Kate reviews the Harris Poll on cooking at home and also plans a Central American pupuseria party with recipes for Pupusas de Queso and Curtido, plus picks her end-of-summer/Labor Day recipes in What To Eat This Month.
by Kate Heyhoe
If you're visiting GlobalGourmet.com, chances are you fall into the "love to cook" category. Or, maybe you hate to cook but find it necessary, and simply landed here in search of a recipe that meets your time, skill, and materials criteria.
My belief: If you're old enough to drive, you should at least be able to cook a decent meal for yourself. Something without ramen noodles in it. Both driving and cooking are fundamental life skills.
But just as some people enjoy or are better at driving than others, the same holds true for cooks in the kitchen. A recent Harris Poll quantifies where people stand—when and if they stand facing the stove—and whether they're also facing a TV screen. Here are some boiled down results:
How often do we make home-cooked meals?
Does age make a difference? Yes.
How people cook: familiar recipes and time-savers
Cooking something you've made before is relatively quick and brainless, as anyone who attempts a recipe for the first time knows. And for all of us, time matters.
Bottom line: Cooking is alive and well, and changes according to peoples' lifestyles.
Food TV stars do a great job of inspiring folks to jump into the kitchen, in 30-minutes or less.
But I'd love to see more people exploring the world of cooking beyond Rachael, Emeril, Paula and Martha. Cookbooks are so diverse, and cover the details of an ingredient, a cuisine, or a culture with fascinating microscopic and macroscopic viewpoints. So next time you get the urge to seek out a new recipe, try one from our Cookbook Profile Archives. You may even discover something you've never seen before on TV. What a delicious idea!
[Note: The poll results are gleaned from a Harris Interactive Poll conducted online within the United States between May 10 and 17, 2010 among 2,503 adults (aged 18 and over).]
"Taco nights" and taco bars are so last tweet. Get hip: Replace them with a different muy sabroso treat, pupusas. They're easy, tasty, and during the back-to-school and holiday rush, simple and fun to make.
If you live in LA or other metropolis, you're probably familiar with hot and tasty pupusas, sold from pupuserias (cafes or stands) or food trucks. Native to El Salvador, these hearty snacks are made from corn flour dough, which is patted out into a thick disk, then griddle- or skillet-fried until slightly crispy on the outside, and tender, steaming, and soft on the inside.
Pupusas are filled with cheese (as in this recipe), shredded meats, beans, or a combination. They're served with a tangy cabbage slaw, known as curtido, to add tart contrast and cool crunch, and sometimes with a light tomato sauce. In urban areas, some pupuserias get wild and crazy with their fillings, though most stick with tradition. For the inspired cook, it's easy to get creative with these snacks, making them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, in as many variations as you care to muster.
During their country's civil war in the 1980s, migrating Salvadorans spread pupusas across North America. The dish originated with the Pibil tribes, and like most native foods, was altered by the arrival of the Conquistadors and their trappings—including pork, a favorite filling for pupusas. Honduras and Guatemala also make pupusas, but in El Salvador, pupusas are as popular as hamburgers are in the United States.
To make pupusas at home, you'll need instant corn masa mix, or masa harina de maiz, a packaged dry ingredient needed for the dough; look for it in Latin American markets or in the Mexican aisle of some supermarkets. It is commonly sold under the Maseca or Quaker labels. Masa harina is the same dough used to make tortillas and tamales so if you live near a tortilla factory, you can buy freshly made masa dough for this recipe instead.
To create a pupuseria party, set out bowls of cooked pork, shredded cheese, and curtido. Mix the dough and let guests pat out and fill their own pupusa patties. If you've got an electric griddle or frypan, cook the pupusas on the patio or in the party room. Or, for a tailgate party or picnic, precook the pupusas, and rewarm them on a grill before serving. If you prefer, you can cook "plain" pupusas; split them and stuff them with shredded pork or other filling at table.
Makes 12 to 14 pupusas (about 6 servings)
Start the curtido, or cabbage slaw, at least an hour before, or even overnight, so it has time to soak in salt water and drain before mixing. If you buy premade-masa dough from a tortilleria, skip the mixing and go directly to Step 2.
1. Combine the masa mix with 2 cups (500 ml) water in a mixing bowl (or follow the package instructions). Knead until soft and pliable, about 5 minutes. The dough should be light and firm but not sticky. To test the consistency, try shaping the dough into a flat patty: If the dough cracks as you shape the patty, add more water; if too moist or sticky, add more masa mix. (Skip this step if using pre-made masa dough.) Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
2. Pinch off pieces of the masa dough and roll into golf ball-size pieces (about 2 tablespoons/30 ml of dough per piece). Flatten the dough balls into thin patties, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch (.3-.6 cm) thick, and 3 inches (7 cm) in diameter. You can flatten the dough with a tortilla press or a rolling pin, or pat the dough between the palms of your hands, as if clapping.
3. Place about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of cheese in the center of a patty. Top with another patty. Press the edges shut to completely seal the pupusa. Repeat until all pupusas are made. (Seasoned pupusa makers punch the filling into the rolled ball of dough and then flatten the disk, but this takes some practice to keep the filling enclosed.)
4. Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Place as many pupusas as will fit comfortably on the skillet. Cook, turning once, until they are speckled and browned on both sides. Continue cooking the pupusas in batches, adding more oil as needed. Serve warm with curtido.
(About 6 servings)
1. Soak the cabbage in a bowl of salted water for 15 minutes, then drain.
2. Combine the drained cabbage with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Let rest at least 30 minutes, or overnight, refrigerated, before serving. Stir before serving.
Copyright © 2010, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified September 2010
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