Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winter Squash in Green "Pipian" Sauce

Calabaza en Pipián Verde

Versions of this Mexican recipe go back to pre-hispanic times. Pipian is similar to the popular Mole sauce but it contains fewer ingredients. This sauce is also known as pepián, and one of its ingredients is pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas. Just like Mole, this sauce comes in a variety of colors: Pipian colorado (a red sauce), pipian amarillo (a pale yellow sauce) and the recipe I'm sharing today, pipian verde. I think this is a wonderful warm vegan recipe, you can even serve it for thanksgiving. You'll need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • About a pound of small fresh tomatillos, or
  • a 16 ounce can of crushed tomatillos
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 serrano chile, or more to taste
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro
  • Your choice of squash, 2 medium. I use carnival and acorn squash.
  • 1 cup unsalted pepitas (shelled pumkins seeds)
  • About two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro, to garnish

Cut the squash in half. Roast in a shallow pan with a little bit of vegetable oil in a hot 375 degree oven. The squash halves will be done when its easy to pierce them with a fork, usually about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.

The squash will be slightly caramelized when its ready. Remove the fibers and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into bite size sections and remove the peel with a sharp knife. Set aside.

Boil the the tomatillos, the onion, the garlic and the serrano chile in a cup of vegetable stock. When the tomatillo mixture is very soft (about 10 minutes), set aside and let it cool.

Ground the pepitas in a blender until you obtain a fine powder. The finer the powder, the smoother your sauce will be. Make sure you don't add any liquid. Pulverizing the dry seeds makes the sauce delicate and nutty, adding liquid changes the flavor. Set aside for later.

Blend the tomatillo mixture and the fresh cilantro and another cup of the vegetable stock in a blender, until you have a smooth sauce, similar to "salsa verde". Transfer to a sauce pan and start cooking under low heat. Add the pumkin seed powder and stir often, add salt and white pepper to taste.

As the broth reduces the sauce will begin to thicken to the consistency of heavy cream. Add the squash sections and simmer under very low heat for about ten more minutes. Don't let it scorch. Add a little bit more stock if necessary.

Correct the seasonings. Serve with white rice, warm corn tortillas or cornbread. Garnish with extra toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pachanga Thanks

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers from Galeria de la Raza for a sucessful art auction event - Pachanga 2009! On Saturday, November the 21st, 2009 the auction raided funds for programming at Galeria, and it is the only Latino art event in San Francisco of its kind. Here are some photos from the auction.

Auctioneer Durwood Zedd and Executive director Carolina Ponce de Leon
keep up with high bidders.

Hey! That is my art piece, "La Casita/My Little Foreclosure", it went to the highest bidder for over $300!

Great art was auctioned

The lovely Jessica Diaz, from Gracias Madre. They provided tasty organic vegan tamales.

For more photos, check out this article by Vanessa Carr for Mission Local

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Charity Fundraiser, Faux Gingerbread & Dark Fairy Tales

We all know the tale; and evil witch lures innocent children using candy, in order to eat them. According to Anke A. Culver, a retired professor of Loyola University, the witch is the one that got a bad rap. The witch’s name was Katharina Schraderin, a talented baker from Southern Germany in the 1600’s. A baker named Hans Metzler tried courting Katharina in order to steal her recipes. After being rejected he accused her of practicing witchcraft. Katharina is found innocent, but the greedy Hans and his sister Grete end up breaking into her house. They ruthlessly kill Katharina and burn her remains in one of her ovens. Talk about killing the competition!

I created this shadowbox house out of wood and a variety of media. It is being auctioned for Galeria de la Raza's annual fundraiser, on Saturday, November 21st. The lightbox is shaped like a gingerbread house, complete with a bedroom, a bathroom, a living room, a walk-in closet, a kitchen and a porch. Two little characters seem to live inside, will they live happy ever after? The title of the piece is "La Casita/My Little Foreclosure".

These days seems like people are loosing their little piece of the American dream, for a variety of reasons. What, or who is to blame? Immigrants? Banks? People that got loans they couldn’t pay? Could it be illness, a divorce, a death in the family, the loss of a job? Are the victims, once again, being blamed?

Please support Galeria de la Raza’s Pachanga! Visit the on-line catalog for more information and suggested starting bids. Bidding by proxy is allowed and encouraged.

Visit Cookie Cutter Research, to read more about the story behind the tale of Hansel and Gretel, as told by professor Culver. The website also has a great on-line database of cookie cutters, as well as everything related to cookies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pachanga: Support the 9th Annual Art Auction

Galería's annual art auction is just around the corner. Pachanga! Is Galeria de la Raza's annual benefit celebration with a live and silent auctions. I'm honored to be a part of this event once again. San Francisco's only Latino art party takes place on Saturday, November 21st from 7 - 10 pm. Dance to the beats provided by DJ Chango Julius. $20 - $50 sliding scale. Raffle items include a pair of R/T tickets to anywhere in the US, among other goodies.

Silent Auction: 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm.

Live Auction: 8:00pm

Auctioneer: Durwood Zedd

Food & drink provided by Venga Empanadas, Cafe Gratitude/Gracias Madre, Frey Vineyards, Sugar Lump, Rainbow Grocery Co-op and others.

Go to Galeria de la Raza to privew the Pachanga 2009 artist catalog!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Papas con Rajas - Goodies for the Day of The Dead

Yesterday I made some goodies for a family function conmemorating The Day of The Dead (El Dia de Los Muertos), or "Los Fieles Difuntos" as this holiday is known in some areas of Mexico. This is a photo of the ofrenda created by my cousin, the gracious hostess for this gathering (gracias,Hildi). The ofrenda was made in honor of her father, grandparents and deceased cousins.

I made some empanadas de papas con rajas (potato and roasted pepper empanadas), classic guacamole and a refreshing citrus pico de gallo. Today I'm sharing my recipe for the empanada stuffing. Poblano peppers are spicy, but you can use any other pepper you prefer. This filling can be used for tacos, it is great as a tostada topping, and can be used as a side dish by itself. You'll need the following ingredients:

Papas con rajas
  • 2 large poblano chiles
  • one small white onion, slivered
  • 3 white potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed
  • one clove of garlic
  • Olive oil, about two table spoons
  • Vegetable broth, or water where you boiled the potatoes. About a quarter of a cup.

Start by making roasted poblano peppers. I roast mine directly on the stove top, but you can also use an outdoor grill. Wash and dry your peppers and place them on the open flame. Using thongs, turn them over often, until the skin is evenly black on all sides. Don't worry about burning the peppers, the inside will remain green and juicy.

Wrap the peppers with a lightly damped towel, a paper towel works fine. Place the wrapped peppers inside a plastic bag and let them "sweat" for about fifteen minutes. Once the peppers are soft and steamed, the skin will fall right off - just take a spoon and start scraping off the charred skin. In order to retain the roasted flavor, wipe the peppers with the moist towel but don't rinse them under water. It is OK if a few black bits and seeds remain behind, they will add flavor.

Cut the peppers in "rajas", or slivers. Cut the top of the peppers off, and slice them lenghtwise. Scrape off the seeds and the veins using a small paring knife, they contain most of the spiciness (I usually do this directly on top of the trash can). You now have roasted pepper "sheets" ready to use. To make the rajas just stack the peppers on top of each other and cut into thin slivers.

Sautee the onions, the chopped garlic and the peppers in olive oil until the onion looks translucent. Add the cooked, cubed potatoes. Sautee for about 5 minutes more on high heat until the potatoes begin to brown. Season with salt and deglaze the pan by adding about a quarter of a cup of broth and cover. Cook for about two more minutes until the liquid is absorved and the potatoes are very soft. They are now ready to serve.

Enjoy some good food with family and friends, and remember your deceased loved ones. Have a great holiday!