Tamales

Mr. Pea is a huge fan of Mexican cooking, his favorite Mexican chef is Rick Bayless. If  you want to know anything about Mexican cooking  Rick Bayless  is your go to on any subject. We went to his restaurant in Chicago, Illinois Frontera Grill and the food  was melt in your mouth  fantastic.  Mr. Pea has collected all of his books and for Christmas last year I gave Mr. Pea  the complete set of his  television show Mexico One Plate at a Time. A few years ago I took Mr. Pea to this cooking demonstration/meet and greet  with Rick Bayless and I think it was one of Mr. Pea’s favorite memories of his life- he was so excited.

I don’t get the opportunity to cook very many Mexican dishes, because Mr. Pea  usually is the one cooking. But one of Mr. Pea’s favorite dishes is tamales. Mr. Pea doesn’t have the patients  for assembling the tamales so I usually prepare them.  I never liked tamales, until I made them homemade.  I never realized how fluffy and delicious they could be.

TIP: To get perfect tamales every time, check the dough. Fill a glass with ice cold water drop a little ball of dough in the water. If it floats the tamale be nice and fluffy. If it sinks it will be very dense (not very good), don’t worry you can still fix it, put the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, take it out and test it again.

Check it out!

Tamales
MAKES APPROX. 16 TAMALES

Dough
2 Cups Maseca for tamales ( it is a type of flour they sell at El Ray Mexican Foods-most of this stuff is there)
2 Cups Lukewarm chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 Cup lard or vegetable shortening

Combine Maseca, baking powder and salt in a bowl, work broth or water with your fingers to make soft moist dough. in a small bowl, beat lard or shortening until fluffy, add masa (dry mixture) until dough has spongy texrure. Prepare tamales with desired filling.

Tamales
1 1/4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (you may substitute with chicken or beef- to make it real easy just get a roasted chicken from the store and shred the meat)
16 corn husks
Prepared Masa (dough mixture)

Soak Corn husks in cool water 10 min or so or until they are easy to work with. Spread masa on corn husk forming a square shape (leaving a 1/4 inch from the top edge of the corn husk). Place in the middle of the square a tablespoon of meat, then take the edges and fold them together so the meat is inside Masa and then roll like a burrito leaving the top edge of corn husk open, tie with strip of corn husk or you can use butchers twine. Place open side face up in steamer, Steam for 1 hour.

French Onion Soup

This next  post is probably one of my favorite things to eat-French Onion Soup! I love french onion soup, I never did as a kid though, I hated onions I would just eat the melted cheese and leave the rest. Now, that is just simply CRAZY to not enjoy the rest of the soup!

I never realized how many onions it takes to make french onion soup, I was crying for days! Not really, I am actually pretty good about chopping onions  without shedding a tear,  but not this many onions! It was delicious! Almost as good as my favorite french onion soup at the Jackson Grill in Milwaukee.

Let me just say if  you have never been to The Jackson Grill in Milwaukee, this place it is hands down my favorite restaurant! My mouth is watering just thinking about it, even though  Mr. Pea and I were just there for Valentine’s Day.The Jackson Grill is our special place  for Valentine’s Day every year. It is located 3736 West Mitchell Street  Milwaukee, WI 53215 it only has  like 10 tables or so, so MAKE A RESERVATION!!!

They have the best french onion soup I have ever had, but  I can never decide  between the french onion or the just as amazing lobster bisque, you choose either  you are in for a treat! They have amazing Valentine’s Day specials including seafood, but since we travel to the east coast each year the seafood just does not compare  and this  restaurant is a steakhouse,  so get a steak!  I usually get the Black Angus Filet Mignon a la Portabella with natural au jus 6 oz.  with garlic mashed potatoes (must get the garlic mashed potatoes, I repeat get the garlic mashed potatoes!)  Mr. Pea usually gets Black Angus New York Strip a la Portabella with natural au jus 16 oz. with garlic mashed potatoes (smart man!) which is just as good, it just depends on the cut of meat you like.

I can not stress enough that you MUST save room for dessert!  It is our Valentine’s Day tradition to share a dessert, and my favorite is their  Napoleon with Fresh Strawberries, it is to die for!  I dream about this dessert all year long, it is that good! It is made of a flaky puff pastry, layered with fresh strawberries, a silky pastry cream and a fluffy whipped cream. This meal at the Jackson Grill is my perfect meal, you must try it!

Anyways getting back to the French Onion Soup that I made, I adapted it from the book The Joy of Cooking. This book is the best, Mr. Pea and I got it for Christmas  some years ago and it has transformed our cooking skills  and the food we create in our kitchen forever.  If  you don’t know how to cook or  you are just learning, it will give you the basics you need  to cook just about anything.

Check it out the book  Joy of Cooking and this adapted French Onion Soup recipe!

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French Onion Soup
(Adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

Heat in a soup pot over medium-low heat until butter is melted:
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Add and stir to coat:
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
Pinch of dried Thyme
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and keeping an eye on the onions so they do not scorch. As soon as  they start to brown, about 15 minutes, reduce the heat to medium -low and continue to cook, covered, stirring, until they are a rich brown , about  40 minutes.

Stir in:
1/4 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until the Vinegar has evaporated and Balsamic is thicker.

Stir in:
3 1/2 Cups Beef Stock
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Season with:
1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place oven safe soup bowls on a baking sheet. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls  top with chopped toasted breadcrumbs and 3 Tablespoons Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese.

Enjoy!