates
1 bunch of parsley, chopped

Recipe Instructions

Prepare the stuffing: Heat butter and oil in a saucepan. Brown 12 garlic cloves and discard. Brown minced garlic with onion. Add ground meats and saute until no longer red. Stir in raisins, prunes, citron, apricots, pears, peaches, apples, pineapple, plantain and tomatoes. cook until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.

Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, pepper, sherry and white wine. SALT to taste. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, abut 1 1/4 hours. Cool

Fill prepared chiles with cooled stuffing. Put flour on a piece of waxed paper. Roll chiles in flour and place on a tray. Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare the batter: Make batter in 3 batches, as needed or it will not remain fluffy. Beat 1/3 of egg whites with a little salt until stiff. Lightly beat 1/3 of egg yolks and yolds and 2 tbs flour to whites, folding in carefully.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frying pan. Dip flour coated chiles in batter, one at a time and fry over medium heat. Do not crowed pan. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Prepare the sauce: boil walnuts in water to cover for 5 minutes. Remove from water. Peel skins. Boil almonds in water to cover for 25 minutes and soak in cold water. Peel skins. Grind walnuts and almonds in a blender or food processor, adding cream cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese, bread, cream, milk onion, sugar, cinnamon, sherry and salt. the mixture will be very thick. Refrigerate.

If you are using packaged nuts, wash walnuts and almonds and follow the procedure for fresh nuts.

To serve: Place cold fried chiles on a platter. Ladle walnut sauce on top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and garnish with parsley. (Chiles Rellenos en Nogada)

Serves 16 persons

Chiles en Nogada with the World’s Premier Culinary College

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Beyond being delicious, Avocado (the main ingredient in guacamole, in case you didn’t know) is pretty nutritious. It packs a lot of calories, but eaten in moderation, it can be a healthy, and lip-licking delicious, eat! Check out just a few of the health benefits below:

Avocado is a rich source of healthy fat. What is healthy fat, you ask? Healthy fats are monounsaturated fats which, according to the American Heart Association, decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, raise beneficial HDL cholesterol and last but not least, lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. One-half cup of guacamole contains 15 grams of fat. The majority, about 10 grams of the 15, is monounsaturated fat, the California Avocado Commission says. There are only 2 g of saturated fat, and no cholesterol.

Finally, the avocado is an excellent source of vitamins B-6,C, K and Folate, and the minerals: copper and potassium. Folate is necessary for your body’s production of red blood cells, and it decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C aids in healing by  increasing the absorption of calcium and iron,and  maintains healthy teeth, bones, gums and blood vessels. Vitamin B-6 is vital for the normal function of your neurological system, and potassium is necessary to maintain normal heartbeat and blood pressure. Avocado is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

One-half cup serving of avocado also provides about 8 grams of Fiber, too. Fiber is found in all plant-based foods, and  promotes normal bowel function, reduces the risk for heart disease (a healthy heart is a happy heart!) and diabetes by lowering your glucose  and cholesterol levels, according to MayoClinic.com.

According to Livestrong.com, “Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.”

All in all, sounds like every day should be guacamole day!

P.S. – This is a really cool website you should check out for tips, recipes, and facts about the amazing avocado.

http://www.avocadocentral.com/nutrition

Read more:

1.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/290000-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-guacamole/#ixzz2CEcuZqep

2. http://www.beinglatino.us/lifestyle/health/more-than-guacamole-5-health-benefits-of-the-avocado/

3. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp

4. http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/

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Spicy Football Snacks

by Dave Dewitt on February 4, 2016 · 0 comments

I heard a TV football announcer once say, “It’s a perfect day for football weather.” For most of us, that means the weather inside your house in front a large-screen TV with a cold beverage of choice and some hot and spicy snacks. The ones I’ve picked out are easy to make and a lot less expensive than buying everything already prepared. Get ready to kick off, and kick up your heat level a bit.

El Paso Nachos, photo by Wes Naman

El Paso Nachos

This appetizer has become so popular that you don’t have to travel to Texas to enjoy it, although nachos you buy outside the Southwest may bear little resemblance to the “real thing.”

1 dozen corn tortillas, cut into wedges
Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup refried beans
1/2 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 or more jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed, sliced in thin rings

In a large skillet, fry the tortillas in 1 1/2 inches of oil, at 350 degrees, until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Arrange the tortillas on a pan or oven-proof plate. Place a small amount of beans on each chip and top with the grated cheese. Heat the pan under the broiler until the cheese melts or microwave the plate for 3 to 4 minutes.

Top with the sour cream and jalapeño slices and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Green Chile Tortilla Pinwheels

This is an all-purpose filling that also goes well on crackers and finger sandwiches. Thin it with milk or light cream to make a great dip for chips or vegetable crudities.

1/2 cup chopped green New Mexican chiles that have been roasted, peeled, seeds and stems removed
1 3-oz. package light cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons minced cilantro
3 to 4 flour tortillas

Combine all the ingredients, except the tortillas, in a bowl and mix well.

Wrap the tortillas in a damp towel and place in a warm oven to soften. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the tortillas and roll each tortilla as you would a jelly roll. Slice each roll into 1/2-inch thick rounds.

Yield: 48 to 60 pinwheels

Heat Scale: Medium

For more food history and recipes on the subjects of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, just click on the image below.

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These are perfect snacks to enjoy during your favorite games on TV!

Are you tired of the classic recipe for apples covered with chocolate? Maybe not, but now with the Zumba Pica Forritos (5 pieces per box) you can take your favorite Granny Smith Apple and cover it with natural tamarind candy and chili or chamoy powder. They make an ideal treat for a candy and snacks buffet, your favorite teacher (it’s ok to be the teacher’s pet!) or yummy Halloween treats for the exceptionally well behaved kids.

Here is what you need:

1 box Zumba Pica Forritos (5 pieces)
5 Granny Smith apples
1 bottle of your favorite fruit and snack seasoning or chamoy powder candy

Setting for making granny apples covered with tamarind and chili

Setting for making granny apples covered with tamarind and chili

First, get your kitchen setting placement right. Use one bowl for your pre-washed apples. Another bowl for roughly a pint of water, give or take a few drops (just kidding), it’s just to clean your hands as they become sticky and nothing more. A damp or dry towel, your choice, and a plate or tray to rest your finished tamarind covered apples.

Second, and this is the important part, make sure you clean your apples first. Apples should always be washed before eating. To wash, you can give to apples a good rub under running water and then dry them up with a clean paper towel. Make sure they are dry before adding the Forritos tamarind cover.

Finished granny apples covered with tamarind and chiliThird, take one piece of Zumba Pica Forritos and remove the plastic covering. Place your Granny Apple stem facing down and then add the tamarind cover on top. Firmly, with your hands and fingers start spreading or molding the paste all around the apple. Think of this as Zumba Pica giving your apple a great big hug.

Granny apples covered with tamarind and chili in cellophane bags.Fourth, sprinkle your favorite fruit and snack seasoning (like Tajin) or chamoy candy powder. This will remove the stickiness of the tamarind paste, providing an additional layer of spicy and hot flavor for the ideal sweet and sour taste.

Finished Granny apples covered with tamarind and chili in cellophane bags.

Enjoy your Sweet and Sour Hot Apples!

Finally, take a Candy Apple STICKS about 7×1/4″ wooden sharpened and twist it in. Take your finished granny apple tamarind covered treat and place it in a small clear sheet or cellophane bag. Add a nice little tie knot on the ribbon of your choice, and give it to someone you’ll make very happy.

In Spanish, this is also called “Manzana cubierta de tamarindo con chile en polvo”, and according to the experts at UC Davis, “Archelogival data shows that humans were eating apples as early as 6500 B.C.”. Well now you know how to make an apple better (for some) or keep eating it natural just like it was brought to us by nature. Both, are great ways to enjoy the perfect apple.

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La tradición de celebrar el Día de Muertos el 2 de Noviembre nos trae muchos recuerdos y nostalgia a todos los que tenemos raíces latinas y especialmente quienes son de origen Mexicano, ya que nuestros antepasados vienen celebrando este día, lleno de nostalgia, cultura prehispánica y tradiciones por muchos siglos. El saborear un Pan de muerto es una parte muy tradicional ligada a estas fechas.

El día de Muertos se celebra un día después del día de Todos los Santos y dos días después de la fiesta Americana de Halloween o noche de brujas, que de por si tiene también muchas tradiciones como el pedir dulces casa por casa a cambio de no hacer una travesura, disfrazándose los niños y mezclando un poco motivos relacionados con estas fechas. En estos días hay quienes hacen poesías o versos que mencionan el día de la muerte y utilizan personajes vivos para hablar de ellos, como si fuera algo triste, pero realmente se considera una broma y se denominan: Calavera o Calaveras, como por ejemplo ésta “calavera” que fue elaborada por Jaime Mirman para MexGrocer.com:

Surtida de la “A” a la “Z”
Ganó MexGrocer renombre,
Partió Nacho como un hombre
Que ha conseguido su meta.

Al acercarse el Día de Muertos se acostumbraba ir a los cementerios unos días antes y decorar las tumbas con altares llenos de fotografías o imágenes, calaveras azúcar, flores de cempasúchil y platillos de comida Mexicana que les gustaban a los difuntos comer cuando estaban vivos. Estos altares de muertos, también se acostumbra poner en las casas y los mantienen durante toda la temporada recordando a los difuntos. Los familiares suponen que las almas que ya partieron regresan con los vivos a convivir y compartir esos días en una reunión de almas disfrutando juntos el colorido de las flores en el altar con las decoraciones y luego comen con ellos todo tipo de guisos con recetas Mexicanas, pero especialmente el sabroso Pan de Muerto. Aquí se pueden ver algunos de estos Videos del Día de Muertos.

El Pan de muerto constituye una parte muy tradicional en los altares de muertos. Sus formas son muy variadas siendo la más tradicional la redonda con bolitas simulando canillas o huesos de las extremidades. Esta forma redonda algunos la consideran como si fuera una flor con sus pétalos y pistilos, pero otros dicen que simboliza una tumba o la forma de un cráneo rodeada con huesos (canillas) que apuntan al centro. Su sabor de los panes de muerto es el de un biscocho Mexicano a base de pan de huevo con leche y mantequilla con un aroma de azahar o flor del naranjo y espolvoreado con azúcar en la parte superior. Para la cultura latina la muerte se venera, honra y utiliza como un símbolo que puede servir para jugar y hasta espantar como burlándose de ella. Es por eso que la tradición de las calaveras de azúcar se pone el nombre de las personas y las familias buscan comprar aquellas que tienen el nombre de cada uno de los familiares.

Los altares del Día de Muertos en México, se decoran con un gran número de adornos, utilizando flores, velas, veladoras religiosas, calaveras de dulce, fotografías, papel crepe, vasijas, varios panes de muerto y platones con platillos mexicanos como: tamales, mole, nopalitos, pozole, atole, chocolate y otros dulces mexicanos y postres como el arroz de leche y la calabaza en tacha. El petate que se usa en la decoración de los altares y donde se coloca la ofrenda simboliza el lugar donde el difunto llega a descansar para disfrutar de su banquete.

Video Altar Dia de Muertos en La Jolla California.

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There are reportedly over 60 varieties of chiles, chile peppers or hot peppers, ranging from very mild to fiery hot. Chiles are a key ingredient in most Mexican food dishes. All chiles derive their heat from oils concentrated in their seeds and membranes. The heat of a chile lasts six minutes before it dissipates.
Check the Mexican Food Video – Some Like It Hot: Cuisines of Chili Climates with Rick Bayless (VHS) Chiles – Mexican food video

How to Avoid Chile Pepper Irritation
Wear rubber gloves or even small plastic bags over your hands. Don’t touch your face or rub your eyes while handling hot peppers. Slit the chile lengthwise, rinse under running water, remove and discard stem, membranes and seeds. Chop or slice as directed in recipe. Wash hands and utensils thoroughly with hot, soapy water afterward. If your mouth is on fire, try a spoonful of sugar or a bit of salt and limejuice. The heat of a chile lasts six minutes before it dissipates.

Poblano Chiles
Poblanos peppers are used in Chiles Rellenos. They are dark green and about the size of a bell pepper, but tapered at one end. They can be mild or quite hot. They’re best fresh, but also available in cans.

Serrano Chiles
Serranos are hot! They’re about an inch and a half long and bright green and used frequently in salsas. They’re best fresh, but also available in cans.

Guero Chiles
Guero or gueritos chiles are small, yellow and tapered on the end. They’re sold either fresh or pickled and are medium-hot.

Anaheim, Green Chiles or California Chiles
They are light green, mild, medium-sized and tapered at the end.

Chipotle Chiles
Chipotles are made from jalapenos that have been dried and smoked. They are sold both dried and canned in adobo, or a rich, smoky, dark reddish-brown sauce. Their flavor is uniquely delicious.

Ancho Chiles
Anchos are dried dark red poblano chiles. They’re mildly flavored and used in many sauces. All dried red chiles are best if deveined, seeded and soaked in just enough hot water to cover them for about an hour. Afterward, put them in the blender with the water and add to your recipe.

Mulato Chiles
Mulato chiles or Mulatos are frequently used when ancho chiles are called for in a recipe. It’s deep brown, longer and more tapered than the ancho and is a bit more pungent. All dried red chiles are best if deveined, seeded and soaked in just enough hot water to cover them for about an hour. Afterward, put them in the blender with the water and add to your recipe.

Guajillo Chiles
Guajillo is a dried red chile that gives more color than taste to Mexican food recipes. It’s about four to five inches long, narrow and has a smooth skin. All dried red chiles are best if deveined, seeded and soaked in just enough hot water to cover them for about an hour. Afterward, put them in the blender with the water and add to your recipe.

Cola de Rata Chiles
The Cola de Rata or Rat-tail Chile is also known as the Chile de Arbol. It’s about the size of your little finger. These are often dried , toasted and used to decorate Mexican food dishes.

Chile de Arbol
Chile de Arbol is also known as the Cola de Rata. It’s about the size of your little finger. These are often dried , toasted and used to decorate Mexican food dishes.

Chilaca Chiles
Chilacas look and taste much like the anaheim, green chile, california and guayon chiles. They are a mild chile.

Pasilla Chiles
Pasilla or Pasillas are about seven inches long and very thin. They’re dark green like the ancho, but have more fire to them.

Jalapeno Chiles
Jalapenos or Jalapeños are the most recognizable and widely used of all Mexican chiles. Rarely do you see a Mexican table without a small bowl of jalapenos from a can, pickled in escabeche with carrots and onions. They are plump, about an inch or two in length, medium to dark green and fairly hot. They’re used as a condiment, in salsa and in many other dishes.

Pequin Chiles
Pequins or piquin peppers are tiny, dried red bullets of fiery heat. They add a unique flavor to many dishes. To use, crumble the dried pod between your thumb and forefinger. Piquin peppers are also called CHILITEPINS OR CHILTEPIN PEPPERS, tiny seedy red peppers used for seasoning in salsas in combinations with other chiles. They are also used in pickling. They are very, very hot!

Habanero Chiles
Habaneros are the hottest chiles in the world! Bright orange and looking like a tiny bell pepper, their flavor is delicious, if used sparingly. They are used widely throughout southern Mexico, particularly the Yucatan. Originally discovered by the Maya, they are said to have mystical healing powers and to impart a great sense of well-being.

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