What We Like:
We like cooking to relieve the day's pent-up stress. We like beginnings, middles, and definite ends. We like people dropping by unannounced. We like curiousity, interest. We like the stories that go along with the food. We like the ones that reach way back to why a certain type of food ended up, of all places, here. We like talking about the best way to make things. We like tasting as we go. We like the dogs refusing to stop begging, their sharp little paws grasping the butcher block, because dinner just smells so good. We like questions. We like all the details that go along with how it's done. We like failing at times because it is likely to lead to some sort of unexpected breakthrough. We like sharing. We like Graham Sr. and Walker stopping by at the magic hour of somewhere close to 5 to stand around with us and talk and pass the time with us in the kitchen.
And, finally, we really liked these tamales: seitan and mushrooms filling along with a ground-chile-tinged masa, pico de gallo, and a new black bean / true black rice combo that is surprising enough to make us talk about how it tastes in between bites. We like that it's vegan since we had already descended upon some new gouda cheese beforehand as we talked. We like looking forward to this time of day, every day. We like how reliable it is; no matter how much we actually don't like the day, we know we probably will like all that goes along with dinner.
For the red sauce:
2 dried ancho chilies (stems & seeds removed)
1 dried arbol chile (stem removed)
4 cloves of garlic.
4 large tomatoes (roughly chopped) or 1 large can of tomatoes
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon of smoky paprika
1 cup of water
salt & pepper (to taste)
Throw all of the ingredients into a pot with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until all ingredients are soft. Transfer everything to a blender or food processor and blend on high for a few minutes or until smooth. Strain. This will leave you with a smooth & flavorful sauce. Throw corn husks in hot water to soak.
For the filling:
4 cups mushrooms (cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1 package of "chicken style" seitan
1/8 cup of olive oil
salt & pepper (to taste)
Saute' mushrooms in oil until tender, then add seitan and continue to cook until some browning occurs. Transfer both the mushrooms and seitan to the pot containing the red sauce and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
For the masa dough:
Follow package instructions, but add 2 tablespoons of chile powder. Also, I use Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. It is still shortening, but it has no trans fats.
Okay, now you are ready to roll. Spread masa doug about 1/8th of an inch thick in the center of a corn husk. Leave about 1/4 - 1/2 inch margins. Place a spoonful of the filling in there, tuck one side, and roll the corn husk up. Then tuck the open end under and tie with butcher's string. Repeat until you run out of something. Take those little beauties and steam 'em for an hour. Top with pico or your favorite hot sauce. Eat.