Helen mex the most of big day

At home: Mexican artist and writer Helen Blejerman
At home: Mexican artist and writer Helen Blejerman
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Down Mexico way, they’ll be celebrating tomorrow.

It’s Candelaria Day, a religious occasion that calls for traditional cooking, says Helen Blejerman, one of only 80 Mexicans living in Sheffield.

Helen arrived in 2006 to study art at Hallam University and is now one of its Fine Art lecturers. She is also a writer – her short stories have been published in art magazines in Mexico and the UK – and is hoping to break into cookery writing.

She is keen to pass on her homeland’s traditional dishes to Sheffielders. “People think they know Mexican food but I think most restaurants here lack authenticity. The only place that gets it just right is the Street Food Chef on Pinstone Street,” she says.

Helen is often served great Mexican fare at home, though – her Sheffield partner Dave Saxton has discovered a knack for turning out recipes from Helen’s grandmother in Mexico City.

“He does them better than me,” she says, explaining that Día de la Candelaria takes place 40 days after Christmas to honour the day the Virgin Mary presented baby Jesus to the church.

“We buy a baby Jesus doll, sometimes the size of a real baby, dress it in robes and take it to church to be blessed. It is an honour to be asked by a friend to take care of a Baby Jesus throughout the year,” she says.

After church, celebrations are held.

Recipe: Bunuelos

These classic, sweet Mexican fritters, originally from Spain, are traditional at fairs and celebrations. Eat them with hot chocolate or coffee:

3 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 beaten eggs

Vegetable oil for frying

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¾cup milk

¼cup butter

Sugar coating: 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

Heat milk, butter and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, then add to the warm milk mixture and whisk quickly. Add to dry ingredients and mix to a dough. Knead on floured surface for two to three minutes until smooth.

Divide into 20 dough balls. With a rolling pin, roll them as thin flat bread. Lay them on a tablecloth to dry, turning once for even drying.

Heat one inch of oil in a wide pan. Deep-fry flatbread until golden, turning once. Remove from pan and stand vertically to drain off oil.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.