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
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.
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.
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.
Plate, Mug, Bowl / Bobby Flay™ Sevilla , Kohl’s
Tablecloth / Threshold™ Printed Medallion, Target
Medallion Picks / Pier 1