Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Friday, October 22nd, I am hosting the Somerset Ridge Painters Annual Painting Exchange Party. My wonderful friends and fellow painters, along with their spouses and partners, help me celebrate our friendship and love of painting. Each of the painters does a painting that will be wrapped in plain brown paper and placed in a pile in the corner until after we eat, drink and be very merry!

My dining room table will be groaning from the weight of the platters of beautiful food! We Somerset Ridge painters adore good food and good wine, and we all chip in. I made 3 kinds of chili last year, but then we held the event in December when it was very cold. This year, I am thinking of Somerset Ridge French Braised Pork with Rosemary Cannellini Beans along with my Apple, Dried Cherry and Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette. This is definitely an Autumn Feast.
Knowing the painters, they will fill in the meal with appetizers and desserts. When I say the table will be groaning….I mean it!
Later in the evening, the painters will each draw a number, securing their place in the drawing. All of the wrapped paintings will be moved to the center of the room and one by one, the painters will choose a secret painting from the pile. Number one will choose the painting, then unwrap it, showing the group her new possession! We plan on continuing this tradition until we each have a collection of paintings by our fellow painters.

I do have a problem….I haven’t started my painting yet. I have many photographs I’ve taken that I want to paint, but sometimes, getting started isn’t easy.

Now that I am thinking about the evening, I’m questioning my menu choice. Maybe I should do a huge Lasagna, or maybe we should go Mexican with a giant Tamale Pie. Oh my, more decisions! Whatever I choose, it has to be something that everyone, men and women, will enjoy, and it has to feed 25 people. Should I go German? Should I fix a big pot of Beef Goulash with Dumplings? Actually, that sounds pretty good! I think I just might have to see what Steve’s Meat Market is offering before I make my decision.

I just blogged about dumplings, so I won’t share the Beef Goulash recipe with you this time. Instead, I will give you several Tamale Pie recipes. It seems like everyone loves the Southwest flavors. My first experience with Tamale Pie was in 1968 in Bel Air, California. We took the kids to Disney Land right before Christmas. We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Bel Air. My aunt was a writer and newspaper reporter, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure she knew how to cook. She knew how to make coffee and cocktails! Anyway, because of her job demands and lack of desire to cook, they had a lovely lady who cooked for them. She made one mean Tamale Pie, but unfortunately, I never got her recipe. But that first Tamale Pie has been the one I have tried to recreate.

Here is one using ground beef…...
1 1/2 pound hamburger
1 medium onion
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
2 cups whole kernel corn
1 cup sliced ripe olives
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded cheese

Brown hamburger and onion. Add tomatoes, sauce, corn, olives, green pepper and seasonings and cook for about 20 minutes. Pour into well greased 8 x 12 inch baking dish or large casserole. For Topping: Mix the milk, cornmeal, butter and salt; cook until thick. Add the eggs and cheese mix well and pour over meat mixture. Bake until top is browned at 350 degrees, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serves 6

Now for the Chicken version….
1 broiler fryer chicken, about 3 pounds, cut up
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic crushed
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup strong chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crumbled
1 can (12 ounces) whole kernel corn with peppers
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mixture


Wash chicken and pat dry. Heat oil in a Dutch oven; sauté onion and garlic until onion is tender.
Add chicken pieces, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
Remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones, keeping chicken in large pieces.
To liquid in Dutch oven, add chili powder and oregano. Boil, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Skim off excess fat. Stir in chicken pieces, corn, and sliced olives. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cornmeal with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil until thickened. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.
Line bottom and sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with about half of the cornmeal mixture. Fill with chicken mixture. Spoon remaining cornmeal mixture around the edge. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, or until bubbly in the center. serves 6.

I will tell you my aunt’s cook added green beans to her Tamale Pie, probably trying to get veggies into my aunt and uncle. There are many recipes that include a can of Pinto Beans. Just rinse and drain the beans and add to them when you add the corn.

Darn, now I need some Mexican food!

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