Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Graduation Preparation!

 So one of my Best Friends Graduated this week with her Masters!! I am sooo proud of her!! She asked me to make the cake and some Appetizers. Well I wasn't sure I could, so committed to the cake, and then about a week before, I said I could pull off the Apps too. Setting out to figure out what I make, I had idea's kind of in my head. I knew I wanted salsa, 2 was my plan, and a simple layer dip, since both go so well with Chips!! oh did I mention she hired Taco Guys, so I went fully on the Mexican Food theme haha. That left 2 other things I wanted to make. I remembered in my fetish collection of cooking magazines that somewhere was one with all Mexican food in it. I tore through them to find it! and Find it I did as well as the other 2 things I decided to make! It was the 2007 Better Homes and Gardens Special issue on Mexican Dishes. Many great things in this Mag, including those I used: Salsa Fresca, Mini Tortilla  Quiches, and Green Chili and Cheese Tamales. That is right, this very white girl is making Tamales!!! I was sooo excited. I have always wanted to make tamales!! so I did!
So.. this very long blog will be that which I made, the next will be the cake lol. I simply do not want to put ALL of that in one. The other Salsa I found in the 2004 Martha Stewart Everyday Food that I have, Roasted tomato Chipotle salsa. The same Everyday Food that I found the Cashew Chicken recipe as well as about 5 other recipes I plan to make from it!! So.. I guess its time for a slew of recipes and the longest post I have yet to have!!! I doubled all of these recipes, but am posting them as singles!

Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa

1 1/2 pounds cored and quartered plum tomatoes
1 thinly sliced medium onion
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4tsp ground pepper
1-2 Tbsp chopped Chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Heat broiler. On a broiler pan, or sheet pan, toss tomatoes and onion with oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.  Broil until tomatoes are charred in spots, 15-20min; let cool. Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor; add chipotles, cilantro, and lime juice. Pulse until combined but still slightly chunky. Cover and chill. Can be made up to 3 days ahead, store covered in the refrigerator.

Salsa Fresca

1 1/2 c finely chopped tomatoes (2 medium)
1 fresh Anaheim pepper, seeded and finely chopped, or one 4 oz can diced green chile peppers, drained
1/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1/4 c sliced green onions
3-4 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1-2 fresh jalapeno, Serrano, Fresno or banana peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, Anaheim pepper, sweet pepper, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno peppers, garlic, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp ground pepper.
Cover and chill at least 1 hr before serving. Can be made and stored in the Fridge for up to 3 days in advance.
** I went with a very smooth salsa. I put all ingredients in the food processor and hit pulse several times. You can make it as you like. Both salsa's were well liked, but are completely different! Increase the heat by leaving in seeds, and adding more hot peppers to the salsa's!

Mini tortilla Quiches:
(quick note. I had to heat the tortilla rounds for about 20 sec in the microwave to make them pliable for the mini muffin tins. The first 2 tries, the cracked and broke on me. Heating them about 6 at a time worked perfectly.)
Nonstick cooking spray
5 10in plain, spinach or tomato flour tortilla's (I just used plain)
1 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c half and half, or light cream
1/2c sliced green onions
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
sour cream to top them

Preheat oven to 375 ( I ended up turning mine down to 350, the tortilla's browned to quickly so watch them and adjust as necessary.). Lightly coat 32 1 3/4 in muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Using a 3 inch round cutter, cut 32 circles from the tortilla's. gently press one round into each muffin cup, pleating rounds as necessary to fit. Set cups aside. (now.. for me this did not work either, they needed weight to keep them in place. So I made the filling and filled each one as I did the tortilla round. Working with 6 heated rounds at a time. It really didn't take much time, I put the filling in a measuring cup and used my Tbsp measure, make sure you mix it before each use slightly, as the Cilantro likes to settle at the top.)
In a blender or food processor, combine cilantro, half and half, green onions, eggs, salt and cayenne pepper. Cover and blend until the mixture is smooth. Spoon scant Tbsp filling into each tortilla lined muffin cup.
Bake about 15 minutes or until filling is completely set when poked near center with a wooden toothpick. Carefully remove quiches from muffin cups.
Before serving, spoon 1/4 tsp sour cream a top each warm quiche.
These can be made one day ahead. Bake as directed and let cool on cooling racks. Once fully cooled, put in airtight container, and cover. To reheat, place quiches in on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-15min or until heated through. Then top with sour cream and serve.
 * very tasty!! even the kids enjoyed eating them! once I made them I thought of all the different idea's I could do with the filling for next time hehe

 Layered Bean Dip!

3 can (16oz) refried beans
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 16oz container Sour Cream
1 16oz jar salsa
2 cups shredded Mexican blend Cheese
1 4oz can sliced black olives
diced red and yellow pepper, about 1/4 c total
1/8c chopped green onion

 In a medium bowl. Mix beans and taco seasoning. Layer beans in the bottom of a large glass bowl/pan. Top with the container of sour cream, carefully smoothing out to cover the beans. On top of the cream, layer the salsa, smoothing out carefully. (I wanted a layer of guacamole at this point, but forgot to buy it!) Sprinkle the cheese ( or as much cheese as you would like) on top of the salsa evenly. Sprinkle the top with chopped green onions and diced peppers. Sprinkle the olives around the edge and put a little bunch in the middle. Chill several hours before serving.

Saving the best for last, I biggest feat!!

Green Chile and Cheese Tamales

48-72 corn husks (it requests fresh, I used dried and softened them in warm water)
1 1/2 c masa harina (corn tortilla flour)
1 c water
1 1/2 c shredded cooked chicken
1 1/2 c shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 c fresh cut corn kernels, or frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1/2 c canned cream-style corn
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
1/4 c bottled green salsa
1 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp salt
Place the fresh corn husks, about 12 at a time, and 2 tbsp water in a 9 in glass pie plate. Microwave, covered, on 100 % power for 2 min.
For filling, in a large bowl, stir together masa harina, and the 1 c water until well combined. Stir in chicken, cheese, whole kernel corn, cream style corn, chiles, green salsa, oil and salt.
Drain corn husks well, pat dry with paper towels. To assemble each tamale, lay out two or three fresh corn husks (for a width of at least 6 inches) on a flat surface. Starting about 1 1/2 inches from the narrow end, place 2 tbsp of the filling in the center of the corn husk. Fold in sides to enclose filling. Bring ends together. Tie of tamale securely with strips of corn husk or 100% cotton kitchen string. ( I used 1 husk per tamale. Some were very large. I put the very small ones aside, it was easier for me. I just kept the dried husks in a large rectangle pan of water and worked with them. It was not very difficult, unless they were not pliable enough!)

To prepare steamer, place a cone shaped ball of foil in the center of a steamer basket. Stand tamales upright in basket. (dont pack tamales too tightly, but fill the basket. Place about 1 1/2 inces of water in bottom of steamer or dutch oven. Place basket over water. Bring water to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Cover and steam for 30 minutes. Carefully remove tamales from steamer. Let stand 5-10 min before serving. tamales get firmer as they cool. Once cooled, you can cover tightly and freeze your tamales. To reheat, place frozen tamales in prepared steamer basket, and steam for about 20 min or until heated through.
 ( I have a large canning pot, I used the largest vegetable steamer I could find and placed it on top of my canning rack, so that it was a bit higher for the water. I put water to just below the steamer and layered the tamales. I fit about 20-22 per batch. my double recipe took 3 batches to steam, but they came out great. I froze them all on Tuesday, re-steamed on Sat morning.
I had to deliver them about an hour away. I took a large aluminum foil roasting pan, lined it with hot damp cloths and placed the tamales as they finished re-steaming into it and covered with more warm cloths and foil. I kept them in the oven until ready to leave. I kept them in a warmed oven with those damn cloths the entirety of the party, and they stayed great! warm and very moist. I have been told we will be make large versions of them for next weekend!!)

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