Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Cider) & Ensalada Navideño (Apple Christmas Salad)

I love the week leading up to Christmas.  I'm usually busy baking wonderful goodies to share with my family. Christmas in Mexico is filled with all sorts of yummy treats.  Everything from Buñuelos to Tamales to Ponche Navideño. Sigh...Ponche Navideño!  Christmas wouldn't be complete without it.  I can't recall a Christmas that Ponche Navideño wasn't served.  (Both in Mexico and the US.)

Ponche Navideño is a hot beverage, laden with fruits, served during the holidays. The base for Ponche Navideño can be made with either Flor de Jamaica (hibiscus flower) or Tamarindo.  Both are absolutely delicious, but the color of Ponche Navideño made with hibiscus flowers is so bright and festive. It's the perfect beverage to serve with Christmas dinner.

But I have a confession to make.  As much as I love to drink Ponche Navideño, I've never actually made it.  This was my first time and it was delicious!  My hubby couldn't believe that I had never made Ponche before.

A key ingredient in making Ponche Navideño are tejocotes, a bright yellow-orange fruit which are sold at mercados (markets) all over Mexico during the holidays just to be used in Ponche. Another ingredient used in making Ponche is sugarcane.  It's been awhile since I've been to the States, so I don't know if sugarcane is even available.  I'm lucky because we have a vendor just around the corner that sells bags of cañas (sugarcane) already peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks.  But don't let these hard to find ingredients stop you from trying this delicious beverage.  As with most recipes, use what you like and try to incorporate what is in season. (Did someone say cranberries?!)

Ponche Navideño de Flor de Jamaica - Hibiscus Flower Mexican Christmas Punch

Ponche Navideño de Jamaica

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried Jamaica flowers
  • 3-1/2 quarts water (14 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (3-inches in length)
  • 6 ounces tejocotes
  • 6 ounces sugarcane (cut in 1-inch chunks)
  • 6 ounces pitted prunes
  • 6 ounces pecan halves
  • 6 ounces guava (quartered)
  • 6 ounces apple (cut in 1-inch cubes)

Directions:
In 4 quart stockpot, bring water and the dried hibiscus flowers to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer 10 minutes or until the water is a deep wine color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the hibiscus flowers from the pot; discard.  Stir in the sugar and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 60 to 90 minutes or until the fruits are tender. (This is the best holiday air freshener!)
                                    
Taste for sweetness. Add more sugar, if necessary. To serve, ladle Ponche and fruits into cups.  (For an Adults Only beverage, add a shot of tequila to each cup!)  Enjoy!!!

      
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Ensalada Navideña

Ensalada Navideña is a traditional fruit salad served as a side dish or dessert with any Christmas dinner.  This is one of those recipes that varies from family to family.  I've had it with shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, celery, guava, and even coconut.  But in our family, less is best!  (This version would be a great palate cleanser between courses!)

Ensalada Navideña

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups apple, finely chopped
  • 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (I love pecans, so I used 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup Mexican crema
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (optional)


Directions:
In large mixing bowl, mix the apple, pineapple, pecans, crema and sweetened condensed milk, until well combined.  (I'd add the raisins, but no one else likes them!)

      

Transfer to serving bowl.  Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and garnish with pecan halves.  Enjoy!!!

   

With Love,
Leslie Limon

8 comments:

  1. Thank you Leslie for sharing, this looks yummy!

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  2. By the way, my sister wanted me to make ponche for christmas and I didn't know what type of alcohol to serve it with! This helps alot!

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  3. Leslie is Guaba and Guayaba the same fruit? apology 4 my ingorance T. God U.S.A. Autorithies had allowed guayaba the liltte yellow creamy piece of haven on earth to shown up on mexican markets I love it; I think P.Ricans call Guaba some type of a green oval fruit the is on the markets on the form of juice awfull sweet for me thank for any info. apreciated have a wonderfull weekand.Maria from Ks.

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  4. MARIA: Guayaba is the Spanish name for Guavas, so yes, they are the same fruit. I'm so glad you are able to find them in the States. When I lived there, they were a rare treat. I got most of mine from my sister-in-law's backyard. She used to have a big tree that gave the most delicious guavas. They were green on the outside and bright pink on the inside. Haven't seen the green variety here in Mexico, but the yellow ones are just as delicious. :)

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  5. THANKS FOR THE INFO. WE (IN DE USA) DONT HAVE THE GREEN ONES IN FRESH AVALIBLE HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND WITH U FAMILY. MARIA FROM KANSAS

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  6. Hi leslie! I love ponche, but i like it made with tamarindo. With your recipe, how much tamarindo would you substitute for the jamaica!

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  7. Hi Leslie! I use 6 to 8 ounces of tamarind pods that have been peeled. :)

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  8. Que rico Leslie!!! You just took me back to my childhood. I grew up eating caña!!! I miss drinking Ponche!!! 

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