Chinese Lemon Chicken

My colleague and friend admitted that she visits my blog from time to time (along with others who never comment *glares their way* haha j/k) and that she even visits it in search of dinner ideas. She complained gently that I had a dearth of chicken and other savory recipes but I was not without many desserts. Well, I’m not surprised that this is true because I do prefer to bake rather than cook.

So, last night, I took out one of my few cookbooks to look for a good chicken recipe. I was going to make a chicken pot pie, but I decided against that idea because so many other bloggers have made that dish. The next morning, I was still unsure as to what I wanted to make and turned to my bookmarks. I spotted lemon chicken and jumped up immediately from my chair in preparation to make this dish.
I thought that this dish would taste similar to the orange chicken I had made before just with a lemony flavor, but it didn’t turn out even as sweet as the ones I’ve tasted in the restaurants. So, I added a bit more sugar, and it tasted much better. Lastly, the recipe for the sauce only gives you enough to coat the chicken. If you want extra sauce (I know I did), I suggest doubling the recipe. I have posted the revised version below with a link to the original recipe. Enjoy, Lydia! This one is for you!

Lemon Chicken
adapted from CookAsian
Yields enough for 2-3 people

400g boneless chicken breasts, skin removed (I used 8-10 chicken tenders)
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine (I used rice wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tsp fresh (or ground) ginger, grated
4 Tbsp cornstarch, mixed with a little water to make a paste
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to season (I used Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and pepper)
Oil for deep frying (I used canola/vegetable oil blend)

In pan for sauce:
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

In a liquid, 2-cup measuring cup (I suggest doubling the sauce if you want extra):
1/2 Cup Chinese stock or chicken stock (I used chicken broth)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/6 cup (or 2 Tbsp + 1tsp) caster (or granulated) sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tsp grated lemon peel
2-3 Drops yellow food coloring (optional; I didn’t add this)

-Slices of Lemon to garnish

Wash and dry the chicken breasts, and cut into chunks. Place the chicken in a shallow dish (I used a pie plate), and add the Chinese rice wine (or rice wine vinegar), honey, and grated ginger. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes. (I suggest preparing the rice at this point.)

Place the beaten egg and 4Tbsp cornstarch paste into a bowl, and mix well. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and add to the bowl. Stir to ensure all the chicken pieces are coated with the batter. (I added the paste to the marinade instead, and it worked out fine.)

Heat the oil for deep frying in a wok or large pan and add the chicken pieces (Make sure you move the chicken around when first introduced to the oil because they tend to stick!). Fry until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the wok and drain on paper towels. (You could also bake the chicken!)

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan or wok until hot (I drained out the oil from frying, leaving 1 Tbsp of oil and used the skillet to make the sauce). Reduce the heat slightly. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice, caster (or granulated) sugar, soy sauce, stock and lemon rind. Stir well. Bring to the boil and stir until the sauce is smooth. Add the yellow food coloring (optional)

Place the chicken pieces on a plate, and pour a little of the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with thin slices of lemon and serve. (I placed the chicken back in the skillet with the sauce instead.)

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

Crockpot Dulce de Leche *UPDATED* with extra tips

dulce de leche

Dulce de Leche (Crockpot)

I’m sure you’ve seen many people in the blogosphere making dulce de leche (pronounced [DUEL-say deh LEH-chay] based on U.S. English pronunciation) by boiling or baking condensed milk. I’m sure you’ve also heard the warnings they’ve made about the chance of the can exploding when boiling condensed milk. In order to simplify things, I decided to try making dulce de leche via a crock pot or slow cooker. I searched online to see if this was feasible, and it was.

So, the night before I needed the dulce de leche, I placed the can in the crockpot (place a can on top of a saucer to avoid getting a ring at the bottom), filled it with water until it covered the can, turned the crockpot on low (high if you have an older crockpot, or if it tends to run a true low), set the timer for 8 hours, and went to sleep. I woke up, turned off the crockpot, and allowed the water and can to cool. Then, I poured out the water and opened the can. After getting over my amazement, I started taking photos of my newly-acquired dulce de leche to share with you all.

dulce de lecheSo, if you don’t feel like paying a few extra cents for already-made dulce de leche, try making it in a crockpot. The process is a lot less dangerous and worry-free. I didn’t get any decent photos of the apple pie I made with this dulce de leche, but you can see beautiful photos of it here. *UPDATE* Also, you can see additional photos of the dulce de leche apple pie and the source of my new go-to pie crust here and here.

dulce de lecheHere is a small snapshot of my pie at night. This was my first attempt at making a classic, lattice top apple pie!

Check out a plethora of ice cream flavors to go with this dulce de leche such as vanilla bean, vanilla bean with brown sugar, espresso, milk chocolate, Mexican chocolatechocolate chip cookie dough, coffee, double chocolate toffee, mint chocolate chip (w/extract), and Mint Oreo Ice Cream!

 

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream

You see the cupcake in the back and on the left? The ugly, blurred-out ones? Yeah…awful.

These cupcakes revived my craving for chocolate. Seriously. I’ve written about this chocolate cake recipe before; it is my go-to recipe. I used the leftover coffee buttercream from the macarons I made in October and also used it to practice my piping skills. I’m still not good at it, as you can see. One day I’ll get it.

These two are the best ones I frosted. These two give me hope haha.

Since this buttercream is prepared differently than the others I’ve made, it has a soft, silkier texture with a bolt of a coffee flavor. In a word, it is FANTASTIC.

Look how moist the cake is…

Look how silky the frosting is…

Please at least think about making this buttercream. Also, bump up the chocolate flavor in your cake by adding a bit of espresso and/or chocolate bits to the batter. I didn’t do that, but I thought about doing it after the fact.

I call this “The Life of a Moist, Chocolate Cupcake with Delicious Buttercream”. 😉

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake
adapted by Hershey’s
(this recipe is also on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa canister)
Yields: 24 cupcakes when filled 3/4ths full. Can be halved easily.

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp instant coffee granules or 1 tsp espresso powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp water (my addition)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or milk (or whole milk + 1Tbsp lemon juice after it sits for 3-5 minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (I microwaved the water for 5 minutes, and it worked fine. Could substitute hot coffee or espresso? I haven’t tried this, though.)

Optional add-in:
1/2 – 1 cup crushed chocolate bars or chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups (I didn’t use bake cups because they stayed in the house and in my mouth haha).

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

3. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Coffee Buttercream
adapted from Tartelette
(I suggest halving the recipe because it yields a lot, or you could freeze theleftovers for up to 3 months)

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 large eggs
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

In a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. While stirring bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook until it registers 240°F. on a candy thermometer.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand-held beater, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add the sugar syrup in a thin stream, beating, and beat the mixture until it is cool. Change to the paddle attachment and add in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, the espresso mixture, and beat the buttercream until it is combined well.

Leave at room temperature so it will be easier to spread.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangiodasola.com

My Mom, Christmas Gifts, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Tartlets

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets

Recipe and Photos of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets below!

If you haven’t noticed already, my mom and I are very close. We have a very “Gilmore Girls” type of relationship in the sense that she is a single mother, and I’m an only child on my mother’s side. She is my best friend and my mother. I talk to her every single day, 5-10 times a day.

For many years, she and I had been graduate students at the same time. When she started working on her dissertation, I invited her to live with me in order to expedite the PhD process so she could graduate sooner. Only two semesters later, I was able to call her “Dr. Mom”, and she became a professor of English Literature. I am immensely proud of my mom. She is my inspiration and my role model.

For Christmas, she bought me a bunch of stuff for my somewhat new cooking/baking/photography addiction to make up for all the times she couldn’t give me everything I wanted while she was a struggling student. So, I thought I’d share all the kitchen-related gifts I received because the non-kitchen stuff like clothes and batteries (yes, she even wrapped up my batteries!) is just boring haha!

Canon EOS
A beautiful Canon EOS XSi with a 50mm lens! I love this camera!

 

Christmas Kitchen Gifts
Left to right: glass cake stand; steamer (used to make the tamales; was on sale for 30 dollars at Bed, Bath, & Beyond); mortar & pestle (yes!); in and near the Pyrex cup: pastry cutter, grater, candy thermometer, offset spatula, zester, egg separator; pastry mat; roast pan (no more foil pans anymore!)

 

Lodge Cast Iron
Ahh, a cast-iron dutch oven! My mom actually bought this a few years ago and never used it (GASP!) because well…she doesn’t cook much. After a bit of coaxing, she reluctantly let me have it! Yes!

In return, I cooked and baked for her, including making chocolate peanut butter tartlets! Most importantly, I bought her a standing globe, which is something she’s wanted for years. She would always say, “Whenever I become a professor, I want to have a standing globe in my office.” I got to admit, out of all the presents I saw on Christmas Day, her present, not mine, was my favorite because I got to make her happy. She even cried happy tears, and she doesn’t cry very often. I love you, mom! Thanks for everything!

GlobeOkay, enough of the mushy stuff! I promised to post these Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets a long time ago but never got around to it because of the tamales and the rosca for Three Kings’ Day. I made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets for Christmas because I thought the crust looked very interesting and indulgent. It is comprised of melted chocolate and chocolate wafers (I used Oreos)!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets Unfortunately, the crust was really hard, and after discussing this problem with the blogger who posted the recipe originally, we figured that it may be hard because of the thickness of the crust. So, if you decide to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets, make the crust thin around the edges.
Chocolate Peanut Butter TarletIn order to remedy the hardness factor, I placed the next Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets in a small pool of milk to soften the crust. That worked perfectly. Unfortunately, I’m not a great fan of peanut butter, and I’m getting tired of chocolate. Nevertheless, these Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets were good. If you’re craving chocolate and peanut butter make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets while keeping the abovementioned pointers in mind. Enjoy!!

Like peanut butter anc chocolate? Check out these Peanut Butter Brownies!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarlets
adapted from Once Upon a Chef (She made one large 10-inch tart)
Note the differences in how much each layer yields if you’re making small tarts! I would half the peanut butter layer for the small tarts.

Chocolate Crust (makes about 5 small tarts):
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies (about 32 cookies from a 9-ounce package), finely ground in a food processor (2 cups)

Peanut Butter Filling (makes 8-10 small tarts):
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 small tub or box)
1 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy peanut butter)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream

Chocolate Topping (makes enough for 5 small tarts):
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped (I didn’t use this; I’m not a nut lover)

Chocolate Crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Stir well, then stir in the cookie crumbs. Press the cookie crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the rim of the tart pans (Be sure not to make the crust too thick in any one spot, especially around the rim. Keep it thin throughout, otherwise it will come out too hard.) Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then cool on rack.

Peanut Butter Filling: In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract until blended. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the chilled cream until firm. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Refrigerate uncovered for about 1 hour.

Chocolate Topping: In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted and the cream is hot. Stir the chocolate topping until blended, then let cool to barely warm, stirring occasionally. Spread the chocolate topping over the chilled peanut butter filling and sprinkle the chopped peanuts around the edge of the pie. Chill uncovered in refrigerator for 3 more hours.

Carefully remove the rim from the pan by gently pressing upwards on the bottom while holding the rim in place. (If using a springform pan, run a thin knife around the crust to loosen it, then remove the springform ring.) Use a sharp knife to cut the pie into wedges. Run the knife under hot water and dry it between each cut. Serve chilled or slightly cooler than room temperature.

Can be made one day ahead of time.

P.S. Here is the red mixer I won on Pioneer Woman! The mixer my mom gave me last year is the black one.
kitchenaid mixers

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Espresso Ice Cream

espresso ice creamEspresso Ice Cream

If you’re craving coffee and chocolate in ice-cream form, try this yummy espresso ice cream!

When I was staying with my mother over the holidays, she asked me when I was going to make ice cream for her. I asked her to tell me what kind of ice cream she wanted, and she said she wanted one with coffee in it. Well, even though I had placed the ice cream bowl in the freezer and made my own chocolate-covered espresso beans because we couldn’t find any in Small Town, Arkansas, I never got around to making the ice cream for her. Sorry, mom!

espresso ice creamShe wanted to try out this espresso ice cream, and I finally made it…here…at home…far away from my mom. For the espresso beans, I just dipped them in melted chocolate. I didn’t temper the chocolate since looks were not an issue because the beans were just add-ins. I then flashed froze the beans and transferred them to a Ziploc bag for later use. In my opinion, the beans distract you from the delectable ice cream base. However, if you still want to include them, I suggest grinding them finer than I did. Even other commenters who tried this recipe said the same thing. I thought I had ground them fine enough, but I guess I didn’t. Alternatively, you could grind up some chocolate chips or chocolate bars.

espresso ice creamI will be making this again with different add-ins. It is fantastic and has a smooth mouthfeel. Enjoy! For you non-drinkers out there (like me), mix espresso with hot water to substitute for the coffee liqueur.

espresso ice cream

Don’t forget to check cout a plethora of other ice cream flavors such as vanilla bean (twice), espresso, milk chocolate, Mexican chocolate, gelato al limone, chocolate chip cookie dough, coffee, double chocolate, mint chocolate chip (w/extract), and this Mint Oreo Ice Cream!

Espresso Ice Cream

3 cups half-and-half
6 extra-large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso coffee beans, decaffeinated or regular
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (recommended: Kahlua) (I used 1 tsp espresso with 2 tsp hot water)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chocolate-covered espresso beans, chopped

Heat the half-and-half until it forms bubbles around the edge of the pan and steam starts to rise. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until mixed. Slowly add the hot half-and-half until combined. Wipe out the pan and pour the mixture back into the clean pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 10 minutes (if your mixture is already thick from the beginning like it was for me, only cook the mixture for about 2 minutes), until it’s thickened and the cream coats the back of the spoon.

Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. Add the ground espresso beans, coffee liqueur (or espresso/coffee mixture), and vanilla and refrigerate until completely chilled.

Pour the espresso cream into an ice-cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Mix in the chopped espresso beans, spoon into a container, and allow to freeze for a few hours. Soften slightly before serving.

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Rosca de Reyes

Rosca de reyes

¡FELIZ DÍA DE LOS REYES!

Have you ever heard of a Rosca de Reyes? In Mexico, many other Central and Southern American countries, Europe, and some parts of the U.S. (in Catholic-prevalent parts of the world), they celebrate el Día de los Reyes on the 6th of January, which is TODAY! Traditionally, (at least in Mexico) on the 5th of January, children leave their shoes out by a miniature nativity scene so that the three kings can place gifts in them. They also leave food, hay, and water for the kings and camels to express their gratitude for gifts. Later, everyone celebrates this day of epifanía or Epiphany by sitting around an oval-shaped, chewy, lightly sweetened Rosca de Reyes and Mexican hot chocolate or atole.

Rosca de reyes
The rosca de reyes is shaped this way to symbolize the crown of Jesus; the candied fruits represent the jewels on the crown. Traditionally, the rosca de reyes is filled with baby Jesus figurines. The people who get the slices of rosca with the baby Jesus figurines in them will have to make and serve tamales (or whatever else you want to serve) on the 2nd of February (I still owe a party or two…oops!)!

Not surprisingly, this bread tastes different than the Pan de muerto I made. After doing a bit of research on rosca de reyes recipes, I realized that there are many disparate versions out there depending on which region you follow. So, based on the knowledge I acquired, I created a “new” version. My goal with this version was to recreate the rosca I remembered eating while living in East L.A. There was no edible filling like raisins or cajeta, so I didn’t include that, but I did post it in the recipe below as an option add-in, along with directions on how to add it, for anyone who would like to include it.

 

I made a lot of mistakes on this rosca de reyes, so bear with me through this post. I’m glad that it looks pretty well, though. I’ll do better next year!

Rosca de reyesI made the bread a bit sweeter by adding sugar to the baño (literally means “bath”, but is the glaze, in this case) that goes on top of the bread. The pasta (sugar/flour paste) browned a lot because I didn’t realize that I was supposed to put it on until after it was done baking! DOH!

Also, I candied the pineapples myself from a fresh pineapple. I also candied the cherries. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find fresh papaya, so I bought the candied papaya. The candied papaya was dry and kept poking and popping out of my rosca. The fruits I candied, however, looked shiny and beautiful and were sticky enough that I didn’t have to worry about them popping up.

 

Candying sugar is a lot easier than I thought it would be. If you ever make this rosca de reyes, I highly suggest you candy your own fruit instead of buying it. If you can’t find fresh papaya (I couldn’t around this time of year), try dipping the store-bought kind in the leftover sugar syrup from the other fruits so that they adhere to the rosca de reyes. I followed this recipe to candy the fruits.

I am submitting this bread to yeastspotting!!

Rosca de reyes

Rosca de Reyes

adapted from various sources

 

Dough:
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 c warm water (105-110°F)
1/4 c warm milk (can put both milk and water in one measuring cup and microwave mixture for 30-45 seconds. Check the temperature!)
1 Tbsp sugar
4 – 4 1/2 c AP flour (I needed 4 1/4 cups. You could also use half wheat and half white flour. Be prepared to make adjustments with the liquid, though!)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c milk (I used whole)
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
Zest of one orange (optional)
Zest of one lemon (optional) (I used orange zest only)
1/4 c leche condensada
1 tsp vanilla extract (I forgot to add this!!)

Baño:
1 egg whites (use the white from the pasta below)
2 Tbsp powdered sugar (I accidentally used granulated sugar. Don’t make my mistake.)

 

After baking, add the pasta:
Pasta
(I halved this part of the recipe from What’s Cooking and still had more left):
1/2 c sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 c flour
1/3 c butter, softened

Add-ins:
3-5 Baby Jesus figurines (I used 4)

Raisins

Cajeta or dulce de leche

Melted chocolate

Proof yeast in 1/4 cup of water and milk (105-110°F) and 1 Tbsp of sugar. While yeast mixture is proofing, mix the flour and cinnamon together in a large bowl or on a table, and form a well (alternatively, you can use a stand mixer). In the middle of the well, put in the yeast mixture, butter, egg yolks, whole eggs, condensed milk, and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients together and then gradually blend in the flour until you form a ball. Knead the dough or use a stand mixer for about 8-10 minutes. Cover the dough with a clean towel, and allow the dough to sit in a warm place in a greased bowl for one hour or until its doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled, take out the dough and knead the dough for a few seconds to remove the air out of them. Roll the dough back into a ball, place a dough scraper or knife in the middle of the ball to create the rosca, which should be oval-shaped with a large hole in the center. Make sure the hole is larger than you would think it should be since the hole will close up after the second rising. Allow the shaped dough to rise for about 45 minutes.

If adding cajeta, dulce de leche, or melted chocolate:

Once the dough has doubled, take out the dough and knead the dough for a few seconds to remove the air out of them. Roll the dough back into a ball, and then roll out the dough to form a long rectangle. With the long part of the rolled-out dough in front of you, pipe or spread the filling on one side of dough. Add raisins on top, if desired. Brush egg wash on the side facing you. Fold the opposite side of the dough on top of the egg-washed side. Then, roll the dough into a thick, snake-like shape, pinching the ends together really well so that they don’t come apart (the dough should now look like in the photo above).

Mix the baño mixture with beaters or in a mixer, and brush it on top of the shaped, risen dough. This mixture will also help the dried fruit adhere to the rosca (it didn’t help at all for me).

Rosca de reyes
I actually allowed the rosca de reyes to rise with the decorations on them. Don’t make my mistake. The dried candy from the store kept lifting up after baking.

Bake the rosca de reyes for 25-30 minutes in a 350°F oven. Next, spread the pasta in 6-8 sections on top of the rosca, leaving enough space in between them for the fruits. Cut the fruits and place them on the rosca to the left and right of the pasta.

 

Allow rosca de reyes to cool for 5-10 mins, and add in the figurines, if using, underneath the rosca by punching a hole at the bottom with the figurine itself. Tuck the figurines in the rosca well so that they don’t fall out.

Rosca de reyes
Reclining on top of the rosca; awww, can you see his little feet poking out?
Eat the rosca de reyes with your family and friends.
Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Tamales Part 3: Assembly & Finale!

Tamales

Part 3 of 3: Tamales

Finally the tamales are done! We have reached the last step – assembly. Now, that the filling, corn husks, and masa are ready, we just need to put everything together and steam the tamales.

TamalesHere’s how I did it: Open the corn husk with the smooth side facing up,

and place the masa on the bottom 2/3rds of it with the back of a spoon, leaving a 2-inch space to the left of the husk. Try not to add too much masa (I added a bit too much in the photo below, and this masa ended up looking different because I had added more masa harina to it).

Spread the masa over the husk (don’t forget to leave space to the left of the husk, so it should be off-center) and then add the filling. You’ll only need 1-2 Tbsp of filling for a large husk and 1/2-1 Tbsp for a smaller one. Make sure you center the filling in the middle of the MASA filling, NOT the center of the corn husk.

tamales
Smooth side on top, and rough side on the bottom.

Fold or roll the husk around the filling starting from the right side or the side with the filling. Ensuring that the flap of the husk is facing up, fold the skinny tip of the husk over the base of the tamal.

Tie the tip to the base with a slivered section of a random husk (I picked out the small, torn husks out of the big batch and reserved them for this purpose). Tying the tamales is not mandatory, but it helps keep everything together while they sit in the steamer, and they look prettier, too.

tamalesPlace the tamal in the steamer pot, and continue making the other tamales.

To add the rajas y queso filling, just do the same thing:

Once all the tamales are in the steamer, fill the bottom of the pot with about 2-4 cups of water. Place a few pennies at the bottom of the pot so that you know there is enough water down there (I found out that my pot makes its own noises when the water level is low; it was scary!). Once the water starts boiling, place the steamer pot in the main pot.

tamalesCover the tamales with additional corn husks (this is when I use the husks that didn’t fully hydrate during the soak) or aluminum foil, and cover. Steam the tamales on medium heat for 1-2 hours (it took 2 hours for me).

tamalesThe filling should be pretty firm and dry, but not too dry. Also, when you unroll the tamal, most of the filling should no longer stick to the husk when fully unrolled.

tamalesAdd leftover salsa verde to the undressed tamal…

tamales…and enjoy!! YUM! ¡Buen provecho!
tamales

ALL GONE! Oh, there are more in the freezer!
tamales

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Tamales Part 2: Masa (RECIPE REVISED!) and Corn Husks

tamales

Tamales: Part 2 of 3 Masa and Cornhusks

Okay, let’s move on to part 2 of the tamales series. Yesterday, I posted about the filling I used: salsa verde con pollo. Today, I will share with you all how I soaked the corn husks and made the masa. For part 3 of 3, go here.

Corn Husks: (printable version)

You can buy these husks at most stores, especially around the holidays. I’ve seen them at Wal-mart and at some regular grocery stores. They come in a large bag. Here is a photo of them fresh out of the bag. Aren’t they photogenic?
tamalesPlace the husks in a large pot of boiling water. They will not all fit without a bit of coaxing. So, try to submerge all of them in the water.

tamalesWhile they’re soaking, work on the masa:

Masa for tamales REVISED!!:
2 cups of masa harina (Maseca is a popular brand and is the one I used)
1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups of reserved chicken broth (remember that broth from yesterday?)
2/3 cups of manteca or lard (you can render your own or get freshly-rendered lard from a grocery specializing in Latin-American products. They have less fat than butter.)

Place and mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl or mixer.

tamales
tamalesPour in the broth until the mixture starts to look clumpy…like pie dough with too much water, or like the photo below. The mixture should not be watery at this point!

tamales
tamalesWith another mixer or by hand, beat the lard (or manteca) until it reaches a lighter consistency. This step is optional, but I tried it out to see what would happen.

tamalesPour the manteca (that word sounds better in Spanish, doesn’t it?) into the masa mixture until the it looks like thick cake batter.

tamales
tamalesI had to later adjust the below mixture by adding more masa harina (I started with 2 1/2 cups of masa instead of what I posted above), so the batter or masa should look a bit thicker than this.

tamalesNow you’re done with the masa!

Back to the corn husks:

After 1 to 2 hours, take the husks out with tongs. Then, place them in a large open container for easy assembly. If some of them are not completely soaked (i.e., there are dry spots), use those later for when you steam the tamales). (Can you tell I live in graduate-student housing? :D)

tamalesNow that the filling, masa, and corn husks are ready, we can move on to the assembly process….tomorrow. Then, we can eat them gleefully! 🙂
tamales
tamales

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com

Tamales Part 1: Pollo con salsa verde

Salsa verde

Tamales: Part 1 of 3 Salsa Verde

Whew! I returned home a week ago only to find out that my internet connection is not working again. So, I was unable to update and wish you all a Happy New Year. I also haven’t been able to post the chocolate peanut butter tart I made, and I want to show you all the kitchen-related loot I got for Xmas thanks to my generous, loving mom.

However, since the year has already started and this will be my first post of the year, I wanted to start it off with these tamales I made because they were a major (yet delightful) project for me. I had never made tamales by myself before. The first and only time I made them, I assisted my ex-girlfriend’s mother, and all I really did was help her fill the corn husks. I remember putting too much masa in them (what a great help I was! haha).

Three days ago I made tamales for the second time, and I made them all by myself with the assistance of various recipes, blogs, and Youtube videos. Since the making of tamales is a tedious, yet doable project, I have decided to break up the process into three parts:

1) the filling,
2) the masa and corn husks,
3) and the assembly of tamales.

So, today I will be posting about one of the fillings I made – salsa verde with shredded chicken. I also made a filling of cheese and jalapeños, but I will talk about that later.

Before we start, just a little factoid: The singular form of “tamales” is “tamal” without the lone “e” hanging on at the end.

Let’s move on to what I did for these yummy tamales…

Salsa verdePollo con salsa verde (printable version)

First, I placed the chicken breasts (you could also use whole chicken cut up into pieces) in a big pot, along with chopped carrots, onions, black peppercorns, and 2 cloves of garlic. I then covered the chicken with water and boiled it for about 50 minutes. (The photos for the raw chicken just looked too gross to post, so you’ll just have to picture it in your minds.) Instead, you can look at the pot I bought in Mexico a long time ago. I love it, especially when I make “trying-to-be-as-authentic-as-possible”, Mexican dishes.

Blue potAfter it was done, I reserved the resulting broth by pouring it through a strainer into a 1 liter measuring cup. Big mistake! I forgot that I had added more than 4 cups of liquid to the chicken, so some of the broth overflowed to the floor. I then transferred everything quickly to a big bowl.

Salsa verdeWhile the chicken was boiling, I worked on the salsa verde:

Whenever I made a traditional, Mexican dish, I go to a popular, Latin American grocery store in the South, called “Fiesta”. Well, almost everyone there must have had the same plans as I because all the good, pretty tomatillos (green tomatoes) were gone. So, these weren’t the best looking tomatillos, but they resulted in some delicious salsa verde. That’s all that matters in my opinion.

TomatillosAnyway, I peeled the cáscara (papery skin) off of the tomatillos by starting from the back. (I love this photo for some reason…)

TomatilloThen I placed the peeled tomatillos in the bowl. See the dirt? Make sure you wash them after you’ve peeled them.

tomatilloAhhh! Bathed and ready to be boiled!

TomatilloNext, boil the tomatillos, 2-3 jalapeños, 1-2 cloves of garlic (not pictured), and 1/2 of an onion (not pictured) for about 10 minutes.

Tomatillos boiling(I boiled mine a little too long…) Then drain them… You can reserve the liquid for the blender, if the salsa is too thick. I didn’t need it, though.

Tomatillos boilingPlace the boiled mixture in a blender, and add a few sprigs of cilantro and salt (Look! My first bokeh…of an olive oil bottle!).

Salsa verde blenderBlend the mixture for a few seconds, and now you have salsa verde! Make sure you taste the salsa to make sure you’ve added enough salt. I always forget to do that.

Salsa verde blendedBack to the chicken:

Once the chicken is ready, shred it, and then pour in one capsful of vegetable oil in a skillet. Add the chicken and cook the chicken for about 2 minutes. Then add most of the salsa verde, reserving the rest for the tamales once they’re done. If you forget and use up all the salsa, then you’ll have to make more later. Cook the salsa and shredded chicken mixture for about 2-3 minutes, then add about 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken broth. Just don’t make it too “liquidy”. Then, you’re done! NOTE: Reserve the rest of the chicken broth for the masa. You will need about 2-3 cups of it.

Salsa verde and chickenNow, you can just refrigerate this mixture and make the rest of the tamales the next day, or you can keep chugging along the same day. I’m going to assume you want to take a break at this point. So, I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest…

P.S. Here is the rajas y queso (jalapeños and cheese) filling cut and ready to be placed in the tamales! I used Monterey Jack.

Rajas and queso
Queso y rajas

Copyright – Memoria James – http://www.mangioeviaggiodasola.com