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.
Mam loves her kitchen, her double oven would be working overtime: baking galore with cookies, sweet breads, savory dishes and the traditional Mexican Christmas fare for the many parties she and my father would hold during the month of December. Mam taught me that love was best expressed in plentiful bowls of food, and share and spread widely a bite at a time. Every year she would make tons of edible gifts for neighbours and friends, this is a tradition I have tried to keep as much as possible. I bake or make something edible every year and put it in nice containers with ribbons and a card and we deliver them every year to our closest friends.
So when I was contacted by The Theatre of Food to take part in some workshops in Cork City Christmas Market in December, I chose to do Edible Gifts. So apart from sharing a few ideas there, this year I'll be making a few different edible gifts. Starting with this recipe for buñuelos, a fried wheat tortilla, dusted with sugar and cinnamon. I've chosen to use an old basket I had in the house and I made it pretty with some recycled Christmas decorations I found in the attic.
Heat the oil in a heavy non-stick pan. The oil needs to be very hot for this, otherwise the tortillas will just go soggy and absorb too much oil.
In a deep bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Make sure the bowl is big enough to fit one of the wheat tortillas flat.
Using a fork, pierce the tortilla in 4 or 5 places to prevent them from bubbling up too much and avoiding hot oil from splashing everywhere!
Drop the pierced tortilla gently into the hot oil aided by a fork and an egg lifter. Keep the tortilla flat by pressing it gently with the egg lifter and leave it like that for about 40 seconds or until it colours a golden brown. Turn the tortilla carefully to fry the other side for about 30 seconds. Your aim is to have a crispy, golden brown tortilla.
Lift the tortilla carefully from the oil and shake any excess of it into the pan. Drop the new buñuelo immediately into the bowl of sugar & cinnamon mixture. Using a spoon, make sure to cover both sides of the buñuelo with sugar. The buñuelos are now quite frigile, so handle them with care. Once covered in sugar, transfer it onto a plate to allow it to cool down a little. Repeat steps 4 to 5 until you have fried all your tortillas.
Buñuelos are a lovely tradition in Mexico and taste incredibly good with a nice cup of tea or a mug of hot chocolate. They are so tasty and they make beautiful edible gifts. Once they are completely cold, you can place them in your choice of gift wrapping. Basquets, jars, plates. A great choice is to visit your local charity shop for cute plates that you can use to gift your buñuelos on. It's cheap and cheerful plus yuo'll be helping a good cause! If you feel particularly crafty, cut the tortillas in shapes, like I did here, before frying them. Once they are completely cold, pack them into jars or cellophane bags with cut ribbons. They look adorable!