Cooking tips

Roma Tomatoes

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Do not refrigerate as they will lose their flavor.
They are excellent in salsa.

Tripe - How to Cook

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Try to use honeycomb tripe, the most tender of the varieties. If the tripe has not come already cleaned, clean it as soon as possible because it perishes very quickly. Start a day in advance of cooking. Mixi together 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup of inexpensive vinegar. Pour about one-third of the mixture into a large bowl and add the tripe. Scrub the tripe vigorously with a brush for about 5 minutes. Rinse the tripe under cold running water and repeat the process two more times. Transfer the tripe to a bowl and cover it with cold water. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours, or 16 hours if possible. Change the water once about halfway through.

Flour Tortilla Shells

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In a deep 4-quart pan, heat 1 1/2 inches canola oil to 375 degrees F. Float 1 tortilla on top of the oil. With the bowl of a metal ladle, press down on the center of the tortilla until it touches the bottom of the pan and oil bubbles up around the tortilla. Hold tortilla down until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Lift from oil with tongs and a slotted spoon and drain over pan. Let cool and drain on paper towels. Repeat to cook the remaining tortillas (if made the night before, store in airtight container).

Tomatoes - Quick Way to Can

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Fill large pot with water. Boil....Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 1 minute. Immediately remove the tomatoes and place in a colander. Pour ice cold water over them. This method will make the skin very easy to peel off. Put the tomatoes in sterilized jar and add cold water to cover them. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Seal and cover!

Tamarind - How to Use

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Musti be soaked before using. Separate the tamarind pods, pulling away and discarding as much of the outer skin as you can. Cover with water and let the pulp soak for at least an hour (overnight, if possible). Squeeze the pulp well to extract the juice or rub as much pulp as you can through a fine mesh sieve.
Tamarindi is also available as a bottled ready-made paste.

Steaming the Tamales

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Arrange the tamales in a steamer, open ends facing up. Place some of the unused corn husks (and/or a wrung-out wet tea towel) over the tamales to help absorb steam. Pour boiling water into the bottom of the steamer to a depth of at least 1 inch. Cover tightly and bring quickly to a full boil over high heat.
Reducei the heat to medium-low to maintain gentle bubbling.
Cook for about 1 hour or until husks pull away from filling. Replenish boiling water as needed. Let the tamales stand 10 minutes before serving.

Filling the Tamales

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Place the dried corn husks in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes to one hour.
Drain and select as many as you can of the larger pieces, but be careful not to open the crinkled leaves of the core that are full of corn silk.
With a spoon, spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Masai dough mixture across the lower (wide) end of the husk, covering it from side to side and extending it about halfway up toward the narrow tip.
For chicken, beef or other filling, place about 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of the Masa mixture.
Foldi the left third over to the center and then fold the right side over it, then fold up the narrow end even with the wide end so the tamale is folded roughly in half crosswise. Place the tamales on a baking sheet until ready to steam.

Tomatoes - How to Cook

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Roasting tomatoes gives them an exotic flavor. Roasting works best with ripe, red tomatoes. To roast and peel tomatoes, set the oven to broil. Arrange cored tomatoes with their top surfaces about 5 inches from the heat. Broili, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and evenly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. The skins will be easy to remove. If you roast them on aluminum foil, the cleanup will be easy, and you can also save the juice.
Another option for roasting tomatoes is to use an asador.
To skin and seed tomatoes, plunge them into boiling water to cover and leave them for exactly 15 seconds. Remove and put them into cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove the skin. Remove the core, cut the tomatoes crosswise into halves, then squeeze out seeds. Push the seeds through a strainer to extract the juice.
Tomatoes can also be grated by removing a thin slice from the top of the tomato. Put the tomato in the palm of your hand and rub it on a coarse grater. The flesh will become a fine pulp and the skin will be left in your hand.
To oven-dry plum tomatoes, split them in half lengthwise. Place them on a large drying rack set on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little rosemary or thyme. Place in an oven set at 200?F for 6 to 8 hours, depending on the size and ripeness of the tomatoes. The tomatoes should be shriveled and reduced to about half their original size, but they should not be leathery.

Tofu - How to Make

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Utensils: A square box (a plastic tofu container with holes poked : through the bottom will do). Line the container with a piece : of gauze about four times the size of the box. Wooden long-handled spoon. Two-foot-square cotton cloth for straining the 'milk' from : the mash. Blenderi Large strainer Large mixing bowl Large cooking pot
Soak the soybeans in three times the amount of water overnight. The beans should triple in size.
When soft, drain off the water through a strainer, and pulverize in a blender on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until beans are completely pulverized.
Add 8 ounces of this mixture to 4 quarts boiling water.
Reducei the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. When it starts to boil up again, do not turn down the heat but add 2 or 3 drops of vegetable oil - this will keep it from boiling over. Continue to cook another 7-10 minutes.
Place a wire mesh strainer lined with cotton cloth in another bowl and pour Slowly through the lined strainer.
This separates the soybean milk from the mash. Pick up the corners of the cloth and gather and twist tight. The mixture is still hot, so using the long-handled spoon, force the remaining liquid into the bowl by pressing repeatedly on the twisted cloth. Be careful to keep a tight hold on the ends of the cloth gathered in your hand as you twist and push with the spoon. If you drop a corner, very hot liquid can spill on you and the okara (soybean mash) will escape. (the leftover mash is called 'okara'. The soybean milk is called 'tonyu' and can be refrigerated and drunk for a few days if you wish).
Place the tonyu in a large cooking pot and keep at about 140°F over low heat. In a separate bowl, mix 5 times the amount of water as the tonyu with a two-finger pinch of nigari until dissolved. Slowly add ½ to the tonyu, stirring constantly.
After 5 minutes, add the other half of the nigari and water slowly and stir. Cover and reduce to lowest possible heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes as the mixture begins to coagulate.
After coagulation, scoop the coagulated tofu out with your wooden spoon and evenly fill you lined container. Wrap the gauze over the top and let the container sit for 5 minutes to allow extra liquid to drain.
Immerse the container in a large mixing bowl filled with cold water, turn it over, gently pull off the container, and remove the gauze. Making tofu can be an interesting challange, but be careful not to burn yourself. The price of soybeans and nigari is negligible, but making tofu does take time and is painstaking. This process has been done by hand for centuries, beginning early each morning. Only someone who has made their own tofu knows how delicious the rewards can be.

Tomatillos - How to Select and Use

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Select tomatillos with their husks still drawn tightly around them. Husk and rinse off the sticky residue before using them.