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Jamaica (Hibiscus) Sangria

I love hosting dinner parties and fiestas. My husband calls it an addiction. I think he is right — I love coming up with a creative menu and a signature drink but most importantly I love having friends and family over. The funny part is that every time I host an event it rains or snows. And our recent Candlemas dinner was no exception. We had our first blizzard of 2012 in Colorado. We had over two feet of snow! My cousin and her family who live only one-mile away almost didn’t make the trip. They had to strap on some chains to the tires of their big Ford F-350 to make the trek. Thankfully they made it safely with delicious cilantro lime rice in hand.

We’ll post more photos about my dinner menu in Colorado and my sister’s dinner menu in Germany later, but for now I wanted to share the signature drink recipe of the night in Colorado.

We had quite the feast Friday night. I was cooking, decorating, and cleaning all day, so I really wanted a drink that was simple and self-serve. I decided to make sangria. I love sangria and you might remember our red Rioja sangria I make often. This jamaica sangria is quite different. It’s made with dry white wine instead of a fruity Spanish red wine. The spicy undertones of cinnamon and jamaica made this the perfect drink for a chilly Colorado evening and everyone truly loved it. It is a recipe I definitely plan to make again. It was ideal for our cozy intimate dinner party of eight.

After everyone left and hubby and I were cleaning up, it dawned on me that this luscious red jamaica sangria would be a perfect drink for lovers of all ages (above 21). I can see Bill and I having a glass or two after the kiddos have gone to bed paired with an appetizer like bruschetta, brie, or all by itself, on Valentine’s Day. On this occasion the fruit might be the dessert. So for this year on that special day when you want to serve something different and unique why not try this simple and elegant sangria.

What is your favorite drink on Valentine’s Day?

Jamaica (Hibiscus) Sangria

16-20 servings

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, Mexican Magazine

4 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

12 whole cloves

2 anise stars

1 ½ cups dried hibiscus flowers

2 750-mililiter bottles of dry white wine (recommend Pinot)

3 cups ginger ale, chilled

1 orange, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 medium red Bartlett pears, halved, cored, and cubed

1 ½ cups seedless grapes

Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the water, the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and anise stars; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add hibiscus flowers. Let mixture cool about 15 minutes or until almost room temperature. Strain into a large pitcher and refrigerate.

Just before your guests arrive, fill a punch bowl with the jamaica tea, white wine, and ginger ale. Add fruit and stir gently. If desired, garnish glasses with ice, additional lemon slices, and mint. Serve immediately.

Super Bowl Halftime Meal: Sausages and Pork Loin

Okay all you football fans…here it is, a big hearty and meaty meal for the biggest football day of the season, the Super Bowl. This year I was looking online for something more than a chip and dip or chili bean soup for inspiration and came across this perfect meal. Sausage and Sauerkraut feast from one of my all-time favorite sites, The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Having just moved to Germany I thought this was perfect. See every village and town here in Germany has their very own butcher shop with some of the freshest selection of sausages, bratwurst, and other meats. Perfect right? I know, that’s what I said. I love when an idea comes together.

I grabbed my camera and zoomed down the street to our local butcher shop where I picked out some sausages, bratwurst, and juicy pork tenderloin. I made a quick stop at the market and grabbed some potatoes and other necessary items for this dish.

About 30 minutes before your guests arrive pour yourself a tall beer of your choice; in my case it’s a Falkensteiner Kristall Weizen beer, my favorite German beer at the moment. Take a big drink and get ready to share a manly meal during the ultimate Super Bowl halftime extravaganza. Put all your ingredients into a large Dutch oven or roasting pan, place it in the oven, set the timer, set out your appetizers, and await your guests to arrive.

As the game progresses you and your guests will begin to get a good whiff of something good being cooked in the oven. The sausage should be ready just before half time so run over to the kitchen, cut the pork, plate the kraut on a large platter and place everything over the kraut, and you’re done. Place the platter on your table along with some fresh brotchen (bread), mustards, ketchups, and or any other sides and watch the platter of meat disappear.

Now, sit back, grab another beer, and enjoy the rest of the game.

Sausages and Pork Loin

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1 clove garlic

1 whole clove

1 bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

6 black peppercorns

1 carrot

1 leek

1 celery stalk

1 parsnip

2 pounds sauerkraut

2 ounces vegetable oil, divided

1 yellow onions, sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

½ cup white wine

1 ½ cups chicken stock

1 pound smoked pork loin

½ pound thick sliced bacon

4 to 6 small Yukon potatoes, peeled

½ pound garlic sausage

5 frankfurters

5 weisswurst, (veal and pork frankfurters or sausage, boiled)

Game Day Plan

Place the garlic clove, whole clove, bay leaf, thyme sprig, and peppercorns in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie with cooking twine to create a little pouch of spices. Tie the carrot, leek, celery, and parsnip with twine too.

Rinse the sauerkraut in 3 separate changes of cold water. Drain well before cooking it.

Heat half the vegetable oil in a large roasting pan over medium heat. Add the onions and heat just until tender but don’t brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the sauerkraut to the onion and garlic mixture. Pour the wine and chicken stock into the sauerkraut, onion, and garlic and mix well.

Place the spice pouch and vegetable bundle under the sauerkraut and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Next, place the pork and the bacon on top of the sauerkraut. Cover tightly and cook in a 325 degree F oven for approximately 45 minutes.

Take a break from the game and go place the potatoes, garlic sausage, and frankfurters in the pan, cover, and continue to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the frankfurters are warm. Add more chicken stock if needed.

While the potatoes and frankfurters are cooking add the rest of the oil to a skillet over medium heat and brown the weisswurst on all sides.

Remove the pork loin and garlic sausage from the pan and slice. Place the sauerkraut and all the meats on a warm platter and garnish with the potatoes.

Serve with an array of your favorite mustards, some crusty French mini bread or bolillos, and your favorite cold beer.

Call the gang over and enjoy while watching the halftime entertainment.

We’re Moving

Our blog site will be moving to www.muybuenocookbook.com.

But before we move we want to be sure you, our lovely reader’s bookmark our new web address and continue to follow our blog posts and announcements. The big move will happen in a couple of weeks. We are very excited to reveal our remodeled home (blog).

We encourage you to re-subscribe. To re-subscribe yourself, click on the links below:

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Sorry for the inconvenience, but we wouldn’t want you to miss any part of our journey.

Veronica of Muy Bueno has moved to Germany

Fate has a peculiar way of rearing its quirky head and it made its way to our home a few months ago. Someone once said, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” Steve (my hubby) and I have longed for years to live in Europe. You might remember that we met and lived in Okinawa. For years we have jokingly said that once our two kids could pack their own backpack we were going to move overseas again. As fate would have it, Steve received a job offer to teach in Germany. Yes you heard that right, Germany. And I am teaching Spanish to American children who are here in Germany with their active duty parents. After eleven years in California, our little family of four closes a memorable chapter in California and begins a new one in Deutschland.

We have now been here in Germany for about ninety days and it seems like a lifetime since we moved here. So much has happened since we got here. Our family has celebrated our first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve in Germany. The Christmas Markets were truly more beautiful than I ever imagined. We really are in the land of Christmas. As the year progresses, we look forward to learning about and celebrating German holidays, learning to speak German, eating lots of schnitzel, and of course testing lots of good German beer and wine.

We feel incredibly lucky to be living here and giving our two kids the opportunity of a lifetime to travel and learn about Europe by experiencing it first hand. We plan on doing lots of traveling all over Europe over the next three years. If we like it tons, we may even stay longer. As far as family life goes, our days are quite normal. Our daughter has ballet twice a week and our son has hockey practice twice a week. School, homework, practice, and work fill our week. Our weekends and holidays are filled with exploring Europe and Germany.

Last week we were in Paris for the weekend and it was an amazing trip. But that’s a different story for another day. Look for that post in February as we share our love for the city of lights.

To all our wonderful family and friends reading this, we miss you and wish you were here. If we could magically make you all appear on our doorstep we would but since we can’t just know that we are only a phone call, Skype visit, facebook message or email away. Our wilkommen (welcome) mat is always present and your visit is always welcome. Thank you for all the beautiful memories in California. So as we close the chapter in California we want to say thanks for the trips to Vegas, camping trips, girl’s weekends, Sundays at the beach, couple’s date nights, parties, limo rides, block parties, barbeques, wine tasting events, poker nights ‘til 3 am, movie nights, dinner parties, theme parties, game nights, hockey games, dance recitals, birthday celebrations, and hanging out with us just because. We carry with us a little bit of each one of you in each one of those memories.

Last week as I was unpacking a mountain of boxes, at one point I was overwhelmed by the number of items I unpacked that were gifts from you, our loving friends that were given to us over the last eleven years. We truly are blessed with loving and caring family and friends.

So with this move I guess one third of Muy Bueno is now in Germany. Now that my kitchen is all set up, I can’t wait to experiment with all the new ingredients that are made available to me in German markets. I can’t wait to give it the Muy Bueno Mexican twist. I love that we will be close to France and maybe, just maybe I will bump into David Lebovitz, somewhere in the streets of Paris who is, living the sweet life in Paris.

I will continue to blog and work on the cookbook with mom and my sister, Yvette. I look forward to having more time to work on several other assignments coming up. I’m looking forward to working on my photography skills and experimenting with some of our recipes and creating new ones. I can’t wait to explore the endless cuisines throughout Europe, castles, ruins, cafes, fashions, museums, and cities I’ve only read about in textbooks. More importantly I get to do this with Steve, the love of my life, and our two children.

To all of you who will continue to follow Muy Bueno on our blog, facebook, or twitter it’s going to be a great ride so buckle up and get ready for a new dimension to your Muy Bueno experience.

Raise your glass with me; cheers, salud, and prost to all that is muy bueno!

Lemon-Lime Pie for my Hubby

Last summer, I read about a blogger, Jennie of In Jennie’s Kitchen, who lost her husband Mikey unexpectedly. You can read the “for Mikey” post here. Mikey loved creamy peanut butter pie and so food bloggers worldwide made peanut butter pies for their loved ones to help in Jennie’s healing process. Such a bittersweet memory forever engraved in my mind. When I heard of Jennie’s story and the pie for her husband Mikey it made me think about my own husband and how I’d never made his favorite pie. 

I decided this would be the year I would make him his favorite pie – I guess Jennie’s story really hit home with me and her sweet words continue to ring in my mind. Hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on. I did not have the courage to make the peanut butter pie for the man I love that day, but instead I promised myself I’d make his favorite pie one day. Well that day is finally here.

I have never made a key lime pie before, and it’s very sad because it’s my hubby’s favorite dessert. When I saw this Lemon-and-lime icebox pie with a chocolate graham-cracker crust recipe on the Homesick Texan blog I knew he would love it and I told myself I’d make it for his next birthday. I don’t know what I’d do without my husband. As corny as it sounds he truly does complete me. We are total opposites and yet we balance each other out, a ying and yang of sorts. We often forget to stop and smell the roses in this crazy thing called life. Often times it’s those who are closest to us that we take for granted and really shouldn’t. So this pie is a tribute to you babe. Te amo!

I dedicate this recipe to you on your 41st birthday. Happy birthday sweetie!

What is your special someone’s favorite dessert or dish?

Lemon-and-lime icebox pie with a chocolate graham-cracker crust

8 servings

Ingredients
For the chocolate graham-cracker crust
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 8 large rectangles)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
8 tablespoons butter, melted, still warm

For the lemon and lime filling
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream and fresh blueberries for topping

Directions
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan. In a food processor or with a rolling pin, finely crush the graham crackers until they’re the texture of sand. Mix well the graham crackers with the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. Stir in the warm, melted butter until a dark dough is formed.

Pat the dough into the pie pan, using your hands, a measuring cup or a spoon to get it even. Bake for 7 minutes and then let the crust cool for one hour.

To make the filling, in a blender mix together the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, lime juice, lemon zest, lime zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Pour into the cooled crust, and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for at least 2 hours to set the filling.

Serve with whipped cream and fresh blueberries on top.

Muy Bueno Photographer

Who is our photographer? Have you noticed the majority of our photographs are pretty darn beautiful? I honestly wish I could take credit for them, but I can’t. In the beginning when I had this crazy cookbook/blog idea my talented photographer friend, Jeanine suggested she photograph our dishes. Sheesh! Talk about an amazing offer. I jumped on that offer so fast and Muy Bueno emerged. The photography on our site is what thankfully has caught the eye of many and for that we are eternally grateful to Jeanine.

Jeanine has taken pictures of my family for years, and even traveled with us to Mexico to photograph our destination wedding in Playa del Carmen.


My sister Veronica fell in love with her work too.

Here is one of my favorite pictures of mom, Veronica, and I last year during one of our holiday photo shoots.

She is an amazing photographer, friend, and now is more like familia. We truly love her and her family.

We love that she has a passion for Mexico just as much as we do. Throughout this post you’ll see photos from her recent family vacation to Todos Santos, Mexico. Her photography never ceases to amaze us.

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Jeanine Thurston, our amazingly beautiful photographer in every sense of the word. She has a wicked sense of humor, loves Mexican food as much as we do, and has the ability to capture the essence of her photographic subjects, whether it is a wedding, portrait, fashion, or food. We love everything she captures. Who is Jeanine Thurston? Now let’s get to know the women behind the camera shall we.

How long have you been a photographer?

I’ve been photographing since I was a kid…with my first camera I purchased by selling greeting cards, of all things. Professionally I photographed my first wedding when I was 17 years old while still in high school. I then went off to college where I pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts & Photography, simultaneously working for a photography studio while attending college. I started my own business in 1992. So, it is hard to count ~ but professionally I’ve been photographing for 24+ years. Still love it.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I’ve always been interested in the arts and was an oil painter first. Photography was something I could do and combine it with my love of being around people. While I always admired works from people like Ansel Adams, I really did it more for the pleasure I got out of photographing (and still do). But what pushed me was when I was taking photography into a local pro-lab and the owner came out one day and said “have you ever thought about doing this for a living?” It was really the first time it crossed my mind that I could actually do what I loved most and support myself with it. It was a huge trigger, that I immediately joined the local professional photography groups and Professional Photographers of America and started making more contacts in the professional community. I have to give a huge credit to Lenny Dixon who was one of the top wedding pros at the time for taking me under his wing and teaching me everything ~ and giving me the confidence that I needed to make it all happen.

How did you begin working with the Muy Bueno trio?

I photographed Yvette’s daughter Maya when she was only a year old, and Yvette’s wedding and well ~ you tend to just fall in love with her whole family. But I actually saw a post where Yvette mentioned something about a cookbook and I immediately said ~ “Let’s do it!” I love Mexican food enough as it is…and well ~ their food is amazing. Besides…they feel like family to me now, it is all too exciting to see this cookbook all come together.

Do you have a favorite Muy Bueno recipe you photographed?

This is a trick question I’m sure. There are way too many to narrow down…let’s see: guacamole, tacos, and well ~ every single drink they ever make. This is from someone that really hardly ever drinks. Seriously though…I couldn’t pick just one.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

I have been a photographer for so long; it is really hard to imagine what I would be without it. Of course I love working with children and a child psychologist is what I also went to school for. But, I love traveling and spending time with my kids the most.

When not photographing how do you spend your time?

I love movies, traveling (Mexico in particular), spending time in the mountains, and above all spending time with my two sons.

Any fun up and coming projects you’d like to mention?

2011 was filled with so many projects, including another cookbook I photographed called The Feed Zone Cookbook, and I also had the pleasure of working on a couple of bridal inspiration shoots. It has been so much fun.

2012 projects will be dedicating my time to Muy Bueno of course in addition to my portrait and wedding photography business, and preparing and photographing for a book I’m working on that is two years down the road. I’m not passing out too many details yet ~ but excited about getting things in the works.

Thanks Jeanine and be sure to check out Jeanine’s blog.

Stuffed Poblano Chiles in White Rice + IMUSA Caldero Giveaway

***This giveaway is no longer accepting entries – scroll down to the bottom to see who won!***

Guess what? We just spoke to one of our sponsors, IMUSA and they have offered to host monthly giveaways for Muy Bueno readers. Isn’t that fantastic? Not only are they gifting amazing products, but they are also sharing some of their delicious recipes with us too.

So without further ado here is the delicious recipe and prize…

Stuffed Poblano Chiles in White Rice
Arroz Blanco con Chiles Rellenos de Queso

4 Servings

Ingredients

8 small Poblano chiles or 4 large Poblano chiles

1 pound mild shredded white cheddar cheese

4 cups chicken broth or water

½ small white onion

2 garlic cloves

4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups long grain rice

1/2 cup of frozen corn

Directions

Place the Poblano chiles on any non-stick IMUSA comal on high heat and roast until the chile skin is completely and evenly blistered. Turn the chiles on a regular basis to create the even blistering. Do not char the chiles. Place chiles in plastic or paper bag for 10-15 minutes. Peel away the black skin. Make a cut lengthwise on your chile and take out the seeds and veins. Stuff with cheese.

Using a blender, pureé the chicken broth, onion, and garlic. Strain and set aside. On medium heat, add the oil to your IMUSA Caldero. Add the rice. Stir regularly for 3 minutes until the rice grains are white on the inside and transparent on the outside. Add the chicken broth mixture. Add salt.  Bring to a boil. Nestle the stuffed chiles into the cooking rice with the seam side up. Sprinkle in the corn and cover. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes or until the liquid evaporates. Do not uncover the rice for at least 15 minutes or it will not cook properly.

PRIZE

IMUSA Red 2-Piece Caldero Set (26cm and 30cm)

Create delicious gourmet meals or your favorite comfort foods with your IMUSA Caldero. The newly designed Caldero set is ideal for cooking rice, pasta, roasts, casseroles, chili, and even slow cooking your meals.

HOW TO ENTER

Just leave a comment here letting us know what your New Year’s resolution is.

And for extra entries….

  1. Follow Muy Bueno on Facebook: Then leave another comment here letting us know.
  2. Follow Muy Bueno on Twitter: Then leave another comment here letting us know.
  3. Follow IMUSA on Facebook: Then leave another comment here letting us know.
  4. Follow IMUSA on Twitter: Then leave another comment here letting us know.


THE RULES

This giveaway ends Friday, January 20, 2012 at midnight MST. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen through Random.org. The winner will be notified via e-mail. Winner must respond within 24 hours or we will choose another winner.

You must have a valid U.S. address to enter.

Buena suerte! Good Luck!

Thank you IMUSA for sponsoring these giveaways and thank you for bringing joy into the cocina of Muy Bueno amigos.

Are you a subscriber to our blog? Subscribers will be notified via email about future giveaways hosted by Muy Bueno Cookbook. More to come this year so don’t miss out.

Note: This giveaway is provided to you by IMUSA. The views and opinions expressed on Muy Bueno Cookbook are purely our own and based upon our personal experiences with IMUSA products, which we love. 

******************************

Random.org has chosen our winner … Chris Ynzunza

Congrats!

Thank you all for your inspiring resolutions.  We wish you all luck with them and enjoyed reading them!

We look forward to hosting more giveaways and hearing more from you all.

Epiphany Dinner

I hope you all had a great Dia de Los Reyes (Three Kings or the Feast of the Epiphany). Our friends Lesley and Julio invited us over for an Epiphany dinner and I have to say that my amiga Lesley did an outstanding job with dinner and hosting.

Its funny because since starting our blog and cookbook journey my hubby and I are not invited to home dinners as often. Some friends have even confessed that they are intimidated to cook for me. Let me just say I am not a food critic. I love food, any and all food, especially food that is cooked for me. So bring on the invitations for 2012.

Lesley prepared caldo de res, a delicious Mexican beef and vegetable soup, which included chayote. Chayote is a type of squash that gave the soup a great mild flavor. She served the soup with warm corn tortillas, lime wedges, cilantro, and a salsa roja. I felt like I was sitting at mom’s kitchen table. It was the prefect comfort food for a chilly Colorado evening.



She also had some spicy tamales de puerco en chile colorado that Julio’s mother gave them from a tamaleria in Pharr, Texas located near McAllen and the Mexican border city of Reynosa. They were excelente! I hadn’t eaten tamales since our IMUSA tamale adventure and tamalada in El Paso in September (yes, shame on me), so I kinda devoured a couple.

She even had persimmons knowing that I love them so we just had to make persimmon margaritas.

For dessert we had my Rosca de Reyes, which turned out better than I had hoped. Although it was a tad over baked it was not noticed. I covered it in foil and reheated it in the oven, then drizzled some eggnog glaze all over it. Lesley and Julio also broke out a Venezuelan ponche crema, so I just had to add that to the glaze. The rosca turned out great and tasted like a cinnamon roll with a citrus twist. The citrus flavor in the dough and filling combined with the enduring holiday taste of the sweet eggnog glaze was the perfect dessert to end a wonderful Epiphany feast.

If all this wasn’t enough, Lesley also made Mexican hot chocolate with a splash of Kahlua, which complimented the rosca well.

Let’s recap the great drinks…We started off with some of my favorite Rioja Spanish wine before dinner, persimmon margaritas with dinner, the rosca had a Venezuelan kick, and finally a little Kahlua touch in our chocolate.

The kids even enjoyed a little bubbly with some non-alcoholic sparkling cider. It was a very cheerful evening to say the least as we all ate, drank, watched our children perform a “dance show”, and talked till midnight.

Thank you Lesley and Julio for hosting such a fabulous dinner and wanting to share the Dia de Los Reyes traditions with our children.

Salud! Here’s to 2012 and more dinner parties with family and friends.

And speaking of dinner parties – I will be hosting Dia de La Candelaria. Lesley’s daughter actually found the baby Jesus in her slice of bread, but I volunteered to host since they hosted Dia de Los Reyes. My plan is to open the invitation to a few other friends and make it a potluck style dinner.

I even invited some virtual friends to join us in on the potluck so stay tuned for some great recipes from some Latina blog amigas.

Will you be hosting or attending any festivities for Dia de La Candelaria?

My First Rosca de Reyes

Happy New Year amigos!

Just when you thought the parties and food was over…it’s not! In Mexico the festive season continues. Here’s a breakdown of upcoming official holidays and the recipes found on dinner tables.

January 6: Día de Los Reyes or Three Kings Day

This holiday represents the day three wise men gave gifts to Jesus Christ. The day closes the Christmas festivities and is the day the people of Mexico exchange gifts. During Día de Los Reyes, Mexicans serve Rosca de Reyes, or King’s Cake. “Rosca” means wreath and “reyes” means kings. The Rosca de Reyes has an oval shape to symbolize a crown and has a small doll inside which represents baby Jesus. The doll figure symbolizes the hiding of the infant Jesus from King Herod’s troops. Traditionally roscas are adorned with dried and candied fruits like figs, quinces, or cherries to symbolize the many jewels that a crown would have. The person who gets the slice with the doll must host a party on Dia de la Candelaria in February.

You can read more about this holiday on this Dia de Los Reyes (King’s Day) we wrote last year.

February 2: Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas

This is a religious holiday that includes processions, dancing, bullfights (in some cities) and a blessing of seeds and candles. Día de la Candelaria typically includes the Mexican drinks of Atole, Champurrado, and Tamales.

You can read more about this holiday here: Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas).

Last year, 2011 flew by and I had a long list of cooking goals. One of those goals was to make a Rosca de Reyes. Well, it never happened, and so this year I was determined. I told my children all about the special holiday and enlisted their help preparing the bread. They were very excited. They both love helping me in the kitchen, so when the day came to make the bread they woke me up extra early. We gathered all our ingredients, took turns pouring ingredients into the mixer, rolling and kneading the dough, and checking on the dough as it rose. It was an especially busy day because aside from baking we were also cleaning up all the toys that had exploded all over our living room floor. There was also the usual unpacking and washing piles of clothes from our holiday vacation. Ok, back to the baking…

Once the dough rose we took turns rolling it out and filling it with a bright and festive cranberry and almond filling. It was a blissful day and although there was a lot going on, there was this incredible sense of peace and joy. I enjoyed educating my kids about the significance of the bread and they enjoyed taking turns, it was a mother’s dream day with the kid’s en la cocina. Can you picture it?

We filled the dough and it was beautiful. The filling was delicately scented with dried fruits and nuts. I had originally planned to make a raisin and date filling, but in the end decided on a cranberry and almond filling. The filling we made was delicious and colorful.

After we filled our dough, we rolled it, and split it in half (lengthwise), and then twist it and let it rise again. It turned into a beautiful looking wreath and we were all feeling pretty proud.




We adorned it with cherries to represent ruby jewels and finally the moment came to put this beautiful wreath in the oven.

This part is making me sad just thinking about it. By this time I was very tired from a whole day in the kitchen and cleaning the floor after the kids had a little too much fun playing with the flour.

The wreath went into the oven and I set the timer. I went upstairs to fold laundry and asked my 9-year old daughter to let me know when the timer went off. As I folded laundry I was grinning from ear to ear as the smell of the bread baking wafted through our home. I was still feeling very proud and was enjoying my thoughts of my day with the kids. As my thoughts subsided the sudden smell of burnt bread brought me back to reality. I scrambled downstairs and heard the timer going off and saw my daughter hypnotized by the TV. I raced to the oven and pulled out the bread. As I pulled out the bread I quickly noticed parts of it had actually burnt. Now, here’s my confession…I screamed at my poor daughter. I told her that she ruined our bread and all of our hard work was all for nothing. I sent her to her room crying and I was crying looking at this burnt wreath. I was so torn about what to do. Do I throw it away? Do I scrape the burnt pieces and powder it with sugar or add a milky white glaze? As I pondered my ideas I could hear my daughter sobbing upstairs. Not only was I stressed about the bread but I was also mad at myself for being so hard on my daughter, who felt horribly about her mistake.

After having sent her to her room in tears I felt so guilty about how I over-reacted. Our rosca was not perfect and after apologizing to my daughter I realized it was my fault. I never should have left her in charge of listening for the timer knowing how mesmerized she gets while watching TV. All I can hope and pray for now is that she remembers how much fun we all had making the bread and not my screaming and over-reacting to the slightly burnt rosca. After giving this a lot of thought I think my kids taught me a lesson — The importance of spending quality time together. The time well spent taking turns, measuring and just being together in the kitchen. I hope they remember that moment and not the burnt bread. After all was said and done it wasn’t that burnt. I hope I can find a way to make it up to her somehow.

The recipe below has some added precautions on how to make this bread in your home ensuring it doesn’t burn.

Here is hoping you have peace in your home making this rosca.

Rosca de Reyes with Cranberry-Almond Filling and an Eggnog Glaze
adapted from TheKitchn

12 servings

Ingredients
1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (about 110° F)
3/4 cup warm milk (about 110° F)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

For the Cranberry-Almond Filling:
3/4 cup organic dried cranberries, soaked in 1/2 cup brandy
8 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Eggnog Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 teaspoons eggnog

Garnish:
Maraschino cherries

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for a minute or two. Blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, eggs and lime peel. Stir in two cups of the flour, a little at a time. Beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour until you have soft, workable dough. Note: Your dough will be sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate dough when doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

Meanwhile, prepare the Cranberry-Almond Filling. Drain the dried fruit of its liqueur. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

When dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading just enough to release any air bubbles. Roll out the dough into a 9- by 30-inch rectangle. Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting along a long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal.

With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise, carefully turn cut sides up, and loosely twist ropes around each other, keeping cut sides up.

Carefully transfer the bread to a greased and floured baking sheet or pizza stone and shape into a wreath, pinching ends together to seal. Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place the cherries (cut in half) on top of the wreath to decorate.

Bake wreath until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes, covering the wreath loosely with foil after the first 15 minutes, as it will brown quickly.

While wreath is baking, prepare eggnog glaze.

Combine sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Stir in enough eggnog to reach drizzling consistency.

When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack with wide spatulas or a pizza peel. Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze and grate a little bit of fresh nutmeg over the icing.

I chose to add the plastic doll to the wreath after it was baked and cooled and slipped it into a secret slit. I completely cooled my wreath and wrapped it tightly in foil on a cookie sheet and refrigerated it.

We have an epiphany dinner we are attending Friday night, so I plan to store the wreath at room temperature a few hours before the party and then re-heat it (covered) at 350° F for 10 to 15 minutes and then I’ll drizzle the glaze right before serving. I’m hoping the glaze will hide some of the imperfections and give it a yummy sweet flavor.

I’ll post epiphany dinner photos later, and taste results of this bread with the eggnog glaze.

Remember…The custom is that whoever finds the doll must host a party on Candlemas (February 2nd).


Isn’t this baby doll adorable? I bought a package of them at Hobby Lobby.

Feliz Día de Los Reyes!

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