Posts Tagged ‘tamale’



I had some dried chilies on hand so decided to make harissa. We all love spicy food and a little dab of harissa can turn even the dullest dish into a hot tamale. Should you have some extra dried red chiles on hand, here is my recipe. Don’t remember where I got it, but it certainly does the job up right.

½ pound dried red hot chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon toasted mustard seeds
½ to ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl with boiling water to cover by 1-inch. Set aside to soak for 2 hours, or until the chiles are very soft. Drain well and pat dry.
Place the soaked chiles in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the garlic and mustard seeds and, with the motor running, slowly add ½ cup of the olive oil. When well blended, add the salt and process to incorporate. If very thick, add the remaining olive oil to thin.
Transfer the harissa to a nonreactive container and store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 month.

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I am determined to make my own fresh masa and for months now have been trying to arrange for a local building superintendent’s sister-in-law to give a lesson.  I had organized a small group of avid cooks to chip in a good amount of cash to lure her into my kitchen, but, so far, other obligations keep getting in the way.  So, in the meantime, I have been trying to catch the tamale lady.  My friend Deena had tracked her down in the neighborhood and very kindly shared her purchases with us which only got my mojo working, I had to find her and get her schedule.

Well, lucky me, on an unseasonably warm Saturday morning in January who should I run into but “the tamale lady” right around the corner from our apartment.  Her husband was standing guard (perhaps keeping an eye out for the police as I don’t think she has a vendor license) over their two big shopping carts – one filled with insulated picnic-style carry-alls filled with still warm tamales and the other with shopping bags, aluminum foil, paper plates and plastic utensils and, for all I know, more tamales packed away in the bottom.  I almost lost my cool – I only had $5 in my pocket and didn’t know whether to ask her to stay while I ran to the bank or just take what I could get for my money.  Turns out at $1.25 each I had enough to buy dinner.  Oh, my gosh —– they didn’t wait for dinner – I had polished off one by the time I got home and Steve got one just to keep me from immediately eating another.   They were perfect – not fresh masa – but as I emailed Deena – just the right amount of spicy chicken and grease to make them beyond finger-lickin’ good.  The tamale lady didn’t seem to speak English, but her “Papi” was a terrific salesman.  When I told him I loved pork, he said next week.  I’ll keep you posted if next week comes.

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