Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quickly, for a change

We had Fran Gage's pork tamales from Bread and Chocolate for dinner last night and they were a little glitchy. I didn't get as many as she said I would, the masa dough was overly soft and difficult to manage, the wrapping instructions were a bit unclear. Plus: time-consuming. But the rich dark chili sauce -- I made it with anchos -- was incredible and I remembered as I ate them how much I love tamales. We all did. Empanada is good, but tamales are better. Sorry Spain. You should make tamales, but I would use a Rick Bayless recipe like this one. I haven't made this particular recipe, but I've cooked tamales from his books and they work beautifully. He is right to call for tying the tamales shut with a strip of corn husk.

For dessert: Gage's chocolate cherry tart. This just wasn't my thing. It was like Black Forest cake compressed into a tart and everything that is wrong with Black Forest cake was wrong with this. A big, sweet, crisp, cherry -- preferably a Bing, almost black in color -- is a mighty and perfect food, especially if it comes straight out of the refrigerator. Cooking weakens the cherry, leaches its flavor and texture, makes it stringy and watery and prune-like. And then you add dark chocolate? Dark chocolate is such bully and this is definitely not a fair fight.

That said, if you like Black Forest cake, you will probably like this tart.

On another subject, I threw away the goat reblochon this morning.
You can see the mold, but I will tell you that there is also slime.
However, the camemberts are looking lovely.

Up close they are soft and fuzzy, like cuddly little mammals.


  1. Oh, I want some of your camembert, which is beautiful.

    Sweet cherries should not be cooked.

    Black Forest Cake is disgusting.

  2. My husband made a black forest cake once that he doused in what seemed like a gallon of cherry liqueur--enough to get a lot of flavor, but not so much that the cake was wet. It was mighty tasty, but that's the only version I've ever liked. I also think that's the only cake he's ever baked, and only the one time. What's THAT about? haha

  3. That Bayless tamale recipe you linked to is the same tamale recipe that's in his "Mexico, One Plate at a Time" book. It's the tamale recipe I always use, though I add a TB each of cumin & chili powder to the dough. It's not my favorite book of his (I prefer both "Authentic Mexican" and "Mexican Kitchen") but there are enough go-to recipes in it for me to label it a shelf essential. I glanced at your tour through that book from 2009, and it looks like you picked recipes I've never tried. Maybe I just got luckier in my choices.

  4. Oh, homemade tamales. I love tamales! I have never tried to make them, but I understand they can take a bit of focus. I am able to get them from a local BBQ joint, so I probably won't try to make them myself. You are so industrious!
    I actually adore the combination of cherries and chocolate, but I don't like sweet cherries cooked. Most fruit suffers when it's cooked.

  5. Another suggestion for the goat milk:D. Kennedy's recipe for “cajeta de celaya” (basically dulce de leche). It works very well if you are patient and make sure the milk will not burn at the bottom of the pot. It keeps forever; spread it on crepes, roll, and u have a jackpot meal.

  6. Some fruit is better cooked, I think: peaches and other stone fruits, for one (unless you find that 1 in a million perfectly ripe specimen). Sour cherries are magnificent when cooked -- in a pie, at least. But I agree that sweet cherries don't benefit from cooking.

    Chocolate + cherries is OK, I guess, but one combination I've never understand the allure of is raspberries + chocolate. I find the flavors jarring, very much at odds -- and a waste of raspberries.

  7. Your camembert is adorable! Chocolate and cherries always makes me think of those disgusting cherry cordials that people used to give out as Christmas gifts. Tamales are a much more excellent Christmas gift--very popular here in San Antonio around that time of year.

  8. Regarding the comments about cherries and chocolate and raspberries and chocolate and Black Forest Cake. It is for sure that fruit and chocolate should never mix. All these years and I've never had a Chunky candy bar because I would have to eat around the raisins.
    One exception: Raisinets. Those are OK. Still not nearly as good as Goobers.

  9. You MADE that Camembert? Congratulations! I want one.

  10. I ALWAYS prefer chocolate with nuts to chocolate with fruit. Fruit is too sweet and tart to go with chocolate--jarring indeed. But there are exceptions. I have a recipe that I adapted from Lorenza di Medici's coffee-table-book-like cookbook from years ago (Renaissance of Italian Cooking?) that uses a deep cocoa sable crust, sliced ripe (bartlett, I always say) pears, and a plush chocolate flourless batter over the top. Also, I think chocolate fruit and nut clusters can be delicious. But a beautiful bing cherry should be eaten straight out of the bag. (Though of course I just yesterday made cherry frangipane tart because I can't charge $6 for a handful of cherries.)

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