Monday, September 19, 2005

black bean tamale torte with red chile sauce and tofu-cilantro cream, aka, tamale pie


tamale pie. never had it as a kid. the closest i came were those canned tamales, van de kamp brand maybe, over which my brother and i fought tooth and nail for. yes, the "meat" smelled just like the canned food we gave our giant, one-eyed dog, yes the texture was pretty soft and weird, and even to my childish unsophisticated nose, it didn't smell good. what can i say? i liked canned goods. maybe it was some metal deficency or something.

now that i'm a karma-fearing vegetarian the world of canned tamales is forever barred to me. not that i ever had them as an adult, but it's nice to think you could have one if you wanted to. not, of course, that i'd want to... so anyway, in searching for some childhood memories comfort food that my adult brain will allow me to eat, i came across this recipe for black bean and something or other yadda yadda yadda fancy pants torte from the millenium cookbook. sounds like tamale pie to me.

first off, let me warn you that this makes an ungodly amount of torte, pie, whatever you want to call it. i cut the recipe in half and put it in a smaller baking dish and it was still more than enough. secondly, as you can see from the picture, it is ugly. really ugly. third, it is too much work. i want my trailer-inspired food to be easy and fast and uncomplicated. having put all the negative out there, it does taste pretty good. the tofu cilantro cream is nice and makes a good dip. the red chile sauce is tasty too, and probably would go well with enchiladas, over huevos rancheros, over a pile of beans, maybe even drenching a baked potato. my pie turned out a little dry. perhaps i used too large a pan. now i'm in the mood and the market for a good easy healthy tamale pie recipe. anyone have one?

tamale torte with black bean chile and red chile sauce

black bean chili
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
4 cups cooked black beans
1 cup tomato puree or tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock, or liquid from cooking beans
1 teaspoon sea salt

in a large skillet with a cover, sauté the onions and garlic in the stock over medium-high heat until the liquid evaporates. add the cumin, chile powder, oregano, and bay leaves. stir well to toast the spices before adding the beans, tomato puree, and stock or bean liquid. cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the cover and simmer for 5 minutes. add salt and remove bay leaves.

masa:
4 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups soy milk
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

in a large bowl, combine the masa, baking powder, and salt. gradually stir in the soy milk. fold in the corn kernels.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. lightly oil an 11 x 9 inch baking dish. spread half the masa batter on the bottom. cover with the black bean mixture, then top with the remaining masa batter. cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes. let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. to serve, pour approximately 1/2 cup red chile sauce on a plate and top with a 3-inch square of the torte. add a dollop of cilantro-tofu cream.

red chile sauce:
2 ancho chiles
2 guajillo or ancho chiles
8 cloves garlic
24 ounces crushed tomatoes, canned
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin powder
2 teaspoons fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

in a dry medium saucepan, toast the chiles over high heat, turning them, until they darken, about 3 to 5 minutes. you can also do this over a gas flame or just skip the step altogether. if you burn the peppers your dish will have an unsalvagable bitter taste to it. once peppers are cool, remove stems, seeds and veins. you may also toast the garlic until slightly blackened. combine the chiles, garlic, pureed tomatoes, water, sugar, cumin, oregano, and salt. bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent scorching. remove from the heat and let cool. blend the sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth.

cilantro-tofu cream:
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed
12.3 ounces low-fat silken tofu
1/3 cups fresh lime juice
1/2 cup water

in a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until completely smooth. set aside.

11 Comments:

Blogger Harmonia said...

OMG! That looks great!


3 new etnries today! Swing by when you can!

10:33 AM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Rae, doll:
Um. It's too complicated. First, just make some nice black beans with the herbs and seasonings and liquids that appeal to you; you know how to cook. Don't drive yourself nuts with all those measuring spoons.
Then, what's with the soy milk in the masa harina? Is that just to appeal to vegans? Ain't no milk in tamale dough. Or, if you're going to the trouble of using fresh corn kernels in there, save that "milk" from when you cut the kernels off. Maybe you want some lardy essence in there; use oil.
Finally, just fake the chile sauce. All that water? Canned tomatoes? Feh.
OK, "real" Finally: cilantro tofu "cream." NO! Too restauranty. Chop some fresh cilantro; leave out the tofu. Pass lime wedges.
Ooh, I sound so mean today. Sorry.
Quick version: Make some cornmeal mush. Line an oiled casserole with it, bottom and sides. Fill it as high as you like with beans and tomatoes and onions and herbs (all cooked first, and drained of excess juiciness). Top with more cornmeal mush, or make a fake sour cream cilantro-tofu smoosh, and spread that all over. Bake. Eat.
xx

5:40 PM  
Blogger rae said...

harmonia: my, you ARE prolific...you put me to shame.
cookiecrumb: i couldn't agree with you more on all fronts except the cilantro tofu stuff, which was pretty darn tasty as a dip. i'm not sure which is the most shaming part of this debacle, whether (1) i lived in mexico for almost two years and know better than to follow complicated recipes for uncomplicated pesant fare like masa, or (2) i don't really like the millenium restaurant, so why am i poaching their recipes?!! sigh. i think i'll wait till it gets a little colder before i make another stab at the ol' tamale pie. i'm really in the mood for some middle eastern fare anyway....

7:54 PM  
Blogger T said...

wow all of this sounds wonderful! im particularly intrigued by the cilantro tofu cream- will have to try that out! im a vegetarian, but im always open to trying vegan dishes as well.

10:13 PM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Ooh, I was really on a snark yesterday. I will happily reconsider the cilantro-tofu mix. I've been thinking about oven-drying some sliced vegetables into crisp chips, and that would be tasty with them. (I never did get myself inside Millennium...)
Yeah: Middle Eastern.
:-)

3:22 PM  
Anonymous KathyF said...

I have made this many, many times, usually for guests (it does make a lot!). The tofu cilantro cream is the killer, though. I definitely recommend it.

I now make a different sauce, though, using canned chipotle chiles. It's spicier, and truer to the intent of tamales, I think.

I think we must have similar tastes, Rae!

12:27 AM  
Blogger rae said...

tanvi: tofu is just so darn handy!
cookiecrumb: i would love to hear about the oven drying of veggies into crispy chips - sounds right up my alley...
kathyf: yeah, i always use chipotle chilis for that smokey spicy flavor.

9:04 PM  
Blogger ShangriLewis said...

I love Tamale Pie! I just use some canned veggie chili and a boxed cornbread mix. Just put the canned chili in a casserole or crockpot and top with the cornbread mix. If you like green chilis you can take a can of the whole ones and push them down into the cornbread. I like my cornbread really thick.

You can, also, put the cornbread on the bottom and top with the chili and get more of a tamale texture. You just have to make the cornbread a little bit runny.

8:37 PM  
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