Category Archives: Come for Supper

A Gringo Tamalada, Ole!

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A Gringo Tamalada, Ole!

While the rest of my fellow “gringos” are having “Ugly Sweater” parties, Cookie Exchanges, and Gift Wrapping/Mulled-Wine drinking parties for Christmas wouldn’t it be fun to host a TAMALADA just to be different?

I recently tried my hand at making Tamales, and to my delight they turned out, and were actually delicious (thank God), but boy howdy were they a ton of work. Took me ALL DAY! I’m absolutely addicted to tamales at Christmas, but I’m thinking if I ever decide to make them again I will want to make a party out of it, because many hands make light work. So here’s what I’m thinking…

Who to invite? Hmmm, well they’ll need to be reliable guests, who promise to make their dish and show up for the assembly process.

I could send them each a recipe card, after they RSVP and volunteer for a portion of the tamale-making they want to do. The host (which will be me, if I manage to muster the courage to actually do this) will provide snacks, and beverages – I’m thinking some fun drink choices would be Sangria; a Hot-Mexican-Chocolate Bar; Horchata Smoothies; and blended Margaritas. I’ll need to remember to find a good Latino Christmas Album or two or three to play for ambiance during the party, and also dig out an entertaining game to go with the party, that we can play while we’re waiting for the first batch of tamales to come out of the steamers. A couple of my favorites are Mexican Train (dominoes) and Canasta (cards)!

Or, if my family/friends want to bring their Christmas cards, stamps, address labels, and stationery we could get our Christmas cards ready to mail out while we wait for tamales, and we can snack and visit while we write and fold and lick and stamp! Make it kind of a working Tamale party! I can offer this on the invitations, and then discuss it with everybody when they RSVP.

Here’s how I’m thinking we can split up the cooking…

Guests #1, 2, & 3 could each make a 3-lb pork roast (half of the recipe listed below) and shred it, discarding any bone or cartilage, and reserving and bringing the strained pork broth to the party.

Pork for Tamales Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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Guest #4 could make the Chili sauce up to the point of adding the broth and blending it, and bring the cooked chilies with them to the party.

Red Sauce Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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HOST: could prepare corn husks

Boiled corn husks

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Guest #5 could make the Masa, up to the point of adding the broth and mixing, and bring it to the party

Masa Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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Click this link for a FREE PRINTABLE of the Recipe cards for Tamalada!

(((((-Full recipes are further down on this page-)))))

My Tamalada Invitation

Printable Invitation

Click this LINK for the printable Tamalada Invitation!

So, I know from experience that it’s going to take at least 4 hours to make the finishing touches on the meat and masa, then assemble, and steam the tamales. So I’ll plan my party accordingly when filling out the details on the invitation. Maybe I should have it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

Once my guests have RSVP’d and volunteered for the dish they want to make, I’ll send them out the recipe card for their items (shown above, in case you missed them).

((((( Click here for the FREE PRINTABLE Recipe cards for Tamalada! )))))

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PREPARING FOR MY PARTY:

Buy whatever groceries and beverages I’ll need and give myself time to prepare them before the party.

Set up a station for the final masa preparation. I will need counter space, a large bowl, a mixer, and a cup of warm water to test the masa in.

Set up a work station for the final preparation of the red sauce. I will need a large sauce pot for the stove, and a blender or food processor. Someone will be making a roux in the sauce pot, and another person will be blending the red sauce (softened chilies and broth from pork). The pork and the red sauce will be added to the roux.

I’ll set up a large table for assembly. Place the ingredients down the center of my table, the husks next to the masa, the masa next to the meat, and finally a cookie sheet at the end to pile the tamales on. I’ll put a person at each ingredient and we’ll pass each tamal along. They’ll go together pretty quick. I will need some clean kitchen towels and possibly a roll of paper towels, also a masa spreader or spatula, a spoon to measure the masa, a spoon to measure the meat, and a large cookie sheet. And afterward some tin foil to wrap the tamales in for sending home or freezing.

Make room in my refrigerator for whatever uncooked tamales, and whatever else needs refrigerated.

Set up the steamer pots (illustrated below). I will need two large canner size pots with lids and a steamer basket for each inside. I will also need two clean kitchen towels and water for those.

Set up a beverage station with various beverages as mentioned earlier. I can set up a hot cocoa bar, I can also set out a large thermos of blended Margaritas, and a pitcher of Sangria. I might also want to set out some iced tea and water and a cooler of ice, and a variety of glasses and mugs.

Set up an appetizer/snack table where guests can nibble as we wait for the tamales to cook. Decide what appetizers I will serve at my party, and have them ready when guests arrive. I will need serving plates, bowls, spoons, etc. I might want to have a pretty tablecloth for this table, and some festive table decorations.

Set up the music that I will have playing in the background of my party.

Set out a couple of game choices (mentioned earlier), so that once the tamales are all assembled, and the table has been cleared, we can start having some fun. Or if we all prefer doing Christmas cards, I will need to *be sure to note this in my party reminder call, so my guests will know to bring their supplies!

Of course I’ll want a clean house, a spotless kitchen, and a tidy bathroom at least. Ugh! This is what keeps me from throwing parties, really! My house is never clean enough.

A day or two before the party I can send a reminder via Text/eMail/Phonecall, so my guests will know if we’ll be doing Christmas cards during the party, or just playing games and eating. They might need the prodding for the dish they are making too!

Day of the party designate various ASSEMBLY LINE jobs:

Someone to wash all the dirty dishes and clean counters (my least fav job)

Someone to make the roux, and mix the meat with the sauce

Someone to finish making the red sauce

Someone to finish making the masa

Assembly line Husk Person, who will dry and pass the husks

Assembly line Masa Spreader person

Assembly line Meat person, who will also wrap tamales

Tamale tie person, who will tear off strips of husk to tie around tamales and stack them on a cookie sheet

And finally someone to set up and load steamers, and babysit them with water

Full RECIPES

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Pork for Tamales

2 3-lb pkgs Pork Carnitas or a shoulder roast

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, broken in pieces

3 jalapenos, chopped

1 Tbsp salt

Enough water to cover

DO AT HOME: Place pork roast, onion, garlic, and salt in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer over medium heat until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove pork from water and shred. Store in a Ziploc bag and keep in refrigerator for up to a day, until ready to use. Strain liquid and reserve for use in making the red sauce and the masa. Place in sealed jars in refrigerator for up to a day. Skim the fat off the broth and place it in a separate ziploc bag to use for the roux. Bring the pork, broth, and skimmed fat to the party.

Carnitas Pork

DO AT THE PARTY: Once at the party someone will need to make a roux (see recipe below) and then the pulled pork can be combined with the roux and the red sauce.

chili cascavel

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Red Sauce

4 ounces California (or Cascavel) chile pods, seeds and stems removed

4 ounces New Mexico chile pods, seeds and stems removed

1 1/4 cup reserved pork broth

1 1/4 cup water

1 Tbsp salt

3 cloves garlic, broken in pieces

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin seeds

DO AT HOME: Toast chilies in a hot skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Rinse chile pods. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rinsed chile pods and cook until chile pods are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain water off chilies and discard the water. Add salt, garlic, and ground cumin. Seal in a plastic bag until ready to blend at the party. This can be done up to a day ahead.

DO AT THE PARTY: Pour chilies, broth, and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Place in large kettle until ready to mix with the pork.

Roux: Someone will need to make a roux using ½ cup lard, reserved from roast, and ½ cup flour. Cook on the stove, stirring continually until peanut butter colored. Toss in the pork and red sauce and mix well. I also like to chop another jalapeno or two to add to the meat. Cover and refrigerate, or if near to being ready to assemble, place on the assembly line.

Pork mixed with red sauce

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Masa

2 pounds Manteca lard, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder, divided

2 tablespoons salt, divided

5 pounds ground masa harina, divided

2 to 3 cups broth reserved from cooked pork roast (or chicken broth), divided

½ bunch Cilantro, finely minced

Small white onion, very finely minced

½ cup Tomatillo Salsa, or Salsa Verde

Reserved pork broth with skimmed fat

DO AT HOME: Place 1 pound of lard in a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and mix until fluffy, scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. (The flat beater is the ideal accessory for mixing.) Add half the baking powder and half the salt to the lard and mix together. Add half the masa harina and mix together. Seal in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Now do the other half of the same ingredients, and store in the fridge in a ziploc bag for up to a day. Please bring to room temp before bringing to the party.

DO AT THE PARTY: Place one room temperature batch of the masa in a large bowl. Slowly add half the broth, half the onion and cilantro, and half the salsa verde, to and mix until combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If not, add more broth as necessary. Test the masa by taking a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats it is ready; if it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for another minute and test it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats. Cover and set on the assembly table.

Repeat the process with the remaining batch of masa.

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Corn Husks

DO AT HOME: Take husks from package and rinse well in the sink, removing any silks or debris. Fill a large stock pot with water and press the clean husks down to submerge them. Bring water to a boil and soak husks in gently boiling water for about 1 hour. You may need to flip the stack occasionally so the top ones get pliable. Drain water from husks but keep husks in the kettle with the lid on.

DO AT THE PARTY: Set warm, soaked husks, in covered pot on the assembly table. Keep a clean kitchen towel nearby to dry the husks just before spreading them with masa, otherwise the masa won’t stick.

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ASSEMBLY LINE

Tamale Assembly Station

Place the husks, masa, meat, and cookie sheet down the center of a table, and seat my guests all around it, except the guest who volunteered to do the mountain of dirty dishes. Assembly will start with corn husks being dried off and passed to the masa person next to them, that person will spread it with masa and pass it to the meat person next to them; that person will top it with meat and wrap it and hand it across to the tie person; that person will tear off a little strip from a boiled husk and use it to tie around the tamal and lay on the cookie sheet. Once the cookie sheet is full and heaping, the last person (ME) will pack the tamales vertically in the steamer with the open end up and start them steaming.

Assembly Line

SPREADING THE MASA: Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand (or on the flat work surface), narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk spread 2 tablespoons of the masa with a spatula or masa spreader in a rectangle shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk. Pass to the person with the meat (or other) filling. There is too wide of a swath of masa on this husk shown below, and also it’s not quite thick enough. You only need enough masa to wrap around the meat and a little extra to hold the husk closed.

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ADDING THE MEAT: Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of your chosen filling down the center of the masa. (When I ran out of meat filling and still had masa, I started making Pepper Jack Cheese and Jalapeno filling. Fold both sides of hust to the center over the top of the meat; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Pass tamale to the person who will tie the tamales closed.

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TAMALE TIE PERSON: Make sure each tamal is snuggly closed and will not open during steaming. You can secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around each tamal. This will keep the tamal from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded. Stack wrapped tamales on a cookie sheet.

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HOST: Prepare the steamer pots… (You will also load the steamer pots)

Steamer Pot

This is my tamale steamer. I can only fill water up to the little rack, but not above it, and start it simmering on the stove. The steamer pot needs to be tall enough for our tamales to sit up vertically above the water and still fit the lid on. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can improvise like I have. All mine is, is a round cooling rack setting on top of a brick, which I’ve washed several times in the dishwasher, or I could also use a small colander placed down into the bottom of my soup kettle and my rack on top. This set up works perfectly. Each steamer will need to have a clean kitchen towel and a lid.

When a cookie sheet of tamales is piled up high, they can be loaded in the steamer…

Fill the top part of the steamer with tamales. Stand the tamales up vertically, open ends up and folded ends at the bottom, and make sure the folded part is either tied up, or held in place with another tamal. Pack the tamales snug enough so that they won’t fall over during cooking, but not so tight that the steam can’t get in around them. In other words, don’t cram and squish them as tight as they will go, but let there be too much space or they will collapse and mush over. If there are not enough tamales to fill the steamer, use canning jars to take up the spaces so the tamales don’t fall over.

Turn heat up on the water until it boils. Cover the tamales with a clean kitchen towel and then the lid of the pot. Turn the heat down to medium so that it stays gently boiling, but not raging boiling. Set timer for 2 hours. Check every 20 to 30 minutes or so to make sure the water is not boiling dry, and add boiling water as necessary. Make sure the tamales are above the water line and that the bottoms are not siting in water at all.

Steaming tamales

Tamales will need to steam for 2 hours or more. After 2 hours we can test for doneness. Remove one tamale and check if the masa holds together and slips easily off the husk. If so, it is done, if not it needs to steam some more. Check again in 15 minutes when I check the water level.

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When a batch of tamales is done they can be eaten right away, or wrapped in foil (1 dozen at a time) and refrigerated or frozen for later.

cooked tamales

Divide the wrapped dozens of tamales among the guests. There should be about 1-2 dozen per guest.

You will want to eat some at the party!!!! There are lots of ways to eat tamales. Some like them topped with just a little of the red sauce, which you can make another batch of while the tamales are steaming. I like mine all different ways. Straight out of the steamer and burning my fingers and tongue as I shove them into my mouth, or if I have all the toppings on hand for Tortilla Soup or Carnitas tacos, I like all of those (minus the tortilla strips) on top of my tamales. I also like them with salsa verde, chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapenos, and a little dallop of sour cream (as pictured below). And I also like them loaded up with red sauce, pepper-jack cheese, black olives, corn and black bean salsa, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. There is just about no wrong way to eat a tamale.

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So there you have it. Sound like fun to you? I’m pretty sure all my Mexican friends reading this are laughing at my gringo-ness; all having hosted and attended a hundred Tamaladas, so hopefully one of you will take pity on me and invite me to your next one, to show me how it’s done! My hat’s off to whoever invented tamales, for passing on this wonderful food, and to my friends south of the border for keeping going this fun tradition. Feliz Navidad!

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“The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.” Isaiah 25:6

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Mrs H’s Indian Fry Bread Tacos

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Mrs H’s Indian Fry Bread Tacos

In case you missed this recipe, featured recently in A Native Thanksgiving, here’s a re-run of it all by itself, because it is just too delicious to miss.

There are several ways to make the fry bread. My grandmother used her homemade yeast bread recipe and then divided it into dinner roll size pieces. She pulled those into little robe shapes and gave them a little twist before frying. She called it “Squaw Bread” and I could have honestly eaten the whole stinking batch every time she made it. Nothing better than hot fried bread, unless of course it is hot fried bread rolled in cinnamon and sugar, which she also sometimes did.

You can save yourself a lot of work by just using Rhodes Yeast Rolls that come frozen in the grocery store. Thaw them and then fry them. It’s that easy!

The Native way is also very easy and delicious. This is the recipe:

Fry Bread (2)

FRYBREAD

This recipe makes 7-8 small ones

Ingredients

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Deep hot fat in fry pan or fryer

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients. Stir in milk. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Divide the dough into eight pieces and shape into flat disk shapes, with a depression in the center. Fry in deep fat (about 375°) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper.

Fry Bread Taco mrsh

INDIAN FRYBREAD TACOS

6 servings

Frybread tacos are very much like the Elephant Ear tacos that we used to get at the carnival when the rodeo was in town. Very easy and one of my favorite things to eat. If I have leftover homemade chili I use it in place of the meat recipe here. And when I can’t find Anasazi beans, and I’m in a hurry, I just substitute canned pintos.

Ingredients

6 pieces Indian Frybread — about 6” in diameter

For Chili:

1 lb hamburger

1 big can tomatoes (I used Rotel)

2 Tbsp homemade chile powder (or your favorite packet of Chili seasoning)

salt, pepper to taste

Fry hamburger broken up loose until cooked, then drain fat. Sprinkle some salt and chile powder over it (or use a Chili seasoning packet). Add tomatoes and their juice — break up tomatoes and stir it around. Simmer till meat tender and sauce is thick, 30 – 40 minutes.

Toppings:

1/2 lb cheese grated coarse (Colby/Jack)

1 1/2 c Dried anasazi beans, cooked

1 1/2 c Mache or arugula, washed & stemmed (I substitute Cilantro, chopped)

1 pkg sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced

2 ea Ripe avocados, halved & sliced

1 sm red onion, thinly sliced and diced

1 bunch red radishes, sliced

1 container Golden yellow cherry tomatoes diced

3 ea Green Anaheim (New Mexico) chiles, prepared (I’ve sometimes substituted Poblanos when Anaheims are out of season or unavailable)

1 lg Red bell pepper

Directions:

22448To prepare the anasazi beans, soak overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the beans simmer until the skins break, about 3 hours. It may be necessary to add water as the beans cook to prevent them from burning and sticking. After the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 3 cups cooked beans.

While the beans are cooking, roast, seed, and de-vein the chiles and the bell pepper, and chop each of the veggies. I usually do this early in the day, place each in a ziploc sandwich baggie, and store together in the fridge until I’m ready to serve.

Prepare the Native recipe fry bread while the meat (chili) is cooking.

Indian Fry Bread Tacos mrsh

To Assemble the tacos, place 1/2 cup cooked beans on each piece of frybread, then a layer of meat mixture, then your choice of the vegetables (I like all of them). Finish with a little Mexican Crema (sour cream), some bottled hot sauce (salsa) on top, and finally a little sprinkle of cheese.

You’ll need a fork and knife to eat this marvelous creation!

Indian Fry Bread Tacos logo

supper grace

Creamy Poblano Gravy (spicy)

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Creamy Poblano Gravy (spicy)

 

 

It’s funny, the seasons of life, how things have a way of making it around full circle to the exact same place where they started.  For instance, we start off life as little pudgy babies, unable to talk, unable to walk, getting shots, getting sick, wearing diapers, being told what to do, and existing on a mostly liquid diet; and for all the progress we make in our lifetime, we end up right back where we started, in diapers, drinking Ensure, eating mushy stuff, taking meds, being told what to do, and wheeled around wherever we have to go.

Table4Two

It’s similar in a marriage.  First I learned to cook for two, and then to prepare meals for a whole family, and now here we are back at just two again.  I’m finding it a bit of a challenge to learn to scale things back so I don’t waste food, or blow the budget, trying to keep it healthy, but still tasting good!  I don’t want to feed us Lean Cuisines, or fast food, or frozen pizza every meal, but at the same time, I don’t have the energy or ambition to stand on my feet for hours chopping, measuring, peeling, blanching, boiling, broiling, and then washing, wiping, scouring, scrubbing, and putting back together a totally destroyed kitchen…everyday….for just the two of us.  <sigh>

So I find myself making things like quesadillas out of leftover fill-in-the-blank meat, cheese, and hot peppers; or fish tacos from doggie bag catfish gotten at a local restaurant the night before and some sort of cabbage slaw; or crispy fried SPAM-L-T’s (because I usually have Spam in the pantry and I don’t always have bacon) with a side of raw veggies (because that is healthier than chips, but a lot of times, honestly, it is chips); or this wonderful biscuits and gravy meal I recently came up with.  It’s super easy if you roast your chilies one day, toss them in a bag and into the fridge, and then peel and seed them the next day.

I’m sharing it because Husband said this is the best gravy he’s ever had, and at 61 I guess that’s saying something.  However, it could be that he has just totally forgotten what the best gravy was he had before this.  Which is kind of a perk, the memory loss thing, it can really work to an old lady’s advantage sometimes!  Ha!  But I did also feed it to my daughter, the sweet young thing with a chipper young mind, and she concurred, so there you go, for what that’s worth.

Anyway, this gravy isn’t just good on biscuits.  It would be fantastic on Chicken Fried Steak, pepper steak, mashed potatoes, as a dip for Waffle Fries, Chicken strips, or even just toast, if that’s all you have.  I fried up some bacon (in the oven) and chopped up a couple dozen fresh okra from my garden, along with a cold, leftover baked potato, coated the pieces in cornmeal and then fried them in oil, as sides to our supper.  Perhaps this sounds like “jail food” to you?  Well, wait until you’re my age honey.  You’ll be a LOT less picky.  Hubby and I thought it was GOOD EATS!!!!

 Poblano Gravy ad

Creamy Poblano Gravy

¾ of a stick of butter

2 TBSP bacon drippings

¾ cup flour

¼ tsp Salt Lick dry rub seasoning (which is basically cayenne powder and black pepper)

Melt butter in frying pan, add bacon fat, flour, and seasoning.  Stir to combine, then cook, stirring continuously, over medium high heat for a few minutes.  To this rue add:

1 tsp. chopped jalapeno or serrano (or both if you like it spicy)

2 roasted, peeled, and seeded Poblano Peppers, chopped

4 cups of whole milk, or Half-and-Half

Water (as desired)

Stir until thick and bubbly.  Add water to thin the gravy to your desired thickness.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Poblano Gravy Collage

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“He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”

  Luke 24:35

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4th of July Sopapilla Cheesecake

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4th of July Sopapilla Cheesecake

Sopapilla Cheesecake is my go-to, super-fast-and-easy dessert after any Mexican dishes that I serve for supper (like “Taco Tuesday,” Taco Salad, Tamales, Chicken/Cheese/Beef Enchiladas, Chili Rellenos, Asada Street Tacos, Carnitas, Loaded Nachos, Quesadillas, etc.).  This year I decided it would be a perfect Red, White, and Blue sweet ending to our Independence Day meal, because of the colors, and because I had all the ingredients in my fridge!

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 

2 (8-oz) pkgs Cream Cheese, softened (room temp)

1 cup sugar

½ tsp Mexican Vanilla (or, if you want to be fancy, you can scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean pod)

Mix together all three ingredients until smooth and thoroughly incorporated.  Set aside.

 

2  (8-oz) tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (or, you can make your own croissant dough)

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon

½ cup butter, softened (room temp)

¼ cup honey (warm in microwave for about 20 seconds, after baking cheesecake)

Lightly grease a large baking pan (or small high-sided cookie sheet) with a tablespoon of the softened butter.  Unroll one tube of crescent rolls and roll out to fit in the bottom of the greased baking pan/sheet, pinching the perforations together.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a small edge of the dough all the way around uncovered (like a pizza).  Unroll the second tube of dough and roll out to fit over the cream cheese layer.  Press down slightly around the edges.  Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and remaining softened butter together into a paste.  Spread over the top layer of dough. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and drizzle the entire top of the cheesecake with warmed honey.

 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

(This is what gives the dessert the RED and BLUE  on WHITE treatment)

¼ cup of cold water

Juice and zest of one lemon

½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 pkg frozen strawberries

½ pkg frozen blueberries

Place water, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and cornstarch in a sauce pot on the stove.  Stir to mix the ingredients and then turn heat on medium high.  Add strawberries and bring to a boil, stirring until mixture is thick.  Remove from heat and add blueberries.  Set aside until ready to serve.

 

Cheesecake may be served warm or cold.  My son-in-law loves it warm and gooey.  I think it is delish the next morning after being refrigerated overnight, with a hot, creamy cup of coffee – like a cheese danish.  Mmmmmmm…don’t you?

SopaCheesecake wName

 

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 11:25 NKJV

 

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” 

Galatians 5:1

 

South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

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South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

The title is kind of a guffaw, actually, and the reason I grin-and-bare that is that when hubby and I first moved to south Texas, and specifically the little town that we’re in, there wasn’t a chili relleno to be had on a single menu; not in a single restaurant in our town.  And when I asked for “green chili” on an omelet for the first time I was met with a puzzled look and a question, “Do you  mean Tomatillo sauce?”  Um, no.

Needless to say, we were terribly disappointed, and bewildered.  How could this be?  Is it that green chilies only migrated north and west from New Mexico and not east?  Maybe they aren’t a Mexican food at all?  Perhaps it was my ignorance that green chilies and Tex-Mex were synonymous? 😞

I’m happy to report that just a couple of years later Hatch green chilies started making an appearance in these parts, and when they did, they made a big appearance.  There are still no Chili Rellenos on the menus in our town, but at least this girl can get the ingredients in our local grocery to make them now, and that’s really all that matters.

And in all fairness, not all of South Texas is a dry Rellenos area; we’ve had them in a few San Antonio restaurants, even though they only barely resemble the authentic Rellenos that first stole my heart.

And, please pardon if I don’t make mine like you do.  This is the way I personally like them.  I’m sure I would love yours, unless you make them with ground beef filling, and then I’ll have to reserve my judgement until I’ve tasted them.  Husband likes the beef filled rellenos, but I dream about cheese filled rellenos and am content to eat those for the rest of my days.

I got my Ranchera Sauce recipe from a gal I stopped in the middle of HEB not long back.  She works in a local restaurant, so I knew she would steer me straight, at least as much of it as I could remember as she rattled her recipe off to me in the midst of my gathering ingredients.  Ha!  I hope I’m making it right. It’s sure tasty, so I’m sticking with it. 😆

First we start with the Ranchera Sauce

Place a stick of butter into a heavy pan and on medium high heat begin melting.  As soon as it is melted add one whole large chopped onion (white or yellow).  Saute the onion until it is translucent, turn heat down to medium and continue sautéing until the onions are caramelized.  This will take quite a while.

Chop 2 jalapenos (stems discarded), and about 6 large plum tomatoes into chunks.  Add them to the caramelized onions and let them cook until softened.  Add a 14-oz can of tomato sauce to the mixture, stir, place a lid, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook until you are ready to batter and fry the rellenos.  I have had the Ranchera sauce served to me chunky several times, so I presume that is the authentic way, but I use a Braun Wand blender tool to whirl the Ranchera into a smooth sauce with no large chunks.

Now, the preparation of the green chilies…

Pick the largest, firmest ones you can find at your grocery.  Bring them home and wash them, and then dry them.  I like the spicy ones.  You might prefer the milder ones.

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Move an oven rack up to the highest level of your oven.  Preheat your oven broiler (you can do them on the grill, or use a propane flame torch outdoors, which is a thousand times more efficient…but if you don’t have one the oven might be more convenient for you).  Place your washed chilies on a cookie sheet and slide them onto that top rack in the oven.

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Close the oven door (I prop my door open slightly with a wooden spoon – I like to hear my chilies popping and crackling).

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Let the chilies broil on one side long enough for them to become charred and blistered.

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Use tongs to roll them a quarter turn and return to broiler.  Check them often for doneness.  Continue turning and broiling until the chilies skins are blistered and charred all the way around.

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Quickly remove them from the cookie sheet and place them into a large Ziploc freezer bag, and seal it.

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Allow chilies to steam inside the bag for several minutes, while you prepare the rest of the meal.

NOTE:  I like to serve my Rellenos with homemade refried beans and a cheesy green chili rice.  See those recipes below, and it would be a great time to start making them now.  This is also a good time to blend your Ranchera sauce and make is smooth.  Keep it simmering on a back burner until ready to serve.

Start about 2 inches of oil getting hot in a deep sided frying pan (…just hot enough that a droplet of water makes it pop and fizzle.  Not hot enough to be smoking.  If you are seeing streaks/waves in your oil, it may be too hot.  Either drop your heat, or add a little more oil to cool it down a bit before adding your chilies).  The pan you use should be large enough that two chilies will fit without touching the sides or each other.

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As soon as the green chilies have cooled enough to handle take them to the sink and begin removing the skins.  They should slide right off easily.  If not, be careful not to tear the chili, as it will be hard to keep the filling inside while you are battering it.

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Once the chilies are skinned, make a slight slit along the side near the top stem of each.

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Only make it big enough to slide the pieces of cheese inside.  If you wish to remove some of the seeds you  may do that also.  I push the seeds out through the slit.  I don’t mind a few seeds in my rellenos though.  I use Pepper-Jack Cheese.  For 8 to 10 chilies you will need about 1 1/2 8-oz blocks, which I cut into quarter-inch slices and then into quarter inch strips.

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Begin stuffing your chilies with strips of cheese, about 5 or so strips per chili.  Dust the outsides with flour and lay them on a paper towel as you prepare them.  Once all the chilies have been stuffed and floured, you are ready to make your batter.

I beat two eggs and add about a cup of water to them…

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…and then I whisk in some seasoned beer batter mix (part of one bag) until the consistency is about that of thin pancake batter.  The batter should stick to your chilies, but just leave a fairly thin film.  Hold the chili by the stem and dip it into the batter.  Use a fork to sweep batter over the top of the chili and then gently lift the chili out of the batter, with the fork.  Slide it into the hot oil and let it begin frying.  Add another chili and let the two fry together.

Allow the chilies to fry for a few minutes and then use tongs to turn.  The batter should turn a golden color.  Scoop the chilies out of the oil and place on paper towels for a moment to absorb the oil.  Quickly plate them and cover them with simmering Ranchera Sauce.

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Oh my how I love them!!!!!   Now if I could figure out how to feed a crowd all at the same time I’d be in business.  I only know how to make Rellenos for one person at a time.  Hot and fresh.

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Colleen's Chile Rellenos

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Mama’s Refried Beans

If you’ve made a pot of pinto beans and have leftovers, by all means use them for this.  If not, look for these varieties at your local grocery store.  I used 2 cans of Charro and 1 can of Barracho (which means drunken – notice that they use Shiner beer for this).

First I drained my beans of all the liquid (don’t rinse them).  I melted about 2 Tablespoons of rendered pork fat (lard), actually I used some bacon fat I had on hand, in a sauce pan on the stove, and then added my beans.  I let them just bubble and cook on medium low heat until I was almost ready to serve my meal.  Moments before I was ready to serve I took a potato masher and mashed the beans until they were the desired consistence.  They may be served with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some chopped green onion.

NOTE: This also makes a wonderful bean dip, if you like that with tortilla chips for a snack.

DSCN9810Cheesy Green Chili Rice

First I sautéed my rice in about 1/2 a stick of butter in a small sauce pot, on high heat.  After about a minute of continuous stirring, I added 2 cups of hot chicken broth, 1 can of diced green chilies, and a grind of sea salt.  When the liquid boils, place a lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Lift the lid and lay several slices of pepper jack cheese on top of the rice.  Replace the lid and leave until cheese is melted.  Lift lid and fluff rice with a fork, incorporating the cheese throughout.  If you like it just a little creamier, you may add a splash of Crema, or heavy cream, and a sprinkle of cayenne.

 

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”  Acts 2:46

 

 

Daily Prompt: Festive

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Daily Prompt: Festive

via Daily Prompt: Festive

dscn7518Tis the season for TAMALES, fa la la la la la la la la…

What could be more festive than tamales?  Just the shear process of making them is by definition, FESTIVE!  All the women of the family, closest friends, and surrounding neighbors gathered together in one tiny house.  Cherished loved ones in aprons hovering over perfectly seasoned smoldering pork and stewing chicken.  Gifted hands dutifully chopping and cleaning jalapeños and onions.  Skilled hands making masa with lard, kneading it for an hour to get it just right, and washing and soaking corn husks.  Little hands scrubbing countertops and tables in preparation of the assembly process.  Pots of steaming water bubbling away furiously on the stove.  Music and chatter, mostly Spanish, lingering festively in the atmosphere.  Restless children bustling underfoot.  Moms and grandmoms hollering at them, and also sharing stories of Christmases past, faith, and Jesus and Mary and Joseph, women having babies, and the glory of God.  Aunts, cousins, and in-laws laughing, tasting, teasing, gossiping, squabbling, crying, and making merry with one another.   Everyone settling into their station to lovingly mass produce dozens upon dozens of these tasty little treats, for their grateful families…and ours.

 

Even the act of eating tamales is festive.  In fact, Christmas isn’t Christmas without tamales (especially if you’re in Texas)…freshly made, piping hot little packages of glistening gold, waiting to be unwrapped, and then decorated with red and green, and flocked with white.

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My very favorite tamales are savory pork with spicy jalapeno and dripping with bacon fat.  Mmmm.  Oh my goodness!  I love them hot and fresh from the steamer, buck naked, and so scorching that I can barely hold onto the wrapper to unwrap it, blowing and blowing, and deliriously addicted to its intoxicating aroma as it passes over my lips and melts on my tongue.  If that were the only way I could ever have them, it would be plenty enough for me, but a little hot sauce, red or green, makes them even better!  And, oh how I adore them dolled up Tex-Mex style, like a taco.  Three sleepy amigos laying on my plate, brought to life with green onions and lettuce and cheese and pico de gallo and black olives and sour cream with salsa mixed in it, spooned on top.  Or, how lovely they are dressed with green tomatillo salsa and some chopped green onion, or smothered in spicy New Mexico green chili, or Terlingua red chili.  Or swimming in a spicy, creamy pepper-jack cheese sauce and heaped with fresh pico on top. Or, my favorite way, decked out like a bowl of tortilla soup, sitting in their husks and splashed with a squeeze of lime, then slathered in red or green salsa, with a handful of chopped, fresh cilantro, chopped green onion, guacamole, and a generous crumble of queso fresco tossed on top.  (I’m seeing a Tamale Bar in my future; an Ugly Sweater Christmas party with a Tamale Bar and a house decorated in hot chili pepper lights – see how festive tamales are?).  Oh how I love them!!!!!!!  I love them sooooo much!   I feel almost guilty penning my intimate thoughts.  Fifty shades of GOLD.  Is it okay to lick the husks?  <blushing!>

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Just lift the lid and let the steam swirl up onto your face.  Gaze upon their golden deliciousness!  Decorate them with your favorite red and green, and white!  Serve them at parties or eat them on the street.  Give them to your family, or sneak a midnight treat!   Eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day of the week and the whole month of December.  I know all these tamales will lead to diet resolutions, but for now please let us savor our binomial distributions!  Muy fantástico!

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* feliz navidad *

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Soup’s On!

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Soup’s On!

In this post are my recipes for…

  1. Green Chili
  2. Red Chili
  3. Chicken Tortilla Soup
  4. Creamy Poblano Soup
  5. Farmhouse Potato with bacon and jalapeno
  6. White Bean, Andouille, and Kale Soup
  7. Zuppa Tuscano
  8. Nacho Cheese Soup
  9. Clam Chowder in a bread Boule

It’s that time of year when a bowl of steaming hot soup with a side of hot, fresh baked, heavily buttered, crusty bread not only warms the body, but the heart and soul as well.  I have been asked soooo many times for these soup recipes that I decided to make a place for them here.

My husband says it is impossible for me to make a small batch of anything.  Tis true I suppose.  So, if you find yourself with more soup than you can eat, please wrap some up and take it to a neighbor, or share it with friends in the office, or bring a bowl to your child’s teacher, for lunch on a blustery winter day!

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Mom’s Green Chili

…First we have to make the roast!…

1  8-lb Boston Butt Pork Roast, patted dry and rubbed all over with this dry rub:

1 heaping Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 heaping Tablespoon dried Cumin

1 heaping Tablespoon smoked hot Paprika (Pimenton Picante)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper mélange

Place roast on grate in roasting pan, cover with foil, and put into a preheated 350°F oven for about an hour.  After an hour, turn the oven temp down to 225°F leave roast in oven to finish baking until meat is falling off the bone, approximately 3 to 6 hours.  I actually leave mine in all day (6 to 8 hours) tightly covered.

I usually always make my green chili from this leftover roast.  After the roast has cooled I pull it apart into large chunks (this is a very fatty roast, and I discard all the fat and bone), wrap the meat up in a freezer zip-bag and either put it in the fridge for the next day, or in the freezer, to make my next batch of Green Chili (recipe follows).

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dscn9111Mom’s Spicy Red Chili 

  • 3 lbs ground beef (I sometimes switch out one pound with ground bison, or you could use venison)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3  (14-oz) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes (reduced or NO sodium)
  • 3 (14-oz) cans of low-sodium chicken broth (I use the empty tomatoes can to measure my broth from a larger carton)
  • 3 (14-oz) cans of low-sodium beef stock (again, I use my empty tomatoes can to measure my stock from a larger carton)
  • 9 Tbsp of chili powder (added at different intervals)  (I make my own; it’s sooooo much better than anything you can buy at the market – see recipe below)
  • 3 Tbsp of yellow corn meal or fine masa flour (used to make tamales)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, mashed and minced

In a large, high-sided frying pan, or dutch oven, fry burger meat on medium high heat until cooked through.  Remove from heat.  Drain off excess fat. Return dutch oven to medium high heat and add onion to the ground meat.  Stir and cook together a few minutes.  Dump in the tomatoes, chicken and beef stocks, garlic, 6 spoonsful of the chili powder, and then the corn meal.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Cover and let cook for 1 hour.

Remove lid, stir, and add 2-3 more spoonsful of chili powder.  Taste for seasoning.  If a soupier chili is desired, add a tomato can full of water.  If you want a thicker chili, stir in a tablespoon or two more of masa.  Stir, replace lid and let cook another 30 minutes.  Taste to make sure it is yummy before serving.  Add a can or two of drained rinsed beans if desired.  I like to add 1 (14-oz) can of pintos and 1  (14-oz) can of red beans.

Serve with crackers (I have to spread real butter on mine) or cornbread (I usually always make a Mexican style cornbread – I use a honey cornbread mix and add shredded cheese, diced onion, and diced jalapeno to the mix).  Chili may be served with any of the following toppings: crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, chopped red or green onions, diced jalapenos, a dallop of sour cream, etc.   This recipe makes a lot, but you can use the leftovers to make Frito Pies, Chili-cheese Dogs, and Hay Stacks.

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Colleen’s Homemade Chili Powder

  • 3 Ancho Chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and torn into small pieces
  • 3 Cascabel/Guajillo chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and torn
  • 4 Arbol/Cayenne chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and torn
  • 2 Pasilla chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and torn
  • 2 New Mexico Red chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and torn
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon hot Paprika
  • Chili Pequin (I crush about 10 of these little guys seperately and only add it when I can really bring the heat – and otherwise it can be added to individual bowls)

Place the chiles and cumin seeds in a saute pan or cast iron skillet and toast over medium heat about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl to cool completely.  Once cool, place in a blender (my Bullet is perfect), along with the other ingredients and process until a fine powder. Allow the powder to settle for several minutes before lifting the lid.  Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  Use for making chili, to season Mexican Street Corn, or as an ingredient in BBQ sauces and dry rubs.

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Mom’s Chicken Tortilla Soup (mildly spicy)

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Mom’s Creamy Poblano Soup (spicy)

Let me start with my prep work on this one.  First, I grow my own Poblano Chilies in my garden, and in the fall/early winter when the weather calls for frost I harvest everything and hurry and preserve it, either by drying or freezing.

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After (1) picking my Poblanos and (2) washing them, I (3) roast them in the oven until the skins are charred and bubbled all the way around, then I (4) seal them in plastic bags and let them sit until I am done with all my roasting.  Finally I (5) put on a pair of latex gloves and begin sliding the skins off, pulling the stems out, and wiping all the seeds from the insides.

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Then I fold each chili in half and tuck them inside a freezer zip-bag, about 15 chilies to a bag, squeeze all the air out, zip the bags closed, fold the bags over, and tuck about three bags of the chilies into another zip-bag.  Then I stash these bags in my freezer for soup all winter long (or until they run out).

Recipe:

8 cups Chicken Broth (I’m kind of an organic girl, so if I can’t find organic broth I usually make my own)

2 large Yukon gold potatoes, diced

2 large onions, diced

Kernels from 6 cobs of sweet corn

1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

1 stick of butter

4 cloves of garlic

¼ cup fresh parsley

Bring broth to a boil and add all the ingredients after that.  Cook until tender.  Add:

15 processed Poblano Chilies (as described above)

Whirl contents of the soup pot in a blender until smooth, then return to the soup pot and add:

6 cups Heavy Cream (or 3 cups heavy cream and 3 cups Half-and-half)

Let this simmer on the stove until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with shredded Pepper Jack cheese. 

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Mom’s Creamy Farmhouse Potato Soup, with Bacon and Jalapenos

12 medium potatoes (I actually prefer russets for this soup, plus they keep better so I usually have them on hand), peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

1 large white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 ribs of celery, chopped

2 to 3 Jalapenos, finely minced (if your jalapenos are mild, use more, if spicy use less, to taste)

1 large (48-oz) container of chicken broth

2 small or 1 large can of Cream of Chicken soup (I prefer Campbells)

1 stick of butter

2 cups of whole milk

1 8-oz package Cream Cheese, at room temp

Salt & Pepper to taste

Fry bacon either while soup cooks, or before starting the soup.  Lay on paper towels, and set aside.  Place potatoes, onion, garlic, celery, and jalapenos in a large soup pot.  Add the chicken broth and enough water to cover the potatoes about one inch over.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes depending on the size of the chunks.  Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir until blended and cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated.  Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a steaming simmer, stirring occasionally so the bottom of the soup doesn’t stick and burn.  Ladle into bowls and garnish just before serving!  Make the garnish pretty by first adding a dollop of sour cream to the center, then sprinkle with crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and chopped green onion (and pass the diced jalapeno for those who want a little more heat).  Bon appetite!

Garnishes:

Sour cream

½ lb crispy fried bacon

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 bunch green onions, chopped

Fresh chopped Parsley

2 large jalapenos, minced

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20170219_152315-1Mom’s Spicy White Bean, Andouille, and Kale Soup

This is one of those soups that I make for my daughter.  She and I LOVE this soup, especially on a cold winter day (when we can lounge in our jammies and eat and watch a marathon of something on TV).  My crazy husband is not a fan of Kale, or really anything green-leafy and floating in his soup, so this is a special treat for when he is out-of-town and the girls and I can have a girl’s night! 

1 pkg Andouille sausage (if you can find the semi-hard Chorizo, that works too, or even a jalapeno smoked sausage), cut into bite-size pieces

2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small chunks

½ white onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 finely minced Poblano chile

4 cups Chicken broth

1 14.5-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 bunch of kale (fresh, raw, and washed well, stems chopped off and discarded), torn roughly into bite-size pieces  – I love Kale, so for me moooore is better!!!!

1 14-oz can Cannellini beans, drained and washed (Garbanzo’s will also work)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fry the sausage in a heavy soup pot until crispy on the edges.  Toss in the potatoes, onions, garlic, and poblano.  Saute for a few moments and then add the chicken broth and tomatoes.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, and then add the kale.  Taste it and add salt to taste.  Grind some pepper also to taste.  Simmer another 20 minutes and add the beans.  Allow them to heat through.  When steaming hot, serve with warm, crusty bread slathered in fresh, creamery butter.  Oh Lord, I’ve died and gone to heaven!!!!

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Mom’s Zuppa Tuscano (spicy)

I found this recipe online, published by Big Oven, and tweaked it to make it my own.

1 lb Italian sausage (my grocery meat dept. has parmesan and something else Italian meatballs that I brown and chop up, plus the Italian sausage in casings – which I remove from the casings, brown and break up)

1 tsp red pepper flakes; (I grow all sorts of hot peppers in my garden– Hungarian paprika, cayenne, poblano, serrano, jalapeno, thai hots, habanero, etc. – and dry them and grind them into powder.  This is what I use in my soup.)

3 large russet potatoes, cut into chunks

1 large onion, diced

1 lb. bacon, chopped (I cook mine crispy the day before, wrap it in paper towel, and place in a plastic bag in the fridge. Unlike Big Oven, I don’t add it to the soup until after I’ve added the kale and cream)

4 garlic cloves; minced (I use the biggest outside ones)

3 cups kale, chopped (I’m sorry, I really never measure this, I just add until it looks good, probably more than 3 cups because I LOVE Kale).  Remove the tough ribs and tear the leaves roughly.  Rinse really well.

2 boxes (32 oz ea) chicken broth

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Liberal sprinkling of white pepper

(I add about a ¼ tsp of my *special chili pequin and pepper mélange seasoning also)

Original recipe makes 10 Servings.  Cook Bacon ahead of time and have ready.  Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a pot. Drain excess fat, remove sausage and set aside. In the same pan, sauté onions and garlic (I cooked mine in a little butter). Sauté for approximately 5 mins. or until the onions are soft. Add the chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add kale during the last 5 minutes. Add heavy cream and the cooked sausage and cook until heated through. Add white pepper to taste.

If you want the soup a little thicker, you can make a blonde roux in a separate pan and incorporate it into the soup. I make my own *spice mixture of ground pepper mélange, ground chili pequin, and kosher salt and I sprinkle my portion with it just before serving. I also add some to the soup, but careful not to overload, it in case some folks were sensitive to the spice. The soup is especially good when served with warm, buttered crusty bread!

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Mom’s Spicy Nacho Cheese Soup

1 gallon can of Nacho (or Cheddar) Cheese

2 cups Chicken broth

4 cups water

1 Poblano chili, diced

6 ribs of celery, diced

2 cups of ham, diced

1 small white onion, minced

Place all ingredients in a large crockpot, cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or until celery and onion are tender and soup is piping hot.  Great served with Panini sandwiches!

Serving Suggestion:

Thin sliced Italian Bread, brushed with olive oil on one side

Fillings:

Mozzarella

Provolone

Heirloom Tomatoes

Prosciutto

Pepperoni

Fresh basil

Roasted red peppers

Portabella mushrooms

Spinach

Arugula

And whatever else makes your tongue dance

Put your sandwiches together, olive oiled sides out, and then grill in a Panini press.  I don’t personally own a Panini press, but the George Foreman grill works pretty well if you clamp it down.

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Colleen’s Clam Chowder

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Colleen’s Clam Chowder, served in a fresh sour dough bread boule from the bakery!  Toast the lid and drizzle it with garlic butter for an added treat!

 

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May our soup bowls be deep and our friends plentious!!!!

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“And one day Jacob was cooking some soup when Esau came in from the fields in great need of food”  Genesis 25:29