Though we love cooking all year long, we especially love being in the kitchen during the holidays. Friends and family are popping by full of cheer, stockings are hung, the tree is up, and we’ve finally found the time to shower those we love with a little extra attention… and give them lots of amazing food.
Our holidays are full of memories of kneading masa with our abuelas and tias; stealing pernil from abuelos, papas, and tios; sharing secrets over flan and budin; laughing well into the night over a growing pile of tamales; and feeling the love during an extended family meal.
This is a happy time, a time of twinkling lights and candy canes and plenty of fiestas. And for the last 12 days, we’ve been celebrating with the classic 12 Days of Christmas (you know, 12 Drummers Drumming, 11 Pipers Piping…), with a Latin twist, of course. Finally, we’ve come to the last day. What’s our partridge in a pear tree? Click on to find out. And don’t forget to sing along. Felicidades amigos!
We kicked off our 12 Days of Christmas celebration with everyone’s favorite handheld, tortilla wrapped treat: tacos! Easy to throw together, easy to modify based on what you have in the fridge and who’s coming over, tacos are a great holiday dish. From steak to chicken to rajas and shrimp, there’s a taco for every one on your holiday list. Serve them for breakfast, as appetizers, or the main course; serve them buffet style or plated; the possibilities are endless. Just make a big stack of tortillas and keep them handy, the holidays are just starting!
The holidays are about indulging and having just a little bite of something sweet. In that spirit, here are our 11 favorite flans. From the classics (just like mama makes) to the creative (tres leches pumpkin flan, anyone?), here is a collection of flan recipes to keep you going all season. Make a few every week (yes, a few) and keep them ready for when friends stop by for a cafecito. Linger over a bite and keep the conversation going, you won’t run out of flan. In fact, bake off a few more for holiday gifts and spread the cheer.
Ah, the tamale-a-thon. You know the day: a day spent at the kitchen table, hands in masa, gossiping, laughing, and throwing another tamale on the pile until the banana leaves are gone and your hands (happily) ache from the work. It isn’t the holidays until the freezer is full of tamales of every flavor and size. This season, pick a few recipes from our collection, we’re happy to come over and help.
Cheers! Rum, tequila, aguardiente, ‘tis the season and you’re finally old enough to have your own glass of whatever you used to sneak from your older cousins. So stock up the bar, set out the shakers, and fill the bathtub with ice, we’ve got some cocktails for you to make. Ruby red, frothy and creamy, light and elegant, or classic: what’s your pleasure?
You’ll need sustenance after all those cocktails. These enchiladas are cheesy, spicy, smoky, and delicious. Easy to make, spend an afternoon layering tortillas and cheese and cooking up your favorite stuffing, then freeze a few pans. When guests unexpectedly stop by, pop them in the oven until they’re melted and delicious and smother them in sauce. When words gets out, you’ll have a few more surprise guests, no doubt.
With this collection of sweet treats, you’ll be the honored guest at any holiday party. While we love our flan (and we do love it), Latin desserts go past dulce de leche (and we love that too). Fruity, chocolaty, rich, or subtle, there’s a bite for everyone. Grab your kids and head into the kitchen, let them throw about the flour and imagine it’s snowing. After baking, curl up with chocolate caliente or an espresso and enjoy or wrap up a few to go – neighbors, family, friends will be touched by the sweet thought.
Put a call out for Spanish wine, a pan of paella is on the stove. Don’t be intimidated by paella, made with humble ingredients, it’s a great dish for the holidays. Start with your favorite rice and a few proteins. Keep it simple with chicken and chorizo or indulge with lobster and squid. Scale up with more rice or keep it small, the point is to gather in the kitchen with your glasses of wine and enjoy the company. The food will be done soon.
No Latin party is complete without croquetas. Easy to make with leftover turkey, chicken, or seafood, croquetas are a simple, classic, and delicious party food. Roll up a few dozen on a lazy Sunday afternoon and keep them in the freezer, stacked next to the tamales. When the cocktail party gets going, pop them in the deep fryer then set them out and enjoy your drink and the festivities.
The pernil is the star of our holiday meal. Succulent, tender, and savory, a perfect pernil is whatever you make it. Family recipes tend to include a little bit of this or a little bit of that. Slather it on to a pork shoulder, set it, and forget it. Enjoy the company as the pernil slow roasts and then bask in the adoration of your family as you set it on the table. Enjoy!
Stewed cod fish is a great way to feed a crowd: it won’t break the bank and the ingredients can be bought ahead of time and stored in the pantry. When guests arrive, step away from the stove and let it simmer. It will only taste better as the flavors marry.
No matter what sides are on the table, dinner isn’t complete without rice and beans. Find the biggest pot you have then call mama, you’ll need something bigger. Fluffy, savory, and comforting, rice and beans are the perfect base for any holiday meal. Serve them with tacos or pernil, on the side or as a main dish. Your guests will feel at home.
Well friends, we’ve made it. Our partridge in a pear tree is the classic Puerto Rican drink, the coquito. Often described as eggnog, this drink is so much more. It’s rich, it’s velvety, it’s laced with cool coconut and spiked with hot rum. Though it’s made in a big batch, it’s meant to be served in shot glasses. So mix up the recipe then pass the bottle around as you sing:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
12 Tasty Tacos
11 Favorite Flans
10 Types of Tamales
9 Christmas Cocktails
7 Pasteles Dulces
6 Pans of Paella
4 Perfect Pernils
2 Rice and Beans
And un coquito para beber.