Traditional Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls are always decorated with multiple colors of icing.
Sugar Skulls (makes 4 medium 3-D skulls)
- Gel food color
- 1/4 cup meringue powder
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 7 1/2 teaspoon meringue powder
- 6 teaspoons water
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- Add Royal Icing
1 – Mix the sugar, meringue powder and water together until all the granules of sugar are wet. Pick up a handful of the mixture and squeeze in your hand. If it holds together, its ready. If it falls apart, it will need a tiny bit more water.
2 – Fill your skull mold with the wet sugar, pressing down on the sugar, compacting it as you go. Fill both the front and back skull cavities with the sugar. Scrape off the excess sugar.
3 – Cut a piece of parchment paper and a piece of cardboard just a bit bigger than your mold. Set the parchment paper down on top of the mold. Set the cardboard on top of the paper. Grab onto the mold and cardboard, and carefully flip the whole thing upside down. Set it on the counter, then carefully lift the mold up off the sugar skulls. The mold should pop right off. If the sugar sticks, it’s too wet. Scrape it out of the mold, clean the mold, and add some more dry sugar to the mixture and try molding it again. If your sugar skulls do not hold together, the mixtures needs more water.
4 – Your sugar skulls now need to dry. Midway through the drying cycle you need to carefully flip them over so the back sides can dry out at well. They should be ready to decorate in 12-24 hours.
5 – Make royal icing. Beat together powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water until its shiny and will hold stiff peaks.
6 – Once your skulls are dried, spread a thin layer of royal icing on the flat part of the back side of each skull. Press the front and back sides together. Use your finger to wipe off the icing that oozes out from in between the two pieces. Allow the skulls to dry for at least an hour.
7 – After your skulls are dry, they are ready to decorate. Color small bowls full of royal icing using food coloring. If you wont be using the icing right away, be sure to cover each bowl with plastic wrap.
8 – Pipe royal icing onto the skulls. Any simple or elaborate designs. Get as creative as youd like and use lots of bright colors on each skull for a dramatic appearance.
9 – Allow your sugar skulls to dry for several hours before using them as decorations for your Day of the Dead event!
What is Guacamole?
Guacamole is an avocado-based sauce that originated with the Aztecs in Mexico around the 16th century. The name comes from an Aztec dialect via Nahuatl. It has become a very popular appetizer in the Mexican cuisine as well as the American cuisine as a dip, condiment and salad ingredient. It is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados with a molcajete (mortar and pestle) with sea salt. Some recipes call for tomato, onion, garlic, lemon juice, chili and/or additional seasonings.
Ingredients for 1 batch
- 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Bag of tortilla chips
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve. Serve with tortilla chips.
What is Chicken Enchiladas?
Enchiladas originated in Mexico, where the practice of rolling tortillas around other food dates back at least to Mayan times. The people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate corn tortillas folded or rolled around small fish. Writing at the time of the Spanish conquistadors, Bernal Díaz del Castillo documented a feast enjoyed by Europeans hosted by Hernán Cortés in Coyoacán, which included foods served in corn tortillas. Traditionally, enchiladas consist of a tortilla stuffed with meat and other food items, which is rolled up, covered with a spicy sauce, and baked. However, this dish can be filled and covered with a seemingly endless variety of ingredients.
Ingredients for 8 servings
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 16 corn tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
- Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes
Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.
Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.
Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.
Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts.
Optional: Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.
What is a Chile Relleno?
Chile Relleno is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the city of Puebla. It consists of a stuffed, roasted, fresh poblano pepper, sometimes substituted with non-traditional Hatch chile, Anaheim, pasilla or even jalapeño chili peppper. In its earliest incarnations, it was described as a “green chile pepper stuffed with minced meat and coated with eggs. In current cuisine, it is typically stuffed with melted cheese, such asqueso Chihuahua or queso Oaxaca or picadillo meat made of diced pork, raisins and nuts, seasoned with canella; covered in an eggbatter or simply corn masa flour and fried. Although it is often served in a tomato sauce, the sauces can vary.
Ingredients for 6 servings
- 6 poblano chile peppers
- 5 plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 small white onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 3 large egg whites plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- Char the chiles.
- Turn a gas burner on high. Char the chiles on the burner grate, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. You can also char the chiles under the broiler.
- Let them soften.
- Transfer the charred chiles to a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and close. Let stand 10 minutes. The chiles will steam in the bag, making them soft and easy to peel.
- Remove the skin.
- Gently rub the chiles with paper towels to remove as much skin as possible. If a few flecks remain-they’ll add flavor, don’t rinse them off.
- Open the chiles.
- Using a paring knife, make a slit across the top of a chile just below the stem, leaving the stem intact. Starting from the middle of the slit, slice lengthwise down to the tip of the pepper (cut through only one layer). Open the chile like a book and pull out the seeds and inner membranes. You may need to use a paring knife to loosen the top of the seedpod. Repeat with the remaining chiles.
- Prepare the sauce.
- Puree the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender until smooth. Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomato puree and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Make the filling.
- Place the cheese in a bowl, then add the oregano, crumbling and rubbing it with your fingers to release its flavor. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Stuff the chiles.
- Fill each chile with about 1/4 cup cheese mixture. Fold in the sides to cover the filling, then thread 2 toothpicks across the seam to form an X. You will probably need to make a second toothpick X to secure each chile so the filling doesn’t leak out when you fry.
- Mix the batter.
- Beat the egg whites with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the egg yolk and beat 3 more minutes.
- Batter and fry.
- Heat about 1 inch vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F.
- Dredge: Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. One at a time, coat the stuffed chiles with the flour.
- Batter: Holding each chile by the stem, lower it into the egg batter to cover completely. Let any excess batter drip off.
- Fry: Add the chiles to the hot oil, 1 or 2 at a time; fry, flipping once with tongs, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
- Place a fried chile on each plate and pour the warm sauce over it. Serve immediately.
What is a margarita?
Although, there is no solid proof who invented the Margarita. The margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila, Cointreau and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt on the glass’ rim. It is the most common tequila-based cocktail in the United States. Often the drink is served shaken with ice (on the rocks), blended with ice (frozen margarita), or without ice (straight up).
Ingredients for 1 serving
- 2 ounces silver tequila
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Triple Sec
- 1 slice lime
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Pour in the tequila, lime juice and orange-flavored liqueur and shake well.
- Pour over ice in a margarita glass and garnish with the lime slice.
- Line the rim with salt (if desired)
What is ceviche?
Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and coriander, may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado, plantain or tortilla chips.
Ingredients for 12 servings
- 2 -3 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 large Tomatoes, diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, diced
- 1 serrano peppers or 1 jalapeno, diced
- 8 limes, squeezed
- 8 lemons, squeezed
- 2 oranges, squeezed (preferably sour oranges)
- 2 large Avocados, diced
- 2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
- Blanche shrimp in boiling water for about 1 minute, then shock in ice cold water. Strain when cooled.
- Cut shrimp into 1-inch pieces and add to bowl.
- Add citrus juice and marinate for 2 hours.
- Add red onion, tomatoes, chilies and cilantro, marinate for 2 more hours.
- Add avocados and cucumber before serving.
What is flan?
Flan is an oven-baked caramel custard desert that is very popular in Puerto Rico, Spain and Mexico among many other Latin countries. It is made with a top layer of custard paired with the sweetness of a light caramel sauce, which is put in the bottom of the pan underneath it. Both are baked together. When chilled and then inverted to un-mold, the sauce pours over the custard and is served as is. The typical flavoring is simply vanilla, but there are numerous variations. Flan may be prepared in a soufflè dish or in individual ramekins or flan dishes.
Ingredients for 6-8 servings
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 large whole egg
- 1 tablespoon aged rum (optional)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup (4 ounces) heavy cream
- ½ cup (4 ounces) whole milk
- 1½ cups (12 ounces) evaporated milk
- 8” round metal or glass baking pan
- Preheat oven at 350° F
- For caramel: Place sugar and water in a heavy pan. Mix and cook at medium heat until sugar is dissolved and acquires a light amber color. Cover the bottom of the custard pan with caramel and set aside.
- Mix the first seven ingredients (six if you exclude the rum) in a blender. Add the heavy cream, whole milk and evaporated milk and continue mixing until an even consistency is reached.
- Strain this mixture through a sieve and pour into the caramel-coated pan.
- Place pan in a larger metal tray with ½” of water and bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes. The flan will be ready when an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.
- Bring to room temperature before refrigerating. Cool overnight in the refrigerator or for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Flip the flan out of the pan and onto a plate for serving.
What is Chicken Flautas?
A tightly rolled corn tortilla filled with chicken into a thin cylinder and sometimes deep-fried and garnished with sour cream, guacamole, or salsa.
Ingredients for 8 servings
- 16 corn tortillas
- 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup Mexican cream
- 1 cup salsa of your choice
- 1 head romaine lettuce, sliced
- 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
- In a deep skillet, preheat 1 inch deep of oil to 350 degrees, set over medium heat. Or you can also test if the oil is ready for frying the flautas, by dipping a flauta or tortilla to see if the oil actively bubbles around it.
- Place a comal or a dry skillet over medium heat until hot, then heat the tortillas on the comal for about 30 seconds per side; this will prevent them from breaking when rolling them into flautas.
- Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken on each tortilla and roll them tightly. They should be thin, not chubby rolls. You can insert wooden toothpicks through 2 to 3 flautas at a time, so they will fry evenly and hold their shape.
- Once the oil is hot, gently dip the flautas in it. Fry them until they have crisped and turned golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip them over so they will brown evenly, for another minute. Remove the flautas from the oil and put them on a plate or tray lined with paper towels.
- Alternatively, you may want to toast the flautas on a comal or bake in the oven lightly brushed with oil at 375, for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Arrange them on a serving platter and garnish with lettuce, cheese, Mexican cream and salsa, or let your guests tailor to their taste.
What is Posole?
Posole (or pozole) is a traditional soup in Mexico, often served Christmas eve, and in many parts of the country on Thursdays and Saturdays all year round. This posole rojo, or “red” posole, is made with pork shoulder or shanks, red chiles, and lots of hominy corn. Typically just the simple soup with pork and hominy is served, and the add-ins, or garnishes are set at the table for all to pick and put in their soup as they wish.
Ingredients for 8 servings
- 1 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder
- 1/2 onion stuck with 2 cloves
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 5 peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- oregano, pinch
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cups canned white hominy, drained and rinsed
- 3 to 5 cups pork broth from cooking pork shoulder
- 1 cup canned chopped green chilies
- Salt to taste
- 2 whole jalapenos, canned or fresh, chopped (optional)
This recipe requires a simple prep. Prepare the onion with the 2 cloves, peel the garlic, chop the onion, peel and chop the 2 garlic cloves, chop the green chilies and jalapenos if you are using them. Drain the hominy rinse. Now you are ready to start cooking.
- Place the meat in a large saucepan and just cover with lightly salted water.
- Add the clove studded onion, 2 cloves peeled garlic, peppercorns, cumin seed, and oregano.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that rises, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Remove meat and broth, reserving both.
- Sauté the chopped onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add the remaining spices, stir for a minute.
- Cut the reserved pork into 1 inch cubes and add to the pan.
- Stir in the canned hominy, pork broth (if there is not enough pork broth, add chicken stock), green chilies and jalapenos (optional).
- Cook at a simmer, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes until the meat and hominy are tender.
- If necessary, cook for up to an additional 60 minutes until the chilies and onions are well blended into the broth.
- Degrease the stew, taste for salt, and serve in soup bowls.
What are Chilaquiles?
Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish. Typically, corn tortillas cut in quarters and fried are the basis of the dish. Green or red salsa or mole, is poured over the crispy tortilla triangles, called “totopos.” The mixture is simmered until the tortilla starts softening. Eggs (scrambled or fried) and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix. The dish is topped with cheese (typically queso fresco) and/or sweet Mexican cream (crema) and it is served with refried beans. Like many dishes, regional and familial variations are quite common.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings
- Oil — for deep frying
- Corn tortillas, cut into 1 1/2-inch squares or diamonds — 6 to 8
- Onion, chopped — 1
- Serrano or jalapeño chiles, minced — 2 or 3
- Garlic, minced — 2 or 3 cloves
- Tomatoes, crushed or chopped — 3 cups
- Salt and pepper — to taste
- Queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled — 1/2 cup
- Sour cream or crema agria — 1/3 cup
- Add about 1 inch of oil to a large, deep skillet. Heat over medium flame until shimmering. Add the tortillas in batches and fry, turning occasionally until lightly crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add 3/4 of the chopped onions and chiles and saute until the onions are cooked through and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.
- Stir in the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Carefully stir in the tortillas and simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the tortillas soak up some of the sauce and are softened but not mushy.
- Garnish with the remaining chopped onions, queso fresco and sour cream. Serve hot with scrambled or fried eggs and refried beans.
What are Carnitas?
Carnitas is a fabulous dish in Mexican cuisine that usually uses pork. Type of pork used is often front sections of the hog orpork shoulder. These cuts are braised or roasted for a long time, sometimes the length of a day. Cooking the pork fully is only the beginning preparation for carnitas. The pork is then shredded or pulled and cooked in lard, which creates very crispy meat with a tender, melt in the mouth center.
Ingredients for 8 servings
- 3-4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder (may be called Boston butt) or 4-5lbs of bone-in pork shoulder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp chile powder
- 1 tsp cumin (freshly toasted and ground if you can–it does make a difference)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- Water to cover
- Heat a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed oven-ready lidded pan over medium high heat with just enough vegetable oil (or lard if you have it) to cover the bottom .
- Pre-heat oven to 300ºF
- Cut pork into 1-2″ cubes, trimming large sections of fat off (we need fat for the flavor, so just cut off any real large pieces). Toss pork pieces with spice rub.
- Brown the cubed pork well in the dutch oven, going in batches so there is only one layer of meat at a time.
- When all the meat is browned, de-glaze the pan’s bottom with the orange juice, stirring to break up the brown bits. Introduce all of the meat back to the pan and cover with water until it’s nearly submerged.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven.
- Stir the pot after one and two hours, the pork should be very tender towards the third hour. When you’re comfortable with the tenderness, evacuate all the pork to a platter and begin to boil the braising liquid on the stove top.
- After letting the pork cool for a few minutes work through with your hands to separate and discard any fat or gristle pieces that hadn’t melted in the braise. Tear the meat into smaller pieces.
- Turn your broiler on to high and place a rack towards the top.
- Toss the now shredded pork with some of the reduced braising liquid (that should have boiled down significantly by now) and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan.
- Broil the pork for approximately five minutes per side until the outside begins to caramelize.
- Serve! Best in tacos, but there’s no wrong way to eat carnitas.
What is Mole?
Mole, today pronounced ‘Molay’, refers to different sauces that are very peculiar to Mexico, and it’s Mesoamerican heritage. Moles are thick sauces used over chicken or turkey, also in many different dishes such as in tamales, tacos de mole etc…; an authentic Mole usually has a long ingredients list. The word itself comes from the náhuatl language, which is the mother-tongue of the Aztecs. In náhuatl, mulli or molli means concoction; from this mole today has become a generic word used to describe this thick Mexican sauce.
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 11 dried ancho chiles
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water will come from the chilies boiling water
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoonfuls of almonds
- 3 peeled tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped to small bits
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 corn tortilla fried oil and cut in pieces
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons of lard
- 1/2 cup of 70% pure black cocoa chocolate cut in small pieces
- 6 chicken breasts or boneless thighs
- Cut chiles in quarters and let them soak and marinate in hot water for 1 hour, Keep both water and chiles, but discard stems and seeds.
- Put in the food processor the chilli and all ingredients mentioned above, except water, broth, lard and chocolate.
- Add a little water of tempering of chilli and reduce to a paste while pulsing at medium speed. Top up with a little water if necessary.
- In a saucepan, heat up and melt the lard. Incorporate with the previously blended paste and warm up 2 min.
- Add in progressively 500 ml of the water used to boil the chilies and the chicken broth by continuously mixing, and then at the end add the chocolate.
- When the chocolate is melted, the sauce is ready. It has to have the consistency of a thick cream. If it is too dense, simply add a little chilli boiling water.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F
- Cook your chicken in a small part of the sauce in the oven, using a proper oven-ready pan, for 30 minutes or until it is cooked.
- Serve by pouring the rest of the mole over the chicken on each plate, with something to accompany it, such as ‘arroz con frijoles’, or anything you like.