tamale poppers


Jalapeño poppers meets tamales. East meets West. North of the border meets South of the border. Old meets new. Entree meets hors ďoeuvres. Flogged rhetorical construction meets pistol. BANG! They are odd little things and they are delicious and they are addictive. I ate the whole pile and when you see the pile you are going to be shocked. 

The other odd thing is that part of the filling, the masa de maíz, could very well have been the wrapper. Wontons can also be sliced and used as noodles but that is irrelevant to what is going on here and I'd appreciate it if you would avoid getting off topic.

The green chili from before is too lumpy for wontons so it must be processed further -- with a fork. It is also not hot enough so additional jalapeños are added. Jalapeños come in different hotnesses, this is the hottest. I used the entire tin, it's also the smallest tin. After all that, the finished tamale poppers still are not hot at all. Everything else tends to deaden the effect of capsaicin, the masa, the cheese, the wrapper, the cooking oil. Maybe that's why poppers are so successful, they are more simple and more directly and powerfully jalapeño whereas here with the tamale poppers the jalapeño is muted. 



Regular masa harina for tamales, the powder that comes in bags and mixes with water. It is a wonder to behold. Incredibly easy to mix, amazing aroma and flavor, versatile and inexpensive. Plus, the removal of the pericarp by an alkaline soak and cook makes available the nutrients within corn and the process eliminates some pathogens on corn, mycotoxins and the like. I read it in a jaw-droppingly boring paper. They might pull it down out of embarrassment, it is a government research paper. 


Oaxacan cheese 


Green chili, masa de maíz, Oaxacan cheese are set to the side mise en place

Half the package of wontons arrayed to accept the layers of filling.





Please pardon the shift in viewing angle. If you sense a rush of vertigo coming on I suggest closing your eyes and grabbing the seat of your chair. 


It turned out to be too much filling. About 1/8 was removed from each one. 



Edit: I'm changing my suggestion. Do not shut your eyes if you feel a spate of vertigo coming on. Instead, keep them open and stare at something steady. The steadier, the better, like a mountain is a lot better than staring at a hamster in an exercise wheel, and grab the arms or the cushion of your seat. 

masa pasta


The question burning today is, 'can the miracle product masa harina from corn be used to to replace wheat flour to make pasta?' and the answer is yes. 

Not straight up masa harina, that didn't seem right for starters, I would like it to have semolina for its strength, all purpose flour for its paste-like cohesion, but mostly masa harina for its flavor.  

*  1 jumbo egg
*  3 half egg shells water, egg shell cup
*  2 tablespoons semolina flour
*  2 tablespoons all purpose flour
*  4 tablespoons masa harina for tamales and for corn tortillas

The dough is tender. This is 50% corn and 50% wheat. That is a high percentage of corn for pasta. The individual noodles are more fragile before and after cooking. They tend to break. They do taste like masa but not deeply of masa. 

The sauce is green chili from before











cheese crackers


As cheese the Kraft product is a disaster but I must say the substance bakes to delicious crackers. For the purpose of crackers the Kraft product is considered a fat. The crackers are enhanced with even more fat -- butter. With Cheez-It® in mind, the dough is lightened with baking powder. The dough is enhanced with cayenne. Sea salt. 

"Nobody likes Cheez-Its," a friend once averred axiomatically. I was stunned to hear something so wrong put so flatly. I regarded the man as particularly odd after that. Cheez-Its are one of my favorite things. That was before my own crackers became one of my favorite things, and the Cheez-It® were shunted to a sidetrack. A sidetrack to Desuetudeville. Desuetudeville on the continent of Relic. The continent of Relic on the planet Quaint. Planet Quaint in the system of planets, Bygone. Maybe I had just buy a box and reenter that earlier period that seems fogged now by not knowing then my own power to out-cheese my favorite cheese product. 

I would say, this is about half the package of Kraft cheese, so 4 oz. Not much. 


The cheese was shredded nearly frozen. Here it is completely frozen.


1 + 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 level teaspoons baking powder, sea salt





Water added through the feed tube in increments until dough balls up. The dough could have been more wet.



The dough is divided in two.






There was exactly enough dough for two of these trays. 



scrambled eggs, pork chili






It is a delicate flower that buds all month and blooms an hour.

I dislike those kind of flowers. But evanescence is not so bad with scrambled eggs unless you are an MRE developer or something. Silky and light as an airy sauce but more substantial than that. Whipped with cold butter and finished with sour cream -- fat and acid -- just like a sauce, except sturdier than that. Heavier than a souffle, denser than meringue, lighter than an omelet, weightier than synthetic sponge but lighter than a steel gauntlet and more buoyant than a sack of nickels.

Pork with green chiles from before. 

The idea is to shred the pork but I did not do that. I liked the cubes too much to go around smashing them to bits. But later at the table, just pressing down steadily on a pork cube with the back of a fork smashes it to smithereens quite satisfyingly. So shouldn't that be an enjoyment left for the diner? Leave something to play with. Then push the smashed cube around and it <begin sound effect> slurps <end sound effect> up the sauce.


green chili














You're probably thinking, "Hey! that chili is red, not green." 

The chiles in the chili are green. The tomatoes turn the overall color red. 42 oz tomatoes out-colors 27 oz green chiles. There is also jalapeño chiles but the tins are much smaller. 

No matter what I do along these lines I am always pleased with the result. I've tried all cuts of pork, beef, lamb, and chicken and they all work very well. 

As to what is not shown, it is all in tins except for an onion and the cloves of half a garlic bulb. 

I thought I would go easy this time. One small pork roast, one 27 oz tin of Hatch type roasted green chiles. Three 14 oz tins of diced tomato, two medium size tins of jalapeño chile peppers in strips. That would amount to a small batch, so I thought. 

Herbs, of course: coriander, cumin, cayenne chile pepper powder, sea salt, black ground pepper.

The pork was still partially frozen. When I cut the pork into cubes it became very wet there on the cutting board. I had already seasoned it and I didn't want that rubbed off. In two batches, I dusted the pork cubes with flour to absorb the wetness. This instead of a paper towel because of the herbs already on it. You can see the seared caramelized flour encrusted the pork. As the pork released moisture and steamed, it picked up the fond stuck to the pan and adhered it to the surface of the pork. So a textured surface developed. Those cubes of fond-encrusted pork were utterly delicious just as they were. I ate six of the cubes for sort of a first course. 

Then the onion and garlic.

Then everything in the tins. This may sound to you like a cheapskate low down no good dirty rotten shortcut-take'n can-openin' inauthentic, gringo-choice-makin'n way of doing this, and maybe it is, but I roasted piles of chile peppers before lots of times on the grill, in the oven, broiled, stove-top, gas, electric, peeled the charred skins, I've peeled fresh tomatoes, I've peeled the sticky paper off tomatillos, found and used weird herbs like epazote, and insisted on specific cuts of pork, but honestly, when it all boils down, and it does boils down, it's not that I cannot tell the difference between fresh and tinned, it's that I don't care. It's all fantastic to me.   

Flour tortillas were made the usual way. 

* 2 cups a/p flour
* 3 tablespoons lard
* 2 level teaspoons baking powder
* 1 cup warm water 

Water added in increments until a workable dough is attained. This dough has salt and pepper and Mexican oregano. I guess it's not usual to season tortillas, but hey, what the heck. The dough balls are rolled out and fried. 

Blog Archive