fat free opinions on a food centric life

Tag: Slow Food

Five Onion Confit

Five Onion Confit

I grew up expecting to have to eat the onions on my plate whether I wanted them or not. That’s just how it went at our house, and I didn’t question it.  Good thing I’ve always liked them.   Although I remember my mother telling […]

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs for BBQ Sliders

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs for BBQ Sliders

The last weekend of summer has finally arrived, finding us packed and ready for yet another road trip to San Francisco to drop our son off at school.   The send-off is much more quiet this year since he’s beginning his second year and I guess […]

Tamales with Pibil-Style Pork and Guajillo Sauce

Tamales with Pibil-Style Pork and Guajillo Sauce

Have you ever made tamales?  No, not tamale pie.  My mother used to make that and as much as I enjoyed her cooking, tamale pie would not have been one of my favorites.  From what I can remember, it was noticeably sweet, and comprised of hamburger, corn, and canned tomatoes.  I’m not going to blame this on my mother, because I know it was the recipe.  Tamale pie could never compare to homemade tamales.

The only source of comparison I have is that of local women who tempt office workers with their once-a-week offerings, wrapped in foil, and still piping hot.  They’re amazing and so of course it’s a challenge to not eat one before taking them home to share for dinner.  I’d say that’s a fairly good model to work from.

Often, tamales are made with dried corn husks, the masa, or corn meal and filling spread on the inside of a dried corn husk, or fresh banana leaf before steaming.  The filling can be anything imaginable, and often is depending on who traditionally makes the tamales, and what region of Mexico or the Southwest U.S. they’re from.

If you’ve been studying Mexican cooking like I have the past few years, the idea of banana leaves wrapped around a savory filling is quite tempting; it sounds so exotic! A glance out my patio window focuses in on the not so big non-fruit bearing variegated leaf banana plant I’ve been nurturing as a possible source.  No, I’d have to depend on a local market, which shouldn’t be a challenge in San Diego considering the influence of Mexican cooking, but it is.

When I first happened on to the lone 4-lb. package of huge sections of banana tree leaves recently, I grabbed it knowing I’d procrastinated long enough and could now make my own homemade tamales. I knew I didn’t need four pounds of leaves, so attempted quite unsuccessfully to separate them.  Unfortunately, the leaf strips were enormous and all folded together, so my efforts in trying to avoid waste ended up creating something worse.  The leaves began to split, making them useless for the next shopper’s tamales.

Thankfully, my first attempt at tamales was a success thanks to the help of a very good friend.  Between the two of us, influence from a few good recipes, and a make-shift steamer, a few split banana leaves caused very few problems.

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Peposo with Roasted Pepper Salad on Focaccia

Peposo with Roasted Pepper Salad on Focaccia

You’re wondering what peposo is, right?  Or perhaps you know what peposo is and you’ve already wondered how it ended up in a sandwich.  If you’re like me, you may even just want to take a big bite of it right now because it’s dinnertime […]

Spinach Lasagne with Ragu alla Bolognese

Spinach Lasagne with Ragu alla Bolognese

I think it’s fair to say that I equally enjoy baking sweets as much as I enjoy cooking something savory.  Regardless of what it is, I normally rise to a challenge and can’t think of a better way to spend a day in the kitchen […]