Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lasagna and tamales

Starch is my downfall.

Ice cream doesn't tempt me. I actively dislike candy and cupcakes. But if you wave a piece of pasta or a slice of bread in front of me, I'll follow you anywhere.

This particular leaning is why I am so attracted to two cookbooks that have come out in the past couple of months. One is filled with lasagna recipes and the other with tamales. A festival of comfort food.

In The New Lasagna Cookbook, the author, Maria Bruscino Sanchez--who is the owner/baker of Sweet Maria's in Waterbury, Connecticut--offers classic lasagnas as well as some more modern takes on this wonderful casserole. Here are a couple of recipes just calling my name:

• Arugula and Prosciutto Lasagna
• Autumn Pancetta and Porcini Lasagna
• Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Lasagna
• Beet Lasagna with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce
• Pulled Pork Barbecue Lasagna

The second cookbook, called simply Tamales is by Daniel Hoyer, an instructor at The Santa Fe School of Cooking. The book starts out with all the basics, including a really helpful photographic step-by-step for wrapping tamales in corn husks or banana leaves. There is also an extremely thorough investigation of the various types of tamale dough and fillings that are used. And then he puts it all together in a chapter of recipes that are both traditional and nontraditional. Here are the ones I am currently craving:

• Chicken and Green Sauce Tamales
• Mushroom, Roasted Pepper, and Poblano Chile Tamales
• Tamales with Squash, Corn, and Chiles
• Tex-Mex Beef Tamales

And not to be forgotten are the sweet tamales:

• Pineapple and Coconut Tamales
• Chunky Dark Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan Tamale (swoon)

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