Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bayless: Too busy to do you justice today, but that was a kick ass dinner

I don't want to fall behind because I take this Bayless v. Kennedy competition seriously. But I am actually busy with work-work. I forgot what this was like. It is not as much fun as I remembered.

I was very, very smitten with the casserole-style zucchini tamal I cooked last night from Mexico: One Plate at a Time. Fantastic and super-easy -- like a tamale, but without any tedious wrapping in corn husks or banana leaves. You just mix masa flour with water and butter and baking powder, then add some chopped ham, grated zucchini, watercress, and green onions. Steam in a pie plate. I served it with guacamole and salsa.
"This is not very bad, but it is not very good," said Owen. When I pointed out that he had cleaned his plate, he looked aggrieved. "Because I was HUNGRY," he said.

The child has a reputation to uphold, however disagreeable.

I like how versatile this recipe is, how you could substitute almost any grated fresh vegetable. You could use a different meat, or omit the meat. You could add cheese; you could add olives and chili peppers and raisins. 

For dessert: Mexican chocolate streusel cake from the same volume. This I won't make again. Bayless calls for grinding the Mexican chocolate into "coarse crumbs," but the chocolate bypassed coarse crumbs altogether, moving straight from unwieldy chunks to fine powder. I fear this had a deleterious effect on the cake. Something had a deleterious effect on the cake, which was dense and heavy.

As I mentioned, I'm switching off cooking dinner from books by Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless in order to decide who writes the better Mexican cookbooks. Melvil Dewey had suggested I come up with a funny algorithm for picking a winner, but I'm not feeling very cunning this afternoon, so I'm going to just give a numerical score to last night's dinner as a whole: 7.5 on a scale of 1-10. The cake brought the whole thing down at least a point.

Maybe I'll come up with a better measurement in a day or two.

In other news, I have a review of a very amusing novel here. 

And Owen starts 4H on Thursday. I really hope he doesn't decide he wants to raise rabbits. 


  1. Please send recipe for the casserole tamal (What is masa flour?)

    How exciting to have a 4H kid! so special. I have only read about 4H stuff in magazines.

    I enjoy this blog so much I am thinking of starting one of my own. on women's history or on retirement....

  2. I assume she's referring to maseca which is a sort of flour made from corn. The preferred way of making masa (which is the fundamental component in tortillas, sopes and the filling of tamales) is to use fresh ground corn which can be purchased in bulk at Mexican supermarkets and tortillerias, but I find it easier to work with maseca than with fresh masa myself.

  3. I really enjoyed Bayless's recipe for potato-chorizo tacos from that same volume. Really tasty and easy too! I enjoy your blog and look forward to seeing who wins your contest.

  4. You should try that cake again. I used to have a Mexican food cart and I served that cake. Maybe chop by hand with sharp knife instead of using a food processor?