Dia de los Muertos :: The Food

The party was a smashing success!  I now understand the power of the potluck.  It was so nice to not feel the burden of cooking all of the food myself, and there was a fantastic spread! Here’s just a peek at a few of the amazing dishes we enjoyed:

Roasted tomatillo salsa, made by me.

Fresh chicken tamales, brought from a tiny little local restaurant.

Pan de muertos, also made by me.  The recipe can be found here.

Apple empanadas, made by The Bird.

We also had fresh tomato salsa, chicken enchiladas, shredded chicken soft tacos, refried beans, chorizo soup, corn on the cob, fresh watermelon, guacamole, cookies, and two kinds of brownies!

The most special dish there was my grandfather’s famous beef enchiladas, made by my mother.  It was nice to have him honored on both the ofrenda and the buffet.

I know there were many other wonderful dishes, I just can’t remember them all.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to taste them all, but I sure tried!

To wash it all down, there was mexican beer, sangria, red raspberry tea, hot chocolate, and of course, tequila!

So now that I know that potlucks do have an amazing way of just working out, I am a believer.  So everyone had better start perfecting their Mexican recipes for next year!

Tomatillos are one of those ingredients I really got into using when I started with Mexican cooking years ago.  I love them so much, and I just can’t get enough of them.  They look like a smallish green tomato, but they are quite firm, and usually are found in the store with their papery husks still attached.  They taste remotely tomatoish, but much zingier.  Since I have been asked for this recipe so many times, I will gladly share it here:


(adapted from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday)

1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed

3 large cloves of garlic

1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded (or not, if you like it hotter) and chopped

one bunch (a good sized handful) cilantro

1 small onion, finely chopped


Preheat your oven’s broiler. Cut the tomatillos in half widthwise and place cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet, along with the unpeeled garlic.  Broil about 5 to 7 minutes, until the tomatillos are beginning to char and blacken.  Flip the tomatillos over (cut side up) and return to the broiler for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are beginning to blacken.  Some will still be firm and most will be quite soft.  This is all fine.

While the tomatillos cool down a bit, roughly chop your jalapeño and then chop it finely in your food processor.  I always find that I get better results when I chop the onion by hand. Squeeze the softened garlic out of its papery skin and add to the food processor.  When the tomatillos are cool enough, pour them, along with any accumulated juices, into the food processor. Add the cilantro, about half a cup of water and about a teaspoon of salt, and blitz the whole business until it is coarsely pureed.

Pour into a bowl, add the onion and stir, and taste and adjust salt if necessary.

Try not to eat it all right then and there.

A very special thank you to Nathan and Camille Pyatte, who not only brought the tamales and hot chocolate, but also took all of the gorgeous photos you see here.  You can find their talented work at pyattestudios.com.

5 Responses to “Dia de los Muertos :: The Food”

  1. Tammy writes:

    You can’t do this to me! All that deliciously GOOD Mexican food, and here I am in France. I might as well be on the moon. Maybe you could send leftovers my way…but please don’t even suggest I make my own empanadas. I’m afraid my vision involves someone handing me a plateful. (I’d try your salsa recipe, only I have no access to tomatillos. Even decent plain tortillas aren’t easy to find.)

  2. MamaBird writes:

    What a feast – I so wished I woke up to the leftovers at your house the next day. If there were any leftovers! It was a fabulous party, from the food, to the decor (you should post on that too!) to the great company attending. Thank you!

  3. Becky writes:

    Looks like it was a wonderful evening…..sorry I missed it.

  4. tasteofbeirut writes:

    This is a great recipe for tomatillo salsa! I need to make it asap!

  5. Cara Cossette writes:

    Thanks for that. We’re having a big potluck party next month, for Christmas I guess and I’ve been trying to find something unique.. found some awesome ideas at this potluck recipe site. You know, someone should invent a website where you can write what you’ll be taking, and it would make sure no one brings the same thing!

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