Tamales are the epitome of Mexican food and one of the classic tastes of the Hispanic kitchen. Tamales are “mother” food or comfort food, Latin style. The dough is made from masa harina or “masa flour,” the ground corn that has been soaked in lime, then dried for storage, to make the corn kernel softer and more digestible than regular cornmeal. It is the corn flour used to make tortillas and tamales have that wonderful strong corn flavor that is so characteristic in Mexican cuisine.
It used to be that to have a luscious seafood roll, you had to travel to New England for this regional seashore specialty. Nada no mas.
The slow cooker, invented originally from an existing electric bean pot, is the most efficient way to cook dried beans and legumes, no matter what type you choose–mottled, black, red, or white. There is minimal evaporation during the cooking, just like in the old potbelly-shaped brown and cream clay bean pot that went in the oven or embers.
When asking many of my friends what their favorite winter layer cake is, I am always surprised when most of them emphatically reply “Black Forest Cake!” Never having made it myself and finding bakery versions much too sugary with canned cherry pie filling, my interest perked up when a friend told me of the best Black Forest Cake she ever had; it was from an old recipe printed in Bon Apétit magazine in the 1970s.
Fish tacos from the microwave start to finish? Yes. And the fish is perfect too. Fish tacos are no longer a regional Mexican secret. Homemade is just as good and people are wild about them.
You can really have your choice of brands in buying a slow cooker. Any of the major brands are competitive–Rival, Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, but for families you want the right size. That is the super size 6 1/2 to 7 quart model. This will give you some leftovers and still feed a family. Most slow cooker cooks end up with three different sizes, all for different dishes.
Most people have never heard of Murray Jaffe. But if you shop at stores that stock mainstream natural foods like Whole Foods, you are familiar with products from a company called Barbara’s. From the best instant mashed potatoes (yes, there is such a thing–I use them in bread machine recipes all the time) to dry cereals with no refined sugar, the man who conceived, created, and promoted the products is Murray Jaffe. The moniker Barbara is the name of his daughter.
Just in case you love Blondies but can’t eat wheat, here is a recipe based on Murray’s Blondies. You can substitute an equal amount of a gluten-free flour mixture for the rice flours and cornstarch if you like. Makes 9 bars.
Back up at the house, Crystal headed to the Egyptian room to set up the tables and arrange the chairs and tablecloths. I stood for a moment assessing the space and walked into the living room. There were the muted sounds of people doing setup in other areas of the house. The caterer had arrived and I could hear pounding coming from large granite mortars and pestles; they were making fresh salsa for dinner.