The Novel Bakers Present My Abuela’s Table: An Illustrated Journey into Mexican Cooking


I’m joining The Novel Bakers with My Abuela’s Table: An Illustrated Journey into Mexican Cooking 

by Daniella Germain


 A lovingly created blend of essential Mexican recipes, magical illustrations and a family’s story.


 My Abuela’s Table is as much a work of art as it is a book of trusted heirloom Mexican recipes. More than seventy recipes plus variations have been passed down from Daniella’s abuela (her grandmother) in Mexico, transcribed and translated by Daniella’s mother into English, and then brought to life by Daniella in this delightfully illustrated book of essential Mexican home cooking. Popular dishes and favorites such as tacos, churros, empanadas, guacamole and huevos rancheros, sit alongside less known delights.


Daniella’s illustrations are essential to the book in the form of step-by-step instructions including how to correctly fold, tie, and steam tamale or use a tortilla press. They also provide a delightfully whimsical feel with asides such as the chicken that “highly recommends the bean enchiladas.”


 Bienvenida to Abuela’s house and table. . .


Just in time for Cinco de Mayo!


Quench your thirst with some Sangria Mexicana for your Cinco de Mayo celebration or summer fiesta, as easy to mix as it is to drink!



2 slices pineapple

1 green apple, sliced

2 peaches, sliced

1/2 cup papaya (none available at my grocery store, I omitted)

1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

2 cups red wine

2 cups lemonade



Combine fruit with wine, lemonade and ice in a pitcher.


*For best flavor, refrigerate 2 hours up to 24, allowing time for the wine to infuse with the flavors of the fruit.



There were muchos choices for our fiesta in the cookbook! I decided on Beef Empanadas, or beef turnovers, filled with a tomato, onion, garlic and beef mixture along with some spicy chorizo.


I added some pie crust embellishments for a little whimsy inspired by the Daniella Germain’s illustrations.


I made a couple of minor changes to the empanada recipe in My Abuela’s Table. You can make the empanada filling ahead, refrigerate up to 3 days in advance and assemble when ready to bake. The chorizo adds some welcome spice and heat, but if you’re not a fan of spicy, substitute additional beef for the chorizo.


 Use refrigerated pie crust for easy assembly or if you prefer, your favorite pastry recipe. Each pie crust will make 3 (6”) empanadas, if you reroll the pastry scraps. Empanadas can be assembled in advance and then frozen to bake later. If baking from frozen, allow additional baking time, cover will foil to prevent overbrowning if needed.


Beef Empanadas, Makes 18


1 lb. beef stew meat, cubed

2 fresh Mexican chorizo sausages, casings removed

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 bay leaves

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, undrained

1 (12 oz.) cerveza or Mexican beer

3 packages store-bought pie crust or your favorite pie crust recipe

1 egg, beaten with water for egg wash

beef empanada


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add chorizo removed from casing and cook for 5 minutes. Add beef cubes, stirring until browned, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to pot, stir well.

Cover pot and allow to simmer *1 1/2 hours. (*Not enough liquid evaporated with the pan covered for me, so I simmered a little longer with the lid removed and until beef mixture was thickened.) Set aside and let the filling cool before assembling empanadas.


I added cerveza to the empanada filling as in Cuete con Cerveza, (beef in beer) recipe in My Abuela’s Table. Substitute chicken stock for the beer if you prefer.


 Assembling these empanadas is rápido with my Nordic Ware pocket pie press, that I’ve used for Peach Hand Pies and Scary Hand Pies. You can find one from Amazon, here, or use a bowl as a template to cut a circle of dough for your empanadas, crimping the edges with a fork to seal them. My pie press cuts 6″ circles of dough.

PicMonkey Collage pie press-001

Unwrap refrigerated dough and roll out on a floured surface. Using back of pie press, cut circle out of pastry dough. Each refrigerated pie crust will give you (3) 6-inch circles of dough, rerolling the pastry scraps. Lightly dust pie press with flour. Place dough circle onto top of crimped side of pie press, pressing dough circle down slightly in center.

beef empanada pie press1-001

Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of filling onto indented portion of pastry circle. Using a pastry brush, brush edges of pastry circle with egg wash. Seal pie with press and place pies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 400 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.


I used a set of Spring Garden Piecrust Cutters, from Williams-Sonoma that are unfortunately are no longer available, but you decorate them anyway you like or leave them plain.


You can find a printable recipe, here.


I was unfamiliar with and fascinated by a molinillo, a Mexican chocolate whisk.


 They are still handmade today, using a wood lathe and carved from a single piece of wood which I find amazing, complete with moving rings, and decorative indentations and designs with a sturdy bottom base to stand on and rest in a pot. I found mine online, here, but you can find them at some specialty kitchen stores.


Chocolate Caliente (Hot Chocolate), Makes 4 servings

4 cups milk

7 oz. dark chocolate (or 8 tablespoons of cocoa)

4 cinnamon sticks

Sugar to taste


Heat milk just to boiling in pan. Break your chocolate bar or discs into pieces and add them to the milk. Remove pan from heat. Use the wide end of the molinillo to gently break up the chocolate and stir until melted. Spin the molinillo briskly back and forth in the hot chocolate to froth the milk. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick to stir each cup and add sugar to taste.


I have to confess, I did not master the art of frothing with the molinillo, it’s going to require mucho practice ;) so I topped the hot chocolate with whipped cream instead. You can watch the amazing art of making molinillos in the video below.

The author, Daniella Germain has published a follow-up cookbook, My Abuelo’s Mexican Feast: A Life and Love of Mexican Food, you can read more about it on her website, here.


Fiesta Details:

Plate, Mug, Bowl / Bobby Flay™ Sevilla , Kohl’s

Tablecloth / Threshold™ Printed Medallion, Target

Medallion Picks / Pier 1

Continue the fiesta with my fellow Novel Bakers . . .

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

and Special Guest Baker Linda, More Fun Less Laundry, and my life philosophy :)


¡Salud! and Happy Cinco de Mayo! :)


Thank you for your visit, also sharing with:

 Metamorphosis Monday,

The Scoop,  Inspire Me Tuesday,

Wow Us WednesdaysShare Your Style

 Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party

  28 comments for “The Novel Bakers Present My Abuela’s Table: An Illustrated Journey into Mexican Cooking

  1. May 5, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Mary, what a delightful and beautiful cookbook! Oh my heavens, the images are stunning and each recipe looks scrumptious! Thanks for sharing!
    By the way, your blog is simply amazing!
    Have a great day~

  2. May 5, 2015 at 6:41 am

    A lovely post in every way! The book, the photos, the recipes, the pretty dishes and table vignettes! I am thinking it would be fun to have a Mexican evening with my family using your suggestions here :)

  3. May 5, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Happy Cinco De Mayo! What a great day to celebrate good food and some Sangria! Your post was beautiful with all the pictures and recipe!💃🏻💃🏻💃🏻

  4. May 5, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Your post was a delight to read, Mary, and so visually enticing. What a dear cookbook with darling illustrations. Your empanadas are works of art and I’m sure abuela would be proud. The sangria is the perfect accompaniment for your Cinco de Mayo feast!

  5. May 5, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I have been gobbling up every word, photo, and illustration from this delightful post Mary, and what a perfect way to start Cinco de Mayo! First of all, your photos are even more gorgeous than usual if that’s possible, the Sangria against the water and all the details, is breathtaking. Your empanadas are the prettiest I’ve ever seen and sound divine with the addition of chorizo and cervaza! The illustration style is so whimsical and funny, the animal asides are completely charming~The chocolate wisk is totally new to me, what an incredible creation. Muy Bueno Mary, Mas Tequila, Mas Cervaza, let the fiesta begin!!

  6. Ellen Stillabower
    May 5, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Can’t wait to make the Sangria!!! Table is so inviting and cookbook is ultra cute!! 😍

  7. Sherlie Magaret
    May 5, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Beautiful!!! Love the recipes and the pictures.

  8. May 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Hi Mary,
    I see that we all went straight for the Sangria! Your huge pieces of fruit in it make it even more inviting! And those empanadas are too beautiful to eat! I will definitely be making those this weekend and yes with chorizo and cerveza (my Spanish has improved so much with those important additions to my vocabulary) and I’m even inspired to attempt some decorative embellishments! I have heard of the chocolate whip because one of the American Girl Dolls came with one, but it was miniature of course and we never tried it. Did you know the Tazo chocolate is made right up here in Boston? The founder tasted real Mexican chocolate in Oaxaca (home of my little painted animals) and was so impressed he came back and started the company. They have tours and I’m going on one soon~~samples are included :)
    All your photos are so inviting and the hilarious hiccuping chicken is so appropriate. There’s still some Sangria in my fridge…

  9. May 5, 2015 at 8:28 am

    I had to come back and say how incredible the video is about making the beautiful molinillinos~unbelievable!

  10. Rattlebridge Farm
    May 5, 2015 at 8:31 am

    What a feast for my eyes, Mary. I just love everything. The addition of the art, along with the author’s family photographs, showed the book’s big heart and soul. Love how the book is surrounded by the core elements of Mexican cookery. The details and colors are magnificent, each one a celebration. Your hand pies are festive and adorable. You captured the essence of the book. Your photos are stunning–love the sunlight sparkling through your sangria. As always, it was a treat to play with you today. Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! xxoo

  11. Melissa Leach
    May 5, 2015 at 9:33 am

    What a treat this morning! I love the illustrations :) The Sangria photos have me ready to leave work to whip us a batch! I’ll be adding the Sangria to our Mother’s Day menu. Thank you for sharing.

  12. May 5, 2015 at 11:39 am

    so love getting back to basics with books! love your styling, i had the same ideas as you with loads of good food amidst the book, then i nearly blacked out and backed out!

    ahhh and there is that sangria front and center for all of us! oh its extra inviting by the water isn’t it… i feel that out of this worldly tug, to feel warm and snug in the sun sipping summer. i wonder if that tray could double as a floatation device when i tumble overboard…

    did you see what they bake to put in the pinata, that really surprised me!

    your empanadas are works of art, like i would expect less??? flowers and birds+flowers and birds=novel bakers!

    i really enjoyed your video, what magic works of art! i must own one now too, just seeing that video made me! ALL your shots are perfect too… like they ever aren’t?! do you think to make it froth you roll between your palms like starting a fire? they are amazing pieces, i love the artistry… and who doesn’t love the reward of mexican chocolate!

    thanks for sharing her link, did you see the darling DISHES she designed! she is very creative, i love her artwork.

    oh that was fun fun fun, thanks so much for being a novel baker, scott said hey what are we doing for cinco de mayo, i tried to tell him i already enjoyed mine, but he is seeking a repeat performance today ;-)

  13. May 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    As ML said, this post is a feast for the eyes. The book and your photos and food!!!! I am not a big lover of Mexican food but the hand pies sound delicious and of course the sangria!!! You put so much work and thought into each post and I want to thank you for that. Your readers DO appreciate your efforts. XO

  14. May 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    How fun….Love the Mexican Fiesta and your choices for Cinco de Mayo celebrations are so much better than the usual Tex-Mex fare…but of course, this is Mexican food and not Tex-Mex…Huge difference!

    Your knack for putting so many elements together and coming up with a perfect feast is amazing…You keep me in awe!

    Feliz Dia y Buen Provecho!

  15. May 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I love the illustrations and hear the bean enchiladas are pretty good:@) That drink would have been perfect for this lovely, warm Cinco de Mayo Mary-hope you enjoyed one!

  16. Gail Noll
    May 5, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    What a beautiful blog about a beautiful cook book.

  17. May 5, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    The cookbook illustrations are so much fun! What a great inspiration cookbook for Cinco de Mayo. The multistriped placemats and napkins are perfect for the holiday.


  18. May 6, 2015 at 7:55 am

    What a beautiful post! So many wonderful details. I loved the video. I had never heard of molinillos until today and now I “need” to have one! In the meantime, I’m heading over to Pier One to pick up some of thos fabulous picks. The empanadas are a work of art. Your dishes are wonderful, too. Frankly, there isn’t a single thing I don’t love about this post! I’ll be coming back over and over to this one, Mary. ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

  19. May 6, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Mary….I so love the beautiful post…love this series…and I am off to order the book and that pie press!….the empanadas look amazing along with everything else…the table, the food….your gorgeous photography!….

  20. May 6, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Your husband must LOVE your blogging……does he get to enjoy all the goodies??
    So impressed with your skills in designing, cooking and photography…..always a treat!

  21. May 7, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Mary, I’ve never seen a Mexican chocolate whisk. Very neat! Loved the video too. The empanadas are going on my list to make and freeze for quick summer lunches.

  22. Kathy G
    May 10, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    The secret to making very, very bueno sauce is actually doubling the amount of Corona……..
    However, only one makes it to the pot :-))). Ole!

  23. August 1, 2015 at 2:01 am

    Thank you Mary for taking the time to blog about my book and recipes! You’ve done those empanadas wonderful justice. How beautiful are yours!?! Thanks again. Daniella xx

  24. Alice
    May 1, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Still smiling from this fantastic post. Outrageous.

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