Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More fun

I've been an avid reader and an avid cook all my life. Recently, I got to combine both, thanks to "Blogging for Books" They sent me a copy of a tamale cookbook to review, and it was great fun.
Review: Tamales, by Alice Guadalupe Tapp

Tamales were a big part of Christmas celebrations when I was a child. I never made them, but our next door neighbor cooked for a week. We were always lucky that she would bring us a platter of them for Christmas Eve after midnight mass dinner. I watched her make them a few times, but it was mysterious.

As I got older, I was just afraid to try. They were complicated and time consuming. So, I just bought tamales whenever I found someone who made them. This book gives some shortcuts that will help a home-style cook like me to make tamales at home. Purists might complain about using canned or pre-prepared ingredients. Okay, I’m not one of them. I have no desire to make mole from scratch (25 or more ingredients sometimes!) It’s time consuming to roast your own fresh chilies. So, if you have objections, go ahead and find a recipe to do it yourself. I like shortcuts.

This book is for the home tamale maker. It covers the basics, from selecting the wrapper and the masa, to describing the different styles of filling the tamale before it’s cooked. I found the explanations clear and easy to follow. I wish some of the pictures had been captioned, especially the page with different masa shown.

The chapter on “Tontos”, inside-out tamales, where you put the filling and sauce over the cooked masa dough was interesting to me. It’s an approach I’d never heard of. You can keep a supply of the tontos in the freezer and add what would normally be fillings as toppings later.

There is one chapter which was interesting to read, but probably not something I’ll be able to try in my small town; “Nose to Tail Tamales”. It calls for ingredients that are kind of exotic here, including blood, lambs’ heads and beef cheeks. I’m lucky if I can find lamb chops here! But the wild boar tamales looked fabulous! I’m also unlikely to find fresh or prepared masa in my area.

My family is already hoping that we will try some of the dessert tamales, especially the fig-filled ones. I’m looking forward to being a tamalera in the near future.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review.

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