Homemade Tamales with Black Beans and Spanish Rice

Tamales

For the best tamales, you should use your abuela’s recipe.  In my case, not having an abuela of my own, I borrowed the recipe from Stephanie’s abuela — Marie E. Salazar.

At first, I thought that making tamales would be difficult and agonized over the proper ingredients and procedure. I wondered whether the effort would pay off and whether the tamales would taste like those tamales we once had from a street vendor in Santa Fe. And most of all, I wondered whether I had the energy to embark on a two-day adventure of stewing, cooking, folding, and steaming, all by myself.

In her write-up, Continue reading

Liege Waffles (Gaufres de Liege)

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There are Belgian waffles and then there are Belgian waffles.  The “Belgian” waffles we know and love are, in fact, American — an invention of the late 1950s, which were popularized during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.  The Belgian-American waffle, like other hyphenated groups, sits firmly on U.S. soil, but with a firm nod towards his past origin and history.

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Belgium is famous for its waffles.  But in Belgium, the most popular waffle is not the version we know (commonly referred to as the Brussels waffle), with the squared sides, light batter, and deep pockets.  No, the best and most popular waffle is the heralded  Liège waffle, with its caramelized colors, rounded edges, and small, hand-held beauty.  It is absolutely delicious and best eaten piping hot from a street stand, unadulterated by any add-ons.  Unlike the Brussels counterpart, the strawberries, syrup, and whipped cream only detract from its innate flavor.

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Egg Salad Sandwich

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Whenever I see egg salad on the menu, I can’t help but think of the scene from Pee-Wee Herman, where Winnie tells Pee-Wee that she has made him “his favorite.”  The two are seated on a picnic blanket, cooing at one another.  But with each guess — fried chicken!, hamburgers, cheese sandwich, turkey a la king, vegetarian plate, shepherd’s pie — Winnie becomes increasingly upset, just as Pee-Wee becomes increasingly confused, until he confesses that he can’t think of anything else.  At which point, Winnie pulls a carefully wrapped egg salad sandwich from the picnic basket.

Pee-Wee takes the obligatory bite, chews it around, pronounces it “egg salad-y,” and then tosses it, Frisbee-style towards some playground equipment.

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Soft Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard

ImageWhen I attend a professional sporting event, I usually buy a pretzel from the concession stand.  A hard, chewy, somewhat tasteless pretzel.  That costs about $5.00.  But really, what are you going to do?  Try ballpark sushi?  Or spend $20.00 for a hot chocolate?  Stadium food rarely presents many good options, though I’m sure there are some inherent challenges in preparing food for 70,000 people.

With that in mind, I decided to make my own stadium snack for the Superbowl.  With the big game on in the background, I got to work on these pretzel bites, mixing, kneading, rolling, slicing, and salting my own soft pretzels.  And the outcome was delicious, even if the game itself had turned anticlimactic by the third quarter.

When I first found this recipe, I found myself Continue reading

Berger Cookies

Berger Cookie

After making, among other things, our Rosemary Pepita Granola and our Cajun Spiced Almonds for our out-of-town guests, Caitlin and I sat down to brainstorm our end-of-the-evening favor.  With the wedding and reception in the heart of Baltimore, Caitlin suggested a quintessential Baltimore dessert.

I asked her what that might be.

For the road

Caitlin noted that it was the Berger cookie, a shortbread cookie topped with a thick layer of chocolate frosting, and long considered one of the best cookies in Baltimore.  A quick search of the Internet revealed a recipe from King Arthur flour.

Satisfied with the recipe, Continue reading

Cajun Spiced Almonds

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As I noted last month, Caitlin painstakingly prepared a beautiful array of signs, favors, and gifts for the guests of our wedding.  Among the items, she created over twenty-five welcome bags, each adorned with a hand-painted welcome tag and boasting a sixteen-page booklet of our favorite recipes.

The booklet featured line drawings of several photos from this blog, and guided our guests through meaningful recipes that the two of us had shared.  Among the recipes, there was one for Gooey Butter Cake, a St. Louis original, and an ode to the city where we first met; Lemon Yogurt Cake, a recipe that featured that lemon flavor I love; Sea Salt Caramels, a reminder of our trip to San Francisco together; White Peach Italian Ice, a summer treat that capped the end to a barbeque Caitlin and I hosted, and a tribute to an ice served by one of my favorite dessert shops growing up; and this recipe Continue reading

Rosemary Pepita Granola

Wedding Cake

“So what’s been cooking?” you might ask.

Well, for starters, I got married!

On June 22, 2013, Caitlin and I got married before our friends and family at the American Visionary Art Museum in downtown Baltimore.  The ceremony took place in the wildflower garden outside of the Museum, and was officiated by the Judge for whom I clerked, and in whose chambers Caitlin and I met some five years ago.

AVAM

The beauty of the ceremony was matched only by the radiance of my bride, and it was Caitlin’s months of efforts and DIY projects that made the day so touching and meaningful.  Caitlin painstakingly designed (and sometimes redesigned) Continue reading