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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Taking the Mystery Out of Tamales,

Tamales 101!
First know this they are easy to make and WOW are they good!

Most every city on the planet has a mexican grocery store, and there you will find my goto ingredients.

Pre made MASA. Ok so whats MASA?? Simple... Masa is Spanish for dough, it is sometimes referred to cornmeal dough ( masa de maiz in Spanish). The dried and powdered form is called masa de harina or maseca(which is actually a commercial brand); it is reconstituted with water.Masa is the corn based dough that is used to make tamales and sopes, and many other Mexican and South/Central American recipes.
Ok you might be saying not purest wrong! The locals buy the pre made all the time. Good for them...good for me!

Corn Husks. They are typically bought by the pound. There are about 5-7 doz. in a lb.

Next you need a steamer.

Ok let get cracken.

First- Prepare the Corn Shucks

Soak the shucks in a sink full of warm water for about 2 hours. Carefully separate them when they get soft. Try to not tear or damage the corn shucks. It is easier to make the tamales if the shucks are in one

Husks in the sink covered with hot water

My chicken filling of love.

1. 6 Boneless chicken breast

2. Water enough to cover the chicken. Add 2T cumin, 2T chili powder, 2T my "Onion Happiness" avalable @ www.happydiabetic.com

4. Bring the chicken to a med. boil until the chicken starts breaking apart. That's it! Done. Reserve a cup of the cooking broth.
5. When the chicken cools break it apart into small pieces.

6. Add the remaining liquid to the shredded chicken.

Pre Made MASA

Next: Pick up a shuck, lay it across the palm of your hand with the small end toward your fingers. scoop up about 1/2 c of the Masa dough with your hand, and then smear it on the shuck. Dipping you fingers in water will make it smooth.

Them: Place about 1 tablespoon of the chopped meat mixture in the center of the husk.

Starting on the left side (the side where the Masa dough goes all the way to the edge), roll the tamale all the way to the right edge. Now, fold the top of the shuck over like an envelope and lay tamale on the counter with the fold on the under side. Roll the next one the same until all your shucks with masa on them are rolled.

Place the tamales into a large steamer and boil cover for 1 hour.
Look for them to be firm and no white spots. White spots are a sigh of undercooked
To cook the tamales, You need a very large pot that has something in the bottom to keep the tamales out of the water while they steam . Add just enough water to the pot, then start stacking the tamales upright in the steamer basket until full. The envelope end of the tamale will be on the bottom, the open end of the tamale should be on top, as pictured at left. Continue to fill the pot. The tamales need to pack tight enough that they do not fall over and begin to unfold.

The Tamale Team

Congratulations! You are now part of the few, the proud, the tamale cooks. You will notice that your life will be instantly different. You will be popular. People will invite you over. As you walk up to a crowd of people, you will hear someone say, "Isn't that the Tamale cook?" Yes folks, your simple life will never be the same. You have arrived. Please remember to be kind to the little people.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


ITALIAN HANUKKAH. There is a long standing Jewish tradition in Italy dating back to Roman times.

This year my sister Roxana reminded me of this recipe with her Facebook post.

AUGURI PER HANUKKAH! During Imperial times it is estimated the Roman Jewish community numbered more than 50,000. It is no wonder that the ancient receipe for carciofi alla giudia (Roman Jewish artichokes) remains popular to this day. A delightful crunchy fried treat, I recommend ordering it at anytime not just during Hanukkah.

Carciofi alla Guidia Robert's Way!

1. Slice the 4 freah Artichokes in half, lengthwise.
Remove the inside choke.

2. Pour about 1/4" olive oil in heavy pot and put in sliced 1 head of sliced garlic. Turn the burner on low.... Put in the artichokes and cover the pot.

2. Cook for about an hour

3. Serve with either clarified lemon-butter or low fat/ olive oil mayonnaise.
Brush the oil from the cooking of the artichokes , bruschetta-style, on
slices of crusty French bread and top with pot-roasted sliced garlics.
Can you feel the love!

If you are ever in Rome, the place to eat carciofi alla giudia is an area referred to as the "Ghetto", which had traditionally been the Jewish section of town.

For centuries, Rome's Jewish ghetto has been the site of both relentless persecution and the undying pride and solidarity of a tight-knit community. Built in 1555 on the banks of a frequently flooded bend of the Tiber River, the ghetto was the forced home of the Roman Jewish population for more than 300 years, between the Counter-Reformation (16th century) and Italian unification (19th century). Though most of the old ghetto has been torn down, you can still find a few reminders of the Roman Jews' storied past and lively present.