From Our Kitchen to Yours – Favorite Holiday Recipes from Spanish Schoolhouse

Holiday memories usually involve two things – family and food!  As we enter this unusual 2020 holiday season, we might crave comforting, traditional food more than ever!  In today’s blog post, our Spanish Schoolhouse staff share some of the traditional Latin holiday recipes from their home countries that bring back sweet (and savory) memories!

Turrón – A Sweet Treat from Spain

Our first sweet recipe comes from Yolanda Armas, co-owner of Spanish Schoolhouse Fort Worth.  Turrón is a Spanish nougat made from honey and almonds.  It comes in many different forms.  

Yolanda recalls, “Turrón is a sweet only available during Christmas in Spain. It was always a tradition in my house that the eldest relative would cut the different kinds of turrones and make a tray. My grandfather used to take forever cutting the turrón and we would anxiously wait for the tray to come up so we could start eating it! The tray would stay out the whole season and it would be the dessert after every meal, especially Christmas and New Year’s Eve, both of which are the biggest family events in Spain.”

If you’d like to try turrón at home, check out this recipe: Turrón de Jijona

Spanish recipe - Turron de jijona

Las Torrejas de mi Abuela

Next stop, Venezuela!  Our SSH Coppell teacher, Karina López, shared her sweet memories of cooking with her grandmother, Ramona.  Her abuela passed on not only her culinary skills but also a few life lessons along the way as they made Torrejas (recipe linked).  

“My grandmother lived in Caicara de Maturín, a picturesque village in northeastern Venezuela. Being at abuela’s home meant fun, joy, and also much learning.  One evening, she told me how she used to make torrejas to help support the family. My interest piqued, I asked her how it was done and we set to work, making a batch together.

Her grandmother showed her how to combine the water, flour, milk, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt. She stirred the mixture with a wooden paddle, then kneaded it with her hands, until the dough was smooth, adding a little more flour when it got sticky.

“Finally, she added some butter to the dough and continued to knead, as she told me how she went out through the streets of Caicara shouting “Torrejas, Torrejas, Torrejas, try the delicious Torreja…” “The secret is in getting the masa (dough) to the exact point of readiness,” she said, pulling the mixture out of the bowl and placing it on the table to continue kneading.

When the dough was ready, Grandmother cut pieces, stretched them, and placed them in hot oil. The result was a very crisp cookie.  A little sugar sprinkled on top and a café con leche completed the magic.  This moment remains one of my favorite childhood memories of the fun in that house.   Even after my grandmother was gone, we relived the memory each time my dad said, “Kari, let’s make Torrejas”… This became a precious time for us to share, too, as we kneaded the dough until it reached that ‘perfect point of readiness.’  For me, torrejas are a special reminder to take time to shape memories!” 

Latin recipe torrejas

Alfajores

Let’s travel to Argentina!  Our Coppell teacher, Maria Teffeteller, contributed her favorite recipe for alfajores.  The alfajor is a traditional sandwich cookie that originated in the Andalusian region of Spain.  Today, you can find Peruvian, Argentine, Chilean, Colombian, Mexican, and Venezuelan alfajores. Each country puts its own twist on the recipe.   Try this recipe for a gastronomic trip to Maria’s childhood home!

alfajores recipe

Torta Negra

Andrea Yusta, one of our teachers from SSH Sugar Land, shared a favorite holiday dessert recipe from her family in Venezuela. 

“One of the recipes that I remember most eagerly and with a lot of feeling is Torta Negra. My mom, brother, and I prepared it together at Christmas as a family tradition. After an amazing Venezuelan Christmas meal of hallacas (Venezuela’s version of tamales), pernil (pork roast), chicken salad, and pan de jamón accompanied by Ponche Crema (rum cream), we sweetened our palates with a delicious Torta Negra.

This link is my mom’s favorite recipe for Torta Negra! (Click here for an English translation). You can modify it to your own tastes.  Here’s a special tip to make the cake even more flavorful: Soak the candied fruits at least for 24 hours before in rum or orange liquor. It gives it a special touch!!”

torta negra latin holiday recipe

Mermelada/Christmas Jam

Our SSH Katy teacher, Cristina Pantin, is nostalgic about this amazing mermelada – one of her favorite holiday treats.  The recipe is easy enough for the kids to join in the fun!  

“Every December my mom made this jam to accompany different appetizers at family gatherings. Since you have to let it simmer on low heat, the whole house becomes filled with a delicious aroma.  To this day, the smell brings sweet memories of my childhood and the home where I grew up.”

mermalada de pimiento - Christmas jam

Pan de Jamón

Pan de Jamón (ham bread) is a staple on any Venezuelan Christmas table! This tender and tasty bread is filled with ham, olives, and raisins.  We were lucky to have two recipes submitted.  For a traditional Venezuelan Pan de Jamón, try this recipe from Alba de Borges, or this one from Carla Alvarez (both are teachers at SSH Coppell).  ¡Qué rico!”

Pan de Jamón - Venezuelan bread for Christmas - Latin holiday recipe

Arroz con Leche

Have you heard your little one singing the traditional song, “Arroz con leche?”  The lyrics actually don’t have anything to do with the dish!  But if you try the recipe with your kids, be sure to Google and play this tune to set the mood.  Arroz con leche, or rice pudding, is a popular dish that has Spanish/Arabic roots.  It has become popular throughout the Hispanic world, with different variations.  

Our SSH Sugar Land teacher, Liliana Arenas, sent us her favorite recipe for arroz con leche which she says is a very typical dessert in Colombia, frequently made for birthdays, baptisms, and special occasions.  It’s easy to prepare and everyone enjoys it!  “¡Delicioso!”

arroz con leche latin recipe

Polvorosa de Pollo

And from SSH Katy, Srta. Vicky shared this recipe for Polvorosa de Pollo (English version here). This is a Venezuelan Chicken Pot Pie, and it’s perfect comfort food on a chilly winter evening wherever you are! 

Polvorosa de Pollo latin holiday recipe

Let’s Get Cooking!  ¡Vamos a Cocinar!

We hope your mouth is watering at all these yummy holiday treats.  Are you motivated to get cooking?  This season, whether you try a new Latin holiday recipe or brush off some old family favorites, we hope you’ll create happy food memories with your family that last a lifetime. 

1 Comment

So, what do you think?