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Adam Balic

Day of the Dead

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Here is a thread with a tested pan de muerto (bread of death) recipe... click and another thread with some discussion of the dish and fresh anise used in it: click


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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OK looks good and easy enough, one question for the pumpkin candy is it essential to use [quick] lime and why?

To this list I will add a fish dish and a pork dish (maybe 'table cloth stainer) and some veg dishes.

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It sounds like it will be a wonderful treat, Adam.

My guess is that the quicklime is used for one of two purposes: that of adding a texture to the finished product (some varieties of pumpkin can be denser or softer than others) or for preservative purposes.

But those are just guesses. You know my science quotient. :wink:

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Thank you, Professor. :biggrin:

I'll be hoping that your camera is strapped firmly in front of you as either the cooking or the eating progresses. :rolleyes:

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The lime is to ensure that the pumpkin maintains a firm texture.

I'm extrapolating from sweets made from preserved squash in both Indian and Chinese cooking (the Indian one is called petha, and is preserved wax gourd, the Chinese one is preserved winter melon. Winter melon and wax gourd, I'm fairly sure, are actually one and the same vegetable.)

Should you just boil the pumpkin in syrup, it would break down and become mushy. If you soak it first in lime, however, it has a firm, almost crisp feel when you bite into it.

One of these days I'll find the seven days necessary to make petha. Meanwhile, I'll watch Adam working with pumpkin. :smile:

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Well I would like to make it, but the chances of getting food grade lime in Scotland are remote I would think. What does this candy look like, could I substitute sweet potato? The pumpkin that is most regulalry avalible here is butternut and they are quite flavourless and watery.

These are some 17th century English candies I made at one point, the small hand is reaching for some candied sweet potato, does Dulce de calabaza resemble this?

gallery_1643_324_1099557797.jpg


Edited by Adam Balic (log)

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I remember seeing a picture of it in a candy-making book some years ago.

It didn't look quite as good as your candied sweet potato, but yes, similar.

Interesting, the similarities between Medieval and Mexican cookery.

If you decide you want some pickling lime, PM me and I'll pop a box in the snail mail. I just happened to see it at the grocery store a day or so ago. (And I doubt if there has been a mad run by anyone to buy it all up in the time since. . . :unsure: )

"Pumpkin" is one of those things that can be confusing as to what it exactly is, depending on who's doing the talking. It can be a squash, or a gourd, or here in the northeastern US (and across most of the US I think) it is a big round jolly orange thing that is used at Halloween for jack-o-lanterns and pies.

It it were me, preparing that meal. . .and knowing how very similar the tastes of sweet potato and a good "pumpkin" are, I would go with what I knew "worked", and use the sweet potato.

You know, sort of like in those recipe reviews on Epicurious or similar places?

Heh. Just do what happens. :laugh:

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Pane de muertos

Candy skulls

Mole

Dulce de calabaza

Atole

Yes, pan de muertos, sugar skulls, tamales, mole negro, hot chocolate, good tequila, mezcal and cerveza. For a real authentic event, create a shrine in your home to those you have passed. Ask your guests to bring something for the altar, either a gift of food or a photograph of a dead relative, friend, celebrity, or even a pet to add to the altar. On the altar put out foods that the dead enjoyed while living. Here traditionally you would put a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of mole negro, tamales or what have you, a few drinks, bread and a whole lot of candles. Of course, it is not the food that the dead have come to eat but you are enticing them back with the aromas of the food and drink. It is the aroma they will consume. The aromatic elements of the altar act like a landing pad for the dearly departed.

Decorate your shrine with marigolds, the traditional flower of the dead (flor de muertos), noted for its strong aroma.

You can also make a path to the altar with the flower's petals, a sure sign that the "muertitos" know the way. It also looks very beautiful.

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Seconding Shelora.

Beans, esp black made with toasted, ground hojas de aguacate, mole nego of the region (oaxaqueno, poblano, de Xico, etc.), calabaza en tacha (slightly different than pumpkin - it is chilacayote, one tough squash. The hard shelled squash is pricked to the core in several places, and placed to soak in lime water. This will help soften the rind a bit and crisp up the flesh. Same principal as for watermelon rind pickles. A syrup is made from piloncillo and water, and the squash is slowly cooked in that until the whole thing is candied. Low and slow and submerged is what you want. Tamales, especially black bean tamales, with the pureed beans smeared on a slab of masa, and the whole rolled up jelly roll style, then pinched off in 3" pieces and put in hojas to steam. Pan de muerto, and any other thing - tequila, mezcal, aguardiente, cigars, etc that were especially beloved by the spirits for whom the altar is built. Also traditional is sopa seca de arroz - the red rice with carrots and peas to go with the mole. And chocolate, lots of chocolate.

The altar is set with these goodies, and at midnight on the second when the sprits return to the inframundo, the banquet of the living begins.

Theabroma

PS: If you have pets and you set food out on the altar, watch out. We built a huge altar in Tlacochcalco and during the night, Maximilian the German shepherd had himself quite a feast. He was sick for a week and on bread and water for 6 months.

T.


Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Pane de muertos

Candy skulls

Mole

Dulce de calabaza

Atole

Yes, pan de muertos, sugar skulls, tamales, mole negro, hot chocolate, good tequila, mezcal and cerveza. For a real authentic event, create a shrine in your home to those you have passed. Ask your guests to bring something for the altar, either a gift of food or a photograph of a dead relative, friend, celebrity, or even a pet to add to the altar. On the altar put out foods that the dead enjoyed while living. Here traditionally you would put a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of mole negro, tamales or what have you, a few drinks, bread and a whole lot of candles. Of course, it is not the food that the dead have come to eat but you are enticing them back with the aromas of the food and drink. It is the aroma they will consume. The aromatic elements of the altar act like a landing pad for the dearly departed.

Decorate your shrine with marigolds, the traditional flower of the dead (flor de muertos), noted for its strong aroma.

You can also make a path to the altar with the flower's petals, a sure sign that the "muertitos" know the way. It also looks very beautiful.

This may scare my guests I reckon, but I will see what I can do as it sounds very fun oddly enough.

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I remember seeing a picture of it in a candy-making book some years ago.

If you decide you want some pickling lime, PM me and I'll pop a box in the snail mail. I just happened to see it at the grocery store a day or so ago. (And I doubt if there has been a mad run by anyone to buy it all up in the time since. . . :unsure: )

Thanks very much for the offer, let me check out the local Asian supermarket, then more then likely have it.

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I have a featured menu for Los Dias de los Muertos that includes a picture of Calabaza en Tacha. It looks like halved thin wedges of winter squash that appear very dark, almost licorice black. They mentioned that it takes four days to prepare (a day to soak it in water and lime in a plastic bucket), involving slow cooking in gradually increasing thickness of syrup of dark-brown sugar. They suggest serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of two or three chunks of the candied squash. Let me know if you need exact measurements and precise instructions.


Edited by Apicio (log)

Gato ming gato miao busca la vida para comer

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Pane de muertos

Candy skulls

Mole

Dulce de calabaza

Atole

Yes, pan de muertos, sugar skulls, tamales, mole negro, hot chocolate, good tequila, mezcal and cerveza. For a real authentic event, create a shrine in your home to those you have passed. Ask your guests to bring something for the altar, either a gift of food or a photograph of a dead relative, friend, celebrity, or even a pet to add to the altar. On the altar put out foods that the dead enjoyed while living. Here traditionally you would put a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of mole negro, tamales or what have you, a few drinks, bread and a whole lot of candles. Of course, it is not the food that the dead have come to eat but you are enticing them back with the aromas of the food and drink. It is the aroma they will consume. The aromatic elements of the altar act like a landing pad for the dearly departed.

Decorate your shrine with marigolds, the traditional flower of the dead (flor de muertos), noted for its strong aroma.

You can also make a path to the altar with the flower's petals, a sure sign that the "muertitos" know the way. It also looks very beautiful.

This may scare my guests I reckon, but I will see what I can do as it sounds very fun oddly enough.

It's an honouring of those we have held dear to us. A celebration of life more than death.

El dia de los muertos is the biggest family reunion in Mexico, bigger than Christmas as it brings together those departed and those still living.

A healthy perspective in my mind.

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Apicio, I know that the Spanish used to rule the Philippines from Mexico, odd as that sounds (or at least that the two territories were in the same province). Is the Day of the Dead celebrated by Catholics in the Philippines?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I have a featured menu for Los Dias de los Muertos that includes a picture of  Calabaza en Tacha.  It looks like halved thin wedges of winter squash that appear very dark, almost licorice black.  They mentioned that it takes four days to prepare (a day to soak it in water and lime in a plastic bucket), involving slow cooking in gradually increasing thickness of syrup of dark-brown sugar.  They suggest serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of two or three chunks of the candied squash.  Let me know if you need exact measurements and precise instructions.

It seems like I am going to have to find some of this lime. The rest is fine as this is how I preserve fruit in syrup for some of the historical cooking I am interested in. The slowly increasing the amount of sugar in the syrup seems to be a common theme.

This an 18thC English recipe for preserving gooseberries.

"To every pint of water put in a pound of common loaf-sugar, and boil it and skim it well. When it is about half cold, put in your gooseberries, let them stand till the next day, give them one boil a-day for three days. Then make a syrup thus: To every pint of water put in a pound of fine sugar, a slice of ginger, and a lemon-peel cut lengthways very fine. Boil and skim it well, give your gooseberries a boil in it, and when they are cold, put them into glasses or pots, lay brandy-paper over them, and tie them up close."

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To Pan, Yes, we celebrate it as (Dia de) Todos los santos (same date) and as solemnly as Remembrance Day is done here during the day. The night bestows license for pranks though. No special food. Even the dough figurines of calaveras (skeletons) that were definite hold-overs from the Mexican Vice-regal period lost its original significance and were sold at other fiesta times as toys in the fifties and then the craft died out. And as in Mexico nowadays, Halloween is insinuating itself.

To Adam, Yes, it looks like normal procedure for candying fruits and citrus rinds save for the soaking in lime or other alkaline. The squash looked black lacquered though. BTW, related only to the topic for being deadly delicious, we follow exactly the same procedure for candying mature but not ripe breadfruit using granulated sugar, a special treat as a kid that I still hanker for now.


Edited by Apicio (log)

Gato ming gato miao busca la vida para comer

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here is a pic of some calaveras we made a few years back... I'm interested in what normally happens to them. Are they eaten? thrown away? left to melt? We started celebrating because I love the culture and my sons b-day is Nov 1. There are some wonderful books out on the holiday for all ages.

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b248/pin...e/calaveras.jpg

please ignore the dark specks on them. i kept a few for reference and after a while they did not look too good. but they are all I had for pics...

I would love to see some more pics of traditional designs.

N.


"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali

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Well in the end I couldn't get the lime (Calcium Hydroxide) on time, although I now have a very good idea of what chemicals are sold in various ethnic food stores, some very useful if illegal.

So I made the candy out of sweet potato, which holds its texture better thn the watery squash that the British have. I have photographs of all this that I will post later, but the menu was:

Salsa (cooked chili, fresh tomato, salsa verde, guacamole) with tortilla chips and a cocktail from Southern Spain (similar to a Mojito, but the sparklig water is replaced with Cava).

Red snapper baken in a Yucatan sauce (marinated with Seville orange juice, cumin, oregano and annatto, topped with tomatos, green onions and coriander in the last 15 minutes)

*Mole with pheasant and partridge (grey and red legged).

*Pork table-cloth stainer

Re-fried beans, cactus paddle salad, jicama salad, soft tortilla.

Crepes stuffed with with milk candy and toasted pecans

Flan**

I have difficulty giving not doing all the cooking myself, so I ran out of time to make tamales and bread of the dead.

* The meat dishes were interesting as the chile combination is similar (mulato, pastilla, ancho), but the final flavours are very different due to the other additives. I was amazed by the Mole (will have to look back at my notes to work out the exact type), really complex and layered flavours, the spices were excellent as you get the initial flavour of cassia (which is always in the background), but the orange flavours of the corinader seeds come out at the end to live up the palate, so that it doesn't become boring. Not really sure why people refer to this as a 'chocolate' sauce as this is really a background note (a minor ingredient in the recipe I used).

**The Flan recipe was excellent. I saw it on a TV show while I was in Lithuania. Two tins of condensed milk and two tins of whole milk, infuse this for an hour with a vanilla pod and the zest of two limes. Filter and mix with six eggs (temper first etc) bake in a covered water bath for ~ 1 hour. Very rich, but good.


Edited by Adam Balic (log)

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Adam,

How dare you have such an exciting sounding meal ona n occasion when I wasn't available. When I quizzed Yvonne she didn't know exactly what was in the mole and the salad etc, so either you didn't give your usual breakdown of ingredients or she was getting tipsy for a change.

How was the Tempus Two Sangiovese by the way, she was equally vague about this.

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OK some comments and images.

First - Boo!

gallery_1643_2003_730743.jpg

My "Shrine". You will have to imagine it with the lights turned off.

gallery_1643_2003_440437.jpg

gallery_1643_2003_767954.jpg

gallery_1643_2003_765871.jpg

Note the use of a Greek symbol for death (top left of first image - Globe basil plant)

A very poor shot of the 'pumpkin' candy

gallery_1643_2003_710043.jpg

Red Snapper en Mac-Cum. Really rather good, I will make this again. It reminds me of some Middle-Eastern dishes. It would make a great tagine with fish Kofta for instance.

gallery_1643_2003_366838.jpg

The Mole Poblano de Guajolote. I imagine it is ment to be smoother, but there you go. Excellent stuff, I am going to make large batches of it and freeze it. You know the list of ingredients is long, but it is very easy to make. The only really issue I can see is lack of balance if you are not careful and overt bitterness if you don't fry it off correctly.

I think that this sauce would work very well with venison after a little tweaking.

gallery_1643_2003_655175.jpg

The birds. These are a mixture of pheasant and grey and red leg partridge. These were a mistake as while they would be fine as a gussied up restuarant dish or a more intimate meal, they are simply too difficult for people to deal with in a setting like this. I imagine that some of the people at the meal are not sure about game and covering them in a blanket of sauce doesn't help either. Didn't think this one through, I am an idiot.

gallery_1643_2003_494783.jpg

gallery_1643_2003_297826.jpg

Mancha Manteles de Cerdo (Pork Table Cloth Stainer). I can see were it gets its name, although it should be called 'Range and Kitchen surface stainer' as it really does splatter. I think that people though that this was the best dish of the evening and it is nice as the fruit (pineapple, banana, pear) tone down the richeness of the sauce and make the stew interesting. In the background you can see some refried beans cooking. These were crab-eye beans cooked with a serrano ham knuckle, lard, onion, garlic and epazote.

gallery_1643_2003_18893.jpg

Cactus paddle salad

gallery_1643_2003_795232.jpg

The Flan. You can see how firm it is in this shot, no need to faff about with the pressure cooker. Very, very rich though.

gallery_1643_2003_471957.jpg

That's it really. What an interesting and exciting cuisine. One thing that I noticed is how when you strip away the exotic ingrdients, many of the sauces are very similar in concept to Medieval European (some extant dishes) and extant Middle-Eastern and Asian dishes, in that they are a liquid base thickens with nut/seeds and flavoured with spice etc to achieve a layered effect in the taste profile. I think that I will have to play around with this now.

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Great job, Adam, wonderful pictures (as usual) and wonderful interpretations of this fascinating day that is so important to Mexicans. I was born in Mexico and spent many summers there as a boy. The imagery of death within life permeates throughout much pre-Columbian art and, like so much in Mexico, has become intricately interlayered and blended together - like a rich, complex and spicy mole poblano - with Hispanic culture and catholicism. Though we don't celebrate it, I find the Day of the Dead very appealing, this day, this concept, this innate belief that the departed are still very much with us and that this should be celebrated with, what else, food, family and friends.

Some years ago there was a wonderful exhibition in London's Museum of Mankind about the Day of the Dead. Does anyone else recall this? And of course last year's magnificent exhibition about the Aztecs was simply awesome in scope and scale - and a very different celebration of death within life and life within death.

Marc

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Adam, what a beautiful meal. Must have a bunch of happy, salivating Spirits radiating around your home.

Theabroma


Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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