Today was our last day in the kitchen so we had to make it count with a couple of star dishes: tamales and mole poblano. Both specialities of the Puebla area where Dona Estela's family is from.
On the menu for the last day:
-Tamales (and many sauces)
-Caldo de abas (fava bean soup)
-Suspiros de novia (sighs of the bride)
-Arroz con perejil (rice with parsley)
We started off with a soup like every day and this one had a fava bean base. It's pretty light but being made of the blessed bean, my stomach was not up to it, so I didn't try it. My cooking companion Beverley however said it was excellent.
The supsiros de novia are like little deep fried pancakes that are smothered in a sugar syrup. The syrup is flavoured with lime and cinammon and is totally delicious. A little zest from the outside of the limes adds a bit of flair as well. We decorated with slices of limes from the tree in the backyard, which were more like regular limes than the little ones we used in the recipe. I had ot have a taste, of course, and man were they TART! But the smell was out of this world. Like with everything else this week, I had my nose in there first, It was a fiesta of the senses in the kitchen.
Next up was the mole poblano sauce with its many, many ingredients. My restaurant experience in Puebla a few days ago did not make me as keen as I once was to try this sauce but I held out hope that I would like the version we created more. And I did. My biggest issue with the first version of the mole poblano that I tried was that it was too sweet. I'm all kinds of keen to test out the chocolate in my savoury food but I don't want it to be sweet. This sauce had about 20 or so ingredients including garlic, ancho and mulato chiles, cinammon, cumin, cloves, onion, etc and of course chocolate. We used a big round of Nestle Abuelita, which is pretty widely available in Mexican and Latin grocery stores.
As you add it all together it becomes richer and darker as it cooks but I was happy that it didn't get to the almost-black syrupy texture of the other one I tried. We ate it with chicken, and I had seconds! Will for sure try this one again but it is so rich, it can't be eaten too frequently.
Now the tamales, they where a major operation. We made a bunch of different kinds so had all manner of sauces and jazz to make and use. We used some of the leftover tinga that we made a couple of days ago as well as some of the mole poblano that we'd just made. We also whipped up a green sauce with tomatillos and a red sauce with tomatoes and cheese. There was pork, chicken, and Oaxacan cheeese with epazote and slices of jalepeno. So it was a fun festival of fillings. But the trick to these magnificent tamales was the masa, which we did not make but was purchased fresh from a local store. It was light and fluffy and we used it in a much runnier texture than I realized. See, this is why you gotta go to the source for the tricks . . . it can't all be learned from books. Trick no. 2, after the fresh masa, is to take the salsas and essentially press a spoonful into the masa inside the corn husk as it'll keep the masa moist and you won't have dried out and difficult to swallow tamales. All I can say is they were absolutely fantastico and I think I might have eaten a dozen of them all by myself. All the fillings were good but the chicken and salsa verde as well as the tinga topped my list. Luckily there are leftovers to take on the road when I head for Mexico City.
Well that's it for the Mexican Home Cooking School adventure. It was a great learning experience from both the cooking and the cultural sides. We ended off our stay with a trip to the local mercado in Tlaxcala where I bought myself a comal so I'm ready to head back to Toronto and roast some tomatoes, garlic, and onion!! Stay tuned for a few more adventures in food from Mexico City, where I'm meeting J for a fun weekend of adventures.