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Café de Olla with Cinnamon, Cloves, and Chocolate

December 15, 2014
El Libro Clásico de la Navidad en México (1998) by Sebastián Verti. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

El Libro Clásico de la Navidad en México (1998) by Sebastián Verti. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Verti, Sebastián. El Libro Clásico de la Navidad en México (México, D.F. : Editorial Diana, 1998). [GT4987 .V47 1998]

Café de Olla, Receta Tradicional (108)

Tiempo de Preparación: 3 minutos / 3 minutes

Tiempo de Cocción: 20 minutos aproximadamente

Utensilios / Utensils: Olla Honda de barro, jarritos individuales


  • 6 tazas de agua
  • 1 rajita de canela gruesa de 8 milímetros, aproximadamente
  • 6 a 8 rajas delgadas de canela de 4 milímetros, aproximadamente
  • 2 clavos de olor
  • 100 gramos de piloncillo
  • 50 gramos de chocolate de metate
  • 100 gramos de café molido

Elaboración / Preparation

  1. Ponga el agua a calendar en la olla; cuando empiece a hervir, añada la raja de canela gruesa, los clavos, el piloncillo y el chocolate; baje la flama; cuando vuelva a hervir, quite la espuma al chocolate.
  2. En el momento que vuelva a soltar el hervor, incorpore el café y apague. Déjelo cerca de la lumbre para mantenerlo caliente y para que se asiente el café, pues éste nunca debe hervir.
  3. Sirva usando un jarrito a modo de cucharón. Tome el café de la parte más superficial, evite agitar el sediment.
  4. En cada jarrito (servido solo hasta a la mitad) coloque una raja de canela delgada en lugar de cucharita.

Traditional Coffee Recipe (108)

Preparation Time: 3 minutes

Tiempo de Cocción / Cooking Time: About 20 minutes

Utensilios / Utensils: Clay pot and individual mugs


  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cinnamon stick about 8 mm thick
  • 6-8 thin slices of cinnamon stick, about 4mm thick
  • 2 cloves
  • 100 grams piloncillo sugar (Mexican brown sugar sold in cones)
  • 50 grams of Mexican chocolate, often sold in tablets
  • 100 grams ground coffee


  1. Bring water to a boil and then add the thick cinnamon stick, cloves, piloncillo sugar, and chocolate. Lower the heat. When it returns to a boil, skim off the foam from created by the chocolate.
  2. At the time that the liquid comes back to a boil, add the coffee and remove from heat. Leave near to the heat to keep warm as the coffee brews, but the liquid should not be boiling at this point.
  3. Serve by taking the coffee from the top, thus avoiding agitating the sediment at the bottom of the pot.
  4. In each mug (half-filled), place a thin cinnamon stick slice in place of a spoon.

The Good Life according to Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert

December 8, 2014
The Good Life (1949) by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert.  UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

The Good Life (1949) by Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Cabeza de Baca Gilbert, Fabiola. The Good Life: New Mexican Food. Santa Fé, NM: San Vicente Foundation, Inc., 1949. [TX725 .G48 1949]

Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert grew up as part of a prominent New Mexico ranching family. As an adult, she became the first Hispanic woman hired by the New Mexico Agricultural Extension Services and worked among New Mexico’s rural communities for over 30  years. Although working to introduce modern methods and technology, her interest in history and desire to preserve cultural traditions led Cabeza de Baca to emphasize the importance of cultural and historical context in her books.

The first half of The Good Life: New Mexican Food is a fictional narrative of the Turrieta family in an rural northern New Mexico village, describing seasonal events, family celebrations, and culinary practices. The second half consists of recipes in the New Mexican culinary tradition.

The Editor’s note preceding the recipe section of the book notes that one of the characteristics differentiating New Mexican cuisine from Tex-Mex or Interior Mexican-style dishes is the relative absence of herbs and spices, “True New Mexican chile dishes are seldom seasoned, other than with onion salt and garlic, with many herbs. Orégano, grown in New Mexico, is sometimes used, but not once in this cook book is Cumin, an herb popular in Old Mexico, used.” The recipe for Gallina Rellena below slightly contradicts that description, as it includes coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. However, most of the recipes in this cookbook more closely resemble the simple chick pea stew that follows.

Gallina Rellena / Stuffed Fowl (p. 57)

  • 1 roasting fowl (12-15 lbs.)
  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 1 lb. cooked beef
  • 2 c. raisins
  • 1 c. shelled piñon nuts
  • 2 squares melted chocolate
  • 1 t. coriander seed
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 1 c. meat stock
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • salt

Clean and prepare fowl for roasting as usual. Rub inside with butter. Grind beef, add raisins and other ingredients except wine. Cook until thick. Add wine and let come to a boil. Stuff fowl as with other stuffing and roast until tender.

Cocido de Garbanzo / Chick Pea Stew (p. 61)

  • 1 c. garbanzo
  • 6 c. water
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 c. chopped ham
  • 1 c. Spanish or Mexican sausage
  • 1 t. orégano
  • Salt and pepper

Soak chick pea overnight. Drain and add boiling water. Cook and when partly done add onion, garlic, ham and sausage. Cook until chick peas are tender. Season with orégano, salt and pepper.  A chile pepper added before it is quite done gives it a special flavor.

Sopapillas / Sweet Fried Cakes (p. 76)

These are nice cakes for serving with chocolate or tea

  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 4 t. fat
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • Water or milk

Sift flour with salt and baking powder. Cut fat into flour. Beat eggs, add sugar, and add to flour mixture. Add enough milk or water to make a medium dough neither stiff nor soft. Let dough stand for 1/2 hour. Roll out 1/4 inch thick, cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and fry in deep fat until brown.

To 1/2 cup sugar add 2 teaspoons cinnamon and mix well. As the sopapillas are fried and drained and still hot, roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.


Davis, Kate K. “Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert (1894-1991)” In American Women Writers, 1900-1945: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Eds. Laurie Champion and Emmanuel Smpath Nelson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.

“Inventory of the Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert Papers, 1602-1996″ The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for Southwest Research. 2000.

Rudnick, Lois. “La Fabulosa Fabiola: First Lady of New Mexico Cuisine.” El Palacio vol. 117, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 72-75.


Mole Navarro en la Cocina

December 1, 2014

MoleThis week’s post features guest blogger Emiliano Calderon, a staff member at Casa Navarro State Historic Site, located in downtown San Antonio.

La Cocina en el Bolisillo No. 1. Antonio Vanegas Arroyo, 1913. [TX716 .M4 C675 no. 1].

by Emiliano Calderon

As a follow up to Salsa Navarro, our successful collaboration with the UTSA Libraries Special Collections last summer, the Staff at Casa Navarro and I really wanted to develop a program around historic foodways and the holidays. I figured Mole would be an appropriate choice since I remember Mole being served with leftovers from both Thanksgiving and Christmas as a child. I was not familiar at all with the history of Mole or the complex process used to make it, however, it turned out to be relatively simple despite the many ingredients and cooking methods used to make the sauce.

Because I wanted to make a local connection to Casa Navarro State Historic Site, I selected a recipe from a series of cookbooks that was widely distributed called La Cocina en el Bolsillo. As published in a previous blog entry by Juli McLoone, the book was being sold at a San Antonio store in 1897 according to an advertisement published in a Spanish language newspaper called El Regidor. Looking further into this advertisement and the newspaper it was published in, I managed to find some very interesting information on the bookseller (but I am saving this for a future blog entry).

The Mole Poblano recipe I chose from La Cocina en el Bolsillo No.1 read as follows:

Mole Poblano

Después de bien limpio el guajolote se divide en raciones regulares, las cuales se fríen en crudo.

Se desvena libra y media de chiles mulatos y pasillas; se ponen a desflemar en agua y se muelen.  En un traste que esté bien seco; se tuestan dos onzas de ajonjolí, un poco de cilantro seco, una tortilla y un poco de anís.  Se fríen en Manteca dos onzas de almendras dulces hasta que se doren, y unas pocas pepitas del mismo chile con unos dientes de ajo, todo esto se muele, lo mismo que un puño de tomates cocidos.  En seguida se fríe el chile y las especias molidas con los tomates, en una cazuela grande, agregándole un polvo de clavo, canela y pimiento.  Una vez refrito todo esto se le echa el agua respectiva y un pedazo de jengibre.

Mole Poblano

After cleaning the turkey, it should be divided in normal rations, which should be fried.

Clean out the seeds of pound and a half of mulato and pasilla chilies; Soak the peppers in hot water and grind them. In a well-dried pan, toast two ounces of sesame seeds, some dry cilantro, one tortilla and a little bit of anise. Fry two ounces of sweet almonds in lard until golden brown, and some seeds from the same peppers, with some garlic cloves, and grind everything with a handful of cooked tomatoes. Afterwards, fry the peppers and the ground spices with the tomatoes in a big casserole, adding clove powder, cinnamon and black pepper. Once refried, add water as needed and a piece of ginger.


Chile Ancho and Chile Mulato

Chile Ancho and Chile Mulato

The first two attempts I had made at making Mole Poblano from the recipe were mostly unsuccessful since I could not figure out a good portioning for the ingredients. The only cooking measurements given are for the peppers, sesame seeds, and almonds. So, I consulted Diana Kenedy’s Essential Cuisines of Mexico to settle on a portioning for the remaining ingredients of spices, fruit, peppers and nuts.

I set aside an entire rainy evening to cook the Mole, this time purchasing my ingredients in bulk in order more easily correct any errors in the cooking process. I began by cutting the seeds and stems out of the dried Ancho/Mulato and Pasilla peppers and set the seeds aside for later. I placed the seeded and stemmed peppers in salted warm water and let them soak.

Ground almonds

Ground almonds

Since the peppers should be soaked for thirty minutes, I began preparing the seeds, fruit and spices by portioning them in separate bowls according to the manner in which they would be cooked: all ingredients to be toasted in one bowl, all those to be fried in another, and those to be roasted in the final bowl. I started out by toasting the sesame seeds, dry cilantro, corn tortilla and anise seeds on the stove top. After, toasting, I took approximately ¼ of the sesame seeds and set them aside, leaving the remainder of the ingredients to cool. After cooling I placed the toasted ingredients in a coffee mill and ground them into a powder consistency that would be easy to mix with the peppers later on.

Roasted tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes

Following this, I crushed the almonds, garlic cloves, and some of the pepper seeds I had saved earlier in a Molcajete and fried them in olive oil until golden brown. I placed the ingredients in the same bowl as the ingredients that had been previously ground in the coffee mill. After, I roasted three tomatoes I had harvested from the Casa Navarro garden over an open flame, let them cool, peeled them and placed them in a blender.

By this time, the 30 minute soaking period for the peppers was complete. I thoroughly strained the peppers and placed about half of them into the blender along with the tomatoes, half the toasted ingredients, half the fried ingredients and one cup of Chicken broth. I proceeded to blend everything. I added the remainder of the ingredients into the blender little by little allowing a paste like consistency to develop.

Mole Ingredients

Mole Ingredients

I placed the Mole paste in a large saucepan over medium to low heat and added another cup of Chicken broth and let the mixture simmer while stirring occasionally so as to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Approximately ten minutes later I added the ground clove, cinnamon, and peppercorn to the Mole sauce and proceeded to simmer for another ten to fifteen minutes until oil was visibly pooling at the top of the sauce.

The most prevalent taste from the Mole was without doubt the Mulato and Pasilla peppers, which was the ultimate goal of the portioning. The consistency of the sauce came out relatively thick compared to Moles I had tasted in the past. Likewise, it was interesting to have produced a Mole that did not taste sweet like the many we are accustomed to buying at restaurants and stores.

Simmering Mole with spices

Simmering Mole with spices

If you will be attempting to make Mole using this recipe or another, I have three tips/suggestions:

  1. Purchase your ingredients in bulk. Mistakes made in the kitchen can be corrected more easily.
  2. Be organized. Separate your ingredients into portions for frying, toasting, soaking, and roasting before you begin.
  3. Take your time. Each time I have made Mole from scratch it has taken approximately 1-2 hours to do, it is difficult to rush the process so I would recommend setting aside an entire morning or evening for this.

Casa Navarro is located at 228 South Laredo Street in downtown San Antonio, along the Texas Independence and Hill Country Trail Regions.

Got Turkey? Try Mole!

November 24, 2014
Discovering Mexican Cooking (1958) by Alice Erie Young and Patricia Peteres Stephenson. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Discovering Mexican Cooking (1958) by Alice Erie Young and Patricia Peteres Stephenson. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Young, Alice Erie. and Patricia Peters Stephenson. Discovering Mexican Cooking. San Antonio, TX: The Naylor Company, 1958. TX716 .M4 Y6 1958

For most of the year, turkey is not frequently found on dinner tables in  the United States. However, on Thanksgiving, it is a rare household that does not serve roast turkey (or at least tofurkey). And that means there will be millions Americans trying to figure out what to do with a mountain of leftover turkey this Friday. As a solution, may I suggest the following recipe for Mole.

From a 1958 cookbook published here in San Antonio, this recipe is presented in two parts: first, a basic multi-purpose red chile sauce is prepared, and then that base is supplemented with with spices for flavoring, bread and tostadas as thickening agents, and just a whiff of chocolate.  The use of tostadas (rather than simply tortillas) may speak to this book’s South Texas origin, as might the use of peanut butter rather than sesame seeds. Caraway seeds, too, are a somewhat unusual addition to the standard cinnamon and cloves.

For those interested in seeing more historic mole recipes, see these posts on recipes from from La Cocinera Poblana (1887) and Manual del Cocinero (1906). And if you still have turkey left next Monday, check back here to see the fruits of Casa Navarro’s mole-making experiments!

Red Chile Sauce (p. 25)

  • 1/2 T. fat
  • 1 T. flour
  • 2 T. chile powder or 1 cup chile paste [1]
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, strained
  • 1 t. vinegar
  • 2 cups, or 1 can beef or chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown fat and flour in saucepan. Add chile powder or chile paste, strained tomatoes, vinegar, broth, and stir until a smooth gravy mixture. Add onion and garlic. Season well. Simmer for about 3 minutes.


[1] In the introductory text preceding all the chile-based sauces, the authors note that “the most common kinds of chile peppers used in making fresh chile sauces are Chile ancho, Chile pasilla, and Chile mulato.” Although not stated specifically, the Red Chile Sauce recipe presumably is meant to be prepared with one of more of these varieties.

Mole Sauce (p. 26)

Mole is served over meat or fowl, especially turkey. To make Mole, add these ingredients to Red Chile Sauce, page 25.

Grind and stir until well blended:

  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1 T. peanuts or peanut butter
  • 2 t. caraway seed
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 1/3 stick cinnamon
  • 2 slices toast
  • 3 corn tostadas
  • 1 oz. bitter chocolate
  • 1 medium onion


  • 1/2 cup strained tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed

Simmer for 30 minutes until it is a thick sauce.



Mole at Casa Navarro Tonight!

November 18, 2014

Join Casa Navarro and UTSA Libraries Special Collections to explore the history of mole TONIGHT at 6pm!

Mole Navarro

Mole Navarro

November 10, 2014

Join Casa Navarro and UTSA Libraries Special Collections to explore the history of mole at 6pm on Tuesday, November 18th!

Mole Navarro

All Souls’ Day Bread. 1969.

November 3, 2014
Mexico: Her Daily & Festive Breads (1969) by Barbara Howland Taylor. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Mexico: Her Daily & Festive Breads (1969) by Barbara Howland Taylor. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Taylor, Barbara Howland. Mexico: Her Daily & Festive Breads. Claremont, CA: Creative Press, 1969. [TX769 .T36 1969].

Mexico, Her Daily & Festive Breads offers a brief popular history of Mexican baking, from the Aztecs’ celebration of corn goddesses to the arrival of wheat with the Spanish conquistadors, to the multitude of shapes and styles of bread encountered during the authors’ time in Mexico during the 1960s.

The book itself does not include recipes. However, laid into the opening pages of UTSA’s copy are three typed pages entitled “Bread Recipes for Mexico: Her Daily and Festive Breads by Barbara Taylor,” providing recipes for Sweet Rolls, Salt Rolls, All Souls’ Day Bread, and Three Kings’ Bread.

All Souls’ Day (or Day of the Dead) was celebrated yesterday on November 2nd, but perhaps you might still wish to  honor your departed loved ones with this recipe:

All Souls’ Day Bread

  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. anis seed, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsps. water
  • Pink colored sugar or granulated sugar

Soften the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water; set aside. Cream together butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt until fluffy. 

Blend in 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tbsp. water, anis seed, and orange peel. Add eggs and egg yolk; beat 2 minutes. Blend in softened yeast and 1 cup of remaining flour; beat 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour. Cover; refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Remove one-fourth of the dough; cover and set aside. Shape remaining dough into a ball. Place on greased baking sheet and flatten to a 6-inch diameter. Divide the reserved piece of dough into quarters. Roll two quarters into two 7-inch ropes. Combine eggs white [sic] and 2 tsps. water. Place ropes in an X pattern atop loaf, attaching to loaf with egg white mixture. Form one of the remaining quarters into a 2-inch ball. Make a 2-inch wide indentation in the center of the X. Place ball of dough in the depression and attach with egg white mixture.

Divide the final quarter of dough into 4 portions. Shape each into a teardrop and secure with egg white mixture onto sides of loaf between the spokes of the X. Cover; let rise until nearly double, about 35 minutes. Bake in 325* F. for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Brush with egg white mixture; sprinkle with pink sugar. Repeat brushing and sprinkling again after 5 minutes. Makes 1 loaf. 

Food History

Food Through the Ages

The Culinary Curator

Being a Journal of Narratives and Discoveries

Feast of the Centuries

Cooking throughout the Ages

Gherkins & Tomatoes

Meditations on the World of Food

What's Cookin' @ Special Collections?!

Special Collections @ Virginia Tech Culinary History Blog!


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