Monthly Archives: October 2014

Nuestra Mesa: Para este Día de Muertos, Tamales de Queso y Chile

Foto: Manuel Rivera

Foto: Manuel Rivera

 

Por: Aldo Saavedra  

Entre los diversos platillos que forman parte de la celebración de Día de Muertos, están los populares tamales. En cada región de México, a este platillo se le “da vida” de diferente manera, incorporando masas, rellenos y procedimientos distintos.

En el Valle de Santiago, por ejemplo, entre las comunidades otomíes que ahí radican, descubrimos unos tamales únicos de intenso sabor y  preparación sencilla.  Servidos durante los velorios para alimentar a los que acompañan a los dolientes, y preparados nuevamente para celebrar el Día de los Fieles Difuntos, estos tamales están hechos con ingredientes y utensilios endémicos, entre ellos el tequesquite, una piedra de sal que emerge en las zonas acuosas después de la época de lluvias. El tequesquite se usa como sazonador, o bien  se le agrega a la masa de maíz para inflar los tamales y darles textura. Aquí, les comparto la receta. 

 

INGREDIENTES:

  • 1 kg de masa de maíz.
  • 250 grs de manteca de cerdo.
  • La cáscara de 10 tomates
  • 1 cda de polvo para hornear (para remplazar al tequesquite que se usa originalmente)
  • 4 piezas de chile ancho sin semilla.
  • 300 grs de queso añejo.
  • Sal
  • Cantidad necesaria de agua.
  • 20 hojas de totomoztle (hoja de maíz)

 PROCESO:

  1. Pon cocer las hojas de tomate en agua. Si vas a usar tequesquite, pónlo a hidratar previamente en un vaso de agua para que suelte la tierra. Posteriormente añade esta agua al recipiente donde hervirán las cascaras de tomate, cuidando de no vaciar el fondo. Hierve ligeramente. Reserva.
  2. Pon las hojas de totomoztle a remojar.
  3. Remoja el chile bien desvenado en agua durante una media hora, escurre. Muele en metate alternando con el queso. Si no tienes metate, usa el procesador de alimentos cuidando que no queden cascaras grandes. Mezcla con el queso hasta formar una pasta homogénea y reserva.
  4. Agrega sal a la masa, manteca de cerdo y en caso de que no tengas tequesquite, añade el polvo para hornear. Mezcla hasta que se integren todos los ingredientes.
  5. Añade poco a poco el agua de los tomates hasta que la masa se desprenda de la superficie donde se está trabajando, no es necesario agregar toda el agua.
  6. Escurre las hojas de totomoztle.
  7. Arma los tamales agregando en una hoja un poco de la masa, extendiéndola por la hoja y al centro el relleno. Envuelve doblando firmemente y coloca los tamales acomodados en una vaporera, paraditos, con las puntas hacia arriba
  8. Cocina durante 1 hora o hasta que estén bien cocidos.  Sabrás que los tamales se cocieron bien, cuando el tamal se desprende con facilidad de la hoja.

Nota curiosa: En algunas zonas del país se acostumbra dar la bendición a la olla para que se cocinen bien los tamales, pero en Santiago Mezquititlán, se ponen dos chiles guajillos formando una cruz en el fondo de la vaporera.  Se cree que de esta forma, las personas que andan cerca y alcanzar a oler lo que se prepara, no impedirán, con su antojo, la buena cocción de los tamales.

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México. Encuentra más información sobre el chef Saavedra en  México de mis Sabores.

 

¡’Biba’ México! The Zeal Behind Mexico’s Pasión Biba (The First in a Series)

 

Photo Credit: Pasión Biba

Photo Credit: Pasión Biba

From the Series “World Class: Mexican Wine and the Hands who Make it”

Photos: Enrico Bellomo/Brenda Storch

 

I became fascinated by Valle de Guadalupe’s cuisine while following the recent opening of  Lozhka Bistrot,  a partnership between Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff and celebrated chef José Bossuet. It was not until I spoke with Chef that I realized this prosperous little town, barely two hours south of San Diego, had been colonized by a group of Eastern European immigrants known as Molokans. In the early 1900s, fifty Molokan families fleeing from the Russian Orthodox Church sought refuge in this idyllic town. Serendipitously, while the Mexican government granted the colonizers permission to establish themselves and to own land,  the story of Mexican wine found a way to not “die on the vine.”

Gratefully.

Aside from tending to grapes and making wine, the new settlers introduced commodities that included geese, beehives, grains, cooking and farming techniques. Molokans forever changed the phenotype of Valle de Guadalupe, including its gastronomy.

Photo: Brenda Storch

Lozhka Bistrot is a brilliant, almost poetic summary of what this town is about- a contemporary, singular take on double the fusion (novo-Hispanic cuisine with Russian influences) where dual identities abound.  Visitors of Valle de Guadalupe will be equally delighted with airy Molokan bread, and pan dulce.

At Lozhka, for example, I had the most memorable duck enmoladas.  Bossuet explained the protein is a nod to the use of geese favored by Molokan settlers, replacing the more traditional use of chicken in this dish. If you visit Lozhka, Chef recommends pairing this glorious plate with Pasión Biba’s Zinfandel 2010.

During my stay, I heard the story of a lady who makes tamales out of Varenyky dough. I could not confirm whether or not this is just an urban legend, but after all, this is Mexico.  Here, anything is possible.

Photo Credit: Brenda Storch

Duck Enmoladas at Lozhka Bistrot

Among a host of delicacies that words will only fall short to describe,  I was treated to the most unforgettable compote made with yellow watermelons and freshly-picked tomatoes.

Chef Bossuet and One of His Irresistible Creations: Watermelon and Tomato Compote

Chef Bossuet and one of his irresistible creations: watermelon and tomato compote.

Farm-to-table is Valle de Guadalupe’s bread and butter. Many of the vineyard owners have partnered with well-renowned chefs to offer a complete culinary experience. Thanks to this effort, the  collection of elevated eateries in this area is a true gem.

Freshly Harvested Yellow Watermelon Finds a Way to Your Table (and Your Heart) at Lozhka Bistrot

Freshly harvested yellow watermelon finds a way to your table (and your heart) at Lozhka Bistrot.

Past and future juxtapose in every detail- Lozhka means ‘spoon’ in Russian and the name of the restaurant is an homage to Abel Bibayoff’s grandfather Alexei, one of the Molokan founders of this town. In the halls of the family’s small museum, where handmade ‘loshkas‘ lie close to a few samovars, we see the next generation of Bibayoffs happily sleeping in a baby carriage.

It is very clear that tradition is a lifestyle for the Bibayoff family- it is tangible matter.  It is alive. Viva.

Alexei Bibayoff's Spoon or "Lozhka".

Alexei Bibayoff’s Spoon or “Lozhka”.

After having the good fortune to be guided (by none other than Abel Bibayoff himself) through the process in which vines are coaxed into grapes and then turned into wine,  the name of his label, “Pasión Biba” resonates.  This play on words, which phonetically means “live passion”, says it all.

Pasión Biba's Abel Bibayoff

Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff

There are years of character, generational zeal and know-how in his wine. Each drop is nurtured, loved, intimately known. If it were possible, each would have a name that over and over again, would translate into ‘passion’. In every drop, Pasión Biba.

¡Biba México!

Lozhka Bistrot is open Wednesdays – Mondays 1o:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Learn more about Pasión Biba

< Prior Article in the Series: World Class: Mexican Wine and the Hands who Make It

>Next Article in the Series: AlXimia: The Art and Science of Extraordinary Wine

 

How to get there:

Map by Pasión Biba.

Map courtesy of Pasión Biba.

 

 

Death is a Party: El Día de Muertos

  

“The Mexican is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, and celebrates it. It is one of his favorite playthings and his most steadfast love.”   

-Octavio Paz

Photos: Lissette Storch – Puebla, Mexico

 

Death is a verb and a noun.

In Mexico, death is an ultimate experience of life, and in what seems to be a constant attempt to make it look approachable, we have made her look human and we have dressed her up; we have given her nicknames, le hablamos de tú*.

Death is a ‘she’.

Originally, sugar skulls were created as a reminder of the fact that death  awaits us at any turn, and it is one of  the many expressions of our inevitable relationship with “the lady with many names”: La Catrina (“the rich or elegant one”), La Tía de las Muchachas (“the girls’ aunt”), La Fría (“the cold one”), La Novia Blanca (“the white bride”). Death is a character that wanders amongst us.

Death is life.

Like any other Mexican celebration, food is at the center of el Día de Muertos. Along with pan de muerto (literally, “bread of dead”) and cempasúchil flowers, sugar skulls are staples of this festivity. It is virtually impossible to stumble upon any particular element of  el Día de Muertos that does not have a deliberate purpose or meaning. From the bread that symbolizes the circle of life and communion with the body of the dead, to the flowers that make a nod to the ephemeral nature of life, this ritual, especially in rural Mexico, is rich in both form and content.

I grew up in the city, and for the most part, I participated in these festivities as a spectator. It was not until my grandmother died a few years ago, when my uncle and my mother took over perpetuating this three-thousand-year-old tradition, that I became involved and more intrigued by it.

Year after year, the family travels to a small village in the outskirts of Puebla to  set up an ofrenda for my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and other deceased  relatives. They are remembered with their favorite food and dishes. My grandmother  for example, loved to cook, so aside from prepared meals, her favorite kitchen tools are also set around her picture.

Candles are used either as symbol of hope and faith, or as a way to light the path of the dead as they descend. Water is included to quench the thirst of the souls, and as a symbol of purity. With these ofrendas, the dead  are remembered and invoked.

The celebration continues in the cemetery, where the living and the souls eat together, listen to music, and even enjoy fireworks.

For a few days in November, in Mexico, death is a party.

The cementery of San Francisco Acatepec, where my grandmother is buried.

Hablar de tú‘ means to address someone casually, vs. the respectfully ‘usted’ that is reserved to address those who you don’t know or those who haven’t granted you permission to do otherwise.