Monday, November 3, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Lunch

After building an ofrenda for loved ones who have passed on, my family and I enjoyed a lunch honoring my great-great grandma Narcissa, grandpa, uncles and other family members who continue on in other forms and in us.

Tamales with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Black Beans

Romaine Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing, tomatoes, and toasted pepitas

Pomegranate Lemonade with Chia Seeds
I have pomegranates and lemons from friends.  Stir in 1-3 teaspoons or so of chia per cup of liquid and allow seeds to hydrate for at least ten minutes (but I prefer to let them fully hydrate overnight).

Cinnamon Apple Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting
I recently made goat cheese from fresh goat milk from another friend of mine.

This recipe makes about 50 tamales so get together with friends or family and have a tamalada! We used my large canning pot with the canning rack flipped upside down at the bottom as a steamer.

corn husks (next summer I'm saving my corn husks cuz I can't find these organic):
Soak the corn husks in hot water for a couple hours.  Make sure they are completely submerged.

For the batter:
7 cups masa harina (you can find organic masa in the bulk section at OB People's)
4 1/2 cups hot filtered water
1 pound and 4 oz Spring Hill salted butter, softened
4 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups vegetable broth

Stir together the masa and hot water and allow to hydrate and cool.  Set aside.

I had to make this to two batches, half of the ingredients in each batch, in my stand up mixer but if you have an electric beater, you can do it all at once. On medium high speed, beat the salt and baking powder into the butter until well combined.  Beat in the masa for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.  On medium low speed, add 2 cups of the broth until well combined.  Test 1/2 a teaspoon of masa to see if it will float in cold water.  If not, beat until it does.  Then beat in the final cup of broth.

For the filling, whatever you like or have on hand (roasted anaheim chiles and cheddar, mushroom and goat cheese...):
4 large summer squash, quartered and sliced thin
4 large red bell peppers, sliced thin
2 medium red onion, sliced thin
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Saute the veggies a couple cups at a time in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until they start to soften.  Salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For each tamale, spread about 1/4 cup masa in a 4-inch square on a corn husk (or two overlapping if they're small), leaving about an inch and half uncovered on the top and bottom, and 3/4 inch on each side. In the center, spoon a couple tablespoons of filling down the middle of the masa.  Pull each side together, joining the masa with the filling in the center. 

There are many ways to tie tamales.  If I'm making a few different kinds of tamales, I'll fold each one a different way. Here's a few examples:

  1. Fold the bottom and top corn husk towards the center, forming a small rectangular package.
  2. Fold bottom up and leave the top open.
  3. Tie each end.
Use strips of corn husk or string to bind your tamales so they don't come undone.  Add 2 inches of water to your pot, boil and reduce to a simmer. Line the bottom and sides of your steaming pot with extra corn husks and fill with your tamales standing upright. Steam for about an hour and a half.


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