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Ponche de Navidad, a Mexican Christmas tradition.

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Buñuelos and ‘Ponche de Navidad’ [with or without Tequila], guests of honor at Mexican Christmas family gatherings. This week we celebrated a Posada with Norma and her family. She prepared this warm, inviting drink, gave me the recipe and shared some of this tradition’s story. Common Mexican middle of the road knowledge says this tradition started when during colonial times, the Spaniards brought this recipe from Europe to Mexico. Since then, on the Posadas (“novenas”) and “Nochebuena” (Christmas Eve) nights Mexican families in Mexico have shared time around this Ponche de Navidad in expectation of Christmas Day. Today, families continue this old tradition whether in Mexico or abroad. Before going home, kids receive ‘bolos’, or treat/loot bags with the following goodies: Animal crackers, peanuts and Mexican spicy candies. 🙂

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Mexican Buñuelos go very well with the drink. (Do not mistake Mexican Buñuelos for Colombian Buñuelos , another Christmas tradition in that country.)

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Ponche de Navidad Recipe 😉

Start boiling enough water  (calculate 2 cups per guests) with enough cinnamon sticks (1 stick per 2 cups of water.) When it boils add abundant amount of fruits (below), brown or white sugar, and a Tequila shot (optional).

  • Fruits cut in big chunks or slices: Oranges, pears, apples, tamarinds, guavas, sugar cane pieces, tejocotes (or kumquats, if you can’t find tejocotes)
  • Notes: 1) Alternative to adding the Tequila shot to the pot, you may add it to the cups, as you serve. Guests often prefer to decide if they’ll want it with Tequila or not. 2) Sugar Cane and Tamarind are often found at Whole Foods or international markets.

Hopefully you can try this easy Ponche de Navidad recipe. If you decide to make it, do let me know how it goes! It’s also great for any cold winter night..

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Intimidated by the Thanksgiving Turkey?

Juancho thanksgiving cartoon

Cartoon by Juan A. Horrillo

Do you feel intimidated by the thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner? You are not alone. For many years, cooking was very far from my mind and baking a turkey was the farthest! Cooking techniques and ingredients were foreign concepts. Growing up there was always someone else thinking about cooking. Years went by, married life happened. Our family grew and so did our memories around our kitchen and our dinner table.  Thanksgiving holidays came, and although fearful at first, I daringly cooked, again and again… until I came to terms with my turkey recipe, “Citrus and Herbs Stuffed Turkey”, a family favorite today.

Citrus and Herbs Stuffed Turkey recipe:

Thaw one 10-12 lb. turkey the night before. Remove giblets. In a bowl, mix butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, [good] red cooking wine, salt and pepper. Mix well. Rub the bird with this mix making sure to cover all the turkey skin.  Stuff the bird with oranges cut in halves, tangerines cut in halves and one lemon cut in 4 pieces. Tie some rosemary, thyme and sage sprigs together to form a bundle. Insert the bundle in the cavity with the oranges, tangerines and lemon.

Preheat oven at 400 degrees F. I use a baking bag and follow the package instructions for baking time. The stuffing in this recipe gives the turkey an exquisite delicate flavor.

I hope this recipe helps attenuate the intimidating factor (if any), as it is quite simple to make. Happy Thanksgiving!