Tamale tempest: The affair down Canal

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A perfect storm of ingredients, filled with sautéed, finely diced sweet potato, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions and queso fresco. The masa — oh, the masa:  There’s a story here — was treated a bit differently than normal, adding in fat (form of:  Margarine), cumin, chili powder and baking soda (+salt).  That led to a few exploded tamales, but the survivors are unequivocably the best to date!

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Finding good mexican-like food is so difficult that a vow was taken to engorge extensively over the next few weeks — after another disappointing meal out at a joint back in the old neighborhood, remembered as good, but not. When what’s made at home so far exceeds what can be had for ridiculous sums of money out — makes the effort worth the while.  Though, in this case, they needed to be far above par, not only because of the amount of care and time spent putting together the ingredients, but – too – because of the toll it took to do so!

It all started last Saturday…  (Wavy lines/ponderous look, thinking back)  The morning began with a stellar basketball game for the little guy, racking up 16 points on 8 of 9 shooting, several rebounds, a couple nice assists and all-around good defense including two swipes! Phew! The team won 29-6 against opponents who usually give them much more competition.

That was a very high highlight for the weekend. Lows began with a trip to the store, shortly thereafter, where, having filled the cart with groceries, it was announced the registers were down and transactions would have to be cash-only. A very long line quickly formed for the single atm therein.

We opted to wait it out, not interested in joining the throngs, nor willing to surrender the effort of collecting everything, or, at least waiting until the line to the atm decreased. We wandered about and looked at everything in the store we didn’t need and overpriced carpets that we did – but didn’t want to spring for – however, the 8-foot rolls served as perfect jousting foils with Big-J! Eventually we tired and took an extended rest on the patio furniture display, finally giving in and joining the line at the bank machine. With two people left in front of us – they announced they were back on-line.  (You lost the joust, by the way — Jared: Despite that dirty, little sneak attack with one of the little 2-foot carpets!)

That’s all trivial, if annoying, and just to point out that we spent nearly 3 hours in a grocery store, only to discover – as we set out to make tamales – that we didn’t have any masa. Fer… Fer (shakes head), fer cryin’ out loud! The daughter was heading to a concert, that evening, and we were watching our niece – but we figured we had enough time to duck up Canal to the Kroger, to grab a little masa.

We arrived, and walked toward the store entrance, pausing at the traffic throughway in front of the store. An SUV approached from the left, but stopped and the driver waved us across – ya know, like normal people do. As we began walking, we noticed a Traverse tearing into the parking lot and stopped, not certain if he would: He did, but only because a cart guy threw a train of carts across the road.

The driver was an elderly not-gentleman, and he had partly passed us, to the point our path was blocked and we looked directly into his window:  He turned and looked at us, and gave a smile. Interpret it how you will, I thought he was being a jerk and audibly said, “Whatever…” Whether he heard or not, he then waved Jen around to pass, while I continued on behind.

As I rounded the vehicle, it lunged forward slightly and looked to be angling over, and several expletives went through my mind as I presumed he was impatiently trying to push through. In the process of doing so, however, he apparently hit the back-end of the vehicle that had initially stopped to let us pass (as far as I know, that poor lady’s still sitting there!), and little did I know — Jennifer as well! Whether spooked or trying to take off, the guy then floored it – tires spinning and squealing and he took off like a shot! As I watched, Jen went up in the air and sort of rolled across the front corner of his hood — somehow, managing to land on her feet.

I raised my fist and loudly yelled, “Hey!” And then shook my fist one more time for emphasis, and he stopped — clearly because he was so impressed by my salient reaction.. Jen, is fortunately – mostly – okay, with just some nasty bruises, shaken nerves and a possibly broken foot newly two-dimensional foot.

The old guy, like any normal person would, finally got out of his car, walking with a cane – and started making excuses: “My foot got caught under the accelerator.” Oh – okay! My wife’s okay, by the way – thanks for asking! It could have gone a whole lot worse, except for her quick steppin’ and quicker thinking – jumping into the air?

That’s all he said – totally flat affect and not appearing shaken at all. Later, while we were waiting in the lobby for the police, he walked right by us, got one of the little electric carts, and rolled past again. Didn’t say a word, but I swear he had a little smirk on his face as he did – probably tried to gun the thing too!

I don’t know if the guy was zoned out on Xanax, if there’s some serious cognitive decline or if he is the sociopathic owner of a serious personality defect, but we’ll never know – because the police didn’t show up. I take that back: They drove past, through the parking lot. In fairness, we never called them ourselves and there may have, at that point, been some confusion as to whether it was a vehicle on vehicle incident or if a pedestrian was hit — twice.  All of this happened right in front of a poor, little Girlscout who was just trying to sell cookies.  We bought some to console ourselves while we waited for the police.

So, the tamales were just fine, but they do carry a distinct aftertaste of bitterness.

Sweet potato/shiitake cannelloni in tomato cream sauce

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A super simple assemblage:  Filling, merely boiled sweet potato, sautéed shiitake, rosemary, fontinella and one egg. The sauce sprung from a roux of two and two — fried for a while — then thinned with somewhere on the order of 1.5 cups of broth (water + about 1.5 boullion cubes), 3 finely (like, they wore tuxedos) chopped tomatoes (what, cooked down), then, in the vicinity of a cup of cream.

With worries of stickery, the pans were prepared with a bed of spinach — that, topped with some dollops of cream.  Cannelloni rolled up {Credit to a run-over-by-a-car-this-weekend Jen:  Suggesting, instead of cutting individual rolls — place the filling in a line down the entire noodle, roll, then cut.  Stupidly brilliant shortcut that saves about 10 minutes off the whole procedure.}, topped with the sauce and another grate of the fontinella.  Cooked at 375 until bubbly.

Perhaps the best cannelloni ever done, and on the fly — devising right until the end.  Yummy.

Yam-basil stuffed mushrooms

Yamned if you do...

Yam filling – savory-sweet remnant from another structure, previously treated with bouillon and blended with garlic and caramalized onions, pattified and fried golden orange, each side, then applied with basil slice, on a shroom with a mite of cheese.

Yamned if you don't...

Crushed chestnut, brazil nuts or chewy cheese would have been a nice break up to the homogeneity of texture in these attractive a. bisporus button bites.

Enchiladas de batata-doce com molho verde

We'll get flamed for the day Enchiladas. O que pode fala? Elas são obviamente um grande favorito, quer o padrão queijo, queijo e feijão, ou um dos outro estranho tipos que havemos cirada, sobre o anos.

Passada fim de semana Jen feito tomatillo e abacaxi salsa – muito bem – mas havíamos muita remanescente tomatillos, completamente por desenho.

Há algumas tamales na geladeira aquele testamento necessidade algum molho, mas nós também desejada fazer algum espécie de enchilada.

O plano foi assar batatas doce e alho, então mistura eles juntamente com castanhas-do-pará, açafrão-da-índia, jalapenos e queijo.

Infelizmente, o açafrão-da-índia e castanhas foi esquecido até que placa foi ser inserto o estufa – nozes foi rapidamente achatado sobre o cume, mas o açafrão-da-índia foi esquecido. Nós teremos ficar inflamado para o dia.

Independentemente – empanturrado com a amassada mistura, os rolos foi embebido em verdejante molho e assado at quatro – cem for vinte minutes.

O resultado foi outro maravilhosa criação com excelente liquidificador sabores: Muito bem – muito bem.Excellent blender of flavors:  Very well, very well...

coconut-chickpea curry with sweet potato orbs

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So, we had leftover coconut-garbanzo curry, along with still more of that potato.  The potato was half the size of a football and has been in four meals, now, residing at points, frozen — accidentally as the ‘fridge is doing that again.  But it was fortunate, as it meant a tasty lunch and now, yet still, we had some squash to compliment our stew.

The idea was to create a kofta sort of thing, adding graham, garam, salt and pepper, then frying the tasty little balls.  They did not cook up as nicely as hoped, holding on to more oil than preferable and the center remained a bit too squishy.  However, the golden crisped edges were quite delicious.