This is a partner post to the bean search. I discovered recently that fancy masa is available. It can be heirloom, direct-trade, single origin, organic, etc, all those normal fancy food options.
I was inspired to search for fancy masa after J and I went to a (vegetarian!) Oaxacan restaurant in Brooklyn that makes their own masa using fancy corn. They use the masa in their food products but they also sell it fresh (I got some). Going to Brooklyn all the time for fresh masa isn’t super convenient, though. Fortunately, the company, Masienda, that supplies the fancy also sells direct to consumers!
While researching them, I came across a couple other fancy masa stores too. These are the options I found!
Masienda – dry masa in several colors, as well as several heirloom bean varieties and lots of varieties of heirloom/single origin whole corn. They have supplies for doing your own nixtamalization.
Alma Semillera – very similar to Masienda, but with smaller selection. Many if not all products are also organic, so overall a bit more expensive.
I Love Mole – even smaller selection of beans, masa harina, and whole corn. This company mostly sells mole mixes and other seasonings.
None of these companies is particularly local to me (in New York). I believe they’re all based in California, although most of the beans and corn are grown in Mexico.
Friend A who I went to grad school with (also likes cheap/free food, has been climbing with us recently) gave us some mooncakes she made! :’) They were presumably for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which happens around the autumn equinox and is coming up! The days are definitely getting shorter.
The mookcakes are actually the “snow skin” version (recipe that Friend A used), which uses a mochi-esque wrapper. Apparently snow skin mooncakes are easier to make than the traditional baked kind, so a better choice for at-home creation.
Over the weekend, we visited Russ & Daughters, a famous and fairly old (1920, continuously run by the original family and at the original location) Jewish “appetizing store“, meaning that they sell things that go with bagels, along with bagels. We went right before Rosh Hashanah, so the main shop was super busy — 45 min just to go into the store to order! We went around the corner to their café location instead. The café also had more meal-food selection.
We got blintzes (we’ve made them at home too), latkes, and a bagel with cream cheese, lox, onion, tomato, and capers.
Modified from The Joy of Cooking (1973) “quick cherry crunch”. I made this to use up some really tart apricots and old peaches with a bad texture. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was really good!
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
1/2-2/3 cup sugar (use the smaller amount if fruit is already quite sweet or has added sugar)
1/2 cup melted butter or other liquid oil
1/4 tsp baking powder
Some milk (I didn’t measure, maybe 1/3 cup?)
(Optional) 1 cup nuts (either soft/oily ones like walnuts and pecans, or thinly sliced if harder, like almonds)
3-4 cups chopped fruit (use the smaller amount if fruit is quite sour)
Mix all ingredients through baking powder. Split in half.
Mix one half with the egg, milk, and nuts. Put in the bottom of baking dish (~9″ x 9″ x 2″).
Add fruit. Top with other half of streusel mixture.
Bake 35 min at 350°F.
The original recipe just put half the streusel below and half above the fruit, no milk, egg, or nuts added.
J and I saw several arepa stands at a street fair. They didn’t look amazingly high quality (at least one stand was just heating up pre-packaged arepas), so J took it as inspiration to make our own!
Arepas are Venezuelan and Colombian, mostly. We made the simplest variety, which is a cornmeal pancake cut in half and stuffed with mild cheese. The cornmeal has to be either pre-cooked (masarepa; the traditional way) or nixtamalized (masa harina; will be slightly less fluffy) to form a dough properly. You can’t just use regular old cornmeal, but instant polenta might work.
2 cups warm water
2 cups masarepa or masa harina
If using masa harina, some baking powder to add fluffiness
Mix everything together. Let rest for 10 min. Dough should be moist and able to form balls without cracking, but not stick to your hands too much.
Form into patties (standard thickness is 1/2 in). Deep fry, OR pan fry ~3 min on each side and then bake for 15 min.
We were following a recipe for baked tofu pitas and I decided to make it more difficult and more delicious by making falafel instead. Buuuut our only chickpeas are old and don’t cook super well even with soaking and an hour of pressure-cooking, let alone being fried. So I substituted with red lentils instead.
I was trying to figure out what legumes are safe/traditional to cook in this manner. Seems like lentils are fine, as are chickpeas of course, urad dal (used in Indian breads like dosa and idli), mung beans (used in Korean bindae-tteok), cowpeas and black-eyed peas (used in akara), and fava beans (used in another version of falafel).
This recipe is pretty good. The cooking notes are useful and the intro has interesting historical info.
To use up some leftover ricotta, I combined the ideas and instructions from Cook’s Illustrated’s spinach gnudi and a revision of their ricotta gnocchi.
16 oz ricotta
1/2 cup bread crumbs (panko preferred)
1/2 cup grated parmesan or other aged, salty, hard cheese of that sort
1-2 Tablespoons flour
(optional) 2 Tablspoons fresh minced basil or some dry basil
(optional) 1 bunch of kale or spinach or other green
Remove liquid from ricotta. Can strain overnight in a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Fast way: spread in a thin layer on a kitchen towel (smooth weave, not terrycloth) for 10 min.
If using greens, blanch, squeeze very dry, and chop finely.
Mix all ingredients. Let rest for 15 min in the fridge (cool temps makes the dough stiffer, apparently desirable so it doesn’t fall apart when cooked). Dough should be tacky and stick together.
Form into balls (~1 TB each) — scoop and roll method or log and cut method recommended. Boil 2-4 min, until the gnocchi float.
Classic browned butter with sage, shallots, and lemon juice. Brown butter in a pan (should smell nutty). Remove from heat and add other ingredients, lemon last so other items can cook in residual heat.
Tomato confit. Cook garlic in butter. Add large-diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, salt, red chili flakes, and a splash of vinegar. Cook until tomatoes are “wilted”. Top with fresh basil and grated parmesan.
J and I came across this nice blog that has recipes for the full array of Cuban foods: rice, beans, and pork! J has dubbed them fairly authentic, although the blog is missing the critical plantain and cassava side dishes. Enjoy!