Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Demystified...

I'm a sucker for a good bargain.  Even better if it's for something I had considered buying many times in the past, but always decided I didn't really need.  When I went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago, my favourite Ralphs had loads of stuff set up in one of the aisles on clearance.  Let me tell you how thrilled I was to get my Jane's Crazy Mix-Up salt for 79 cents....79 cents!  But that wasn't my special find for the day.  It was the bag of  Maseca instant corn flour.  I've stood in the baking aisle countless times looking at it wondering if it was something I should keep in my arsenal (errrr...pantry!) because you never know when you might need it.  Right? Right!  But I always held off, trying to keep my spending reined in (hah!).

So I picked up a bag of Maseca, saw the magical price of $1.29 for a 4-lb bag and thought, 'hmmmm...this would be cool to have.'  Then I put it back, determined to work through the pros and cons of having it.  What would I make?  Where would I store it?  (As some of you know, the Italian Pantry is always full and stocked to the brim.) The more important task for me was to hightail it over to the baking aisle and see what the regular price was and determine if I was really getting a deal.  Four aisles over I discovered that the flour regularly sells for $4.29.  Score!  Bargain!  Back to the clearance aisle and with a bag of Maseca in my hands I pored over the recipes on it and saw how damned simple tortillas were to make.  Salt, flour, water.  Yeah, that bag was mine!

Coming back to today, I was thinking about what to make for dinner.  This, after I had grated a head of cabbage (with no idea what to do with it) and wanting to make something with Mexican-inspired flavours.  First, I made a marinade for my chicken.  Lime juice, thinly sliced onions, chopped bell peppers, cilantro, salt, pepper, and (this may be blasphemous) dried cilantro that I crushed and added to the lime juice.  A zip-locked concoction left to stew on its own while I whipped up my tortillas.  So easy.  Granted, I know I'm not grinding my own corn for this, but I like knowing that I can make something that I always saw as being out of reach.  The dough is very springy, very elastic.  I made enough of a mix for 8 tortillas.  I still need practice on making them a little more circular, but I was happy with them.  Remember the cabbage?  It became a  condiment for my tacos.  I sauted the cabbage with a couple of scallions, cilantro, and roughly 2 tablespoons of a key lime/jalapeno marmalade that I had in the fridge.  It gave the cabbage this amazing smoky/sweet taste.  The lime marinade for the chicken was out of this world.  I might consider having company over next time I make this and share.  Or not.  We'll see!

Lime-Cilantro Marinade
(concocted by me)

Juice from 3 limes
@ teaspoon lime zest
@2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup very thinly sliced white onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
dash of red pepper powder
2 cubes of Knorr dried cilantro
salt
pepper

I squeezed the juice from the limes and dissolved the dried cilantro in the juice before adding it to the bag with the chicken and remaining ingredients.  Let marinade for as long as you desire.  You'll love this, I swear.
Ball o' Masa

Not bad for a first attempt
Dinner is Served

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