==B The Satsumas have arrived!==
For a month or two each year, Satsumas come into our lives to provide us with an alternative to oranges and grapefruit. Cousin to the Clementine, the Satsuma Mandarin is easy-to-peel and great for snacks it's the perfect treat of on-the-go sweetness for kids and adults alike. They also make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. Usually sold in 5-pound crates, Satsumas are in season for only 6-8 weeks, so enjoy them while you can!
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish during the holidays. I like to make pork tamales and sweet dessert tamales. Here's an easy-to-make recipe for the pork tamales, along with recipes for a couple festive breads:
==B Chili Pork Tamales (makes 40)==
2 lbs masa harina*
¾ lb lard
1¼ cups water
2½ lbs boneless pork
3 oz dried chili peppers
40 and a few more cornhusks
1 can sliced black olives, drained
1 can green beans
3 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1. Take stems off chili peppers and boil until soft.
2. Put pork in a large pot and begin to cook, add the drained chili peppers to the meat and put on low heat. The meat will need to cook for about an hour and a half. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. While the meat is cooking, clean and soak the cornhusks in warm water for about an hour. Shred the pork by hand once it's cooled.
4. Once the husks are soaked, tear a strip off the full length of the husk. This is what you will tie the tamales with once you are through filling them.
To assemble the tamales:
1. Take a cornhusk and spread a very full tablespoon full of masa in the middle (about ½" thick). Next, add the same amount of pork.
2. Add a couple potato slices, one green bean and top it off with one black olive.
3. Roll up the husk firmly. Wrap the husk tightly with the strip to keep all the contents inside.
4. Put the tamales into a stockpot with a steamer insert for about an hour. The tamales are done when the potato slice inside is cooked. Top them with salsa or sour cream. Serve with beans and rice.
*Masa harina is the traditional flour used in many Mexican dishes. It is available at most Mexican markets
==B Light-n-Luscious Banana Bread (makes 1 loaf)==
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp ground flax meal
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fat free or low fat plain yogurt
3 very ripe bananas, smashed (about 1½ cups)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" x 4" metal loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside.
2. Whisk together flours, baking soda, flax meal, 2 teaspoons of the ground cinnamon and salt; set aside.
3. Cream together butter with sugar using a mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in yogurt, bananas and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture and mix until just incorporated; spoon into loaf pan.
4. Stir together turbinado sugar and remaining 1 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the banana bread. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow loaf to cool slightly; remove from baking pan. Tip: If using a glass baking pan, decrease cooking time 5-10 min.
==B Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffins (makes 16)==
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup packed natural brown sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Fuji apple, cored, peeled and diced
½ cup seedless raisins
½ cup grated carrots
½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp dried flaked unsweetened coconut, divided
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda,
cinnamon and salt; break up any brown sugar lumps with your fingers or a wooden spoon.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla, then add to flour mixture and stir
just until combined. Add apples, raisins, carrots, walnuts and ¼ cup of the coconut and stir
gently until well combined.
3. Spoon batter into 16 paper-lined muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full. Top evenly with
remaining 4 tsp coconut and bake 25-30 min., or until cooked through.
If you're pressed for time or are just are not inclined to bake, ordering your holiday sweets online can be an efficient option. Here are a few suggested sources
==B Holiday Sweets: The Ones You Buy==
Clairesquares, the all-natural cookie bars are a buttery shortbread base, a slather of toothsome caramel (made extra gooey by slow cooking in small batches), and a layer of milk or dark Belgian chocolate. Single-pack $2.50; 5-pack $12.99; Gift Tin $19.99 To order: 415-722-2080 or clairesquares.com
Inspired by his wife, Oakland-based Michael Mischer makes spiced almond chocolate bars with 72% dark chocolate; $10 per bar. To order: 510-986-1822 or michaelmischerchocolates.com
Healthy cookies sound like an oxymoron but O'Cookies is out to prove us wrong. Think whole-wheat flour, whole oats, low-glycemic sweeteners and no preservatives in cookies that feature cashews, cranberries, pistachios, dark chocolate even vegan options. $12.50/dozen; Sampler Box $36.00 To order: www.o-cookies.myshopify.com
Call me old fashioned but my heart goes soft for petit fours, especially around the holidays. Order a set of 12 (4 of 4 flavors) for $29.95 or try their whimsical chocolate caramel dominoes, a set of 12 for $50.00. To order: Online only @ www.williamssonoma.com
Looking for gifts for your favorite Foodie? Cookbooks are always a good choice. Consider these
==B COOKBOOK GIFTS FOR THE FOODIES IN YOUR LIFE:==
==I Martha Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations:== It's a cookbook, it's a coffee table book
well, it's both. In 400+ pages of beautiful photos and wonderful recipes, Martha shares special events at her various residences, along with her menus and recipes for those special days. Your foodie will drool over the event photos as much as the food.
==I The Neelys' Celebration Cookbook:== Pat and Gina Neely, the Food Channel's husband-and-wife team has assembled a collection of menus for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter Sunday, and every known holiday in between. The 120 recipes include Deep-fried Cornish Game Hens for New Year's Day; Smothered Pork Chops and Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes for "Welcome Home, Baby"; Turkey Burgers and Mint Tea for "Spring Cleaning."
==I The New Thanksgiving Table: An American Celebration of Family, Friends and Food:== Diane Morgan compiles Thanksgiving recipes from across the U.S. and includes creative, healthy recipes in all food categories, e.g. Warm Maryland Crab Dip with Lemon Panko Topping, New England Iron- Skillet Succotash, Indiana Persimmon Pudding and New Mexico Turkey Tortilla Soup.