Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Golly, Tamale

What the hell was I thinking of?

Making the masa for the tamales.  Somebody shoot me, please.  This is a job for Superman, or in the alternative, a half dozen abuelitas, each outfitted with her own heavy duty stand mixer.  I haven't made the sauce yet, or prepared the potatoes and zucchini.  Madness, I tell you.  Sometimes I am done in by my own ambition.  The smell from the masa is terribly seductive, however, and I will push on even if I'm steaming these babies at midnight.

And now, a restaurant review:  Tarantino's Italian Restaurant, 4150 West Vine Street, Kissimmee, Florida

Tarantino's opened in Kissimmee in 1993 in a funky metal building on the corner of Oak and John Young Parkway (it was still called Bermuda Avenue back then) and we started going there about a year after they opened.  It was then, and remains today, the best New York Italian food in Florida.  They are now in their fourth location - third move since the funky first - and it is a very nice location with ample parking. 

Having said all these nice things, a couple of things to watch out for:  the wait staff is hit or miss.  Our waiter last evening was friendly, delightful and eager to please, but terminally forgetful.  Even after he wrote orders down, he would get them wrong.  Fortunately, he got all the entrees correct, and they were delicious.  I had the Best Linguine with White Clam Sauce in the world - nay, the Universe - and I can make a pretty mean white clam sauce myself.  Rob had his favorite, Saltimbocca a la Romano, and our dining companions had the Stuffed Chicken with Vodka Sauce, and the Stuffed Basa.  Judging by the condition of their dinner plates, they enjoyed what they ordered.  No desserts, the portions are rather large.  But we have had the tiramisu in the past and it was wonderful.  Other problems - the second bread basket is extra.  Most special orders involve a small charge.  Check before ordering.  And stick to the wine selections, the bar service was just so-so.  Minor stuff, in my opinion.  I'll be back.

Back to the Saga of the Tamales.  The recipe should have a big warning on it:  don't try this at home.  It took me two hours to get the masa prepared.  Next time I will cut the recipe in half.  I don't know what made me think I could put 12 cups of masa harina plus 8 cups of chicken stock in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid, but I sailed right into disaster, and had to back up, divide, and conquer.  Once again, here is the recipe I am preparing.  Right now, I've got everything ready to go, so I'll be building the tamales to ready them for an hour of steaming.  By the time this is done, I think I can safely say it has taken me six eight solid hours to put the dish together, which makes it fussier than sweet and sour stuffed cabbage.  Is it worth it?  Only my taste testers know for sure.

Goodnight, Irene, you windy bitch.  We were beyond lucky here in Florida, but back home in New York, not so much.  Broad Channel, that weird island in the middle of Jamaica Bay, just south of Howard Beach, has been trashed.  If you have never been there, you will find it hard to believe it is part of New York City, as the homes are on stilts.  It looks more like a New England fishing village, and less like Queens.  Today it looks like all hell has broken loose.  If you get a chance, check out this link to Forgotten NY, as well as this update from the same site.  You really won't believe you're in New York.

Tomorrow is my first full day in the new office.  The files are still packed up, so we are all going to court with nothing except cover sheets to write on.  Should be fun.  I hope the Judge has a sense of humor.

There are 19 tamales steaming in the oven.  I still had half the ingredients left, but I unceremoniously threw out the corn husks and called it quits.  Instead, I am assembling a tamale pie, which I will put in to steam when the tamales are done.  Same ingredients, different cooking method.  There is no way I will ever take on the task of making that volume of tamales again, and if the pie works out, that's gonna be the way to go in the future.  This has been one day in my life that I have not enjoyed cooking, not one bit.  My back hurts, my head hurts, I broke a chain I've been wearing for many years, and Romeo fell in the pool.  Ha.  Bounced right back out, my scrappy little man.  But he was wet and very upset when I had to take his collar off to dry him.  He loves his collar.

I did manage to turn out a delicious batch of pecan crusted catfish nuggets, and when my head stops pounding I'll put those nice and easy directions on the recipe blog.

So I removed the finished tamales from the oven.  Opened one for Rob and me, and one for Cory.  Tasted.  Tasted again.  And came to an awful conclusion:

They are AWESOME!!!  Which means I will have to make them again.  Only next time I'll cut the recipe in half or less.  There will still be enough to feed an army.

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