Mole Veracruzano ~ Mole from Veracruz

Mole Veracruzano H2With Thanksgiving upon us this week, you are bound to find some leftover turkey in the fridge, and while there are countless ways to use up the leftovers, why not dress it up Mexican-style with some mole!

The word mole comes from the Náhuatl word (language of the people living in central Mexico) molli which means sauce. In Mexico, mole refers to essentially any sauce made with a base of chiles and thickened with nuts. There are thousands of varieties of moles and each region of Mexico boasts its own unique recipe.
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Empanadas de Nuez y Naranja con Relleno de Arándano y Jamaica ~ Pecan Orange Turnovers with Cranberry Hibiscus Filling

Pecan-Orange Empanadas with Cranberry Hibiscus Filling (H2)Do you remember that Cranberry Nut Bread that I was telling you about the other day? Well these cookies were completely inspired by that flavor combination. I swear you can’t go wrong when you combine nuts, cranberries, and oranges. Not only do they taste amazing together, but their combined smell in the oven is always heavenly!
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Mermelada de Arándano, Jamaica, y Naranja ~ Cranberry Hibiscus Orange Jam

Cranberry, Hibiscus, and Orange Jam (H)‘Tis the season to buy cranberries! While I’m not too fond of winter, I do enjoy when cranberries make their first appearance, and I knew the season had arrived when I went by Trader Joe’s this week and bags of these crimson goodies lined the produce shelf.

I bought a bag not knowing exactly what I planned to do with it, but then it dawned on me that I should make something that combined jamaica (hibiscus) and cranberries! After all, I am currently exploring ways to use jamaica, and cranberries are strikingly similar in flavor.
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Agua de Jamaica ~ Hibiscus Water

Agua de Jamaica #3Last week I introduced my ingredient of the month: flor de jamaica–hibiscus. One thing I love about jamaica is that it is not a seasonal ingredient. You can find it during any time of the year, and it can be used in so many ways! Once you try it, your imagination will begin to spin thinking about the limitless recipes where it could be incorporated.

Today, I give you a classic use for this ingredient–agua de jamaica (hibiscus water). In Mexico, aguas frescas or aguas de sabor are “waters” or juices that are made using fresh fruits and vegetables. Since Mexico has such an abundance of fresh produce, it only makes sense that it would be put to good use. Some of the most common aguas frescas are horchata (rice milk), tamarindo (tamarind), limón (lime), sandía (watermelon), melón (cantaloupe), and of course, jamaica (hibiscus).
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Flor de Jamaica

Jamaica #1In Pittsburgh, there are only two Mexican grocery stores–Reyna Foods and Las Palmas.  Reyna Foods has been around for some time and caters mainly to the American crowd. It carries mainstream Mexican brands, such as Goya and Herdez. Las Palmas is a newer, family-run group of four supermarkets/carnicerías spread throughout the city. It is principally frequented by Mexican/Latin American customers and carries an abundance of fresh Mexican produce, as well as harder to find products like queso Oaxaca and piloncillo.

This summer, while I was shopping at Las Palmas, I ran into two women that decided to stop in just to see what this neighborhood grocery store had to offer. They saw Roberto and me buying various Mexican ingredients such as jícama, tunas, and dried chiles and stopped us to ask how we planned to use each ingredient. We struck up a conversation with them and started explaining how each item could be used. They were very excited at the possibility of new ingredients and thanked us for the help.  Continue reading

Conservemos Nuestras Tradiciones

Check out these great 20-second commercials that depict some beautiful Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico! These videos were produced by Canal Once, an educational Mexican television network owned by the Instituto Politecnico Nacional (my Mexican alma mater).

Calaveras de Azúcar (Sugar Skulls)

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)

La flor de cempazúchitl (Marigolds)

joel rendón (Mexican graphic artist)