If you ever stop by the shop and I'm there, you'll probably hear me talking about Piloncillo. It's one of my favourite Mexican ingredients and since it's so unknown in Ireland, I'm always going on about it. A lot of people look at it in its package and ask what that is and if they give me 5 minutes of their attention and are not afraid to taste a bit, they go home with a pack of it totally converted.
Pozole is perhaps the one dish I miss the most from home. A spoonful of it is enough to bring me right back to my mother's kitchen table. I particularly crave it this time of year, as many Mexicans enjoy it as a celebratory meal to see the old year out and ring in the new one. It's substancial, nutricious and as ancient as Aztec times. Amazing cure for hangovers too!
I am currently obsessed with Mexican Atoles. They are perfect for this time of the year as they are warm and nutritious. Giving that Christmas is nearly here, I decided to post what it is perhaps the most traditional and Christmassy of all known Atoles: Champurrado.
Most of my creative process starts with one single hungry thought. It usually comes at the least expected time... when the belly is full and I am relaxed. Funny enough, never when I am actually physically hungry (I get impatient and cranky when I'm hungry). When mam and dad were here in October, we were discussing Mexican traditional sweets... and candied pecans, or nueces garanpiñadas, came to mind. They are an expensive enough edible gift in Mexico as pecans are never cheap, but very, very tasty and Christmassy.
I spend a lot of time reading about food. It's what I like doing the most; yet, when I sat down to write this particular post, I realised most of what I know about Tamales was from either the stories my mother and grandma had or from general common knowledge. I decided to research a little bit more about it, what I found out really surprised me! For example, did you know that the oldest records place tamales as far back as 1200 BC in Mayan paintings?!
After the busy Christmas and New Year festivities, where indulgence in rich foods and loads of comfort eating is a given, January is always a time for what I call my food resolutions; they vary year to year, from detoxing, to only organic, to light and lean, or healthy. Regardless of what my food resolutions are for each year, I feel that the kitchen must be prepared, pruned and ready for the year to come; I like to think of my kitchen as a garden, alive and seasonal. You need to put the bulbs down now if you want beautiful daffodils blooming in the spring time, don't you?
As those of you who know me, and those of you who've been patient enough to read previous ramblings in this blog, I absolutely hate food waste. I don't throw food away if I can help it; some of my Irish family find this odd and jokingly call me the queen of leftovers, so naturally, two weeks after Christmas I am still feeding my dearest and nearest turkey! Normally, Alan always asks - 'what's for dinner today?', nowadays, he asks: 'is the turkey finally all gone?' - the poor thing!
I don't know about you, but I seem to be incapable of ever judging what size turkey to buy so that I don't have a massive amount of it left after our traditionally Irish Christmas dinner. This year was no exception, the 14 pound bird was indeed too much, so I was left with about 5 pounds of cooked turkey! Now there's only so much turkey sandwiches you can eat and after two days, I have to fight the urge to choke it all in the bin.
I love Christmas, it is my favourite time of the year. Growing up our house was filled with the Christmas spirit: colourful decorations everywhere, a big Christmas tree in the hall full of red, green, gold and silver ornaments and multicoloured lights. The whole house lit up and dressed to spread joy and happiness. Nothing said Christmas as much as mam's kitchen though: full of aromas from all the dishes that she would serve up for family and friends.
I don't know about you, but I seem to be completely incapable of EVER judging what size turkey to buy so that I don't have a massive amount of it left after our traditionally Irish Christmas dinner. This year was no exception, the 14 pound bird was indeed too much, so I was left with about 5 pounds of cooked turkey! Now there's only so much cold turkey you can eat and after two days, one may need to get quite inventive. Here's what I did with my leftovers of turkey today.