Saturday, October 31, 2009

I love this book.

The library is a great resource for cookbooks, for a number of reasons. Buying cookbooks can be a tricky science. There is no good way to tell, at least for me, if a new cookbook will be good or bad. In my cookbooks, I like a friendly tone, but one that errs on the side of expert-- I want to be learning something new from someone. The author has to be able to convince me she or he has something to offer. The library allows you to test run a coobook before making a commitment to it. It is a really undervalued resource, in my opinion. One of the cookbooks I borrowed the other day will be added to my cookbook wishlist! It's called The South American Table by Maria Baez Kijac. It's filled with wonderful recipes from all over South America, tidbits about the food's history in the context of a various cultures, and no photos, but really well-written descriptions. This book is truly educational, and the recipes, what I look for most in a cookbook, are inspirational, and open to a lot of flexibility.

I adapted my Bolivian Tamales from this book, and I urge you to check the book out. These Bolivian tamales are not only great as a meal but, come Passover, I will revisit them, as the starch is quinoa, which is kosher for passover. Also, unlike more well-known tamales, which are wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and steamed that way, these are not tamales, per se, but one big baked tamal, not wrapped, which saves a lot of fuss.

BAKED TAMAL (adapted from Kijac's The South American Table)
1 c cooked quinoa
2 T butter
1 onion, diced
1/2 c evaporated nonfat milk
3 beaten eggs
pinch salt
1 t agave
1/2 t fennel seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T peri peri sauce (or other hot sauce)
4 oz diced jack or Chihuahua cheese (found at Latin markets)

In skillet, cook onion in butter until translucent. Combine with quinoa, milk, eggs, salt, sugar, fennel, cinammon, Peri Peri, and cheese in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles an airy dough. It will be rather liquidy, but thick, goopy. Pour into a greased 9x9 dish. Bake for 45 min, until top is golden brown, on 350 degrees. Allow to cool a bit (say, 10 min out of the oven). Then serve.

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