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Mar 4, 2003, 8:09 PM

Post #1 of 12 (5463 views)


Special Foods and Recipes for Lent

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Tonight, Tuesday March 4, is the last night of Carnaval, and all the stops have been pulled out for a big whoopdedoo in many towns throughout Mexico, notably in Mazatlán and Vera Cruz. Parades, dances, and general debauchery rule...for tonight. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent for the Roman Catholics of Mexico and for the rest of the Christian world.

Lent (La Cuaresma, in Spanish)~the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday~ is a time for reflection, spiritual growth, and fasting. In the Roman Catholic tradition (and hence in the post-conquest Mexican tradition), no meat is eaten on Ash Wednesday or on the Fridays during Cuaresma. The purpose of fasting is to open oneself to become more spiritual through self-denial; by 'giving up' something, such as giving up eating between meals or eating sweets, giving up smoking or drinking alcohol.

How interesting, then, that a whole sub-section of cooking specialties should have grown up around a tradition of self-denial! Naturally there are numerous foods that are served year-round which enjoy special popularity during Lent: seafood, of course~and be sure to look at the MexConnect Magazine at Karen Hursh Graber's fantastic recipe for Shrimp with Coconut~but also eggs, cheeses, and all vegetables. There are other Mexican foods that sneak into a menu during other times of the year, but which enjoy special status during Lent~nopalitos, sopa de habas, romeritos, tortitas de camarón, etc. Nopalitos may be scrambled with eggs and appear as a main course during Cuaresma. Tortitas de camarón, made with dried shrimp, serve as a main course as well.

In addition, there are some specialties that traditionally are served only during Cuaresma. The one that springs immediately to mind is capirotada, a delicious Mexican bread pudding. This pudding, prepared without eggs or milk, is made differently from household to household, but I've never eaten a capirotada which has not been delicious. It's hard to fathom that something so comforting and so rich should appear at table during a season of abstinence. Here's one recipe; give it a try during the next 40 days.



2/3 cup almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups apples, chopped
1/2 cup golden seedless raisins
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sherry (optional)
2 sticks cinnamon
1 whole clove
1 tsp anise seeds
1/2 cup whipping cream
5 stale sweet Mexican pan dulce or bolillo or a mixture of the two, enough for about 5 cups bread cubes
1 stick butter
4 ounces queso fresco, chilled and crumbled


Combine nuts, apples, and raisins. Set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan, combine sugar, water, sherry, if desired, cinnamon sticks, clove, and anise seeds and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil 2 minutes. Strain and set aside. When cool, mix in cream.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 1-1/2-quart casserole (at least 3 inches deep) or soufflé dish. Trim thin portion of top and bottom crusts from the Mexican pastry, if using. Cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Melt about 5 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pan dulce and/or bread slices in batches and sauté on both sides until golden, about 2 minutes, adding more butter if necessary. Remove from skillet. Melt the remaining butter.

Arrange 1/3 of the bread in the prepared dish. Cover with 1/2 of the nut filling. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese, then drizzle with 1/2 of the syrup. Repeat layering twice, alternating slices to cover empty spaces. Pour remaining melted butter over top. Press down gently on slices to soak well. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm with Mexican sweet cream or whipped cream.

Who else has a great recipe for la cocina mexicana cuaresmal?

jennifer rose

Mar 4, 2003, 8:33 PM

Post #2 of 12 (5306 views)


Lágrimas de la virgen

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"Lágrimas de la virgen" is my favorite, and it shouldn’t be limited to the traditional Good Friday repast. From Guanajuato, it’s prepared with raw beet juice (or cooked), a little pineapple if desired, some slixed oranges, apples, limes and bananas (unpeeled, cut cross-wise). Add water to that mix, and, if you like, a little sugar. Chill until very cold. Serve in hefty glasses or mugs, garnished with shredded lettuce.

Yahoo! Fish on Friday!

jennifer rose

Mar 4, 2003, 8:37 PM

Post #3 of 12 (5295 views)


Re: [esperanza] Special Foods and Recipes for Lent

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I'm not fond of eggs, but I post this recipe from Diana Kennedy to illustrate the creativity of Mexican cooks in coming up with Lenten dishes. Eggs are frequently found on Lenten menus.

Frijoles Para Vigilia (Lenten Beans)

This is one of the many Mexican recipes for Lent and meatless days. It is an interesting variation on cooking beans and a vegetarian dish to boot. No, pork lard was never ruled out in Lenten dishes and tamales, but of course you can substitute vegetable oil. I suggest two ways of serving these beans: as a puree to cover eggs set on a crouton or diluted and served with croutons and egg on top as a soup. 8 ounces beans, black or pinto, cooked, and their broth, about 3 1/2 to 4 cups

2 cloves, roughly crushed
Scant 1/4-inch cinnamon stick, roughly crushed
3 peppercorns, roughly crushed
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 large sprigs thyme or 1/8 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons pork lard or vegetable oil
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 cup water
Salt to taste
For egg dish variation:
8 slices French or sourdough bread, fried crisp
8 poached or fried eggs
5 to 6 tablespoons finely grated queso fresco, anejo or Romano cheese
For the soup variation:
2 cups water
6 slices French or sourdough, fried crisp
6 poached or fried eggs
5 to 6 tablespoons finely grated queso fresco, anejo or Romano cheese Put 1/2 cup beans and their broth into a blender, add the cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, oregano and thyme and blend until smooth.

Heat the lard or oil in a skillet, add the onion, and fry gently until translucent. Add the pureed beans and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking, for about 5 minutes.

Puree the rest of the beans and gradually add them to the pan with the water. Cook over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan from time to time to prevent sticking, for 5 more minutes. Adjust the salt.

To serve the egg dish: Put a fried crouton in each of 8 ramekins. Cover each with an egg and 1/2 cup of the bean puree. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.

To serve the soup dish: Dilute the bean puree with the water and bring to a simmer. Pour 1 cup of the beans into each of six soup bowls, place a crouton on the surface, and cover with an egg and cheese. Alternatively, you could put the egg into the beans and sprinkle small croutons on top. I like to serve this bean dish with some green sauce passed separately.

Serves 8 for the egg dish, 6 for the soup.

-- "My Mexico: A Culinary Odyssey with More Than 300 Recipes" by Diana Kennedy (Clarkson Potter, $35)

jennifer rose

Mar 9, 2003, 10:06 AM

Post #4 of 12 (5248 views)


Re: [esperanza] Gee, maybe everyone's gonna fast for 40 days?

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Is everyone fasting and taking abstinence seriously around here during Cuaresma?

Lent is one of the most underrated culinary seasons in Mexico, IMO, and it's a prime opportunity for vegetarians to enjoy menus specifically tailored to them. When else can tortitas de papa and tortitas de brocol be found on Friday's menus? (Or feel really, really guilty having those tacos de bistek, if you can find 'em, on Friday? And we all know how a good dose of guilt makes forbidden fruit -- err, carne -- taste even better. <g>)

C'mon folks, you don't have to even be Christian to love Lent! Heck, I've given up bread, in an effort to make Cuaresma do double duty with Passover.

Lavanda EnLaCocina

Mar 15, 2003, 3:10 PM

Post #5 of 12 (5220 views)


Re: [esperanza] Special Foods and Recipes for Lent

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chiles rellenos con queso y maicitos tiernos.
espaguertis con queso
and yesterday I had something I had forgotten:
tortitas de papa con pescaso, and then I also
remembered fried fish in a sauce of chiles
secos con nopalitos.

jennifer rose

Apr 1, 2003, 11:58 PM

Post #6 of 12 (5195 views)


Re: [esperanza] Special Foods and Recipes for Lent

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Karen Hursh Graber has an interesting article in the April issue of Mexico Connect's magazine -- "The Food of Semana Sanata: A Seasonal Celebration of Popular Cuisine."

Included in her article are recipes for:

Horchata de Arroz: Refreshing Rice Drink
Agua de Chia: Chia Seed Water
Pambazos: Hot Savory Sandwiches
Postre de Plátanos con Vainilla: Plantains with Vanilla Cream


Jun 29, 2003, 6:59 AM

Post #7 of 12 (5174 views)


Whipping Cream

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Greetings all -- I noted the inclusion of whipping cream in the capirotada recipe -- in various trips to Mexico I have hunted for whipping cream to use in desserts and cooking never found it in markets, so clearly I am looking for the wrong thing! Where do you buy whipping cream and what is it called (I know it isn't "crema" -- which definitely does NOT go in coffee though it's fabulous in savory dishes!) Also is there anything even remotely resembling half and half that you can put in coffee?

I'm planning a move to Mexico later this year and LOVE to bake so I'm wondering where one finds whipping cream for sale.

Many thanks,



Jun 29, 2003, 7:22 AM

Post #8 of 12 (5168 views)


Re: [jsandrock] Whipping Cream

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For whipping cream, the wife says to look for Crema Chantilli.

(This post was edited by Don on Jun 29, 2003, 7:23 AM)


Jun 29, 2003, 8:03 AM

Post #9 of 12 (5160 views)


Re: [Don] Whipping Cream

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It's labeled 'Crema para Batir', and it comes in 500ml and 250ml cartons, just like a little half-and-half carton. Look for it in your dairy case.


Jun 29, 2003, 8:13 PM

Post #10 of 12 (5146 views)


Re: [esperanza] Whipping Cream

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Thanks, everyone! Now I can't wait to get back to Mexico to resume my hunt, hopefully with better luck! Having had some pretty yummy and gloppy desserts on various trips to Mexico (and when I lived in D.F. as a kid) I couldn't imagine that there wasn't some kind of whipping cream out there somewhere!

Thanks again -- Jillian

jennifer rose

Jun 29, 2003, 9:01 PM

Post #11 of 12 (5144 views)


Re: [jsandrock] Whipping Cream

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Carnation evaporated milk will whip, too. Simply freeze it first, adding a little sugar and vanilla after whipping it. It's one of those products that's readily available anywhere, any time.


Jul 1, 2003, 8:35 PM

Post #12 of 12 (5132 views)


Re: [jsandrock] Whipping Cream

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Try the Lyncott brand. It is a very nice quality and is available at most of the large supermarkets. I have mixed it with milk to make my own half-n-half. Plus it is good to use in any recipe calling for heavy cream.
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