Atole de vainilla

How to make Mexican atole de vainilla. Recipe via @MauraHernandez on The Other Side of The Tortilla.

This post is part of a compensated campaign with Maseca, but all opinions and the recipe here are my own.

Atole de vainilla is a traditional masa-based beverage, often made with milk, and served hot. This hot beverage goes great with tamales, pastries or pan dulce and is also most popular around Day of the Dead and the holidays. 

Atoles date back to pre-Columbian times in Mexico and are well-documented as a form of sustenance amongst the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Historical texts tell us the drink was often flavored with fruits, spices or chiles. 

Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate are the most common flavors of atole nowadays, but you can sometimes also find mora (blackberry; one of my favorites), nuez (pecan), pineapple, elote (sweet corn), piñon (pine nut), and many other flavors. In some areas of Mexico, you can even find savory atoles—one made with with green chile is called chileatole.

RELATED RECIPE: Champurrado… 

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Atole de fresa

Long, cold winter nights mean one thing in my house: we’re making hot drinks to warm us up! One of my favorite cold-weather drinks is atole, especially because it’s customary to drink with breakfast or after dinner. The two most common flavors are vanilla and strawberry—atole de vainilla y atole de fresa. If you make it with chocolate, it’s called champurrado.

It’s a masa-based drink where the dissolved masa acts as a thickening agent to make this hot drink the kind of hearty treat that will really stick to your ribs. I’ve talked before about the availability of atole that comes in powdered packets, but next to my champurrado recipe (which uses prepared store-bought masa from my local tortillería), this version using Maseca instant corn masa flour is even easier to make and a sure step above the flavor from a packet. It’s a homemade taste without all the work of grinding your own nixtamal or having to dissolve masa using cheesecloth. It’s what you might call a semi-homemade version, if you will.

This drink dates back to pre-Columbian times in Mexico and is well documented as a form of sustenance amongst the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Historical texts tell us it was often flavored with fruits, spices or chiles.

Sometimes atole is also made with different colors of corn (I’ve personally tasted atole made with white, yellow and blue corn bases) and milk or water as the liquid. I don’t like my atole to be too thin so I have a habit of making it very thick at the beginning and then thinning it out with milk or water as needed. If you prefer yours to be thinner, you can use all water instead of milk, and reduce the portion of Maseca instant corn flour to your liking.

If you want more berry flavor, you can add another whole cup of strawberries and use more water than milk so it doesn’t thicken too much or dilute the berry flavor.

This recipe produces the best strawberry flavor when you use berries that are very ripe. A trick to my recipe is that I macerate the strawberries before I put them in the blender (which just means I slice them up and, place them in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over them to allow the natural juices to come out).

If you won’t consume the atole immediately after cooking, store in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed to the top of the liquid so a skin doesn’t form over the top. If a skin does form, you can gently remove it with a spoon, but then you’re not getting to enjoy your whole batch. A final note: make sure the Maseca you’re using is specifically for tortillas and not tamales or you’ll get a different consistency.

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Sin maíz no hay país: tortillas and tradition with Maseca

¡Hola a todos y feliz fin de semana!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably hear the phrase “sin maíz no hay país” about a million times in your lifetime, and probably even taught it to others when explaining Mexican cuisine. Literally, it means “without corn, there is no country.”

As one of the basic staples of Mexican cuisine, corn is very important as a form of nutrition in Mexico; and it can mean anything from tamales to sopes to plain and simple tortillas con crema y sal. There are so many options, you’ll even see street food snacks centered around corn such as esquites and you can use corn masa in beverages such as atole. When I named my blog “The Other Side of The Tortilla,” it was, in part, because of the importance of corn and the tortilla in Mexican cuisine.

The tortilla pictured above is actually a photo of one of the very first tortillas I made from scratch as a newlywed. Even though it wasn’t perfect, I was so proud that I had to take a photo to commemorate it and send it to my suegra. Obviously, tortillas are a staple in our household and it’s practically a crisis if we run out. That’s why I not only keep tortillas in the refrigerator at all times to avoid a family-style meltdown, but also a bag of Maseca masa instantánea in my kitchen cabinet so that if we do run out, I can quickly make some more without much fuss about a tortilla apocalypse on the horizon.

And so, I’m happy to announce a new partnership between Maseca and The Other Side of The Tortilla! We’re one of ten blogs that has been chosen as an ambassador for Maseca’s Amigas Blogueras community.

Maseca has relaunched their website at MiMaseca.com with tons of recipes (including a section that made me giggle uncontrollably called “Sorprende a tu suegra”—in English: “Surprise your mother-in-law”), nutrition information and tips, and great promotions such as the ¡Compra, raspa y gana! sweepstakes where you can scratch and win prizes from Maseca products to getting your entire grocery bill paid for in your local supermarket if the Maseca team is visiting your town.

I encourage you to follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #clubmimaseca, check out the Maseca Facebook fan page and stay tuned here for more information on eating healthy, new recipes featuring Maseca products and some really fantastic Maseca giveaways!

  • Tell me in the comments below: What’s your favorite Maseca product or way to use Maseca at home?
This is a sponsored post through a campaign with Maseca and Latina Bloggers Connect. Though I am being compensated for participating, all opinions, recipes and stories are my own.

Feliz Día de la Candelaria

Today marks the Catholic holiday of Día de la Candelaria, known as Candlemas in English.

In Mexico, whoever cuts the Rosca de Reyes on Día de Los Reyes and ends up with the baby Jesus figurine is responsible for bringing tamales for everyone on February 2. Several times I’ve gotten the figurine while celebrating Día de Los Reyes with our family in Mexico and always get teased that I’ll have to come back for a visit soon (with tamales in tow).

Today, we’re eating tamales de pollo con mole verde at our house to celebrate. I admit: I bought mine this year from my favorite tamalería, the Tamalli Space Charros. They’ve got a tamal truck and when they stopped near my house the other day, I just couldn’t resist and bought a few for the holiday.

It’s also common in Mexico to enjoy your tamales on Día de la Candelaria with an atole. You can check out my recipe for champurrado for a delicious chocolate atole.

We’re working on a great recipe for tamales in the test kitchen based on a recipe given to us by a friend who grew up along the Texas-Mexico border. Her mother owns a well-known restaurant and one of the cooks there was generous enough to share their recipe with us. We can’t wait to pass it on to you soon!

  • How does your family celebrate Día de la Candelaria? What are your favorite kind of tamales?

Wordless Wednesday: Atole y Coyotas

Last night I ate dinner at Merendera Las Lupitas, one of our favorite spots to eat in Mexico City. My favorite part was what came at the end of the meal: an atole and coyotas, which are a traditional dessert that originated in Sonora. They’re usually made with masa harina de trigo and stuffed with piloncillo. The coyotas at Las Lupitas are the best I’ve ever had. I’ll see if I can’t get my hands on a recipe to share with you soon. For more on atoles, check out my recipe for champurrado, an atole made with chocolate. And if you’re visiting Mexico City, you can find Las Lupitas right off of the Plaza Santa Catarina in the Coyoacán neighborhood.

  • What’s your favorite kind of atole? Have you ever had coyotas?

CHAMPURRADO

champurrado

There’s this place in Mexico City where my suegro loves to eat. It’s a little family-owned restaurant called Merendera Las Lupitas, and he’s friends with the owner.

Las Lupitas is situated on a corner in Coyoacán facing the Plaza Santa Caterina, in a two-story white building with these beautiful, dramatic thick cobalt blue accents around the windows. They have a heavy, rustic wooden door, and inside there’s colorful papel picado strung across the ceiling. Lots of local art adorns the walls.

What I love about this place is that it’s so traditional. The menu is pretty basic and the atmosphere emits a feeling like you’re eating in a relative’s home. Even the placemats, dishes and furniture are very modest. But don’t be fooled by all the simplicity–each dish on the menu packs as much satisfaction as that of a fancy restaurant, minus the attitude and the cost.

Among the number of delicious, traditional items on the menu there, my suegro almost always orders a mug of atole at the end of his meal.

masa

Atole is a hot drink, made with a nixtamal (corn) base from dissolving masa in water, sometimes with piloncillo, and heating until it becomes thick. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs type drink that’s guaranteed to keep you warm. It can come in many flavors; vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are most typical.

You can usually find quickie versions in a powdered packet in the grocery store, and they taste OK if you’re in a bind and can’t make the real deal. But the packets typically use powdered cornstarch as a thickening agent, so they lack the depth and flavor produced by using real masa as the drink’s base. The chocolate version is called atole de chocolate or champurrado…. 

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