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Raise a Glass of Atole de Calabaza for Day of the Dead

Atole de Calabaza Recipe

Few holidays capture the imagination like El Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. From November 1 (All Saints’ Day) through November 2 (All Souls’ Day), families throughout Mexico and Central America build elaborate altars to lay out the favorite foods of their dearly departed. Platters of rice and beans, moles, tortillas, tamales, calaveras (candy skulls) and brioche-like pan de muertos dusted with sugar welcome the spirits home — albeit for a brief time — before the food is shared by family and friends.

Atole, a hot beverage thickened with fresh corn masa, corn flour or cornstarch, is a holiday staple, though it’s enjoyed for breakfast year-round. Traditionally sweetened with unrefined cane sugar, or piloncillo, and flavored with fruit, a chocolate version called champurrado is served at Christmastime. This atole de calabaza is made with fresh pumpkin slowly cooked with aromatic spices like anise, allspice and clove. While the Day of the Dead is a time to reflect on the past, this richly textured drink will keep you looking forward to the crisp fall days ahead.

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Alfajores Get Reinvented as a Dulce de Leche Tart

Alfajor Recipe

Dulce de leche has become such an established cross-over success – easily made at home or store-bought, found in big brand ice cream and even all-American girl scout cookies - that it’s hard to remember the excitement when it first hit markets. Until the early nineties, it was the once-in-a-while treat my uncle might bring from business trips to Chile or Peru (where it was introduced to us as manjar blanco) or that a Colombian friend shared from home (where it went by arequipe).

Alfajores – small sandwich cookies traditionally filled with dulce de leche then rolled in coconut or powdered sugar – came later. Popular throughout South America, they’re also shaped into large, multi-layered tarts topped with meringue or crushed almonds. A rustic version of the mille-feuille, these sky-high tarts alternately known as alfajor de mil capas or torta de mil hojas can be made from large crumbly crackers or delicate puff pastry.

Using a simple shortbread recipe, this alfajor tart sprinkled with toasted coconut falls somewhere in between. The dough is rolled out into thin, flat discs that, when baked, easily break apart against the dense, caramel filling. Prepared the day ahead, the layers melding together while maintaining crispy edges, it’s no less delicious for being perfectly familiar.

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HungrySofia Nominated for Saveur Food Blog Award

Hungry Sofia by Ana Sofia Pelaez

Congratulations to Devour contributor Ana Sofia Peláez, whose personal blog hungrysofia.com has been nominated for one of Saveur.com‘s Best Food Blog Award 2012.

Ana Sofia covers the spectrum of Spanish and Latin American cuisine for Cooking Channel’s blog, Devour, and in her own blog. From the rich smells and flavors of the Cuban food she grew up with to modern Peruvian causas, hearty Brazilian feijodas and delicate Mexican flor de calabaza soup, she’s always looking for her next great meal.

Her blog is nominated in the category of Best Regional Cuisine Blog. Voting ends on April 26th, so hurry over to here to vote for hungrysofia.com.

And bring a bit of Latin America into your kitchen with her best recipes from Devour:

Torrejas with Lavender Honey Syrup

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Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Three Ways

Bacon-Wrapped Dates Recipe

Whether your party is made up of die-hard face painters or people more interested in determining the top commercial, pretty much everyone is a fan of Super Bowl Sunday. Finding new ways to satisfy a diverse group of friends expecting the traditional more-is-more spread of wings, dips and chips can be a challenge.

Chewy dates wrapped in thick slices of uncured bacon are easy to put together assembly-line style to feed a crowd. For variety, stuff them with an array of fillings like crunchy almonds, spicy chorizo, or sharp Manchego to balance out the sweetness. If you’re running short on time, they can be quickly pan fried or baked off all at once to candied crisp. Regardless of the game’s outcome, these pig skins are sure to please everyone.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates Recipe

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Power Food: Quinoa With Roasted Butternut Squash

Quinoa

With the Chicago marathon just past, New York City  coming up and Philadelphia around the corner, you might have noticed weekend runners – on their own or roving in packs – heading out with singular determination. Friends or family who’ve spent the last few months training for these events may have dropped out of your life altogether only to reappear weeks later – sporting odd glove-shaped shoes that give them monkey feet and raving about pacing, hill repeats, cadence and hydration. Not surprisingly, nutrition is also a major pre-occupation for runners because the more you ask of your body the more you expect from your food.

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