It's hard to express how much I like pupusas. They're so perfect and delicious - the cheese sneaks out and gets all browned and crusty in spots. The warm cheesy corn contrasts perfectly with the tangy cool cabbage relish. So good. At the farmer's market a few weeks ago, Primavera was selling big bags of their wonderful fresh masa for only $3.50(!!), so I jumped. These photos were from my test run (using Heidi's instructions) before making them over at Ross's place for dinner. I used goat cheddar (that's why it's so white), and later also refried beans as filling. They're not that easy to shape well, but Ross got quite good at it after a few tries.
Before Xmas I did quite a bit of cooking and baking. One thing I made was a chocolate babka, a very enriched yeasted dough - brioche, pretty much - that was lacquered with butter and covered with finely chopped chocolate, the rolled up and twisted into loaves.
It came out fall-apart tender and richly marbled with dark chocolate. I particularly liked it toasted slightly so the chocolate got melty. The recipe follows at the end. My only complaint from a process standpoint is that I wish the recipe were in weight instead of volume measure. I think I measured my flour light for that recipe - the dough was almost unmanageably soft.
While I was in VT for xmas, my parents and I went up to Montreal to visit the excellent Atwater market. One of the many delicious things we bought was some locally-made Toulouse sausage, a pork sausage seasoned with white wine and black pepper. Mom and I have both been excited about trying to debone a whole chicken, so we tried that. We chopped out the backbone and deboned the chicken splayed out flat. Next time, I'll just chop off the wings at the shoulder - they are absolutely not worth the effort. The legs were a bit tricky too but well worth it. We cooked the sausage and mixed it up with some sauteed shallots and steamed, finely chopped chard. Stuffed the legs first, sewed them shut, then tightly stuffed and sewed the rest using cotton twine and a big needle. Leaving as much skin as you can makes the sewing much easier. It didn't spit out a whole lot of juice, but we made gravy from what little pan drippings it made plus the stock from the discarded skeleton. Pretty goddamn good. Great the next day with mustard between 2 pieces of bread.
Chocolate Babka, from Gourmet magazine December 2006:
3/4c warm milk (105-115 degrees)
1/2c +2t sugar
3t active dry yeast
3 1/4c flour plus additional for dusting
2 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1t vanilla extract
1 1/4sticks (10T) butter, cut into pieces and softened
For egg wash:
1 large egg yolk
1T heavy cream or whole milk
For chocolate filling:
5T unsalted butter, well softened
2 (3 1/2 - 4-oz) bars fine quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4c sugar (i forgot the sugar)
Make dough: Stir together warm milk and 2t sugar in bowl of a stand
mixer. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5
minutes. (If yeast doesn't foam, discard and star over with new yeast).
Add 1/2c flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2c sugar and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4c flour, about 1/2c at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes. (Dough will be very soft and sticky).
Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.
Assemble babkas with filling: Line each loaf pan with 2 pieces of parchment (1 length & 1 crosswise).
Punch down dough with a lightly oiled spatula, then halve dough. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly-floured rolling pin onto an 18x10" rectangle and arrange with a long side nearest you.
Beat together yolk and cream. Spread 2 1/2T softened butter on dough, leaving a 1/2" border all around. Brush some of egg wash on long border nearest you.
Sprinkle half of chocolate evenly over buttered dough, then sprinkle with half of sugar (2T). Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure-8 and fit into one of the lined loaf pans.
Make another babka with remaining dough, some of egg wash, and remaining butter and chocolate in same manner.
Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later. Loosely cover pans with buttered plastic wrap and let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1-2hrs (or in fridge 8-12hrs, bring back to room temp for 3-4hrs before baking)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350.
Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool to room temp.