I love having everyone over to my place to cook a big meal. Seeing all the crazy pots flying and fires burning in my kitchen really reminds me that this place is home. I can’t wait until I have a slightly larger kitchen and can fit even more people and make more crazy concoctions!

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So I went searching at the library again to find my Mexican book and found this one by Diana Kennedy that includes techniques and ingredient information about all Mexican food. There weren’t too many appetizer, salad and dessert recipes so I told everyone to pick whichever Diana Kennedy cookbook they wanted! Well everyone chose tasty recipes and I am so thankful to have had such a great meal on Saturday. Go check it out!

Above was Alayne’s beef tortillas. They were the perfect way to start this meal, because they were so darn tasty!!! She made the salsa from scratch and sauteed the beef up and got so much flavor in it (I don’t know how though!) and I helped her make the homemade mini tortillas. And with a bunch of fresh cilantro- it was a appetizer from heaven!

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Here are Joanne’s stuffed peppers. They are poblanos and were stuffed with zucchini and queso fresco. The recipe told her to peel the peppers with a vegetable peeler instead of roasting and de skinning that way, so she stuck to the recipe and I wasn’t so happy with how tough the pepper was when it came to eating. The filling was really tasty, I just wish the pepper had been softer and a little bit more flavorful.

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Here was Julie’s cactus and lentil soup. The cactus ingredient was an exciting one, because seriously- who has cactus that often?? And the lentils made it a nice meaty soup. Before we plated it, we tasted it and it seemed to be lacking something. I went a little heavy handed with the cayenne pepper, but it gave it that oomph and it all turned out great in the end!

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Here was my tamales. You can see I used olives, pickled jalapenos, shredded chicken, raisins and very well seasoned masa dough. They were amazing!!! I was so shocked that they tasted so authentic and just so darn flavorful! I can’t wait to make these again for a big party I will hopefully host at some point in the future! And did I tell you that abuelita loved them the next day? Makes me eternally proud of my cooking skills. I’m going to write out the recipe below (so make sure to check that out!)

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Renee made the side for the tamales and boy was it rich! She started similarly to Joanne and sauteed up zucchini, but then added mushrooms and cooked them until soft. To bring it to a whole new level she added creme fraiche and slices of queso fresco and allowed them to melt into the vegetables. Boy was this tasty!! The entree was delicious and satiating with both of those dishes on the plate!

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So it took us awhile to get “hungry” again after dinner, so we went and relaxed on my comfy couches and chairs and watched the Olympics. I love watching the olympics with my funny girls, slightly more entertaining than with just Ned (sorry Ned!). Then about an hour later Tracy pulled her dessert from the fridge- a mexican tiramisu. She made a custard with milk, eggs, cornstarch and ground pine nuts ($18 worth! Tracy sure loves us!!!). The she poured that atop some ladyfingers and garnished with pine nuts. It was kind of like a tres leches cake (and can I tell you a secret? I loathe most tres leches cakes, because they are just too darned soggy!) But this cake was super sweet and had tons of my favorite nuts (pine- duh!) and so I ate it happily.

I love these women! And I love having them around and in my life – so I can’t wait to see what we cook up at Joanne’s next month!

Tamales (from abuelitas brain recipe!)

Ingredients:

One package dried poblano peppers (ancho)
4 cups chicken stock (I like to use kitchen basics no sodium)
1 1/3 cups liquidy lard
2 cups masa flour for tamales
salt

1 chicken
3 bay leaves
2 sticks celery, rinsed and chopped in rough pieces
3 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
1 onion, rough chopped
1 tsp celery seed
4 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup pickled jalapenos (from a jar)
1/2 cup green olives, halved
shredded chicken (from above)
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 package dried corn husks (soaked for 1 hour in warm water)
1/4 cup of masa mixture (from above)

1) Cook the chicken!
Place all chicken ingredients in big pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then remove chicken. Pull chicken into largish shredded pieces. Save stock for future use!
2) Make the masa!
Heat up 2 cups of chicken broth and immerse the peppers. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Place whole concoction in blender and blend until smooth. Strain large pieces with a strainer.

Whip up the lard a bit (mine was liquidy so I couldn’t really whip it, but if you have “hard” lard- whip it up for like 5 minutes like butter for a cake!)

Add the masa and chicken stock in alternating pours to the mixer and mix until spongy. Also add a teaspoon of salt!

3) Make the filling!
Saute 1/2 an onion with evoo for 5 minutes until soft on medium heat. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds). Place the shredded chicken, raisins, olives into the pot and stir and cook for about 10 minutes until chicken is a bit browned (you might want to add more evoo).

4) Put them together!
Take skinny pieces of corn husk and tear into 1/2 inch strips longways.
Take a larger piece of soaked corn husk and spread 1/3 cup of masa on it with a spoon or your fingers. Add 1/2 cup of filling atop it. Take another slightly smaller corn husk and spread same amount of masa. Roll up chicken filled husk slightly into itself and wrap the other husk around the first one with the masa touching the open side of the chicken filled husk. Roll it all together like a piece of skinny and long candy and use the strips to tie the ends shut. See picture! Repeat process until you no longer have filling or no longer have corn husks!

5) Steam those babies!
Take a large tamale steamer or seafood steamer and fill bottom part with water almost all the way to the top. Throw a couple of light coins in with the water. (This comes from Diana Kennedy’s advice!). Place on med high and place all tamales inside the steamer. Once steam starts coming down turn down the heat and continue steaming for 1 hour. Place another big pot on top of the lid so that only a little bit of steam comes out. If you start to hear the coins pinging around, add more water! (oh yeah- place a saucepot of water on the stove on medium so that you have hot water to add to the steamer!)

6) Go eat and stuff yourself! because seriously?? how often do you get to eat tamales!!!

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