- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 13, 2003

Suzanne Edam’sSwedish saffron buns


⅓ cup milk

cup butter

cup lukewarm water

1 package dry yeast

cup sugar

1 egg

teaspoon salt

teaspoon saffron

23/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

24 raisins

Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Slice the butter into thin pieces. Add the butter to the warm milk and stir. Turn off the heat.

Pour the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Stir well. Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes.

Add the warm milk and melted butter to the yeast. Stir in the sugar, egg, salt and saffron. Then add 1 cups flour and stir until smooth.

Add enough of the remaining flour so you can shape the dough into a ball. Save some of the remaining flour for kneading the dough.

Put the dough on a floured cutting board. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough. Add flour when the dough gets sticky.

After 5 to 10 minutes of kneading, you will have a smooth ball of dough. It should spring back when you poke it with your finger. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest while you wash and dry the mixing bowl.

Apply a thin layer of cooking oil to a large bowl. Roll the dough in the oil until it’s coated. Cover the bowl with a towel and set it in a warm place to rise. If it hasn’t risen when you check, check it again in 15 minutes.

Punch down the dough, then divide it into 6 sections. Take one section and divide it in half. Roll each half into an 8-inch rope. Cross the 2 ropes in the middle. Then coil the ends in tight circles. Shape five more buns in the same way.

Place the buns 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Cover with a towel. Let the buns rise for 30 to 45 minutes until they double in size. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the buns are rising.

Mix the egg and water with a fork in a small bowl. Brush the egg and water mix lightly over the top of each bun. Decorate the buns with raisins.

Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes. When the buns are golden brown, move them to a wire rack to cool.

Veronica Quintanilla’sGuatemalan Christmas tamales

STEP ONE: Recado (the sauce)


1 pounds plum tomatoes

3 large red peppers

1 dried chili pepper (include only if you like spicy food)

2 ounces ground pumpkin seeds

2 ounces sesame seeds

1 small stick cinnamon

4 slices sandwich bread or 3 tablespoons flour

25 small cubes of meat (chicken or pork)

Salt to taste


Boil the tomatoes with the red peppers, dried chili and slices of bread or flour (whichever you prefer — I prefer to use bread) with a small amount of water.

Grind in blender and then brown the pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and cinnamon stick. Mix in a pan with the tomatoes. Boil for 20 minutes.

Cut the meat into small pieces and add to the boiling sauce and cook for 20 minutes. This sauce needs to be rather thick.

STEP 2: Masa (tamale dough)


1 pound corn flour (the same used to make corn tortillas: Masaharina)

quart water

8 ounces lard

Salt to taste

Dash garlic powder


Using your hands, start dissolving the corn flour with half a quart of water in a cooking pot. Salt to taste. Melt the lard in the microwave and add it to the dough.

Heat on low-medium and stir constantly until it becomes thick. If it becomes extremely thick, add a little water. When the mixture is cooked, it will look shiny and smooth, and then you can remove it from the heat. Wait until it cools down.

When the dough is cold, it will have a nice consistency, and it will be ready to scoop.

STEP 3: Leaves for wrapping the tamales


2 or 3 packages plantain leaves

Aluminum foil sheets

3 red peppers (roasted, peeled and cut into thin strips)

4 ounces olives (I use the ones stuffed with red peppers)

4 ounces capers


Cut the plantain leaves into 25-centimeter (10-inch) squares, wash, and boil for 10 minutes. Place a plantain leaf diagonally on top of an aluminum foil sheet. With a large serving spoon, dish out a portion of the dough (masa) in the center of the leaf and add a generous portion of the sauce (recado), making sure it includes a piece of meat.

Add olives (one or two), capers (two to four) and strips of red peppers. Wrap this up with the plantain leaf first and then with the aluminum foil sheet.

Make sure this is very well-wrapped to prevent the sauce from coming out. Steam slowly for about 1 hours to ensure that the meat is cooked. Remove from the stove; wait a while to serve.

Most of the ingredients can be found in any Latin American supermarket or in the international section of some local supermarkets, except for the plantain leaves, which can be bought only at Latin American supermarkets.

(Mrs. Quintanilla recommends preparing the dough and the sauce one night in advance.)

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