The mouse is dead. I repeat, the mouse that has occupied my kitchen for the past four months has finally cycled into another existence, hopefully as a squirrel or more savory varmint far away from this address. A few nights ago Shaun and I were laying in bed, almost asleep, when we were startled by the sound of crinkling, crackling, and nibbling in the office. The office, I’m telling you, which is upstairs and about a million Shaun-sized paces from the kitchen. I jumped out of bed and barreled down the hall in my underwear, shaking my hands in the air hollering “Mark my words, this is it! (expletives) This is your last night!” I reloaded and repositioned every trap in the living room, dining room, and kitchen with gobs of peanut butter and brie (as it was suggested, a Happyolks mouse might have advanced taste). At work the next day I got a two word text message from Shaun around 3 pm, “Got him,” two glorious day-making words, and I proceeded to gloat to every co-worker who had been following my persistent rodent woes since October. Do not cross a girl chasing a mouse in her underwear. She means business.
You see, it’s finally a new year now. 2013 started on January 17th here in Denver. I have conquered the mouse and I am quite certain that I will now be able to conquer anything that the year has in store. Broke as as joke? Psh, What else is new. Pimples and wrinkles? BRING IT. Stolen bike? These legs are good to walk, skip, and run. I went to bed that night, in a mouse-less house, struck with sudden desires to learn to drive a stick shift, take a self defense class, ask to be compensated for my work, and generally be more spontaneous and kick-butt. Heck, I thought, if I can kill the smartest mouse in the history of mice, I can probably take a stab at croissants, tamales, mole, merengue, kombucha, and other seemingly terrifying cooking projects with style.
So… in the three days since the mouse was evicted I got a nose ring, dropped three grand on airfare to Chile, and made tamales, with kale and apples, which, for the record, are totally not hard and you should try immediately. You will feel like Joan of Arc and go on to make crazy-wonderful and empowered decisions in your day and year.
Kale, Apple, Ancho Chili Tamales
- 4 cups Masa Harina
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp mexican oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 cup melted coconut oil
- 2 bunches lacinato (dinasaur) kale
- 3 cups shredded mixed mexican cheese
- 1 fuji apple, small dice
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeno, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Juice of one lime
- 20 dried corn husks
- Sauce from here.
First thing is first, submerge corn husks in a deep bowl with boiling water and allow to soften for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I use a heavy jar of coconut oil to keep the husks from floating. In a large bowl combine masa, baking powder, oregano, and salt. Mix together warm water and melted coconut oil and pour over masa mixture, stirring until a dough forms. Set aside and cover.
In a large cast iron or heavy skillet, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent but not browned. Add the ancho and chipotle powders and the juice of the lime. Stir and let simmer. Remove spines of the kale and roughly tear leaves into the onion mixture on the stove. Stir in apples, fresh jalapeno and salt. Cook until the kale is wilted and apples are tender. Remove from heat, mix in cheese to melt.
For the assembly of the tamales, create an assembly line of bowls with the masa, husks, and filling. Place one softened husk on the cutting board or counter and fill with dough. I didn’t measure, but I’d estimate I used +/- a 1/2 cup of masa mixture per tamale. Press dough into the face of the husk leaving an inch or so dead space around the perimeter. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Don’t sweat it. Spoon a bit of the cheesy kale mixture into the center of the masa platform you’ve created. I think I used more like 1/3 cup of filling per tamale. None of them are the same size or shape, just go with it. Wrap like you would a book-shaped gift, fold over the right side then the left, overlapping the edges. Flip up the bottom tail and place seam-side down on a plate. Repeat until you have filled 15-20 tamales, depending on how full you stuff them.
To steam the tamales I used a large pot with the pasta-colander attachment, although I have read and heard about steaming racks that can be placed in caserole dishes and the like. I imagine you could easily use a pop-out vegetable steamer in a deep pot or even a rice cooker, too. Place all the tamales in the basin of the vessel with the seam sides down. Cook for 45 minutes.