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Recipes from Pilar Cabrera

Chef Pilar Cabrera operates Casa de los Sabores Cooking School at her bed & breakfast, La Casa de los Sabores, in the Oaxaca historical district.
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    I would like to share with you a recipe that I really enjoyed, Tamales de Calabaza (squash) con chocolate. Fall is a good time to prepare this recipe when all kinds of squashes and pumpkins are available in the market. Remember it's always best to eat what is in season. - Pilar Cabrera

Tamales de Calabaza con Chocolate

    Servings: 20

    1/2 cup lard, or shortening
    2-1/2 cups of masa (cornmeal)
    2-1/2 cups of squash puree
    1 tsp of baking powder
    5-1/2 oz. lard or butter
    1/2 tsp of salt
    1/4 cup of walnuts
    1-1/2 cups of oaxacan chocolate divided into pieces
    1 cup of panela

    1. Beat the lard, or shortening, in large bowl until it warms and becomes easier to mix (about 5 min.). Add the squash puree masa. Add the baking powder, salt and panela; mix the ingredients together vigorously until smooth.

    2. Soak the corn husks in water for about 10 min. to soften. Cup 1 corn husk in your hand. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the mix on the bottom and side portions of the husk to about a 1/2" thick. (adjust the amout of tamale mixture according to size of husk and desired thickness). Add the chocolate and the walnut.

    3. Fold both sides of the husks shut, and fold in the top and bottom portions so that all the mixture is enclosed in the husk (you may tie this secure with excess ribbon of the husk). Continue until there are no remaining husks or tamale mix.

    4. Place the prepared tamales about 1/2" apart in a tamalera, or steamer. DO NOT PLACE DIRECTLY IN WATER. Steam for one hour. Check occasionally to make sure that 2" of water remain and all water does not evaporate. After 1 hour, remove 1 tamale and let cool for 5 minutes; continue steaming other tamales.

    5. Open the cooled tamale husk and, if you can easily remove the husk, take the remaining tamales from the tamalera; if not, continue cooking the others until the husk of cooked tamales can easily be removed.

Mushroom and Quesillo Quesadillas

    Servings: 8

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1/2 cup white onion, chopped
    2 cups mushrooms, sliced
    1 cup jalape˜o chiles, without seeds and veins, cut into strips
    1 tablespoon chopped epazote
    1 cup quesillo
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 cups of masa (cornmeal dough) for tortillas
    salt to taste

    1. Sauté onion, add the mushrooms, epazote and chiles. Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Knead the masa slightly with hands, adding drops of water to the dough as needed to maintain consistency of dough.
    3. Form small balls from the dough of about 2cm (3/4") in diameter. Place balls in tortillera between 2 sheets of kitchen plastic wrap. Press down, then lift up tortillera handle. Take the formed tortilla into your hand, and carefully remove the plastic wrap from both sides.
    4. Add the tortilla to the comal and cook each side.
    5. Fill a tortilla with 1 tbsp of filling and quesillo, carefully folding over the tortilla and pinching the edges together so the entire filling is enveloped. Cook each side until golden brown. Remove from the comal. Place the quesadilla on clean flat surface and continue process with remaining ingredients.
    6. Place on platter and serve warm with guacamole and salsa.

Chileatole Mixteco

    Servings: 6

    6 ears of corn, kernels removed
    2 chile de agua
    4 cups water
    1 bunch Epazote
    3 tender corn for garnish
    2 tablespoon panela (brown sugar)

    1. Roast the chiles over an open flame, rotating every 5 to 6 minutes until all sides have turned black.
    2. Once well roasted, put the chiles in a plastic bag to sweat (which facilitates peeling). After about 10 minutes, remove chiles from the bag and peel off their skins with a paper towel.
    3. Slit each chile lengthwise, and remove all the veins and seeds. Set aside.
    4. Blend corn kernels and chile with the water, until smooth.
    5. Return the mixture to the pan, add the epazote and boil for 7 minutes.
    6. Season with sugar and salt. Garnish with one cook corn and epazote.

Oaxacan Yellow Mole

    Servings: 6

    6 pieces of chicken
    1/2 medium onion, loosely chopped
    5 garlic cloves, peeled
    6 cups of water
    1-1/2 Tsp salt
    1 medium chayote, peeled & cut in slices
    3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
    1 cup green beans, tops removed
    7 guajillo chiles
    2 amarillo chiles
    1 chilcostle chile

    4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    1/4 medium onion
    1 black pepper
    1 clove
    1 pinch of cumin
    1 tomato
    1 Tsp corn oil or lard
    3 yerbasanta leaves or 1 bunch cilantro
    1 cup masa (corn meal)

    Chicken & Vegetables:

    1. Put the pieces of chicken in a pot with the onion and garlic. Fill the pot with water and add salt to taste. Cook for 35 min. on medium heat.
    2. Boil the chayote, green beans, and potatoes in water until they are cooked but still firm, "al dente." About 7 min. Set aside.


    1. First clean the chiles by wiping them with a wet cloth. Proceed to dry roast the chiles, until they are nicely toasted (about 1 min. on each side). Remove the stems, seeds and veins. Soak the chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of boiled water for 5 min to soften.
    2. Meanwhile, roast the onion, garlic and tomatoes, until evenly toasted. The skin all around the tomato should turn black, about 7 min.
    3. Next, strain the soaking chiles and put them in a blender with the garlic, onion, tomato, pepper, clove and cumin. Blend in blender to obtain a smooth mixture.
    4. Strain the blended mixture and pour into a hot skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil or lard. Allow to cook for 5 min. at medium heat.
    5. Put the masa (cornmeal) in a blender along with 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth and blend until it has reached a smooth consistency. Add this to the sauce and cook for 5 min stirring constantly over medium heat. Season the mole with fresh yerbasanta or cilantro and salt. Cook for 7 min over low heat, until the sauce begins to thicken.
    6. Finally, add the cooked chicken and vegetables. Remove from heat when chicken and vegetables are warmed. Serve hot.

Rajas de Chile de Agua al Oregano

    Servings: 4

    3 chiles de agua
    1/2 medium onion, sliced
    Juice of 2 limes
    1 tsp olive oil
    1 tsp dried oregano
    1/2 tsp salt

    1. Roast the chiles over a flame, rotating every 5-6 minutes until all sides have turned black. Place in a plastic bag to allow them to sweat.
    2. After about 10 min., peel of their skins with a knife. Slit an opening on the side of each chile and remove the seeds and veins. Cut into 1/2" lengthwise strips.
    3. Place them in a serving dish or bowl with the onion, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Mix evenly and sprinkle the oregano on top. Serve on its own or accompanied with yellow mole, refried beans, etc.

Arroz con Leche

    Servings: 6

    1 cup white rice
    1-1/2 cup water
    3 cups milk
    3 cinnamon sticks
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/4 cup fresh cream

    1. In a saucepan, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil for 7 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
    2. Add the milk, cinnamon and vanilla to rice; bring to a boil stirring occasionally. After about 10 min., add the sugar.
    3. Cook for 25 minutes more on medium heat, allowing almost all the liquid to absorb. Before serving, add the fresh cream, remove the cinnamon, and top with raisins and powdered cinnamon.

Salsa de Chile Pasilla Oaxaqueño con Gusanito de Maguey

    Servings: 6

    3 cloves of garlic
    2 small Oaxacan pasilla chiles
    3 dried maguey worms
    5 tomatillos
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1. Roast the chiles lightly on all sides. Put them in hot water to soak until they become soft and slippery, about 10 min.
    2. Lightly roast the worms on both sides until they begin to emit an aroma, about 1 min.
    3. Roast the tomatillos in a saucepan, on both sides for 7 min.
    4. Grind the garlic cloves and worms in a molcajete. Blend in the pasilla chiles and tomatillos, adding water to facilitate grinding. Add salt to taste.

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