Saturday, February 26, 2011

You should make this....

Flan.  Looks fancy.  So easy to make.  Don't even bother to use a recipe for flan that involves reducing down the milk or cream or whatever.  This recipe makes flan to rival any other flan, I promise.  And I'm not tooting my own horn, because I didn't make the recipe up, it comes from Nigella, with just tiny adjustments to temperature and time. And by the way, even though the name "flan" suggests Spanish or Mexican cuisine, flan=creme caramel as far as I'm concerned, so you could call it that and serve it with French food.
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Put 3/4 cup of sugar into a (metal) pie pan or a cake pan, or a tarte tatin pan, roughly 9" wide.
3. This is the ONLY tricky part....put the pan over medium heat on the will probably have to use oven mitts here so that you can keep lifting the pan and swirling it around.  You want the sugar to melt and turn the color of caramel.  Now, let me tell you what I actually did when I made this, because I don't you to get discouraged at this point in the recipe.  The sugar was taking a very long time to caramelize, and I was nervous to keep leaving it directly on the burner, because I could see the sugar caramelizing in the spiral pattern of the burner.  So, after a while, I put the pan into the oven.  Then I just kept checking it.  Between the burner and the oven, after a while MOST of the sugar looked caramel-colored, BUT there was still some sugar that had not even melted... wtf?  So I ended up stirring it with a teaspoon and it all melted and turned a nice, uniform color. I hope this doesn't put you off the recipe.  You could probably do the whole thing in the oven.  Also, be careful during this part, because sugar burns are bad news.
4. Ok! The most difficult part is over!  Now, mix together well: one can of evaporated milk, and one can of condensed milk, 3 large eggs, and 2 tsp of vanilla. Pour this mixture into the pan, on top of the caramelized sugar.
5.  Put the pan into a bigger pan, like a roasting pan, and pour 2 cups of really hot water into the pan. Make sure the water does not get into the smaller pan!
6. Put the whole thing in the oven, for about an hour.  You will have to stick a knife into it and see if it comes out clean.  It should not look so jiggly as to be liquid, however, you can't expect it to lose all of its jiggle.
7. Refrigerate it overnight or at least for several hours.  When you are ready to eat it, flip it over onto a platter and pour the rest of the syrup out of the pan onto the flan.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tamale Time

Oh, how I love alliteration!
These are kind of a pain in the a** to put together but don't let that stop you - it's not that hard. 

First figure out what you want to fill them with --- I am not giving any recipes here. You could go a million ways. You could cook pork, chicken, beef etc., as you would for a filling for something else, like say, oh..enchiladas. Or you could cook black beans with onion, garlic, serrano pepper, oil, water, until tender then mash them up in a pan with more oil and add salt until they taste good, which is what I did this time. You could just cook some chorizo, which would probably be the fastest thing to do, now that I am thinking about it.  They even make "soyrizo" for any vegetarians out there, but I cannot vouch for the taste....I've only seen it. You could do whatever you want.... the sky's the limit for you, pal!

Then, make the masa - this is the corn part of the tamales.

1. Get a bag of instant masa, they have it at almost every grocery store.
2. Mix 4 cups of instant masa with 2-3 cups water - enough to make it a pliable dough.
3. Put 8 oz of shortening* in the mixer and beat it. Or do it by hand.  Then mix in the masa. Then add enough chicken broth or other liquid until it comes together to the consistency of playdoh.  Mmm, yummy.
 (*or lard, wink wink)

Now, assemble them
1. Soak dried corn husks in hot water for 20 minutes (weigh them down with a bowl or something)
2. Spread (or, smoosh down with your fingers) about one big tablespoon of tamale dough in the middle of the corn husk, in a square about 3x3in

3. Put a spoon full of filling in the middle of this.  Looks pretty, right? Refried black beans are not photogenic.

4. Fold one side of the corn husk over, so that the filling is getting folded into the middle of the dough, then fold the other side over.  Then, fold the bottom of the corn husk up, and tie around it with a string. This reads much more complicated than it really is.

Once they are all assembled, you can wrap them and freeze them, supposedly, or put them in the fridge for a day or so, or steam them right away. Find a pot that you can either put a rack in the bottom of, or use a big pasta pot with a colander insert, which works perfectly.  Now put water in the bottom.  Stand all the tamales up, with the folded part at the bottom, in the pot. Put a damp cloth over the top, then put the lid on. Turn the heat up to about medium-high and steam those suckers for an hour.

You can make sauce to go on them, and I recommend that you do, since I kind of think tamales can be a little bit dry.  This is just a smooth tomato salsa

1. Put 2 cans of diced tomatoes, half a chopped onion, 2 serrano peppers, and 2-3 cloves of garlic in the blender and blend into oblivion.
2. Heat about 3 Tbs oil in a pan and pour in the tomato mixture, cook for about 15-20 minutes over medium low heat.

Perhaps I should add here that this makes an absolutely insane amount of tamales. This much dough would likely make about 40 tamales, but I stopped at 20, so I can't be sure.  The salsa ranchera recipe yields a ton also, but now you will just have something to dip your chips in.

Now, for your fun fact of the of these is just called a tamal, not a tamale.  Just in case you were wondering.  Also, there are certain wolves in the arctic....and sea otters are ticklish.