Tag Archives: Baja Cuisine

Swiss Chard Wrapped Vegetarian Mushroom Tamales, La Gringa Original Recipe

You know how we foodies stumble around the Internet looking at recipes and Googling ingredients and we are struck by a lightening bolt of inspiration? No? Maybe that’s just me but stay with me because I have created a major Baja inspired vegetarian tamale that even a seasoned Mexicana abuela might love. I saw a post that used chard as a wrap for masa dough instead of corn husks and nothing else. “Why bother,” I thought “That’s too boring.” Then I thought mushrooms are a good meat substitute, so I stumbled around looking at mushroom fillings for ravioli because who doesn’t love mushroom ravioli? Right? And then…… I know it’s a long story.

I made vegan masa dough with olive oil, made mushroom/ Parmesan cheese filling and wrapped it in Swiss chard leaves instead of dusty corn hulks. (Corn husks here always look dusty to me, probably because they are.) A recipe was born and the results were devoured. I’m hoping mi amigas at Fiesta Friday enjoy tamales.

RECIPE
Servings: 12 tamales
Difficulty: Easy but time consuming.

Ingredients:

12 leaves of fresh Swiss chard

Mushroom Filling

1 pound mushrooms, I used cremimi
1/2 yellow onion
2 gloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Masa dough

2 cups Masa flour, not corn meal. You can buy masa dough but it is usually made with lard.
1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups vegetable broth

Preparation:
Finely chop onion and garlic. Sauté in olive oil until translucent. Finely chop mushrooms, I used a food processor. Add mushrooms, herbs, dash of salt, black pepper and wine. Sauté on medium heat until most of the water evaporates. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Process mushroom mixture in the food processor until paste like.

Mix masa ingredients with a spoon or by hand, adding water 1/2 cup at a time until dough is soft like thick frosting.

Pat dry the chard leaves. Remove stalk and cut 3 inches of tough stem from the remaining leaves. Place 2 tablespoons of masa dough on the top 1/3 of the chard leaf and pat down with your hand. Top with 2 tablespoons of mushroom mixture. Roll chard leave over masa and mushrooms, pulling in the sides and securing with a toothpick, making a envelope.

Steam in a steamer basket (I used a roasting pan with a rack.) for 60 minutes. Check your water level every 10 minutes. When cooked the masa will be firm and moist.

Baja Stuffed Peppers

image

What inspires your cooking?
Smells, colors, freshness, memories, blog posts, magazine photos?
I’m inspired by all of these things and my weekly menu is designed around the freshest ingredients that I can find. This is a weeks worth of produce which costs me between $8-12 US depending on how much fruit I buy. Fruit is relatively expensive here because most of it has to travel farther than local vegetables. Mexico does grow a large amount of citrus, melons and tropical fruits which are available year round but I often splurge on American apples and pears which are expensive by Mexican standards. Apples can cost $1.50 each. Gasp. A huge cabbage costs about $.50 in comparison.

I buy produce at our outdoor market every Sunday and meat in town from a local grocery store or from the butcher. I confess that buying the meats on display on tables at the open air market makes my “food safety” radar go on high alert. I do realize that our local restaurants buy meat there, I’ve seen my favorite chef actually choosing meats, but I haven’t been able to get past the flys and feral dogs hovering about. I’m failing at complete Mexican cooking immersion but I’m sure there will be a blog post on the day that I give in.

This stuffed pepper recipe was inspired by these beautiful striped bell peppers. I choose the vegetables, add my aromatics, pick a cuisine or a combination of cuisines, add a protein source and start to design the dish.

Baja Stuffed Peppers

Mix and Match Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 bell peppers, any color
1 pound ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork. Vegans substitute legumes, tofu, nuts.
1/2 cup cooked “grains” quinoa, rice, bulgar. I used quinoa
1/2 cup diced onion
2 gloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cup chopped vegetables, I used carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini.
1/2 finely chopped chili pepper, serrano, poblano, jalepeno for heat
1/2 cup tomatoe sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs. I used flat leaf parsley, lovage and oregano. Cilantro or basil would be great too.
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add lean protein and brown. Add remaining herbs, vegetables and seasonings. Simmer until vegetables are soft but still hold their shape.
Slice off the top of each pepper and remove seeds. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and replace the tops. I use any remaking meat mixture to pack around the peppers in a casserole dish to hold them upright.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until peppers are soft.
Serve with salsa, sour cream, more veggies (sautéed beet greens) and fruit.

image