Saturday, May 27, 2006

Beef Tamales in Pictures

The recipe follows photographs and uses standard masa recipe at bottom of vegetarian tamale recipe at bottom of page. I know there is likely a better format than a blog for keeping this all together-I just don't know what yet. Email me through my profile if you're confused about anything or have questions.

Steam Tamales Covered With a Towel

Beef Tamales Assembled

Beef Tamale Filling

You Will Need:

-1 1/2 lbs. beef (I used chuck, but any slow cooking meat will do fine) cubed.
-1/2 onion, sliced.
-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed.
-2 teaspoons salt.
-1 tablespoon pepper
-1 tablespoon cumin
-4 tablespoons ground ancho chilies
-4 tablespoons shortening, or lard

Cut the meat into 2 inch chunks and brown with 2 tablespoons of shortening in a heavy bottomed pan. When brown, add enough water to cover meat. Add onions and garlic and simmer until tender-2-3 hours.

While the meat simmers, grind the chilies. When the meat is tender, separate the meat from broth reserving liquid, but straining out garlic and onion. Shred the meat.

Heat 2 tablespoons shortening in a heavy skillet (cast iron works great if you have one). Add the chilies and cumin and stir into a paste. Add the meat and fry 2-3 minutes. Add reserved broth and simmer until reduced. This will take at least an hour, so don't despair if it seems like the liquid is not reducing-it will. Resist the urge to boil it. The final mixture will have a somewhat liquid consistency.

Let cool while you prepare the masa, or make ahead and store tightly covered in the icebox. This recipe will make more than enough for a couple nights of tamales, or leftover can be used as a burrito filling.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pupusas Step By Step Illustrations

Of course, I messed-up posting in reverse (duh) so scroll down to the begining and read up. recipe follows pictures at bottom.

Keep Warm in Foil


Ready to Fry

Roll Out Carefully

Flatten With Hands

Pinch Closed

Fill With Cheese

Make Indentation

Roll Into Balls

Pupusas Step by Step

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Vegetarian Tamales

I made these fully expecting it to be difficult and fail miserably. Instead, what I ended up with was a pretty good approximation of authentic tamales. I used imitation chorizo sausage made from soybean that is available in supermarkets. You could of course, use the real thing. Leave yourself a couple of hours to prepare these the first time. Soak the cornhusks for a good hour prior to assembling tamales. Makes about 15 medium sized tamales.
You will need:

(for the dough)
-2 Cups Masa (Maseca brand has one specifically for tamales which works well).
-2 Cups lukewarm water to which 2 beef bouillon cubes(or if you prefer, real broth) have been dissolved.
-1 Teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2/3 cup Crisco (again, you could use lard if inclined).

Combine masa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Work in broth with fingers to make a soft dough. You may need more flour. This is very difficult to explain but it should be soft, not sticky. What you do not want is a dry, stiff mixture. It should just come together in a ball. In another bowl, beat the shortening until light. Add to masa mixture and beat until spongy. Cover and set aside until ready to assemble tamales.

Other Ingredients:

-Corn husks( separated, and soaked in boiling water for a hour) Some people insist you can use coffee filters or kitchen parchment with equal success.
-Soy chorizo sausage (prepared according to package directions(usually crumbled in a frying pan).


Drain cornhusks. Fill each with a small bit of dough which is spread thinly. Top with a bit of chorizo sausage. Carefully roll them up sideways, and tuck the edges under. Don't worry if the filling isn't perfectly encased in dough, as the tamale will set anyway. Place in a large steamer in a pot of water(stand the vertically). Cover the steaming pot carefully with a thin kitchen towel taking care to tuck it in the pot away from flames. Keep replenishing water so that tamales stay at a boil. They will cook about an hour.

Tamales can also be re-heated by steaming or microwaving.

Pupusas and Curtido(cole slaw)

Salvadoran Pupusas are becoming a popular take-out item in the US. Here's how to make them at home. Because they are not fried in oil, and have only a small amount of cheese, they are a less horrible snack than they first appear.

For the Pupusas;

-2 Cups Masa (corn flour-NOT cornmeal)
-1 Cup + Warm Water
-Filling(grated cheese:farmer's, feta, mixture of cottage cheese and mozarealla, etc.)

In a large bowl add water slowly to flour until a soft dough is made. It is soft enough when it no longer cracks at edges when you press down. It should have a spongy feel. Cover, at let it rest for 5-10 min.

Roll dough into a log and divide into eight equal parts that are then rolled into balls.

In the centre of each ball, make an indentation and fill with cheese. Pinch it closed and pat between hands to flatten before GENTLY rolling out into rounds roughly 1.4 inch thick. If it tears, cut a piece from the edge and do a patch repair. When they are all rolled out and set aside on a cookie sheet, cover to keep from drying out as you fry them one at a time.

Heat an ungreased skillet (I use a Scanpan, but cast iron works well too. Avoid using teflon at this heat as I've read recently where all sorts of horrible things can happen when it's over-heated) to high heat. Cook the pupusas 1-2 minutes on each side until they are browned and begin to blister.

Keep finished pupusas warm in a plate covered with foil.
Serve with sour cream, salsa and Curtido (recipe below)


1/2 head cabbage 3 grated carrots
4 cups boiling water
5-6 minced green onions (depending on size)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Place cabbage and carrots in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand five minutes. Drain well. Mix with the rest and chill well before serving.

Oatmeal Bread

This recipe will make two very moist loaves that last well. The amount of molasses can be decreased to create a less assertive flavour. I haven't tried it, but I suspect the recipe would withstand a bit of improvisation by adding sunflower seeds, using half whole wheat flour, currants, or such. This bread is a nice accompaniment to many cheeses.

You Will Need:

-1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats (Quick cooking will work fine. I've never tried steel cut oats, so I can't vouch for their effect).
-2 Cups milk, scalded
-1 Package granulated yeast(2 1/4 teaspoons)
-1/2 Cup warm water
-1/2 cup molasses
-2 teaspoons salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4-6+ Cups white bread flour

Place oats in a large bowl and cover with scalded milk. Let sit until lukewarm (about 15 minutes). While milk cools, proof the yeast in a small bowl.

To the milk and oats, add everything except flour and stir well. Add the flour, starting with four cups. Depending on humidity conditions, it can take anywhere from 4-6 (sometimes more) cups of flour. If using all purpose, this will almost certainly take more. Keep adding flour until dough is elastic and no longer sticky. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise 1 1/2-2 hours in a draft-free spot until doubled in bulk.

Punch down, knead well and place in two, well greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F. oven for 45-60 minutes or until well browned and sounds hollow when rapped with knuckles on bottom.

If desired, in last five minutes of baking, brush tops with milk to create a shine.

Cool on racks.