Happy Halloween! We are now sharing an apartment with the gigantic bag of candy procured by our little Princess Leia and furry beast last night, doling it out little by little and taking our cut along the way. This was the first year we took the girls to a proper trick-or-treating neighborhood in the suburbs and the spoils were tremendous. While I swear by city living, I do love a suburban Halloween. We started the festivities on Friday night with a pumpkin carving party and viewing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”, while roasting the seeds. My friend, Cindy, had shared her seeds with me earlier that day which she had seasoned with garlic salt. Delicious. I also tried a batched flavored with curry powder, which was a nice variation.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Remove seeds from pumpkin, wash off the guts. Place seeds on a foil lined baking sheet and sprinke with olive oil and salt (or garlic salt, or curry powder). Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes.
El Dia de los Muertos
Now that Halloween is over, we are moving on to El Dia de los Muertos. Over the years, I have learned about this holiday from our longtime babysitter who hails from Puebla, Mexico, and is my source for all things Mexican – especially food. I look forward to sharing some of her recipes on this very blog. Every year, she makes an alter in her house that looks a lot like this one:
Along with family photos, she sets out little statues, flowers, glasses of water and bottles of Mexican soda and Corona, and pan de muerto to use in a ceremony to remember her relatives that have passed on. It is really a beautiful tradition, one I would love to see in Mexico some day. In the meantime, we content ourselves with reading The Day of the Dead, by Tony Johnston and Jeanette Winter and making our own, somewhat funny looking (see above) Pan de Muerto, which is a sweet bread flavored with Anise and decorated with colored sugar. This year, I used this recipe from Global Gourmet:
Pan de Muerto, “Bread of the Dead”
In celebration of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, this bread is often shaped into skulls or round loaves with strips of dough rolled out and attached to resemble bones.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon whole anise seed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
In a saucepan over medium flame, heat the butter, milk and water until very warm but not boiling.
Meanwhile, measure out 1-1/2 cups flour and set the rest aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1-1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and sugar. Beat in the warm liquid until well combined. Add the eggs and beat in another 1 cup of flour. Continue adding more flour until dough is soft but not sticky. Knead on lightly floured board for ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape into loaves resembling skulls, skeletons or round loaves with “bones” placed ornamentaly around the top. Let these loaves rise for 1 hour.
Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and paint on glaze.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then apply to bread with a pastry brush.
If desired, sprinkle on colored sugar while glaze is still damp.
Day of the Dead lasts through November 2nd, so there is still time to make your funny skeleton bread. If you are interested in setting up your own Ofrenda, check out this post from Apartment Therapy. Enjoy!