Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hot Tamales by The Distracted Cook

Can you believe The Daring Kitchen challenge this month? Tamales! Oh yes!

Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!

This is what the end result looked like. Not exactly what I expected from all of the work that went in before. You decide:

First step is to get the dried corn husks into a workable state - they are soaked in a pot of water and these were in the bath for at least 12 hours or actually, a whole lot more. More, more - like about 18 hours. They were nice and pliable by then.

Our choice was to make the Black Bean and Green Chile Tamales. And in retrospect, I think we forgot some of the ingredients! But maybe not, and that tells me something....

After mixing all the ingredients, it was time to make the masa dough. This was such fun. And I will have to share what the cute checkout clerk at the grocery said when I was buying the ingredients. She looked at my strange combination of items and asked what I was going to do with all of this strange stuff. I told her I was making tamales.

"Oh Tamales! I love tamales! My best friend's Grandma used to make them for us. Have YOU ever made them before?"

"Well, no I haven't made tamales before. It will be a fun experience I am sure."

"Oh yes. Good luck. My friend's Grandma used to say all kinds of things to her Tamales while she was making them, but we could never understand her."

I think maybe "Grandma" and The Distracted Cook said some of the very same things!

After mixing the masa dough ingredients until it resembled cookie dough, it was time to get to work. Following the directions was really easy and now I can fold those husks like nobody's business.

First you lay out a husk and put about a 1/4 cup of the dough on it in the middle and flatten it out with your hand. Be careful to keep the dough on the upper part (the BIG) end of the husk. Put about a tablespoon of the filling mixture right down the middle of the dough. Now the fun part - fold the two sides of the husk towards each other and make sure you press the edges of the dough together. Fold up the pointy end of the husk. Now take a thin strip that you tear from one of the husks and tie the end up by tying the strip around the entire husk. Voila! Easy does it. And yes, it is fun. You might want to dance a little bit, or actually say something nice to your tamales at this point.

Stand the tamales up in the top of a steamer and put the top on and steam for about 40 or so minutes. Take the top off and let them cool a bit. Then you are ready to bring them to the table and enjoy! And enjoy we did!

If you want to reheat any that are left over, I found a really easy way. Just put them back into the steamer pot. I had them wrapped in foil in the refrigerator, so I just opened up the package so the steam could get to them. Perfect. Again. And fun.

Want to have fun with us? Just go to the website and join the rest of us. And while you are visiting The Daring Kitchen you can see more pictures of what everyone's tamales looked like! See you next time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Distracted Cook does NOT bake the bread!

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

The only problem is that The Distracted Cook could NOT get this to work. Things started off nicely enough. Here is what the starter looked like with the first "brew" of the rye flour and water.

 Working right through the rest of the days was a snap. UNTIL! On Day Four, after the long wait, the result was NOTHING! That's right - nothing! No bubbles, not a one. What could have happened?

Not to be undone, The Distracted Cook started Day Four over again. And this time, a bit better of a result. Here you can see what the bowl held:

It is a bit better than nothing, so on it is to Day Five and the actual making of the bread dough. Ha! Look what the end result was after all of this work:

Not exactly what you would hope to see in that pan. So, into the plastic bag it goes to "rise" and shine. Oh no, not this bread! No rising, no shining. After the recommended amount of rise time, this is what we got:

If you are thinking that there is not much difference, you are correct. What to do? Well, let's just put it in the oven and see what happens! Good idea? Yes and no.

This is what came out of the oven pretending to be a loaf of rye bread. The Distracted Cook knows when to "fold them" and so this will be the end of this challenge. Not even to completion. Somehow this does not look like it will end up being a part of another dish. Sometimes you just have to admit that it didn't work and that a smile is as good as a sandwich!

Want to join in a sandwich or a smile? It's real easy - just go to The Daring Kitchen and sign up to take on future challenges. You will have fun, learn a lot about recipes and yourself, and we will be able to compare results. Or celebrate victory. Or have the last laugh!