Mexico's dia de los muertos is my perfect holiday. Lots of eating, particularly sugary foods; lots of skeletons decorating everything; lots of time with your family (living and dead); lots of hanging out in cemeteries. Um... IDEAL. It's also a nice way to extend the general joy I associate with halloween.
It's traditional to have tamales on the dia de los muertos, but I did not want to deal with corn husks, so I made:
Sweet Bean Tamale Casserole
This bean recipe, with but with refried black beans, 1/2 cup kidney beans, and a generous sprinkle of cumin and garlic powder.
a thin layer of chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1/2 cups each chopped green onions and sliced olives
1 cup cornmeal mixed with 2-3 cups water, boiled and stirred until it forms a thick paste. Mix in chili powdwer and salt to taste.
Serve with vegan sour cream and - if you're not allergic - salsa.
It does not come out of the pan very prettily. but it's muy delicioso.
After that, the traditional Pan de Muerto! Most translations call it "bread of the dead," but how much better is it to say Deadbread? So hardcore. Deadbread usually consists of one large loaf, with two strips in an X and a round ball on top. Somehow, this represents bones and a skull. It's FASTER to make rolls, though, so:
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup earth balance spread (or other vegan butter)
1/4 cup sweetener
replacement for 2 eggs - see note
1 tbsp anise seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (or 2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2-4 tbsp maple syrup, to glaze
Scald (but don't boil) soymilk in a pan on the stove. Stir in butter, sweetener (I used agave nectar), egg replacement (see note), salt, anise seeds. Set aside.
Stir yeast into warm water until dissolved. Let sit 5 minutes, then mix into soymilk/seed mixture.
Gradually add the flour, mixing well until you have a stiff dough. Knead on a floured surface until it is uniform throughout. Roll into a ball, put in a floured or greased bowl under a dishcloth in a warm place for 60-90 minutes.
After that time is up, the dough will have almost doubled in size. Push it down (it makes a satisfying "poof" noise), knead it a bit, then shape into balls slightly smaller than a fist. Use dough to make long, thin snakey bits of dough that you can cross over each roll - these are the "bones" - and crown each one with a little ball - the skull.
Put on a greased baking sheet, then leave them alone again to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Just before baking, glaze each one with a bit of maple syrup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Mine were a little too golden because "the Office" was on.
Makes 8 rolls.
***NOTE: my favorite vegan replacement for eggs is a flax seed/water mixture. It works really well for binding and rising and is very simple: boil 1 tbsp flax seeds and 3 tbsp water (this is the equivalent of 1 egg) over medium-high heat until the mixture is the consistency of eggs (or boogers). Voila! The only problem with this is that there will be whole flax seeds in your final product - something I like but my father HATES. I hear you can also do this with flaxMEAL with the same proportions - and you don't even have to heat it up.
Here are our rolls, some marzipan skulls I made while waiting for the bread to rise, and brown-rice Horchata:
Dia de los muertos: SUCCESS!