Celebrating Bl. Junipero Serra with California Mission Foods

The Spanish influence on California and other areas of the Southwest, is still very evident in the culture including the food. The Spanish missionaries who founded the chain of missions in California brought with them their culture and traditions and also adapted them to the products of the new world. In the United States we recognize the July 1 optional memorial of Bl. Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan, who is the Father of the California missions.

In Bess Anderson's California Mission Recipes cookbook, she acquaints readers with the various foods that would have been traditionally prepared and eaten in the missions. The ingredients used were mainly those harvested at the mission or occasionally those brought by ship. The preparations of the food in the missions most often was under the direction of a padre, with the preparation carried out by Indian women of the mission. Anderson indicates that from various records we know the missions had both lean and rich years. There were times, for example, when the daily ration of Father Serra consisted solely of 3 tortilla cakes and wine.

Anderson's book as well as the various mission preservation organizations are sources of traditional mission-style recipes. Enjoy a recipe from the California mission tradition on the feast of Bl. Junipero Serra.

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 T. vegetable oil or lard
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t.cayenne
1-1/2 lbs. pork shoulder, cooked and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups canned white or yellow hominy (drained and rinsed)
3-5 cups pork broth, degreased and strained
1 cup canned green chiles (chopped)
2 whole Jalapenos, canned or fresh
salt to taste

Sauté onion and garlic in oil. Add spices, stirring to blend. Add pork, drained and rinsed hominy, pork broth, green chiles and jalapenos. Cook at a simmer, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes or until the meat and hominy are tender. Add more water or broth as needed to keep pork covered in the final minutes of stewing. Remove posole from heat and cool slightly. Degrease the stew. Check to see if salt is needed. Reheat before serving.

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
3 cups sifted flour
1 T sugar
1 t salt
fat or oil for deep frying
sugar cinnamon, ground

Beat eggs until light in color and thickened, add milk and melted shortening. Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Sift into egg mixture slowly and blend well, making a soft dough that doesn't stick to hands. Shape into walnut-sized balls and roll on a lightly-floured board into a round-shaped cakes similar to a tortilla. Fry in deep hot fat until golden brown in color - about 3 minutes on each side. Drain well. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Make s 30 bunelos.

3-4 pounds pork loin
2 T butter
2 onions, sliced
2 medium tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
2 springs parsley 1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

Brown the pork on all sides in the butter. When brown add the vegetables, wine, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender. Serve on a heated plate. Strain the liquid in the pan over the meat.

1 cup pumpkin mash
1 cup corn meal
1/4 fat.

Gradually add meal to the pumpkin mash, stirring constantly. Then add butter a little at at time. Mix thoroughly, stirring very hard to form a stiff dough. Shape into round flat cakes and bake over a high heat on a well=greased hot griddle for 5 minutes on each side. Serves 4

2 cups warm water
2 cups milk
1/4 cup masa harina (or 1/3 cup nixtamal)
1 disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
piloncillo cones, small, (one ounce each) chopped
1 pinch of anise seed, ground (optional)

In a large pot, whisk masa harina into the warm water until thoroughly combined. Add milk, chocolate, piloncillo and anise. Bring to a simmer and whisk with a molinillo (a special tool to whip the drink) until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved.

2 cups milk, scalded
4 T ground coffee
1 cinnamon stick
4 squares unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups cold milk
2 t vanilla

Add coffee and cinnamon to the scalded milk. Cover, let stand 5 minutes and strain. Heat chocolate over water, add boiling water, and sugar and cook until smooth and thick. Add the coffee-cinnamon liquid. When ready to serve, blend in the cold milk and vanilla. Serve in tall glasses with crushed ice. Serves 6-8.

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  1. I'm drinking the iced Mexican chocolate now... yummy!!!!!
    Although if anyone else made this and figured out how to strain the scalded milk/cinnamon/coffee mixture, let me know! Maybe my strainer is not fine enough... ? I ended up pouring the mixture through a coffee filter set inside the strainer, which was slow going, but worked eventually.

  2. Just found your website and it is such a gem... wish I would have seen it years ago! Can't wait to try some of these recipes! Thank you so much!


  3. I actually do have a couple pretty fine strainers - one for beverages, which definitely has smaller holes than the larger strainer. Still got a small amount of dusty sediment but no grounds. Cheese cloth is good for straining also - would be faster than a coffee filter since liquid passes more freely.

  4. How do you cook the pork shoulder?

  5. The pork shoulder would generally be roasted.

  6. How do you cook the pork leg?

  7. This helped us with our 4th grade California Missions project regarding life at the mission. It is interesting that we know and enjoy these same dishes today! Thank you.