A Jewish Wedding On A Mexican Beach – Part 1

Mazel Tov Michael and Kat!

Mazel Tov Michael and Kat!

 

FRIDAY

“Michael and Kat,

When you first announced that you were having a destination wedding that involved a 2-1/2 hour airplane flight and then a drive longer than the flight itself, in my mind I couldn’t stop thinking of the “F” word, yes that’s right, the “F” word…but it wasn’t the “F” word you are all thinking about.  It was the word FAMILY.  That word, FAMILY, is so full of layers that evoke so much emotion in all of us…”

That was how I started out my speech last Friday night at my nephew’s wedding in Careyes, Mexico.

I had spent the previous 2 days making and baking 34 challahs for the Shabbat dinner we would be having on the beach the Friday before the wedding.

In customs after landing in Puerto Vallarta, a very astute and beautiful Black Labrador was relentlessly trying to get into my suitcase where I had packed the 34 challahs for the 17 tables there would be at the dinner that night. The customs agent firmly holding the lab back on his leash politely asked me, “Señora, do you have food on you?”  “Yes I do” I said.  “What is it?” he asked, I responded simply, “Baked bread.”  He said,  “We are going to have to inspect it.”  A young lady agent and I walked over to a table where we lifted up the suitcase.  I didn’t unzip it all the way fearing she would have to go through each loaf, so I opened it just enough for her to catch a quick glimpse as I pulled out one of the loaves in its aluminum foil container.  I showed it to her and she asked me if it contained any meat, to which I responded “Para nada,” absolutely not.  She asked, “what are the ingredients?”   “Sugar, yeast, water, eggs, oil, salt and flour”.  She said “O.K. go ahead,” and I quickly zipped up the suitcase and made my way to the exit!

34 Challas for the Wedding Shabbat

34 Challahs for the Wedding Shabbat

About 3 hours later and a bit car sick, the 10 of us arrived at the casitas (houses) at Costa Careyes. We delivered the challahs to Michael, my nephew, went quickly to get changed, and then went down to Shabbat dinner on the beach at Playa Rosa.  I kissed Michael and Kat (his fiancée) and my cousins Mark, Leah, Claudia, Fernando and Jenni.  Then there were my cousins’ precious children Dan, Orly, Gabriel and Diego.  I hugged and held my cherished Aunt Fressia closely.  To be there with my husband and all of our children, and to greet family and friends from near and far on that beach was beautiful, and sharing in the experience of that Shabbat dinner was such a special and meaningful way to kick off the weekend with FAMILY.

We were all quite worried about Grandma Helen, Michael’s 99 year-old grandmother who had wanted to be there for her only grandchild’s wedding.  Helen had never been out of the U.S. and had applied for a passport for the first time in her life just a few months before. She had gotten very sick and dehydrated on the ride from the airport, but thankfully began to feel better upon her arrival at the venue.

SATURDAY

The next day we were free to hang out at the beach.  In the middle of the day, Ariela, our daughter, said “Mom, we have a surprise for you and Dad in a few minutes.”  I asked if we should go up and change, but she said “No”.   Ten minutes later a boat pulled up to the edge of the beach and our kids said, “Here is your surprise, let’s go, let’s get on the boat!”  “OK Captain Crunchy (that’s what the boat captain called himself) Let’s go.”  All ten of us on board, we took off for the next beach cove over, Playa Blanca.  This was the spot where I had met my husband 38 years earlier.  In the ocean, in front of the sands of Playa Blanca, our kids pulled out a bucket with a bottle of champagne.  They opened the bottle and poured champagne for all of us.  They made toasts to us and said, “Dad, tell us about the first time you met Mom.”  My husband, Isaac, proceeded to tell them the story, and I followed with my version of that fateful day we first met at Playa Blanca in Mexico, all those years ago. There it was again that special and magic moment shared with FAMILY.

Boat Ride to Playa Blanca

Boat Ride to Playa Blanca

SUNDAY

While the family still slept on the morning of the wedding I tiptoed out the front door.  I hadn’t gotten the chance to meet my cousin Jenni’s baby, Danielle,  so I went on a mission to find their villa (which was not easy). I descended stairs, crossed a beach, ascended stairs and boarded a funicular in their search.  I finally found their place and I met beautiful little Danielle; my heart melted as I looked at my cousin’s beautiful little blue-eyed baby daughter.  Upon my return, Juana our cook/housekeeper was already in the midst of preparing a typical Mexican breakfast of huevos revueltos a la Mexicana, scrambled eggs Mexican style served with warm corn tortillas, guacamole, and salsa, accompanied by wonderful hot Mexican coffee.  One at a time, the delicious aroma beckoned sleepy person after sleepy person to the table.  We all wiped our dishes clean and went off to get ready for the wedding.

Shuttles would be taking groups to the wedding venue, Cuixmala, which was a 20 minute ride away. We were on the 1:30 Shuttle.  We really didn’t know what to expect, but when we arrived at Casa Cuixmala,  our jaws dropped and we understood why this was Michael and Kat’s dream wedding venue .

The Wedding Venue, Casa Cuixmala

 

The interior of this palace was just as spectacular as the exterior. We were offered drinks and hors d’oeuvres while a talented Mexican trio played so many of my favorite romantic Mexican songs (boleros, to which I know all of the lyrics).  I was bursting with joy to be here in this dream setting with my immediate and extended family to celebrate the wedding of my very special nephew.  After photos we were told to make our way down to the beach, so we descended the many many stairs, and there beyond the pool stood the beautiful and perfect chuppah, right on the beach.

A Most Perfect Setting

The moment came, the procession began.  Grandma Helen fully recovered, was sitting front row center.

Grandma Helen All Dressed Up

Grandma Helen All Dressed Up

Out walked the Rabbi, followed by Michael, the groom, looking happy and serene, flanked by my beaming brother Gary and beautiful sister-in-law Michele.

Michael and Gary

 

Michael and Michele

Then came the best man (my son Aaron) and maid of honor followed by the rest of the bridal party, culminating with the gorgeous bride, Katerina and her proud parents, Faina and Michael.

The Gorgeous Bride Kat with Michael and Faina

The groom stepped forward, took his bride-to-be, and together they walked toward the marriage canopy.  The Rabbi chanted and spoke, blessings were bestowed, vows were made, Michael broke the glass, and there at a most perfect time and place, on that Mexican beach, my dear nephew Michael married his beloved Kat.

The Happy Bride And Groom

We formed a cocoon of love and we held Michael and Kat warmly within.  The magic of that moment  surrounded by cherished FAMILY  and friends from near and far, will remain etched within each and every heart of those of us who were fortunate to be there to share in that real life fairy tale.

 P.S.  Part 2 coming soon:  The party and 34 Challah  recipe.

 

 

Avocado Salsa Recipe and Video

Here are some of the comments or notes I’ve gotten about some of my recipes:

“You forgot to put cream on the chicken taquitos!”

“This is not real chicken paprikash, you made it without the sour cream!”

Dear kind readers, I adapt my recipes  to conform with Kosher dietary laws,  I therefore don’t combine dairy products with any meat or poultry dishes.

Per Wikipedia, “Kashrut is the body of Jewish law dealing with what foods can and cannot be eaten and how those foods must be prepared. The word “Kashrut” comes from the Hebrew meaning fit, proper or correct…Among the numerous laws that form part of kashrut are the prohibitions on the consumption of …mixtures of meat and milk“.

So, when asked recently how I replace such ingredients as cream on taquitos, I remembered a creamy salsa that I made last Passover.  The creamy texture can be adjusted to reach as thick and rich a consistency as sour cream.

As mentioned, I made this salsa last Passover  to enhance and give variety to our holiday meals.  You’ll see in the video, I had made Barbacoa (a slow cooked meat with all sorts of Mexican spices, normally eaten in soft tacos), and then I made Tostadas with Matzoh crackers instead of tortillas.  The salsa is so good that I use it year round as a topping or a dip.

Whether you keep Kosher or not, whether it’s Passover or not, try this non-dairy creamy salsa, it’s so delicious you’ll want to drink it with a straw!

Avocado Salsa:

  •  6 tomatillos (small green tomatoes)
  •  6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 onion quartered
  • 2 Jalepeño chili peppers (adjust number of chili peppers to spice level desired)
  • 2 Serrano chili peppers (adjust number of chili peppers to spice level desired)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1- 2 ripe avocados, not over ripe (use more avocado for a creamier consistency)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Place all of the ingredients except the avocado, cilantro, salt and water in a dry sauce pan and roast over medium heat.  When you start to hear  the ingredients sizzling check them to see if they are browned and ready to be turned over.  Some of the ingredients such as the garlic, will brown faster than others , so keep a close eye on them.  As each of the ingredients browns on one side, flip and brown equally on the other side.  Once even remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the water in the blender first, then a bit at a time add some of the browned ingredients and blend until smooth.  Remember to cut the stems off of the chili peppers before placing them in the blender.  Spoon out the avocado and add it to the blender along with the cilantro, and blend thoroughly.  Do a taste test, add salt and more chili pepper as desired, and blend again.   Pour the creamy salsa into a bowl and serve on the side for each person to garnish his or her taquitos or tostadas with.  You can also serve the salsa as a dip accompanied by a bowl of corn tortilla chips.

Enjoy and happy eating!

Heritage is a Special Kind of Food

After being invited to New York City by The Museum of Jewish Heritage, to take part in a program called Exploring Latin American Jewish Cuisine, http://www.mjhnyc.org/calendar.html#latin, I become more  interested in the term heritage.

Of course I’ve heard the term forever, yet I search in the dictionary, and here are portions of definitions I find:

her·i·tage

noun \ˈher-ə-tij, ˈhe-rə-\

: the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation

a :  something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor

We, our parents, our children…all of us are the result of all of the particles and cells that miraculously come together from what precedes us.  We take the baton from our parents, as they took it from theirs, and just the same, we hand it to our children who wait for it with open hands.

Today, my elderly and beloved father is unable to speak much, nor do much anymore, yet he fiercely clutches the sides of the bowl, as I feed him the soup I made for last night’s Shabbat dinner. I lift spoonful after spoonful to his waiting mouth. He noisily, slurps and swallows the broth. He slowly chews, the carrots, barley pearls, and bits of chicken.   After a while, barely audibly, he says “good”…this is part of my heritage.

After lunch my dad and I sit in knowing silence, looking out at the pool and its reflections. We know that we love each other, and this love is unbreakable. We look out at the water and beyond the edge of the yard, onto the hot summer day, where stealthy hawks continuously swoop up and down the hills in search of prey.

Dad’s hair is getting long, so there, in front of the hawks, I decide to give him a haircut. I really don’t have experience cutting hair, but it turns out it’s pretty easy. I say, “Dad, be very still. I’m cutting your hair and I wouldn’t want to poke you.” He understands, he’s worried, and so he keeps very still. He is that little boy he was more than 90 years ago. After the haircut I soak his hands in warm soapy water and give him a manicure. He winces, afraid I’ll cut him, but when it’s over he’s happy.  My hands, my fingers are just like his…this is part of my heritage.Father and Daughter

“Daddy tell me if you remember this one,” I say, as Dean Martin starts to sing Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.  My father smiles broadly, and with sad, nostalgic eyes he nods in satisfying recognition…this is part of my heritage.

After many songs, and caresses, my daddy falls asleep. I quietly get up and go into mom’s closet. Today I play dress up. I try on the gold shoes she wore with the St. John’s outfits she so loved, and the silver ones she wore to my niece’s wedding. I find a cute pair of black flats, but they’re small on me. Mom was a 6 1/2 and I’m a 7.  I try on her blouses and skirts, her dresses and pants. Though she is gone, I detect the Channel No.5  that still lingers on her clothing…this is part of my heritage.

I sit on an airplane from L. A. to New York  to take part in a program on Latin Jewish cooking.  I think about the meal I prepared for last Shabbat’s dinner.   Homemade challah (prepared by Norm), a choice of Pozole (spicy Mexican soup), or chicken barley soup, Chicken Paprikash and nokedli (Hungarian dumplings),  barbacoa (a spicy Mexican  lamb stew), accompanied by a red Mexican rice, refried beans, warm corn tortillas, guacamole and salsa…this is all part of my heritage too.

Heritage Food

Heritage Food

Hello New York, I carry you inside of me, the place of my father’s birth… you are part of my heritage too.

It is nearly Shabbat now, the greatest part of my heritage,… and with a full and happy heart, I say,

Shabbat Shalom le kulam!

 

4th of July Manischewitz Sangria Recipe!

This coming Friday is the 4th of July, and we are excited to be hosting our cousins from Mexico for Shabbat dinner.

For this festive occasion, which combines Shabbat with the 4th, I have invented a Manischewitz Sangria that will knock anybody’s stars and stripes socks off!

As it is infused with various fruit and liqueur flavors the Manischewitz Wine undergoes  a metamorphosis, and comes out the most refreshing, smooth, and delicious butterfly of a beverage.

Click on the link to watch my step by step recipe video.

With my Sangria you won’t need any fireworks!

Ingredients:

  • 1  750 ml. bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine
  • 1  navel orange thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1  apple cored and sliced thinly in half moons
  • 1  firm yet ripe peach thinly sliced in half moons
  • 2 navel oranges juiced (yield 8-10 ounces)
  • 1  cup of orange liqueur of your choice, such as Grand Marnier, or Cointreau
  • 1/4 cup brandy or sherry of your choice
  • 1  liter bottle of sparkling lemon soda
  • ice cubes

You will also need either, two nice glass pitchers, or a punchbowl and ladle.

Method:

Slice the fruit, and in a metal bowl, (if you  have one), combine it with the entire bottle of Manischewitz wine, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Juice the 2 navel oranges.  Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and stir in the 1 cup of orange liqueur, the 1/4 cup of brandy or sherry, and the 8-10 ounces of orange juice. Fill the two glass pitchers 1/4 full with ice cubes, and then ladle the Sangria with the fruit, into them.  Just before serving pour one half of the bottle of Sparkling Lemon Soda into each of the pitchers, stir, and serve immediately!

Refreshing Sangria

 

 

This coming Friday, I hope everyone has Happy and safe 4th of July, and especially a Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

The Wondrous Corn Tortilla

Martha, Lily and Edith.

Martha, Lily and Edith.

In 1928,  gaunt and dazed from 6 weeks at sea, my Grandmother Lily, stepped off  the Orinoco, the ship that had brought her and her two little girls to the shores of  Mexico from Hungary.  They had sailed across the Atlantic from the port of Hamburg in Germany, and arrived 6 weeks later at the port of Tampico, in the Gulf of Mexico. Holding my mother Martha and my Aunt Edith’s hands, she stepped off  the gangplank and into a new world from the one she had known in Budapest.  My grandfather Berzi, who a year before had announced he was going to America, was there waiting for them.  He had arrived in Tampico, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, got settled, and sent word his to wife, that the family should join him.

The days and weeks passed.  My Grandmother was homesick.   She was overcome with sadness, because she missed her mother too much.  She could not adjust to life in Mexico, with its strange language, strange ways, and strange food.  In particular she hated those round, cardboard tasting discs that everybody accompanied their food with;  yes, my  Grandmother Lily hated tortillas.  She was so unhappy,  she boarded the ship anew, with Martha and Edith in tow, and went back to Hungary.

After several months, my grandfather persuaded her to come once more.  After all, he argued,  “At least here in Mexico, there is no anti-Semitism like that in Hungary, nor will we have to go down to the cellar to hide from the Bolsheviks”.   She reluctantly agreed, went back to Tampico and settled into a new life.

Eventually, my supremely Hungarian grandmother, came to love Mexico, and its food.  She especially learned that the rich and smoky subtleties of the corn tortilla, were a thing of beauty.  She came to understand and appreciate that  the tortilla was a food like no other.

Two generations later I couldn’t agree more.  This ancient staple of the Aztecs, the wondrous tortilla,  is a treat, rolled up warm and freshly made, or it is the unique and irreplaceable building block in the making of so many dishes.

Come along, watch my video, and make your own homemade corn tortillas.

Corn Tortillas

For this recipe you will need a Tortilla Press.  I bought mine at a restaurant supply shop, but they can be found in places such as Bed Bath and Beyond, Smart & Final, Macy’s or Amazon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup MASECA INSTANT CORN MASA (dough) FLOUR
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt

Barring a few tweaks, I basically followed the directions for 8 tortillas, on the back of the MASECA flour bag.

Combine the three ingredients.  Mix thoroughly for a few minutes to form soft dough.   “If dough feels dry add more water (one tablespoon at a time).”

Divide dough into 8 equal balls, about the size of a golf ball.

Heat a dry griddle or non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat.

Line the tortilla press with a large cut open Ziploc bag.

Place one ball of dough at a time in the center of the tortilla press, and flatten.  As you carefully remove the tortilla, place it on the hot griddle or in the pan.  Leave tortilla for about a minute on one side, it will start to smoke a bit and you’ll know it’s time to flip it over with a spatula.  Leave for about one more minute on the other side, and remove to a tortilla warmer or a cloth napkin.

Continue the process one tortilla at a time, until you have made them all.

With your freshly made tortillas as building blocks, you are now ready to make  tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas, chilaquiles, and  many more Mexican delicacies.

Enjoy!

JFK In My Post?…Not Only A Cooking Blog.

Kennedy HeadlinesIn 1963, our family owned several retail stores in the Zona Rosa of Mexico City.  I was 10, and had been given permission to walk by myself from one store to the other, as long as I didn’t need to cross the street.  The names of our stores were, Riviera S.A.,  Martha Sastre, Marlen, May Boutique, Sabra, and Susan Kay.  The stores were all located within about a one mile radius of each other.                                       

On the afternoon of November 22nd, I set out from Martha Sastre my mother’s store, to May Boutique, and Sabra, my grandmother’s and my Uncle Mundo’s stores.  As I stepped out and turned left, I paused one door down, to look at the beautiful European pastry display in Konditori,  a very fancy, (I thought), restaurant .  I happily continued my stroll down Genova Street,  looking at all of the store-front displays as I went.  When I reached the corner and turned left at Hamburgo Street,  I suddenly heard a commotion.

Alarmed grown-ups were shouting  up and down the street, “Mataron a Kennedy, Mataron a Kennedy”… “They’ve killed Kennedy, They’ve killed Kennedy”.   At 10 years of age, never having been outside of Mexico, I knew who Kennedy was, because my parents spoke a lot about him at home.  As young as I was, they had made me and my brothers understand that Kennedy was a hero, that he was the hope of the world…the hope for freedom, equality and justice.

So many sad days followed.  My mother didn’t go to work.  I cried because my mom cried. She almost never cried so when she did, it deeply affected me.  She sat on that nest shaped chair, legs folded into fetal position, black ballet flats tucked under her. I watched her watch the funeral at Arlington Cemetery. 

Children learn sensitivity from watching their parents’ sadness and heartache.

No Fail Potato Latkes With Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce

 It’s best (and prettier) to click on the link, to read recipe on the blog-site rather than in your e-mail inbox.

By now most of you  have heard that this year Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlap, and that this happens more or less every 70,000 to 80,000 years.  In the spirit of this occurrence I have devised two recipes that blend the flavors of both holidays.  I will serve this at our family Thanksgiving/Hanukkah celebration this year.

Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Sauce:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 ripe mango cut into small squares (you can use apple instead)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (less or none is o.k. too)
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish (add more if you like the zing it gives)
  • 1 cinnamon stick soaked in warm water for 30 minutes

Directions

Pour orange juice and water into a medium-sized saucepan, that you have placed on the stove over medium high heat. When liquid begins to boil add the white sugar and brown sugar.  When the sugar has dissolved add all of the other ingredients except for the cinnamon stick.  When mixture comes to a boil, lower heat and continue to simmer while you stir intermittently for 15 to 20 minutes.

After the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened remove it from the heat.  Mix in the cinnamon stick with a bit of its liquid, and allow it to sit and cool, then refrigerate.  When you are ready to serve, remove the cinnamon stick.  You will see that the cranberry sauce has gained a thick and jelly like consistency.

Serve with No Fail Potato Latke Recipe bellow:

  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 of a large onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 1/2 cup matzoh meal
  •  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Canola oil for frying

Directions

Peel and quarter the potatoes, and grate them in the food processor or with a hand grater.  Place a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheesecloth or a thin dish towel, and allow the liquid to drain.  After the potatoes give off most of their liquid lift them up inside the cloth and wring them out as much as possible. Slowly, discard the liquid and keep the potato starch that has settled at the bottom of the bowl.

Grind the onion along with the garlic clove and drain separately in a strainer.  Place all of the ingredients in the bowl with the layer of potato starch except for the egg whites, and mix thoroughly.

Separately, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until stiff.  Gently fold the egg whites into the bowl with the potato mixture.  Heat the canola oil over a medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes.  Take the amount of about 1 tablespoon, gently place into the hot oil, and pat it down with the back of a spoon to flatten it a bit.   Allow the latkes to fry for about 6 minutes or until the sides are a deep golden color, then flip them over and fry them for another 6 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel-lined cookie sheet, and drain excess oil.

Serve the potato latkes nice and warm, along with the cranberry sauce or any topping of your choice.

Enjoy!

Calcule Girl… A Mexico Story

Liceo Franco Mexicano“Pero Mami yo no quiero aprender frances”…”But mommy I don’t want to learn French,” I protested, as loudly  and vehemently as my seven-year old self could, when I found out I was being taken out of the American School.  I was to start at the Liceo Franco- Mexicano, the French Lycee in Mexico City,  in a couple of weeks.  “You’ll like it Susie, your brothers are going to go there too, but they’ll be in the Mexican section and you’ll be in the French section.”

I became apprehensive and fearful, because I didn’t want to leave my school,  I didn’t want to leave my best friend, Nan Gonzales, and I didn’t want to be separated from my brothers.  “What is the French section?” I asked, “Oh,”  My mom answered,  “It’s the part of the school for very special children…very smart children.  It’s the part where you’re only allowed to learn and speak French.”  “Why aren’t my brothers going to the French section with me?”  “Your brothers will go into the easier part of the school where they will learn a little French and they’ll continue with their Spanish and English.”

“That’s not fair mommy why don’t I get to go to the Mexican section too?”  Her answer, whatever it may have been, made me feel smarter than my two big brothers, but I was still mad and a little heart-broken at leaving my other school and my friends.

The schools my mother chose for us were always with one aim in mind.  Get the best education possible, get as worldly as possible.  At the American School in Mexico City, we learned and daily improved in English, while at the same time keeping up with our Spanish, but the inevitable day came, when we were transferred to the Liceo Franco-Mexicano.  My mother thought that it would be good if I learned French.  It was very becoming of a girl to speak French, she thought.

So, in 2nd grade I was placed directly in the French section, which was complete French immersion.  We were not allowed to whisper or even breathe a hint of a language other than French.  I was not happy but I did pick up the language quite easily.  We wore uniforms of grey skirts and white blouses, and our navy blue sweaters had to have the school emblem sewn on them.  White socks and black shoes were mandatory.

The teachers were strict and never smiled, and particularly disliked me because I was left-handed.  In those days being left-handed was not acceptable and they tried to get me to write with my right hand until my mother told them to stop coercing me.  The principal, a tall bespectacled, big-boned woman, would be called in especially to discipline the mischievous kids by slapping the backs of their hands with a long ruler.  The victims were always, what I thought to be, normal 7 or 8-year-old, energetic boys they didn’t know what to do with.  I made up my mind never to get hit, and I never did.

My teacher was very stern in her black net, which covered her black frizzy hair, that starkly contrasted with her milky white skin. Daily, she wore a crisp and fresh white button down sweater, and she never smiled.  One day I asked her a question and as she leaned over my small pupitre…desk,  I accidentally stained her white sweater with my blue ink pen.  The look she shot at me injured my 2nd grade psyche so badly that I still remember it today, more than 50 years later.

There, in the French section of the Liceo Franco-Mexicano, close to Sears Roebuck, and Company, and across from the  railroad tracks of Polanco, I found that even in French, I loved math…maybe because it was another language altogether.  One day the word came that one child from each grade had been named the best calcule, or math student.  And when my mother  and father screamed with pride, and hugged and kissed me when they found out that I had won the award for “Calcule,”  I felt so happy.  I got a special certificate for being the best math student in the class, and from that day on, and even into adulthood my mother always called me her “Calcule girl.”

Scrambled Eggs with Yucca Flower, Prepared Mexican Style.

Yucca Flower in Bloom Los Angeles is full of Yucca Trees, in fact there is a street in Hollywood called Yucca Street, named so because of the prevalence of the trees with the long and dagger-like  leaves. I am fortunate to have a Yucca tree in my back yard and every so often the top bursts into bloom, and a beautiful cluster of white flowers appears.  For years I never paid much attention, as it would come into bloom and then dry up.  Then, about 15 years ago, our housekeeper Doña Tere asked me to ask our gardener to cut it down because the flower was edible, and a popular  diet staple in Central America.  She prepared it in the style of her native Guatemala.  A few weeks ago when the yucca flower came back into bloom I asked our gardener to cut it down for me.

Click on the above video to see my step by step preparation of Huevos Revueltos A La Mexicana Con Flor De Izote, Scrambled Eggs with Yucca Flower, Prepared Mexican Style.

If you are lucky enough to have a Yucca Tree  (Yucca flowers are also available in Hispanic markets around L.A.), or if you have a friend who does, don’t let that wonderful cluster of flowers go to waste, tell them to have it cut down, and give it to you to prepare the way I did:

1 cluster Yucca Flowers

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup diced onions

1 serrano pepper chopped (optional)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

4 eggs beaten with a fork

Salt to taste

1 avocado diced

6 corn tortillas

Serves 3-4

Remove the individual yucca flowers from their stem, and remove the pod from the center of the flowers, soak in water for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.  Bring a quart of salted water to a boil.  Place the yucca flowers in the boiling water, allow to boil 4-5 minutes, and drain.

Heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion.  When the onion begins to shimmer add the serrano pepper, stir for a couple of minutes, then add the yucca flowers, stir again, add the diced tomatoes, and then stir a few more minutes.  Add the  beaten eggs and stir over a medium high heat, until they reach the consistency you prefer.

Serve with diced avocado and warm tortillas, for making tacos.

Enjoy!

Berry Crumble Recipe

Mixed BerriesWhen it comes to baking,  Anita my daughter, is the master .  It was so wonderful having her home for the Passover Seder this year.  We hosted 23 people, and Anita volunteered to make the desserts.  When Anita undertakes a recipe her personality shines through.  She is meticulous and a perfectionist and goes to the market 12 times if necessary.  She adds her own touches and notes any changes or suggestions.   She sets timers to not over-bake for even one second and then she removes the dish from the oven, only when it reaches just the right shade of golden perfection.

Anita made this berry crumble and it was out of this world!  When she made it she didn’t use blackberries but in this version I have added them.  I really like this recipe because it is so pliable.  You can use any combination of berries you choose and if the berries are sweet and in season you can lower the quantity of granulated sugar, or you can omit it altogether and use only the brown sugar.

For Passover Anita used Matzoh cake meal.  In the recipe I post  here, I have adapted it for year round use by switching the  matzoh cake  meal for cake flour.  I have kept the potato starch because I find it binds the crumble very well, plus what do you do with all of that leftover potato starch right?

Click on link to the blog to see video of recipe.

Berry Crumble

Filling:

  • 4 cups strawberries
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • zest of one small lemon
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)

Crumble Topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks margarine (10 tablespoons) unsalted, very cold, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray, then place all of the berries in the dish.  Add zest and lemon juice to berries.  Mix together sugars and potato starch in a separate bowl or just add the ingredients directly to the berries and mix gently but thoroughly.

For the topping, mix all of the dry ingredients, then add the cold margarine, working quickly (with your hands) to combine.  The idea is to have some small lumps in the mixture – it doesn’t need to be a uniform dough.  Distribute the topping evenly over all of the berries and bake on the middle oven rack for 35-40 minutes, or until the berries are bubbling and the crumble topping is golden.

Golden Berry Crumble

Serves 16-20

Enjoy!