31 October 2010

Calabaza en Tacha

In honor of the holiday today, I'm sharing a recipe for a dish that I've never actually made. But it's one I tasted last night for the first time and loved. My sister-in-law made it and (thankfully!) brought some over to share.

Calabaza en Tacha

Calabaza en Tacha
(also called "candied pumpkin" in English, which is way less fun to say) is a Day of the Dead recipe, which, I think, makes it translate well to a Halloween recipe. But it would also be a nice substitute for those cloyingly sweet yams with the marshmallows on top at Thanksgiving. (And, in fact, I am told you can make this with sweet potatoes, too - Camote en Tacha - which, to someone who likes a little sweet potato with her brown sugar, as Sergio used to joke, sounds divine.)
piloncillo (photo from LatinMerchant.com)

It's a simple recipe - pumpkin cooked with cinnamon, orange juice and zest, water and piloncillo, a Mexican brown sugar with molasses that comes in a lovely shaped cone. Piloncillo isn't usually hard to find these days and, if it is, it's worth the effort to get; it has such a distinct flavor. In a pinch, you can substitute brown sugar and molasses for the piloncillo, but only if you must. Christy said that the traditional preparation method is to pierce the pumpkin with several large holes and to cook it whole. But there are simpler and faster cooking recipes than that. Here are links to a few ...

How to Make Day of the Dead Calabaza en Tacha
Calabaza en Tacha Day of the Dead Recipes
Candied Pumpkin

Earlier today, I asked Sergio what Calabaza en Tacha meant. He said, "Well, calabaza means pumpkin," - um, yeah, I know that already, Sergio: I did take Spanish 1 back in high school - "and en tacha ... I don't know what that means." We debated it further tonight at dinner with Christy and family - but never arrived at an answer - while enjoying our calabaza the traditional way: served cold in a bowl of milk. I thought that was a strange-sounding combo at first, but the creamy milk balances out the super sweet syrup ... it's definitely not strange. It's perfect.

con leche

Happy Halloween!

30 October 2010

Book Shower + Fall Break (a photo essay)

The third weekend of October, we went to OKC for a Book Shower for Julia and for my cousin's wedding...

our little bookworm received over 50 books at her book shower - and no two were the same! Thanks everybody!

the beautiful bride in the gritty out doors - a beautiful wedding

Julia got to meet Mema (and her great aunts, not pictured) ...

... and her cousins, Ling and Minli (and her aunt Tyler, not pictured).

four generations

Then at the end of that week, Tyler and the girls came to spend their Fall Break in KC with me and Julia! Sergio was out of town, so he missed out on our craft activities and sweets-eating...

artwork by Ling, created at Kaleidoscope
(Minli made a sign for Julia that says 'I'm Hungry')

dozing at Latté Land

Minli at Latté Land

frowning over our very-difficult-to-make Paper Source poppies

Since Snow Cone season is over, thank goodness for Fresher than Fresh Snow Pops at Hammerpress letterpress studio!

19 October 2010

One Month Old Today

Julia Minerva, one month old

I can't believe it's been one month. This has been the longest and shortest month of my life. She is totally different now than she was one month ago today - and yet she is still so precious, so small, and so sweet.

And just as much as I did that day that I first laid eyes on her, I love her more than I could have imagined.

She is amazing.

07 October 2010

Rosemary Remembrance Cake

Rosemary for Remembrance

This is an all time favorite of mine. The first time I made it I thought rosemary in a cake was strange. Now, I have made it so often and love it so much, that when I simply smell rosemary, at the farmers market, I immediately think of this cake. Not roasted potatoes or some savory application of the herb, but rather this sweet and sugar-coated cake.

I don't make it without occasion because it's big and I could eat the whole thing myself - but shouldn't. So while Julia's grandparents were visiting and lots of family were over at our place - and since I'd gotten a nice batch of rosemary in our CSA share - I decided to make this last week.

This was my best one yet. Usually I make it with whole wheat flour because that's often all that I have around. But for this one I used local Heartland Mills unbleached, unenriched all purpose flour. And I have to tell you that while there is nothing truly wrong with the whole wheat version, there is definitely something very right about the white flour version. This cake had perfect pound cake density and the crack along the top was just right. It rose well in the oven and each slice held together beautifully.

from Nigella Lawson's Feast
makes approximately 10 slices

1 eating apple (approx. 6oz in weight)
1 small sprig and 2 medium-long sprigs of rosemary (you could just use one long sprig - but I always use two)
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon butter

2 sticks butter
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon superfine sugar
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Peel, core, and roughly chop the apple and put into a saucepan with the small sprig of rosemary, the teaspoon of sugar, the lemon zest and juice, and butter. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 4-8 minutes until the apple is soft. How long this takes really depends on the variety of apple you're using. Leave to cook, and fish out the rosemary sprig when it is cold.

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 1 lb loaf pan with a loaf liner, or butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Put the cooled apple into a food processor and blitz to a pulp. Then add the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and baking powder and process to a smooth batter. Spoon and scrape into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and then lay the long sprig(s) of rosemary along the center of the cake. On baking, the rosemary sheds its oil to leave a scented path down the middle of the cake.

Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean, then leave to cool on a rack. Slip the paper-lined cake out of the pan once it is cool.