Mexico is located in the continent of North America. It has the Arizona and Texas to the north, the Gulf of Mexico to the east, Belize and Guatemala to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the south and west, and California to the west and northwest.
The capital is Mexico City.
The official language is Spanish.
The climate has a wide array of climatic conditions to the vastness and diverse terrain. It is overall generally dry with little precipitation. The staples are three overall: corn, beans and chilies. They also have avocado, tomatoes, rice, seafood, goat, beef, pork, onions, peppers, limes, tortillas and so much more (https://www.chimuadventures.com/blog/2016/11/cuisine-mexico/#:~:text=The%20three%20staples%20in%20Mexican,pancake%20made%20from%20corn%20dough)).
MEXICAN TAMALES (https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/mexican-tamales/):
For the Dough:
- 4 C Masa Harina (Maseca brand if available)
- 3 C broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable broth)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1-1/3 C lard
- 8 oz package dried corn husks
Filling ideas (see below):
- Red chili pork
- Salsa verde chicken
- Bean and cheese
- Authentic Mexican rice
- Soak the corn husks in a bowl of very hot water for 30 minutes or until softened.
- Prepare your desired filling (see below).
- Make the masa dough by preparing it in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the lard and 2 TBSP of broth until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Combine the masa flour, baking powder, salt, and cumin in a separate bowl; stir into the lard mixture and beat well with an electric mixer.
- Add the broth, little by little to form a very soft dough. Beat on high speed for several minutes. The dough should spread like creamy peanut butter and be slightly sticky (you can also test if the masa tamale dough is ready by placing a tiny ball of dough into a glass of water – if the dough floats, it’s ready. If the dough sinks to the bottom of the glass, then beat it longer and add a little more broth, then test again). Cover the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel, to keep the dough from drying out.
- To assemble the tamales, lay a corn husk, glossy side up, on the counter with the wide end at the top. Scoop about ¼ C of dough onto the top, center of the corn husk. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and use your hands to press and spread the masa into a thin layer, about ¼” thick. Keep the dough spread along the top half of the corn husk to allow plenty of room to fold the bottom husk up, when it’s time.
- Place 1-2 TBSP of desired filling in a line down the center of the dough. (you don’t want too much filling).
- Fold in one long side of the husk over the filling. Fold the other long side, overlapping the first (like folding a brochure). Fold the bottom of the husk up.
- You don’t have to tie a corn husk string around the tamales – – it does take more time and they will hold together without it. However, if you’re making multiple fillings, tying ones of a certain kind can help to identify them.
- Add water to the bottom of your steamer or instant pot (about 1 C for IP and a few cups for a steamer pot – don’t fill above the steamer rack). Lay a few extra corn husks on the bottom rack to keep the tamales from falling through and any boiling water from directly touching them.
- Place tamales standing upright, with their open end up, just tightly enough to keep them standing. If using a steamer pot, lay a few soaked corn husks or a wet towel over the top of the tamales before closing the lid.
- If using a steamer, bring water to a boil (in Mexico they would often place a coin at the bottom of the steamer and when the coin started to tap in the pot you know the water is boiling). Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check them after 45 minutes.
- If using an Instant pot, cook on Manual/High Pressure for 25 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, and then quick release.
- To test if the tamales are done, remove one and try to pull the husk off. If the husk pulls away cleanly from the tamale they’re done. If the dough is still sticky or wet looking, cook them for 5-10 minutes longer and try again.
- Store leftover tamales in the refrigerator for 5-7 days depending on the freshness of your ingredients.
Filling suggestions (You will need about 3-1/2 – 4 C of filling for one batch of tamale dough):
- Red chili pork: 1 recipe red chili pork (you can also purchase shredded pork from the store, and add the red chili sauce if you do not want to do it from scratch).
- Salsa verde chicken: 3-1/2 C cooked, shredded chicken mixed with 16 oz can salsa verde (I like Herdez brand). (You can also purchase shredded chicken from the store if you do not want to cook it from scratch).
- Bean and cheese: 15 oz can refried beans and 1-1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese.
The tamales can also be frozen. Allow the cooked tamales to cool, then place them in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
When you are reheating the leftover or frozen tamales, wrap them in a few dampened paper towels and microwave until warmed through. The wet paper towels will help them “steam” as they are reheated. Be careful when unfolding them – they will be hot!!
- 1 large jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 small red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
- 1 large firm mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- ½ red onion, cut into matchsticks
- ½ C chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 limes, juiced
- ¼ C honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
NO BAKE CHURRO CHEESECAKE (https://www.imperialsugar.com/recipes/no-bake-churro-cheesecake):
- 15 cinnamon graham crackers, pulsed into crumbs
- ½ C unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ C Imperial Light Brown Sugar (any will do)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ C sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 TBSP Imperial Extra Fine Granulated Sugar (any will do)
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Mini churro cereal pieces (optional)
- In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix to fully combine. Press mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon together until smooth. Fold in whipped topping by hand and stir until completely combined. Spoon mixture into prepared crust and spread into a smooth layer.
- For topping, mix cinnamon and sugar together. Sprinkle entire top of cheesecake with cinnamon sugar mixture (you may or may not want to use it all). Refrigerate until firm, about 4-6 hours. Overnight is best.
- Before serving, garnish with whipped cream, more cinnamon sugar, and mini churros, if desired.
I also purchased an Instant Horchata Mix from the local Mexican Grocer. My Mexican friend said that if you replace ¼ of the water with milk, that it tastes more authentic. I tried it and she was right!!.