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Author Topic: Food! Food! Food! The Good, Bad, Ugly, and Tasty steampunk treats and drinks  (Read 75434 times)
J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #500 on: December 28, 2015, 12:29:05 am »

I'm currently trying to sprout an avocado seed.  It's been over a week in water,  but I'm hoping to plant it in a pot as soon as it sprouts.  Haas avocados should be able to withstand the occasional dip into 32F/0C temperatures that we see in winter.  Alas, as the tree takes 6 years to bear any fruit I seriously doubt I'll be writing about any guacamole made from my tree any time soon.  Undecided
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #501 on: December 28, 2015, 01:52:51 am »

Also,  I think I should post about making tortillas, for the benefit of the crowd across the pond.

Honestly it's way too easy not to do it by yourself.  All you need is the hominy flour,  which I think should be available (or alternatively you could even grind your own hominy paste in a mortar,  but that seems overkill to me).

http://www.mexgrocer.co.uk/Masa-Harina/

So we use hominy flour which is called Masa Harina which literally translates to "dough flour." NEVER use cornmeal/cornbread/polenta,  as only Fritos and Doritos, the American snacks are made from that,  and the taste is frankly very different.

Hominy is basically corn kernels that have been boiled in lye or a mild acid, and therefore have expanded in size and softened, releasing nutrients like B vitamin (niacin) and the amino acid tryptophan which would otherwise be locked away in the fibres of maize, as maize is a human-bred type of grass.  It is known that the domestication of maize and it's use dates back to at least 3-4 thousand years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maize
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominy

If you start with fresh hominy, this is called Nixtamal (pronounced "neesh-tah-mahl" in the original Aztec),  or Pozole (poh-zoh-lay") in Mexican Spanish, in which case you will grind that hominy/pozole into the dough (aka Masa literally means dough),  which you can directly use to make tortillas with the addition of water or chicken bouillon to add flavour. Otherwise, you can dry and pulverize that dough to turn into Masa Harina.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization

Sometimes in Mexico Pozole/Hominy kernels are dropped into a chicken bouillon based soup with meat and vegetables or other ingredients,  in which case the soup is also called Pozole. In the United States you can see deep fried hominy kernels eaten as snacks marketed under the name of "Corn Nuts" (for those Americans reading this, I bet you sometimes wondered how Corn Nuts were made - just deep fried hominy).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pozole

90% of all Mexican flat breads will be made from the the hominy flour plus water mixture, cooked on a very hot metal or stone plate,  which is called a Comal ("co-mahl"); The only other major Mexican products based on Masa Harina are the steamed cakes known as Tamales, and a gruel-like drink called Atole. The tamales are made from a heavy mix of lard/vegetables shortening and Masa, which is then mixed with meat and other ingredients and placed in packages made from maize husks which are steamed for about an hour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comal_%28cookware%29

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamale

The only other exception, of course, are wheat Flour Tortillas, which are a Post-Spanish Conquest adaptation from Northern Mexico. There is some nonsense flying around the Internet about wheat flour tortillas being invented by Spanish Jews who supposedly didn't find maize products to be compatible with Kosher law.  I'm not sure that I believe that since most Mexican Jews are in Central Mexico, and generally not in along the US border region, until very late in the 19th. C as immigrants into Texas.  Also it is higly unlikely because lard is an ingredient in making the flour tortilla, so it is impossible for lard to have been used according to Kosher law; but I won't discount the possibility altogether. History is vague on this. What is known is that the (wheat) Flour Tortilla is Northern Mexican.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_tortilla
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortilla

Nevertheless, flour tortillas are common and known in Central Mexico, but mostly as part of breakfast dishes that combine various types sausages and meats (e.g. Chorizo), mixed into an egg omelette). Flour tortillas are also very popular in the Unites States and are often found as an ingredient of the Tex-Mex Burrito (a type of oversize taco with folded ends - not necessarily filled with Mexican ingredients, and supposedly invented somewhere along the border region of the United States by a Mexican vendor,if you are to believe local folklore).


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrito

Back to maize tortillas.... The hominy flour has very little gluten, to the point that dough made out of it does not stick to anything but itself,  sort of like shortbread dough which doesn't stick to anything,  but in contrast, there is no grease whatsoever involved -  unless you add some.  The look, feel and consistency of the ungreased dough in your hands is similar to dense mashed potatoes,  only much denser.  This makes the dough easy to shape without making a mess. It's very clean actually, making it practical for children to handle.

Now for the basic recipe, in America,  we use volume based measurements so it's difficult to translate to grams,  but you can always find a container that will have a capacity of 8 fluid ounces,, that is 1 cup of "wet" measure,  or equivalently 236 ml of capacity (I avoid "dry measurement"  cups which are 6 ounces,  as opposed to the "wet" 8 ounce cups,  because that introduces possible confusion into my baking -  so no "dry"  measures!)

Take 1/2 cup (118 ml) of hominy flour and combine with 1/3 of a cup (76 ml) of water or broth. That will yield a "personal"  serving of four small 4-5 inch diameter tortillas,  which when hand made are smaller in diameter but thicker at say 3mm, than those pressed or machine made tortillas which will be between 1-2mm, so don't worry too much about the thickness - it's a trial and error process.

Divide the dough (1/2 cup) into 4 parts, and roll into balls. I guess you could use a roller to flatten into tortillas,  but honestly, without a hand press, or the skill to make tortillas by hand, the easiest option is to find a sealable (eg Ziploc) plastic bag and a flat bottomed pan and a flat kitchen counter. Roll the masa into a ball,  place the ball into the Ziploc bag and press with the pan, placing  all your upper body weight on the pan.  You'll be surprised how uniform the tortilla comes out.  Be delicate when removing the tortilla from the bag to avoid having it crumble on you, but remember the dough doesn't really stick to the plastic, so you'll find that relatively easy to do.

I use a very hot 12 inch or bigger sauté pan or a cast iron pan on the stove to cook the tortillas. IMPORTANT: No grease, or oil of any kind should be used. Remember the  hominy paste doesn't really stick to anything.  It only takes 1-2 minutes per side to cook a tortilla,  so making them in batches is a good idea. You'll know when it's done,  because the dough will go from soft and crumbly to solid,  and you'll have a dry, slightly burned surface.  This is where you apply your trial and error skills.

The only difference between a Sope ("soh-pay") and a tortilla is the thickness.  Tortillas are thin and cooked on a hot plate.  Sopes are thick dropped raw into the pan and fried with lard or oil, and typically have a raised "border" or ridge to hold the food in.  Tostadas,  on the other hand are more like crisps, and are the equivalent of Pain Perdue or French Toast,  basically day-old tortillas which are fried in oil on the pan until crunchy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sope
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tostada_%28tortilla%29

A Taco by definition is simply a sandwich made with a rolled soft tortilla,  and some unspecified filling, usually savoury. The taco itself can be fried in a pan until crispy. In Northern Mexico , tacos are fried too but folded in half with the tortilla as a crispy shell, as opposed to rolled, which is the stereotytpical image pushed by restaurants like "Taco Bell," an American fast food company, and an image in foreigners' minds about what a taco looks like.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taco

THERE ARE NO SPECIFIED INGREDIENTS.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "TACO FLAVOUR"  or "TACO SAUCE" (unless you eat at Taco Bell). Instead you have 1001 different types of sauces and fillings you can use. What you put inside a rolled tortilla,  on top of a Sope,  or on a Tostada,  is entirely up to you. There are no pre required guidelines.  Only authentic ingredients.


An Enchilada, is basically a dish based on a soft tortilla, where you lay filling on a flat tortilla,  or roll a tortilla with your preferred filling,  and then drench the tortilla completely wet with a ladle full of some sauce over the dish,  whether the sauce is spicy or not. 1001 variations on these dishes ensue and are known by other names

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enchilada
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papadzules

One creative way of using day-old tortillas is a dish called Chilaquiles ("Chee-lah-kee-lays"). Cut the tortillas in strips, fry like tostadas, and then layer them in a baking dish along with a yellow cheese like Manchego or Emmentaler along with layers of tomato sauce, and anything you can think of, exactly like a baked Lasagna. There are many other variations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilaquiles

Happy eating  Wink

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huevos_rancheros
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 05:44:31 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #502 on: December 28, 2015, 03:05:17 pm »

And that's a masterclass right there Mr. Wilhelm! Thank you. Sadly, it seems that hominy products are quite hard to come by in the UK unless bought on line from specialist importers. I can't find any evidence that it is produced here unless some people are carrying out the nixtamalization process in their own kitchen!

Having looked at the ingredients of ready made 'corn' tortillas, it shows that they are some curious hybrid - eg the El Paso brand has only 27% corn in and includes wheat flour, wheat gluten and vegetable oil! So, although that gives a better flavour than soft wheat tortillas, they are not the real deal and I have a taste treat to add to my bucket list.

Any UK Mexican food fans able to prove me wrong? Please?

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« Reply #503 on: December 29, 2015, 01:09:49 am »



 Having been inspired to an extended  programme of  informal research at the local library ,  the main stays of banquets, buffet, high teas, morning teas, picnics, garden parties  and cocktail hour   still appear to be pinwheeels.

Scones, sandwiches,  cakes, buns, pancakes, savouries, sweets,  desserts,   roast and cold meats,  pastries, slices  etc are all rolled  and sliced before or after cooking.



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« Reply #504 on: December 29, 2015, 01:44:58 am »

I used to make chocolate pinwheel cookies for Christmas back when I had time to do that sort of thing.
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« Reply #505 on: December 29, 2015, 01:59:21 am »

I used to make chocolate pinwheel cookies for Christmas back when I had time to do that sort of thing.

 You shall have to find the time  after the Christmas  hurly burly , They  are making them in all colours and flavours these days 
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #506 on: December 29, 2015, 05:01:38 am »

And that's a masterclass right there Mr. Wilhelm! Thank you. Sadly, it seems that hominy products are quite hard to come by in the UK unless bought on line from specialist importers. I can't find any evidence that it is produced here unless some people are carrying out the nixtamalization process in their own kitchen!

Having looked at the ingredients of ready made 'corn' tortillas, it shows that they are some curious hybrid - eg the El Paso brand has only 27% corn in and includes wheat flour, wheat gluten and vegetable oil! So, although that gives a better flavour than soft wheat tortillas, they are not the real deal and I have a taste treat to add to my bucket list.

Any UK Mexican food fans able to prove me wrong? Please?




Wheat flour tortillas always have lard or vegetable shortening as part of their ingredients, but those El Paso tortillas sound horrible.  I guess your only choice is to buy from the MexgGrocer.UK site (top link on my post above).  It seems there are others, but £2.50 for a 4.4 lb bag of masa would not break the bank.  I was surprised how many tortillas I made from one bag this last month.  Admittedly I only pay $2.00 for the same here ($1.50 for the generic super brand)

No. Mixing hominy flour and wheat is not Kosher,  so to speak. If they do that,  then it must be to solve the problem of dryness in the tortilla. You see, authentic tortillas are usually made just prior to the meal, traditionally.  All maize tortillas suffer from a tendency to dry very fast and become leathery and un-masticable and brittle within a day if not a few hours. Which  is why it's indispensable to have a "tortilla warmer" to keep them warm and moist during the meal,  or at least moist by packing them in waxed paper stacks. If you go to Mexico, you will find Tortillerias, stores which mass produce and sell tortillas, but they make them in large batches.  A stack of 40-50 tortillas wrapped in wax paper and still warm from the Tortilla making machine (yes there is such a thing  Grin) is they way they are sold and distributed, They keep better in large batches.

You want Steampunk? I'll give you Steampunk Tortillas!

Translated caption:
"The Improved Lenin MLR180 Tortilla maker is capable of making 6200 tortillas per hour or processing 180 kg/hr of masa"  Grin  (Lenin... Did I mention socialism is big in Latin America?)




Oooh! Yeah baby! Check that soundtrack. "Torreymex" keep 'em rolling!  Cheesy  Cheesy  Cheesy  Ha, ha, ha!

MAQUINA TORTILLADORA AUTOMATICA


The generic brand tortillas at my local supermarket are horrible,  however.  American manufacturers trying to sell tortillas like they do bread,  have resorted to using things like guar gum to stabilize the dough (eg my super's tortillas), with horrible results in consistency and flavour. They can't be rolled when cold without breaking apart in your hands. They taste like rubbish.  Or should I say rubber? Like the El Paso brand, the supplier to my super's generic brand recently came up with the idea of mixing wheat and maize flour, and called them "Mixla" tortillas   Roll Eyes  I won't touch those things on account of authenticity,  but I wonder if anyone else in Mexico ever thought about that in the past. I never heard about such a thing prior to 1990. Definitely not traditional.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 06:50:38 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #507 on: December 29, 2015, 06:50:05 am »



 The best tortilla  I ever had was when I was  7yr  and  we were studding Mexico  at primary school.   It would have been made  with  plain flour and  basic  store cupboard ingredients.  But I guess that was  more about the moment.

 Old El Paso and other non authentic   manufacturers  of Mexican  food  stash their goods in plastic packaging with  humidity crystals  and last a few months . Let that be a warning sign  to us all.

 There is whole wheat  ones, capsicum,  herb and garlic  .... it kind of ruins the  experience and mystique
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« Reply #508 on: December 29, 2015, 07:08:55 am »

Its the original flavour and texture that keeps me looking.  It's not rocket science, but for some odd reason very difficult to follow true to form as it has been done for 4000 years...

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Prof. Cecily
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« Reply #509 on: December 29, 2015, 11:42:19 am »

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I'm currently trying to sprout an avocado seed.  It's been over a week in water,  but I'm hoping to plant it in a pot as soon as it sprouts.  Haas avocados should be able to withstand the occasional dip into 32F/0C temperatures that we see in winter.  Alas, as the tree takes 6 years to bear any fruit I seriously doubt I'll be writing about any guacamole made from my tree any time soon.  Undecided

I wish you all the best with your project! I used to sprout avocado (alligator pears) seeds, obtained a a number of tall, spindly plants with large leaves. Twelve years later I ended up giving them to the local library where they now reside in the building's courtyard- happy, green and fruitless.

I continue to save the avocado seeds and skins for dyeing as you can obtain a lovely gamut of old rose colours from them.

Tortillas de trigo o maíz I buy fresh from anyone of a number of Latin American grocers in Madrid.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily

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« Reply #510 on: January 06, 2016, 11:53:01 am »

One of the pleasantries that I experience living in Austin is that some of the folklore of Mexico still manages to trickle into the lowers United States. 

During the Samhain / Day of the Dead / Halloween / Day of all Saints panoply at the end of October, I found "Pan de Muertos," the traditional "Brad for the Dead" offering used in Native Mexican altars.  And two days ago, I found boxes of "Rosca de Reyes," the Hispanic equivalent of King Cake which has it's origins on the celebration of "Epiphany," and immediately precedes the period of Lent in the Christian faith(s), which is kick-started in some Catholic countries by another well known short celebration known as  Mardi Gras / Carnival / Carnaval.
 

In Christian lingo, Epiphany refers to the time when an angel informed three powerful kings of antiquity that the Son of God (Jesus) was about to be born.  These three kings the travelled a great distance to see the newborn "king of kings," and the three travelling kings became known by various names, depending in which country you are, the "Three Wise Men," the Three Wise Kings," or the Three Magi Kings (translated from Spanish)."

Carnival or Mardi Gras is usually shown in the media from celebrations in New Orleans, Brazil, Italy, and to a lesser extent other countries in Latin America, and the Christian Orthodox world, and which -regardless of its exact nature for the host country, can simply be summed up as a somewhat Bacchanalian party, immediately preceding the Christian period of Lent. Basically the idea is to behave as badly as you can, the day (Fat Tuesday for the United States) before you have to prostrate, purify and sanctify yourself on Ash Wednesday, Holy week and the rest of the Lenten period.

So....We have this ring shaped cake which usually had a figurine hidden inside it (presumably representing the Baby Jesus), and whoever bites and breaks his teeth on the figurine  Grin  attains a set of responsibilities and/or privileges, which vary depending on which country you live in... In Mexico Portugal and France, whoever gets the King cake trinket is expected to buy the next King Cake, for example.

Generally whenever I see this at my super, the boxes of king cake will be sold out within a single day.  As the Hispanic population in Austin is large, and so few bakeries prepare these special pastries, then it's easy to see that as soon as someone spots the cakes they'll disappear, usually in a matter of hours.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_%28holiday%29
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent

I was wondering if there could be a Steampunk equivalent of King Cake.  A giant "cog cake," perhaps? And would there be some sort of Steampunk Carnival? Grin  Any ideas?

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« Reply #511 on: January 07, 2016, 10:30:31 am »

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
What fun to see the Mexicans have their own version of an old Spanish custom.
In Spain, they're called Roscón de Reyes and I have the remains of a particularly large one, filled with whipped cream waiting for my elevenses.

A Roscón will always have a Little prize  baked into it and/or a kidney bean. The little ceramic (now, alas, almost always plastic) figure is fun to receive and getting the piece of Roscón with the bean signifies you're obliged to buy the Roscón for the following year.

Carnival!
In Madrid there's the curious custom of the Entierro de la Sardina, a rather Victorian/gothic inspired funeral procession in the streets of Madrid to signify the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily
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« Reply #512 on: January 08, 2016, 03:28:07 am »

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
What fun to see the Mexicans have their own version of an old Spanish custom.
In Spain, they're called Roscón de Reyes and I have the remains of a particularly large one, filled with whipped cream waiting for my elevenses.

A Roscón will always have a Little prize  baked into it and/or a kidney bean. The little ceramic (now, alas, almost always plastic) figure is fun to receive and getting the piece of Roscón with the bean signifies you're obliged to buy the Roscón for the following year.

Carnival!
In Madrid there's the curious custom of the Entierro de la Sardina, a rather Victorian/gothic inspired funeral procession in the streets of Madrid to signify the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily


Indeed,  it's certain that the Mexican got their Rosca from the Spanish. I don't presume it's too different.  What I did not know is that in Orthodox Christian and Catholic minorities of the Middle East,  they  also flowed the custom.
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« Reply #513 on: January 08, 2016, 10:05:33 am »

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
You're quite right about the Orthodox devotion to the Wise Kings.
I myself find the the subject of the Wise Kings to be one of the most interesting in Christianity.
I find it endearing that in Spain, their arrival, via boat into the Barcelona harbour, is televised. Many smaller  villages had the Kings ride (horseback) from house to house giving each child their present.
Amazon has changed all of that, of course.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily
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« Reply #514 on: January 10, 2016, 07:19:20 am »

... In Madrid there's the curious custom of the Entierro de la Sardina ...


The Burial of the Sardine?  Seems a waste of good fish to me, but maybe I'll be knocked off my perch.
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« Reply #515 on: January 11, 2016, 01:13:48 pm »

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

... In Madrid there's the curious custom of the Entierro de la Sardina ...


The Burial of the Sardine?  Seems a waste of good fish to me, but maybe I'll be knocked off my perch.

Sardines should be grilled on the beach, of course.
Even so, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burial_of_the_Sardine
In Madrid, his ceremony has been taken over by Goths and the gay community and is quite a spectacular event!

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily
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« Reply #516 on: January 17, 2016, 10:05:58 pm »

In a few minutes, I shall see whether my experiment has born fruit.  You see, one of the things I have shied away from is making tamales.  They seem somewhat complicated and legthy to make, being steamed for more than an hour and having to use copious amounts of lard or in one package recipe's oil.

So I thought: A cake is a cake is a cake. How would a Victorian go about this?  Naturally the "hominy cake" could be steamed, but I thought of a simpler way. Just treat it like cake batter.  Add that Victorian Era invention, baking powder and enough water to make the dough into a very sticky paste with no extra ingredients added, other than mixing pre-cooked meats into the cake batter - and pop it in the oven.

Experimental recipe for "New Spain Hominy Cake"

1 cup of dry maize/corn hominy flour aka Masa Harina
1 tablespoon of Baking Powder
4 ounces of spicy cured or cooked meat e.g. Chorizo, Ham, etc.

Dry-mix the baking powder into the hominy flour.  Then just mix enough water in so that the sough becomes a sticky paste. Pour into a glass oven safe baking dish.

Bake in 430F / 221C preheated oven (time to be determined - seems at least one hour so far)

So fat it's been nearly one hour, and certainly at the 15, and 30 minutes the dough was still soft.  The rise is very low but sampling the centre, I do see that there are CO2 bubbles in the paste

~ ~ ~ ~

Results of experiment.

Meh! Not exactly what I expected.  It does seem that there is no alternative to steaming (that I can think of at the moment).  It reminds me of Italian polenta with a thick crispy crust.  It tastes very good, but definitely the taste/texture is very different from polenta. The crust is fabulously crispy and yet light.  But apparently the heat transfer coefficient is VERY low, and the inside will remain gooey -like a brownie. The batter simply forms a thick dry crust, and the centre never achieves a cake consistency.  It seems it would require a source of heat capable of heating the inside of the cake to make steam.  At this point I'm going to say something that might appear heretical: microwave, and using a greater amount of grease into the mix.

It seems that the Tamale cakes can only be done steamed, and the grease in the tamale both increases the heat transfer coefficient and keeps it from turning into a crust.  The steam will superheat the water inside the cake.  It's all physics, man....  Must have taken some time before the Native people perfected the art of making hominy cakes.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2016, 10:41:27 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #517 on: February 07, 2016, 05:02:06 pm »



Carnival!
In Madrid there's the curious custom of the Entierro de la Sardina, a rather Victorian/gothic inspired funeral procession in the streets of Madrid to signify the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily


I recall an early 19th century painting of this event, by Goya.
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« Reply #518 on: February 07, 2016, 09:44:10 pm »

Meh! Not exactly what I expected.  It does seem that there is no alternative to steaming (that I can think of at the moment).  It reminds me of Italian polenta with a thick crispy crust.  It tastes very good, but definitely the taste/texture is very different from polenta. The crust is fabulously crispy and yet light.  But apparently the heat transfer coefficient is VERY low, and the inside will remain gooey -like a brownie. The batter simply forms a thick dry crust, and the centre never achieves a cake consistency.  It seems it would require a source of heat capable of heating the inside of the cake to make steam.  At this point I'm going to say something that might appear heretical: microwave, and using a greater amount of grease into the mix.

It seems that the Tamale cakes can only be done steamed, and the grease in the tamale both increases the heat transfer coefficient and keeps it from turning into a crust.  The steam will superheat the water inside the cake.  It's all physics, man....  Must have taken some time before the Native people perfected the art of making hominy cakes.

Not worth it. Find a nice tamale shop in a Mexican neighborhood, where real tamales are made by real Mexican grandmothers. I get mine from Vernor Avenue in Detroit.
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« Reply #519 on: February 15, 2016, 07:44:05 pm »

Meh! Not exactly what I expected.  It does seem that there is no alternative to steaming (that I can think of at the moment).  It reminds me of Italian polenta with a thick crispy crust.  It tastes very good, but definitely the taste/texture is very different from polenta. The crust is fabulously crispy and yet light.  But apparently the heat transfer coefficient is VERY low, and the inside will remain gooey -like a brownie. The batter simply forms a thick dry crust, and the centre never achieves a cake consistency.  It seems it would require a source of heat capable of heating the inside of the cake to make steam.  At this point I'm going to say something that might appear heretical: microwave, and using a greater amount of grease into the mix.

It seems that the Tamale cakes can only be done steamed, and the grease in the tamale both increases the heat transfer coefficient and keeps it from turning into a crust.  The steam will superheat the water inside the cake.  It's all physics, man....  Must have taken some time before the Native people perfected the art of making hominy cakes.

Not worth it. Find a nice tamale shop in a Mexican neighborhood, where real tamales are made by real Mexican grandmothers. I get mine from Vernor Avenue in Detroit.

Well I don't have the right equipment, and I need lard and corn husks. I need a large steamer. I've heard that you can use rice steamers as well.  Plenty of tamales in this city, but the majority are not very good or too expensive.  Maybe if I go to one of the Mexican food stores I'll find freshly made ones.
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RJBowman
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« Reply #520 on: February 24, 2016, 05:36:28 pm »

Interesting article:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/22/467113401/lo-mein-loophole-how-u-s-immigration-law-fueled-a-chinese-restaurant-boom

The article explains the Chinese restaurant boom in the early 20th century. I recently read an article about Detroit's long defunct Chinatown, and the article mentions restaurants as being the prominent business type in the district.

Ethnic restaurants are often an American's first direct exposure to the cultures of other countries, so these restaurants would have been cultural embassies of a sort.
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Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #521 on: February 25, 2016, 07:33:10 am »

Interesting article:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/22/467113401/lo-mein-loophole-how-u-s-immigration-law-fueled-a-chinese-restaurant-boom

The article explains the Chinese restaurant boom in the early 20th century. I recently read an article about Detroit's long defunct Chinatown, and the article mentions restaurants as being the prominent business type in the district.

Ethnic restaurants are often an American's first direct exposure to the cultures of other countries, so these restaurants would have been cultural embassies of a sort.
[/quote

Thank for sharing that . It was ian nteresting insight. Beautiful pictures too.
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Prof. Cecily
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« Reply #522 on: February 25, 2016, 10:26:19 am »

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
What an interesting article.
Quote
The late hours observed by Chinese restaurants were also a draw — especially to bohemians, whose patronage lent these establishments a certain cachet. By 1910, "going out for chop suey made middle-class Americans feel pleasantly naughty," write Lisa Stoffer and Michael Lesy in Repast, their history of dining out during that era.

Cultural historians also tell of the rise of "slumming parties" — groups of well-heeled suburbanites and out-of-towners in New York who'd pay for tours of Chinatown, where the supposed "depravity" of the place was the main attraction. And some point to New York Jews who shook off the old country and embraced Chinese food as a sign of their own modernity.

Ooh.
Ideas for stories galore here!

I remain yours,
Prof. Cecily
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« Reply #523 on: February 26, 2016, 06:58:34 am »

Meh! Not exactly what I expected.  It does seem that there is no alternative to steaming (that I can think of at the moment).  It reminds me of Italian polenta with a thick crispy crust.  It tastes very good, but definitely the taste/texture is very different from polenta. The crust is fabulously crispy and yet light.  But apparently the heat transfer coefficient is VERY low, and the inside will remain gooey -like a brownie. The batter simply forms a thick dry crust, and the centre never achieves a cake consistency.  It seems it would require a source of heat capable of heating the inside of the cake to make steam.  At this point I'm going to say something that might appear heretical: microwave, and using a greater amount of grease into the mix.

It seems that the Tamale cakes can only be done steamed, and the grease in the tamale both increases the heat transfer coefficient and keeps it from turning into a crust.  The steam will superheat the water inside the cake.  It's all physics, man....  Must have taken some time before the Native people perfected the art of making hominy cakes.

Not worth it. Find a nice tamale shop in a Mexican neighborhood, where real tamales are made by real Mexican grandmothers. I get mine from Vernor Avenue in Detroit.

Eureka!  I've successfully steamed my first batch.  They are much smaller, basically "doughnut-hole" size balls of Masa, made with 1.15 tablespoons of canola (a.k.a. rapeseed) oil per 1/2 cup of masa plus water to make a soft pasty mixture (wetter than that for tortillas).  I made a "Bain Marie" type of arrangement in a small pot with lid and a small glass dish in the centre containing the masa balls. Just enough water surrounding the dish, but not so much that the dish floats.  It took me about 2 hrs to boil until cooked at the lowest possible setting that will sustain slight boiling.

Steaming is the trick to getting a moist cake.  It has a very fine crumb, though I suspect it'd be better with the prescribed.  Topped the tamale balls with strawberry preserves - preferably not too sweet, that allows the masa flavour to come through.  Very subtle but spacial taste.

This calls for a Steampunk Tamal Steamer.
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« Reply #524 on: February 26, 2016, 07:14:12 am »

Interesting article:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/22/467113401/lo-mein-loophole-how-u-s-immigration-law-fueled-a-chinese-restaurant-boom

The article explains the Chinese restaurant boom in the early 20th century. I recently read an article about Detroit's long defunct Chinatown, and the article mentions restaurants as being the prominent business type in the district.

Ethnic restaurants are often an American's first direct exposure to the cultures of other countries, so these restaurants would have been cultural embassies of a sort.


Certainly the Americans took a taste for international food. But in some places much better than others.

My grandmother was raised in New York City, in the 1920's and 30's and back in the 30's she already had seen a tremendous "melting pot" of cultures, plue all the cuisine that went along with it.  She remembers that they would cook a different "nationality of food" for every day of the week, because it was so easy to get the ingredients for any particular food you wanted to eat.

In contrast, in the country, the food of Americans was limited to whatever ethnicity you belonged to.  Once Texas became part of the US, and after the mass migration of Germans and Czech around the turn of the 19th C, the Mexican culture was displaced, and the local food became much closer to the food of the new migrants.  So European foods dominated Central Texas, in cities like Austin, whereas Mexican food was more protected in San Antonio. Migrants in rural areas were not so keen to adopt foreign food styles, and they kept to their own style.
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