Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas


Christmas is tapping at the windows, and it won't be long before it comes busting through. And once again we've been busy preparing the traditional Christmas feast.

Tex-Mex food became our traditional Christmas at a big family table at the Bluebird Cafe in Tucumcari New Mexico. Every year we'd make the long drive from southern Oklahoma to New Mexico to spend Christmas day with my older brother, who would make a similarly long drive from his home in northern Arizona.

And so, the prospect, year after year, of tamales smothered in mole, enchiladas, beans and rice turned these foods into the ones associated with the warmth of Christmas for me.

This year making the Tex-Mex feast been made easier by my discovery of a store called La Tiendona Market which sells foods from Latin America. And it's only about a km (about 1/2 mile) from us. I went through and bought foods I haven't been able to buy since I left "home" more than four decades ago. I actually was able to buy corn husks after wrapping my tamales in parchment for the last 40 years. I am one happy camper!   
So let's get to the sharing of the menu, and the recipes too, so that if you'd like to try one of these yummy dishes you can.  I'll add some food photos later. Yum! 

The Christmas dinner menu: 

Tamales with mole negro sauce
Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with green chile sauce
Spanish rice
Refried beans
Corn chips
Guacamole
Green and black olives
Pomegranate juice mixed with sparkling Perrier for beverage
Mexican Hot Chocolate for dessert

Recipes Anyone?

Tamales - While tamales are traditionally made with two cups of lard, this recipe calls for one cup of canola oil, much healthier!  

Tamale dough
  • 6 cups Masa Harina
  • 6 cups Chicken broth
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Tamale filling
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 1 large red onion diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced small 
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pkg taco seasonings 

3 dozen corn husks. Go through and make sure they are free of discoloration. 
Cut narrow ends of husks off and trim husks so they are about 3" x 4".  
Soak husks in warm water while you prepare rest of recipe. 

In frying pan heat oil til hot, add onions and bell peppers, add garlic last, then add beef and taco spices and brown. Pour off moisture and fat when beef is thoroughly cooked. Allow beef to cool while you mix dough. When cooled, put beef mixture into food processor and process it until it's a fine consistency with no lump or recognizable pieces of vegetable.

In large mixing bowl combine Masa, salt and baking powder and stir together. Add brother and oil and mix into a smooth consistent dough. Dough should be soft enough to spread easily on the husks with the fingers. 

Now, spread a layer of masa dough about 1/8th inch thick  onto a soaked husk with your fingers, leaving a 1/2" edge free of dough down the long side. Spoon a heaping tsp of beef filling onto the dough, then roll the dough so the seam overlaps, forming the tamale. 

Steam the tamales for 30-45 minutes. They are cooked when the husk peels cleanly from the dough. Serve with Mole Negro sauce. 

Mole Negro Sauce
  • 1 package taco seasoning 
  • 1/4 c chile powder
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 corn tortilla, toasted and cut up (or six corn chips)
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 2 TBS peanut plain butter
  • 1/4 c raisins
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 square baker's chocolate or 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c butter
  • stock or water
In a blender combine the almonds, raisins, sesame seeds, and process until fine.  Place in a bowl and put aside. 

In the blender, process the onion and garlic with water until they are smooth, add tomato sauce and tortilla pieces, process to make a paste.  Mix the two together, adding the peanut butter. 

In a pan, melt the butter and add the taco seasonings, the five spice powder, the chile and the mixture from the blender. Sauté over medium heat, stirring, for five minutes. Add a cup of stock and the chocolate. Stir over medium heat, adding stock to produce a sauce with the texture of heavy cream. (Or if freezing concentrate add half the stock, and add the rest at time of use.)  I swear this is the second time I've had to correct this recipe. I've made it so often I do it automatically, this time I looked at the recipe I'd just put on the blog and to my horror found I'd not said when to add the spice and chiles. 

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These are a twist on cheese or chicken enchiladas and are fantastic!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas 

Green Chile Sauce
  •  1 cup light vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon  cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water
  • 1 generous cup chopped roasted green chiles, hot or mild
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder, hot or mild, to taste
Enchilada Filling
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • lime juice from 1 lime
  • 2 generous cups cooked diced sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted mild green chiles
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder mild or spicy
  • Salt and pepper sauce to taste
Assembly
  • 2 to 4 tbs vegetable oil, as needed
  • 8 white or yellow corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Method

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Choose a baking dish that will hold 8 rolled enchiladas. Make the Green Chile Sauce by combining the broth, cornstarch, green chiles, garlic and spices in a sauce pan and heating over medium-high heat. Simmer until thickened. Taste test and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the Enchilada Filling, using a mixing bowl, combine the drained black beans with minced garlic and lime juice. Toss to coat the beans and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the cooked sweet potatoes with the chopped green chiles; add the spices. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the Green Chile Sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
To assemble the enchiladas, cook the corn tortillas one at a time, in a few drops of oil to soften them, as you stuff each one.

Lay the first hot tortilla in the sauced baking dish; wet it with the sauce. Spoon 1/8 of the sweet potato mixture down the centre. Top with 1/8 of the black beans. Wrap and roll the tortilla to the end of the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas. Top with the rest of the sauce. Top with a sprinkle of shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the enchiladas are piping hot and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
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Spanish Rice is dead easy - Cook the rice and add Salsa to taste; mild, medium or hot. 
Refried beans -  I'm doing the lazy cook's way this year and have bought a can. (Latin market - YAY!) 

Have a wonderful Christmas! May love be the most abundant seasoning at your table on Christmas day and every day!  



2 comments:

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Your comment on
Other Side of Sixty
spoke to me in a deep way this
early morning.
My son lives part time in
Thailand and teaches Yoga
so familar with some of your
sharing.
Thank you for your words
this morning
need to be reminded....

dkzody said...

Oh, I love your Christmas recipes. Thank you for sharing.

I also see that you are a Kiva contributor. Good for you. This organization is special to me as it is one of the first micro funding groups that I investigated on my way out of teaching and into a nonprofit career that never got off the ground.