Let’s Talk Food: Tomorrow is Halloween

  • Courtesy of AUDREY WILSON

Happy All Hallows’ Eve eve!

Wednesday is Halloween, which also is celebrated in other countries, such as Mexico, those in Latin America and Spain. It is called All Souls’ Day and actually celebrated Nov. 2. However it starts tomorrow night and lasts till the second. It honors the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween.

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We are currently here in Mexico, where All Souls’ Day is called Dia de los Muertos, a family event to remember ancestors, similar to obon in the Islands. Altars are set up today, Oct. 30, and tomorrow. Tables are covered with flowers, fruits, vegetables, candles, incense, statues of saints and photos of the deceased.

The food served includes pan de muerto, or bread of the dead; agua de jamaica, or hibiscus flower water; agua de tamarindo, or tamarind water; horchata, or rice milk drink; caramel flan; sopaipillas; calabaza en tacha, or candied pumpkin; blue corn enchiladas; chalupa; chicken in pipian sauce; tinga poblana de pollo, or chicken stew; white and red posole; mole poblano; creamed corn and cheese; and sweet bean, shrimp, chicken, red chile and pork tamales.

Pan de Muerto, or Bread of the Dead

Serves: 8-10

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees)

2 large eggs

3 cups flour, unsifted

1/2 teaspoon anise seed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons sugar

Bring milk to boil and remove from heat. Stir in butter, 1/4 cup sugar and salt.

In a large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved and let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk mixture.

Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, but save the white for later. Add flour to the yeast and egg. Blend well until a dough ball is formed.

Flour a pastry board or work surface very well and place the dough in the center. Knead until smooth. Return to large bowl and cover with dish towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Knead dough again on floured surface. Divide the dough into fourths and set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining three pieces into “ropes.”

On greased baking sheet, pinch three rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. Divide the remaining dough in half and form two “bones.” Cross and lay them atop braided loaf.

Cover bread with dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix anise seed, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar together. In another bowl, beat egg white lightly.

When 30 minutes are up, brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar mixture, except on cross bones. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

• • •

One of my favorite Mexican drinks is agua de jamaica, or hibiscus flower water.

Agua de Jamaica, or Hibiscus Water

Serves: 8

1 cup dried hibiscus flowers, or jamaica

8 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Strain and refrigerate.

• • •

Tinga Poblana de Pollo, or Mexican Chicken Stew

Serves: 8

8 chicken thighs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

8 ripe, whole Roma tomatoes

4 cups chicken stock

4 chipotle chiles

1/2 pound good-quality chorizo

1 white onion, sliced thin

6 red potatoes, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (not Greek)

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

1 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or feta cheese

Place chicken in stock pot and add water to cover. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 20 minutes. If possible, let the chicken cool in the water.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and coarsely shred the meat. Set aside.

Heat a saute pan over high heat and add the tomatoes. Blister and char the tomatoes.

Turn off heat and add chicken stock and chipotles. Allow to cool. Pour into blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Place the chorizo and onions in a stockpot and cook over medium heat. When the chorizo has released some oil, add the diced potatoes.

Reduce heat to low and cook until the potatoes have browned and gotten a little tender. Add cumin, pepper, oregano, shredded chicken and pureed tomato mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste.

To serve, scoop into deep bowls and top with avocado and cheese. Serve with corn tortillas.

Foodie bites

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• The Hawaii Community College Culinary Arts Program’s Cafeteria is open this week. Call 934-2559 for menu choices and takeout orders. The Cafeteria is open 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. If you want to place your order for Thanksgiving, call 934-2559 for pick up from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 21. Available are a turkey plate for $9.95, a prime rib plate for $14.95, a 9-inch pumpkin pie for $9.95 and a dozen rolls for $5.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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