Beef Tamales

Beef Tamales

Cooking food inside plant leaves is a practice made in many cuisines. Grapes, banana, and corn leaves (or husks) make for a fascinating cooking technique and charming presentation. Watch a video of these Beef Tamales in the works.

There are many versions of tamales throughout Latin America, and they don’t need to be done with only corn—although corn tamales are the most popular tamal. They can be done with yucca, beans or other vegetables. In fact, in Brazil, one very famous tamal is the Abará, made from black-eyed peas (feijão fradinho in Portuguese), seasoned with dried shrimp, onions, ginger, and palm oil. In Brazil, we use the name Pamonha instead of tamales.

Oh, can we talk grammar for a second? One tamal. Two tamales.

Tamales can be filled with various fillings, from chicken, beef, turkey, or fish. Tamales can be an appetizer, side dish, or a full meal, depending on the recipe. I like to garnish tamales with sauce, queso blanco, cilantro, and avocados. What sauce? I save some of the cooking liquid from the braised beef and use that as the sauce for the recipe below. You can also make chimichurri or tomato salsa as alternative sauces. Use your imagination and feel free to garnish with sour cream, grated cheese, etc.

Many cultures prepare tamales with fresh corn, while in Mexico, it’s more common to use corn flour or masa harina, which can be easily found in grocery stores on the Latin Island.

Masa Harina
Masa Harina

 

Making these beef tamales is a labor-intensive project; you have to prepare the filling, the dough, assemble the tamales and then steam them. The advantage is, you can make them up to one week ahead of time or freeze them if they are well wrapped.

 

Steaming X Boiling

In Brazil, we boil the pamonhas or tamales. In Mexico, we steam. Personally, I find that no matter how well wrapped or tied up, when boiling them directly in water, it always finds a way to get in touch with the tamales. For that reason, I prefer steaming.

 

Fresh Husks X Dry

In Brazil, we use fresh corn husks. In Mexico and Latin markets all over the U.S, it’s easy to find dry husks. If you soak them for 10 minutes in hot water, they’re OK to use.

 

Encasing the Beef Tamales

Some cuisines call for multiple leaves, wrapping each tamal and tying them with a string. Others simply fold the husk tight enough that the dough will stay inside. It’s up to you how to wrap them. There is no right or wrong. At the end of the “assembling party,” if you run out of husks but still have dough and filling, you can always use aluminum foil for the last ones. True, they don’t have a charming presentation, but it can be done.

 

Dough Thickness

It’s important to make a dough thin enough to allow the filling to shine but not so thin that the tamal becomes too fragile. About ¼-inch should be good. When using masa harina, it’s crucial to have a good proportion of corn flour, plus lard and broth to moisten the dough.

 

 

Beef Tamales

Makes about 25 Tamales

 

For the Beef Filling:

2½ lbs beef stew, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 garlic cloves

2 onions, peeled and quartered

1 dry guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed

1 dry ancho chile, seeds and stems removed

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon ground cumin

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

 

For the Tamales Dough

¾ cup (130g) lard (or vegetable shortening or coconut oil)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

3½ cups (530g) masa harina (instant corn masa flour)

3½ cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

 

To Assemble the Tamales:

25 dried corn husks, soaked in hot water

 

For Garnish:

Feta cheese

Avocado, cut into small cubes

Cilantro, chopped

Equipment: large pan and lid with steamer that fits inside

 

Prepare the Beef Filling: In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine all the ingredients except cayenne, chili powder and paprika. Add cold water, just enough to cover the entire food, cover the pan and bring to boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce the heat, open the lid slightly to cover partially, and cook until the meat is very tender, between 1-2 hours, skimming off the foam occasionally.

Transfer the meat to a bowl and let it cool, then shred it with your fingers (I like to use kitchen gloves to do that). Discard the bay leaves and transfer the garlic, onion and chiles to a blender along with the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth. You will have a lot of sauce. Add just enough to make the beef nice and moist and save the rest of the sauce to serve with the tamales. Taste the meat and adjust the seasoning with the cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika, salt and pepper if needed. Save the meat and sauce separately. You can prepare them up to a week ahead before assembling the tamales. You can also freeze for one month.

Prepare the Dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment place the lard,

salt and water and beat for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Add the baking powder and then alternate adding the harina flour and chicken broth alternating a little at a time. Continue beating until the dough is homogeneous and as fluffy as can get.

For the Corn Husks: Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for at least 10 minutes or until they are pliable. Drain them in a colander.

Assemble the Tamales: Lay out a corn husk with the pointy end towards you. Spread about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dough into an oval shape, about ¼-inch thick, leaving a border of at least ½-inch on the sides. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough.

Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold the sides to one side, rolling them in the same direction around the tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Alternatively, you can also fold the top end and make a little package with the tamales. Some people like to wrap it in a string to secure the package.

Set a pan fitted with a steamer inside and fill with water. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks as protection. Assemble all the tamales and place them inside the steamer either with the open end on top or if you folded the top as well, lay them flat. You can pile them up. Cover with the lid and cook on low heat for 30-45 minutes. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. Remove all the tamales from the steamer. Serve with hot sauce saved from the meat and garnish with feta cheese, avocado and cilantro.

 

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Sonhos Portuguese Doughnuts

Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts)

Over the years, I’ve tried a myriad of Christmas desserts, from chocolate cakes to tiramisu, puddings, and pies. One treat I haven’t tried in a long time is Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts), from my native Brazil. You find a little fried doughnut, or something similar in most international cuisine, like Beignets in France, Bomboloni in Italy, Berliner in Germany, Churros in Mexico, and Sufganiyot in Israel.

The frying aspect makes for a crispy and satisfying pastry, a small bite of joy. You prepare what is essentially pate-a-choux, then employ the Sonhos trademark: little doughnuts that are light and airy on the inside, crispy and caramelized on the outside. See short video of these babies frying. These sonhos are a revelation when served with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, jam, or even plain, just coated in cinnamon sugar. The biggest challenge about making these? Not eating them as you do so.

Especially this time of the year, making Sonhos invokes a sense of nostalgia for a time when I used to eat them in Brazil at padarias (bakeries) where they’re sold. In fact, it’s hard to remember the last time I made Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts) from scratch. It was probably when I was still living in Brazil, exploring our baking repertoire.

The urge to make them hit me when a client asked me to teach them in a cooking class. She wanted to make them with her family with that in mind: bringing everybody together with fun kitchen projects over the holidays.

Days before printing the recipe, I went to the kitchen to test it out making them with water, with milk, with butter, sonhos without butter, with eggs, and fewer eggs. Man, I love my job.

Moments like these fill my heart with joy as I cook, bake, test, write, style, take photos and videos. Who knew that a whole progression of culinary production would unfold from those pastries? Yes, I take pictures, lots of them, as the art of photographing food and making videos gained a whole new meaning in today’s era of social media.

But the culmination of happiness happens when you cook with others and gather with family in the kitchen over Christmas, bonding over a meal prepared by many hands. This cooking class happened in person. The first since the start of the pandemic. We chopped, braised, assembled, fried, cooked, and cooked some more. Our class was a mix of beautiful recipes and family team collaboration.

Despite covid numbers rising, I’m so glad we did it. As I followed the news, I was afraid they would cancel the class. They were worried I was going to cancel as well. None of us did, which tells me that we all urge for this activity, and for togetherness.

The word Sonhos translates to dreams, the fuel for our souls. Welcome family, welcome memories, welcome friends, and welcome dreams! I don’t know what the future holds for us, for the world, or for the current Covid situation. Who knows what social media will be here 10 years now? All I can say is one thing I know for sure: I am a dreamer and, as long as I’m alive, I’ll keep on dreaming.

 

Sonhos Brazilian Recipe

 

Sonhos (Portuguese Doughnuts)

Makes about 20 doughnuts

 

Ingredients:

For the Batter:

1 cup water

1 stick (115g) unsalted butter

pinch salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs

 

For the Sugar Coating:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ cup sugar

 

Canola Oil as needed for frying

 

Prepare the Batter: In a saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar, and bring to a boil.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the flour, all at once.

Return the saucepan to the stove and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon for approximately 2 minutes over medium heat, to dry out the paste. (You dry it out by moving it from side to side, in the saucepot, with a wooden spoon.)

Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat at low speed, letting the steam escape.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is nice and smooth. Don’t overbeat it. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare the Coating: In a shallow bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Fry the Sonhos: Fill a medium saucepan with oil to a depth of about 3 inches (about 3 cups) and heat the oil to 350˚F. Using a small ice scream scoop or a small spoon, scoop a few balls and drop them into the hot oil. Work in batches and don’t crowd the pan. Adjust the heat and temperature of the oil as needed. Cook until the sonhos as nicely golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sonhos directly from the oil to the sugar coating, rolling each in sugar all over. You want to roll them in the sugar while hot so the sugar sticks. Repeat with all the dough. Let them cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve them with chocolate sauce or caramel sauce.

 

 

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I’d love to know what you think about this article. Please send an e-mail.

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook, I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook.

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Leticia

Pitbull

Hispanic Health Campaign

Exciting news! I’m so proud to be part of the Media Planet Hispanic Health Campaign!

Hispanics have long lacked access to quality healthcare in this country, and as a result suffer disproportionately from health complications like diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, and more. This campaign advocates for improving that access to care, and empowering the Hispanic community to take charge of their health and well-being. Learn more by picking up a copy of the campaign in the LA Times or by reading the digital version online here.

Yesssss!!! It’s him, the amazing, the talented, the worldwide popstar artist, the one and only Pitpbull!

I’m so honored and thrilled to be part of this project with him and can’t stop spinning to his songs!

Leticia Spinning to Pitbull

 

Did you hear me say spinning? Oh yes, and you can read abut it too, on this article, part of our campaign, about how I discovered joy in exercising.

 

Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

Please send an e-mail.

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook, I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A cookbook.

Visit my YouTube Chanel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

The easiest and most impactful thing you can to support is subscribe to my newsletter and to my channel on YouTube. And of course, tell your friends about it.

I’d love to connect with you on social media

Instagram @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz,

Twitter @ChefLeticia

Facebook @ChefLeticiaHealthyCooking

See you next time,

Leticia

 

 

Ground Meat With Oloves, Tomatoes Pine Nuts

Ground Meat with Olives, Tomatoes & Pine Nuts

This recipe for Ground Meat with Olives, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts is a great new addition to your repertoire. Who doesn’t love meatloaf, hamburger or meatballs? Sauce Bolognese? Steak Tartare? We can keep going when it comes to ground meat, one of the most versatile cuts of beef, and the star of many classics from all over the world.

Stores don’t label where the ground meat comes from, but most ground beefs are a concoction of different cuts like chuck, eye round, sirloin, or brisket. Different amounts of fat are injected to add moisture to the meat. The leaner the ground meat, the dryer. Of course, for some recipes, that’s’ what you want; like for croquettes for example where you want to avoid fat inside the meat. For most other recipes like sauces, hamburgers, meatballs and meatloaf, you might want to choose ground beef with some amount of fat in it.

What you do find in stores is the indication of fat: regular, lean or super lean, varies between 10 to 15 to 20% of fat.

In terms of storage, ground meet has to be used within one day after buying since the meat will turn “gray “on the outside. If this happens, remove the gray part and use the remaining “pinkish” part. Technically speaking you can freeze ground meat. Personally, I don’t like to. I usually plan to buy my meat the day of, or the day before cooking.

This recipe is an easy one. It doesn’t have the iconic reputation of the previous classics mentioned above, but it’s a recipe to make over and over again. It’s ground beef cooked with spices and embellished with chopped garnishes. It takes very little time to prepare and once cooked, it’ll give you many meals. You can pair it with plain rice, or potatoes, or rice and beans, or crack a fried egg on top.

Imagination has no limits when it comes to ground beef.

 

Ground Meat with Olives, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Serves 4

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 fresh bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb ground meat

2 teaspoons sumac,

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons harissa paste

½ cup chicken or beef stock

7 tablespoons pine nuts

1 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

½ cup chopped parsley

 

Procedure: Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium bottomed frying pan for which you have a tight- fitting lid. Add the garlic and cook until it’s just starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes, then add the onion and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the ground beef, season again with salt and pepper, and brown well, another 4 minutes. Add the sumac, cumin, harissa paste and chicken stock. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, until the meat is moist and tender. Before serving, add the pine nuts, tomatoes, olives and parsley. Mix well and enjoy!

 

I’m so happy that you visited today. Thanks for reading and browsing my site.

Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

I’d love to know what you think about this article. Please send an e-mail.

You can find more about my work on ChefLeticia.com;

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon: Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook, I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook.

Visit my YouTube Chanel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

The easiest and most impactful thing you can to support is subscribe to my newsletter and to my channel on YouTube. And of course, tell your friends about it.

I’d love to connect with you on social media

Instagram @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

Twitter @ChefLeticia

Facebook @ChefLeticiaHealthyCooking

See you next time,

Leticia

 

 

 

Oven Roasted Onions

Oven Roasted Onions

What’s better than caramelized onions? Oven Roasted Onions, caramelized with chicken stock, heavy cream and rosemary!

Inspired by an old recipe I pulled from the pages of Saveur Magazine more than 15 years ago, this recipe became a classic in my repertoire. I make this with my eyes closed. And after your first time, you will too. It’s so easy and so delicious, you’ll be cooking again and again!

 

Oven Roasted Onions

Oven Roasted Onions

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

6 large yellow onions, skin on

2 cups beef stock (or chicken)

3 tablespoon extra -virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 rosemary sprigs

½ cup heavy cream

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F. Cut about 1/4-inch off the bottoms and tops of the onions so that they can sit upright when cut in half. Next, slice the onions in half horizontally. Arrange them cut side up in a large baking dish (enough to fit all of the onions).
  • Pour the beef stock over and around the onions, drizzle olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter rosemary over the onions and into the stock in the baking dish.
  • Roast in the oven, basting often with the stock, until the onions are soft when pierced with the tip of a pairing-knife, and the stock has been reduced but not completely dried out. This should take about 1 hour.
  • Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the cream over the onions. Return the dish to the oven, and roast again, until pan juices have thickened slightly, and the tops of the onions have browned, about 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

I’m so happy that you visited today! Thanks for reading and browsing my site!

Have you bought my latest cookbook Latin Superfoods yet? You will love it!

If you like what you read, tell your friends about it,

If you’re Looking for Virtual Cooking Class, take a look at this video and contact me!

I’d love to connect with you! Please do send comments and suggestions,

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Cook at home! Body Up! Health up! Wise up!

See you next time!

Leticia

 

November Diabetes Awareness Month

November Diabetes Awareness Month

A Touch of Sugar

This month is an especially exciting time to talk about Type 2 diabetes as November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Our campaign America’s Diabetes Challenge—and our documentary A Touch of Sugar— are both brining with outstanding awards and also comes with an enormous feeling of pride having just celebrated the Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes in Philadelphia, and taken a moment to reflect on another impressive year raising awareness about type 2 diabetes. There is so much to share!

When you see the film A Touch of Sugar (click above to see trailer) , you will hear about the amazing stories told through the voices of people living with the disease and their loved ones and advocates. Merck is determined to help raise the education about type 2 diabetes and to increase awareness and barriers to care, to spark action and, ultimately, to confront America’s type 2 diabetes epidemic head on, one community and one patient at a time.

Further in the film, we look at the importance of diet, cooking and exercising, from the personal voice and experience of award-winning actress Viola Davis, to a cooking session with Susie Katona in Yucca Valley, California. And of course, we feature some amazing recipes on our web site so that you can make good use of it.

I’m so inspired by the mission and work of Americas Diabetes Challenge and am equally motivated by the vote of confidence acting as the spokesperson for the campaign and the interaction with Merck as our sponsor. Thanks to Merck’s support, we are able to invest in this documentary, enhance our mission, provide a bigger platform, and continue our journey.

Since the film’s premiere in April, we have received over 800 requests from individuals and organizations to view and host screenings of the film to educate their networks and communities. A Touch of Sugar also continues to be recognized by and accepted into film festivals around the country.

I’m also delighted to report that the documentary airs nationally on A&E on November 17 at 9am ET and FYI Network on November 18 at 10pm ET and November 23 at 10:30am ET and November 25 ay 8:30am ET.

Scene from A Touch of Sugar

You can also head to ATouchofSugarFilm.com to request to watch the film or host a screening. On the website, you’ll find educational resources to help improve diabetes management and a discussion guide to learn more about how you can make a difference in your local community.

Always evolving as a professional, my new cookbook Latin Superfoods, has just released, and the response has been extremely positive! The book is completely inspired by my work with America’s Diabetes Challenge with lots of recipes for the whole family to enjoy. I’ve been touring the tristate area with cooking segments and sharing the incredible recipes that are meant to help you eat better, make good food choices, and perform at your peak in all aspects of your life. And every season there is more cooking, more photos, and more stories that inspire. They are made to be used and to be useful.

Latin Superfoods

With all these advancements, we continue to reach for more. I look forward to the work we are doing, to continue to lead the campaign, and helping people make better food choices, to increase the education for communities affected by type 2 diabetes, and to build prominence in the health and wellness fields via cooking.

I’m so grateful for being part of this important documentary, to share these delicious recipes in a new cookbook, and to partner with others who are also engaged in what we are seeking to accomplish!

I hope you enjoy seeing the interviews, watching the documentary, and cooking from Latin Superfoods!

 

 

Thanks for reading and browsing my site!

If you like what you read, tell your friends about it, share, like it!

I’d love to connect with you! Please do send comments and suggestions,

If you prepare any of the recipes on the site, snap a photo and send it to me!

Follow my food adventures on social media!

Instagram

Facebook

Contact me!

And remember always,

Cook at home! Body Up! Health up! Wise up!

See you next time!

Leticia

 

 

 

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