This spicy black-eyed pea curry will kick off 2018 with a twist

Of all the food traditions associated with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, none are as prevalent as black-eyed peas.

Black-eyed peas are one of the most traditional New Year’s Eve/Day foods in the U.S. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

In the South, we usually eat them in the form of Hoppin’ John or some other kind of black-eyed pea stew, but if you’re tired of Hoppin’ John or just want to try a new dish this weekend, check out this curry from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Crescent Dragonwagon.

This Tanzanian black-eyed pea dish includes a Zanzibar curry, if you can find it. If you’re unsure about the banana, just think of it like an avocado because it adds a similar flavor and texture to the stew. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Dragonwagon included this vegan dish in her 2012 book, “Bean By Bean: A Cookbook: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans!” (Workman, $17.95), where she explains:

“Tanzania was formed in 1964 when two former British colonies…joined to become the United Republic of Tanzania. With Africa’s highest mountain and deepest lake, with coastal areas and a central plateau, the country is diverse geographically, ecologically and agriculturally. This luscious bowl reflects the coast’s coconut palms and banana trees. The seasonings combine indigenous Zanzibar cloves with spices introduced by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, particularly Goa. The beans are widely grown throughout this still mostly small-farm-based country.”

RELATED: Break in your Instant Pot, bring in good luck with this 15-minute Hoppin’ John

Don’t let the banana freak you out. You can make this without the banana, but if you like the smooth texture and earthy sweetness that an avocado provides on top of tortilla soup or chili, you might as well try a bite with the banana.

The quantity of water you’ll use the cook the beans and then make the stew will depend on many factors, particularly how cooked your beans are when you start. Her recipe starts with dried beans, but I started with these pre-soaked beans from H-E-B that I thought were more cooked than they actually were.

If I were making this soup again, especially on a weeknight or when I didn’t have as much time as on a holiday or weekend, I’d likely start with canned black-eyed peas.

These black-eyed peas from H-E-B are pre-soaked, but you still have to cook them. Canned black-eyed peas, however, have usually been cooked until tender. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Want to make this a full meal? Serve it on top of cooked rice or add several handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.) during the last 15 minutes of simmering on the stove.

Curried Black-Eyed Pea and Coconut Stew

1 cup dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, ghee, vegetable or peanut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 serrano or jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably one with lots of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1 (15 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 banana, thickly sliced (optional)
Banana chips or toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Combine the black-eyed peas and 4 cups water in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the black-eyed peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Toward the end of the cooking, heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and cook the onions until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the peppers, chile and ginger and cook, stirring often, for another 4 minutes. Lower the heat slightly and add the curry powder and cloves, sauteing until the oil has taken on a slightly yellowish tint, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir the onion mixture into the simmering black-eyed peas, along with the tomatoes, honey and coconut milk. Continue simmering for 5 to 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add the sliced banana (if using) and garnish each bowl with toasted coconut shreds or banana chips, if you like.

— Adapted from a recipe by Crescent Dragonwagon in “Bean By Bean: A Cookbook: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans!” (Workman, $17.95)

Break in your Instant Pot, bring in good luck with this 15-minute Hoppin’ John

Are you one of the millions of American cooks who either bought or were gifted an Instant Pot this year?

This bestselling multi-cooker isn’t the only one on the market, but it’s the brand that has inspired dozens of cookbooks to help you make everyday staples and holiday favorites in this pressure cooker-slow cooker hybrid.

RELATED: Year of Gadgets: Is the Instant Pot the ultimate kitchen gadget?

Instant Pot fanatic? You’re not alone

This classic Hoppin’ John is made using an Instant Pot, the hottest cooking appliance of 2017. Contributed by Laura Arnold.

This recipe for Hoppin’ John is from Laura Arnold’s “Instant One-Pot Meals: Southern Recipes for the Modern 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker” (Countryman Press, $21.95), and as you can see, it is unlike a traditional recipe because all of the steps happen in the single appliance, from quick-soaking the black-eyed peas to sauteing the aromatics and bacon before cooking the peas.

Thanks to the multi-functionality of the Instant Pot, the dish cooks in about half an hour. If you want to make it on the stove, you can use the same proportion of ingredients (with slightly more water thanks to the longer simmer on the stove) and order of instructions, but the length of time on each step will vary.

RELATED: Kitchen tools that you’ll really use in the kitchen this year

Hoppin’ John

This Southern classic side dish is typically made with black-eyed peas. But you can substitute your favorite beans in this recipe. Note: To quick soak peas or beans, rinse them thoroughly and place in the bowl of the pressure cooker with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil on the Sauté setting. Once boiling, secure the lid and set on Manual with high pressure for 2 minutes. Quick release, drain peas, rinse and set aside.

— Laura Arnold

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices bacon, sliced 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and small diced
2 stalks celery, small diced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and small diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and quick soaked (see note) or soaked overnight
3 cups chicken stock
White rice, cooked, to serve
Scallions, thinly sliced, to garnish

Select the Sauté setting and heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crispy, about 6 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside. Drain half of the fat and discard. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook until almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the cayenne, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook an additional minute. Add the black-eyed peas and chicken stock.

Secure the lid and place on Manual with high pressure for 15 minutes. Use quick release. Serve over white rice and garnish with scallions and crispy bacon. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Instant One-Pot Meals: Southern Recipes for the Modern 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker” by Laura Arnold (Countryman Press, $21.95)

What does hygge look like in Austin? A spin under the Zilker Tree, a dip in Barton Springs

Hygge comes in all shapes and sizes, but a warm cup of tea or cocoa is universally appreciated for its coziness and warmth. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

You can’t go far in a bookstore these days without seeing a title with “hygge” in it.

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is the Danish word for “inner warmth” or “coziness,” and it’s a concept that forms the backbone of this notoriously happy society.

In recent months, dozens of books have been published on hygge, but it’s an idea I’ve been familiar with for several years thanks to my friend, Nils Juul-Hansen, a Dane who has called Austin home since 2001.

Juul-Hansen can’t not talk about hygge, in part, because it’s everywhere in Austin. He says that even his Copenhagen-based mother has commented on our openheartedness and willingness to be authentic with one another. He finds it on his daily trips to Barton Springs or the new library downtown. That’s where we met recently to record an interview for our Austin360 podcast, “I Love You So Much,” that comes out today. (Click here to listen to the episode, which also features an interview with “Steal Like An Artist” author Austin Kleon.)

Sharing a cake and coffee or tea is a great way to create hygge with a small group of people. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

We talked about why this kind of connection matters and how you can really foster it during the Christmas season. He suggested turning off the TV and putting away the phone to do something that requires you to be present with someone else. If the weather’s nice, that might mean a walk on the boardwalk, a dip in Barton Springs or a drive out in the Hill Country. When winter settles in, you might be turning inward with a warm up of cocoa, a night of board games or a hot bath.

Juul-Hansen is emphatic that Austin is the most hygge-filled city he’s been to in the U.S. Here’s what hygge looks like according to the hashtag #americanhygge.

Where are the best places in Austin to find this kind of hyggelig interaction? The top spots that come to my mind: under the Zilker Tree, on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge or wandering the aisles of Whole Foods or H-E-B. I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments or through the hashtag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break out the cookie cutters for these simple salt dough ornaments

I have at least 100 cookie cutters that I’ve collected over the years.

Salt dough ornaments have been a beloved holiday project for decades, and the process remains largely the same as when you were a kid, except the cookie cutters have gotten better. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

How many times do I make sugar cookies and actually use them? Rarely. I don’t have quite the sugar cookie touch of Lee Stokes Hilton, a local writer who loves to bake and decorate cookies with her grandkids, but I do love a good holiday craft project.

RELATED: Tips on rolling, decorating cookies from a sprinkles-loving grandma

That’s why I pulled out the box of cookie cutters last weekend to make salt dough ornaments, an old fashioned, family friendly activity for people of all ages and abilities.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours together during the holiday break, but they are anything but laborious or tricky. I used this generic salt dough ornament recipe from Allrecipes, and though I overbaked the first batch slightly, you couldn’t tell once we started painting them with acrylic paints.

Texas-shaped cookie cutters are the only specialized tool you’d need to make these holiday ornaments. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I haven’t yet coated the ornaments we made with an acrylic spray or varnish to help preserve them for many years to come, but the only motivation I need to do so is the “Baby’s First Christmas” salt dough ornament I have on my own Christmas tree from when I was a kid. It’s the most beloved ornament I have, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to make some holiday memories (and perhaps lifelong ornaments) with my kids this Christmas season.

Acrylic paint is inexpensive and fun to use on everyday crafting projects like these salt dough ornaments. You could also use glitter, puff balls, glue-on eyes or Sharpies for the detail work. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Salt Dough Ornaments

Use a straw to poke little holes in the dough so that you can thread a ribbon through it, and bake the cut-out dough on parchment paper. Keep an eye on the ornaments after they’ve been in the oven for about 30 minutes so they don’t get overly browned. You’re not eating these, but they can get frail if overbaked. Granulated salt dissolves faster than kosher salt, so stick to the smaller granules.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands. Knead until soft and pliable. Roll out on floured surface about 1/8-inch thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. With a toothpick or straw, make a hole in the top of the ornament for threading string. Bake until hard, from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the thickness of the dough. Decorate with paint and varnish to preserve.

— Adapted from a recipe on Allrecipes.com

Joanna Gaines shares three easy (and two-ingredient) Christmas treats

Magnolia queen Joanna Gaines is gearing up for a big 2018. She and husband Chip have left “Fixer Upper” and are sitting cozily on top of a Waco-based empire that now includes the state’s second-most-visited tourist destination, a magazine, a line at Target and a forthcoming cookbook.

Joanna Gaines’ first cookbook comes out in April. Contributed by HarperCollins

Ahead of the April release of “Magnolia Table,” Gaines has been posting even more food than ever on her social media channels, including a super popular Instagram post showing off three of the very easiest Christmas candy projects: peanut clusters, chocolate-dipped Ritz cracker sandwiches and Rolo-coated pretzels.

RELATED: This marshmallow fudge recipe is an oldie but a goodie

Joanna Gaines shared her favorite way to make peanut clusters on Instagram recently. Contributed by @joannagaines

To make the peanut clusters, simply melt stir peanut into melted chocolate bark and then scoop onto a parchment-lined pan to cool.

As she showed in her Instagram story, you can take that melted chocolate and dip Ritz crackers or Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches and then dip them in colorful sprinkles.

The third recipe she showed was pretty brilliant, I must say. Instead of dipping pretzels in the chocolate, she placed a Rolo — those caramel-filled chocolates — on top of a pretzel and then melted them in the oven to create a salty, crunchy treat that you’ll be munching all holiday weekend.

Rolos melted on top of pretzels are a holiday favorite in the Gaines house. Contributed by @joannagaines

 

Here’s how not to screw up your Christmas ham

It’s time to start thinking about that Christmas dinner, and if ham is on the menu, you’ll need to decide how you want to fix it.

Almost all the ham sold in the U.S. is already cooked and sometimes smoked. You can get it with or without the bone, sliced or unsliced, but they almost all come with a packet of glaze to add to the ham while cooking it.

Many cooks swear by a can of Coke, a jar of apricot jelly or even the powdered stuff you’ll find in that packet, but British cookbook author Gizzi Erskine likes to make a pineapple glaze with pineapple juice and red currant jelly and a nice complement of spices, including clove and Scotch bonnet. I’ve adapted her recipe here to include more readily available powdered chilies. You could use pineapple juice and pineapple jelly for even more pineapple flavor, if you’d like.

RELATED: Paula Deen’s famous cheesy corn casserole recipe

Side dishes and a fizzy drink fit for any holiday dinner

Put your slow cooker to work with these side dishes

No matter what, line your roasting pan with aluminum foil or use a disposable one. The glaze will stick to the bottom of the pan and cause a mess to clean. This recipe calls for baking the ham at 450 degrees, but if you have time and are worried about it drying out, you can cook it at a lower temperature, between 350 and 400, for a longer period of time.

Sealing the ham with aluminum foil keeps it moist while it heats in the oven, but you can take it off for the last 20 minutes if you like some caramelization on top of the ham. The time will vary depending on the size of the ham, but the inside of the meat should measure 140 degrees with a thermometer.

This spiced pineapple ham, which is glazed with pineapple juice, currant jelly and clove, is from “Gizzi’s Seasons Eatings: Feasts & Celebrations from Halloween to Happy New Year” by Gizzi Erskine (Mitchell Beazley, $29.95) Contributed by Emma Lee.

Spiced Pineapple Christmas Ham

The Christmas ham. I love it so much. I’ve written numerous ham recipes in my time — mango-glazed, pomegranate-glazed — if it’s got the combo of sweetness, tartness and spice, it’s going to be a winner. This recipe uses pineapple, and the tartness outweighs its sweetness. I think it cuts through the ham in the most brilliant way.

— Gizzi Erskine

1 (8 lb.) spiral-sliced, bone-in ham
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or other powered chili (optional)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan and simmer until reduced to a syrupy glaze.

Place the ham in a large roast pan lined with aluminum foil. Pour and brush the glaze all over the ham and, if scored or sliced, into the corner of each diamond or slices. Seal the ham with another layer of aluminum foil. Roast for an hour, until sticky and caramelized. Check the ham several times and baste with any liquid that has gathered in the pan. You can leave the aluminum foil off for the last 15 minutes if you prefer a sticky sweet glaze on top.

Leave the ham to rest for 15 minutes if you want to eat it warm, or let it cool completely. Serves 14 as part of a buffet, with leftovers.

— Adapted from “Gizzi’s Seasons Eatings: Feasts & Celebrations from Halloween to Happy New Year” by Gizzi Erskine (Mitchell Beazley, $29.95)

Keep the cranberry sauce: Here’s what the food bank really needs this Christmas

The holidays are always one of the busiest times of the year for the Central Texas Food Bank, which means it’s a good time to remind good-hearted Central Texas about which kinds of donations are the most helpful for people who are struggling to buy enough food.

A can of cranberry sauce might be the perfect fit for your Thanksgiving table, but it’s not as helpful to Central Texans in need as a can of tuna, chicken breast or soup. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

Central Texas Food Bank Dietitian Mary Agnew, who writes our monthly Ask a Dietitian column, shared some tips in her article this month:

At the food bank, we are receiving your donations by the truck full this time of year, so it’s a good time to share what items are most helpful for our clients. Canned cranberry sauce doesn’t have the same nutritional impact on a family as a can of tuna or chicken breast, a can of low-sodium vegetable soup, a jar of peanut butter or a bag of brown rice or pinto beans, which are all items requested most from our clients.

RELATED: Ask a Dietitian: What would happen if Santa ate all the cookies, milk?

Peanut butter is one of the most requested donations at any food bank. Bob Andres / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Peanut butter, rice, beans, canned protein and soup. Those are the items that not only pack a nutritional punch but are also more appealing than cans of pumpkin puree or evaporated milk leftover from Thanksgiving.

There are donation drop-off locations in many grocery stores, but you can also drop them off at the Central Texas Food Bank between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For nonperishable food donations, an after-hours drop box is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just outside the front entrance. They are also always looking for volunteers and sustained donations throughout the year. You can find out more by going to centraltexasfoodbank.org.

This marshmallow fudge recipe is an oldie but a goodie

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In this week’s food section, we shared the recipe for Velveeta fudge, but for a Facebook livestream that day, I also made marshmallow fudge to see which one people preferred. Most people who tried with fudge made with Velveeta loved it, agreeing that if I hadn’t said it had Velveeta in it, they wouldn’t have been able to tell.

This marshmallow fudge is made with bittersweet chocolate instead of cocoa, which is one of the reasons it is so rich. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

However, this marshmallow fudge recipe was universally praised for a richer flavor and more traditional fudge-like texture. You might know this as Fantasy Fudge, which was the name of the recipe printed on the side of the marshmallow cream container, but mini marshmallows are a little easier to measure and work with.

If you’re using regular-sized or jumbo marshmallows, cut them into pieces with scissors so they will melt quickly in the hot butter. The same is true of the chocolate. Large chunks won’t melt thoroughly and will leave a grainy texture. You can use cooking spray instead of butter when preparing the pan.

Marshmallow Fudge

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more, room temperature, for brushing
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces (1 3/4 cups) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Lightly brush an 8-inch baking pan with butter, then line with parchment, leaving 2-inch overhang on two sides. Lightly butter parchment. In a medium saucepan, combine remaining 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, evaporated milk and salt.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, then cook for 3 minutes more, until pale golden and thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows until mostly melted, then add chocolate and vanilla. Stir until chocolate and marshmallows have melted completely and mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan; smooth top with a spatula.

Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Remove parchment with fudge from pan and cut into 36 squares. Fudge can be stored refrigerated, covered with plastic, up to 1 week.

— From Martha Stewart Living

 

Tamales: Where to buy ’em, how to make ’em and why it’s not ‘tamale’

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It’s not Christmas without tamales in many Central Texas homes.

You can find the most common Mexican-style tamales at food trucks, restaurants, gas stations, corner stores, grocery stores and even a cooler at a neighbor’s house, but you might also celebrate with Puerto Rican-style pastelada or another variation.

No matter which kind of tamal you’re enjoying, stick with “tamal” and not “tamale.” It’s the difference between potato and potatoe, and nobody wants to be the person who misspells “potato” or “tamal.”

Here’s a list of place where you can buy tamales this time of year, but they aren’t as hard as you might think to make at home.

RELATED: Austin360Cooks: Friends gather for Puerto Rican pastelada

Making tamales? Get the most from your masa

I’ve made them off and on over the years, and I always love to eat them. If you are lucky enough to get invited to a tamalada, say yes, and if you feel adventurous or brave in your skills, don’t be afraid to host one. I had a friend over for a two-person tamalada one year, and we had a wonderful time splitting the work between ourselves.

It’s easiest to make tamales in a group because they require so many steps. Contributed by the Beef Loving Texans.

RELATED: Why you should stop saying “tamale”

Where to buy tamales in Austin

The filling for beef tamales. Contributed by the Beef Loving Texans.

Beef Tamales

Beef Loving Texans, the consumer-facing site run by the Texas Beef Council, has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to make tamales: and the following recipe for beef tamales.

For the beef filling:
6 lb. brisket
1 onion
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tsp. salt
6 peppercorns
8 dried ancho chiles
1 tablespoon cumin (comino) seeds
Water to cover
1/2 lb. lard (or 1 cup canola oil)
For the masa:
6 lbs. prepared, storebought masa or
4 lbs. masa harina
1/2 lbs. lard (or 2 cups canola oil)
6 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of broth from beef filling

To prepare the corn husks/hojas: Hojas are corn husks that are dry and papery but usually clean of silks, trimmed, flattened and ready for use. To soften them, pour plenty of very hot water over them and leave to soak for several hours or overnight. Shake well to get rid of excess water and pat them dry with a towel. You’ll need about 3 pounds of husks for this recipe.

To make the beef filling: Cut the brisket into large squares and put into a large pot with the onion, garlic, salt and peppercorns.  Cover the beef with water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and simmer until tender – about 3 hours. Set the beef aside to cool off in the broth. Strain, reserving the broth, and chop beef with garlic roughly.

Cover chiles and cumin seeds with water and bring to a boil. Let them stand until chiles are soft and water cools.  When they are cool enough to handle, slit  them open and remove seeds and veins. Using a molcajete or a blender to grind/blend them along with the cumin into a paste.

Melt lard, add chile paste and sauté for about 3 minutes stirring all the time. Add beef and garlic, continuing to cook for the flavors to meld. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes over a medium flame.  Filling should not be watery. Add salt as necessary.

If you have access to freshly prepared masa that’s ready to use in tamales, buy it. If you want to use Maseca or another masa harina, buy the one for tamales and follow this step: To make the masa from the masa harina, melt the lard. Use a large mixer to mix masa, salt, baking soda, broth and the lard (one cup at a time). Continue beating for 10 minutes or so, until 1/2 teaspoon of the masa floats in a cup of cold water. If it floats, you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light. If it doesn’t float, beat more melted lard into the mixture. Beat until fluffy and semi-shiny. Masa should be of a stiff consistency but spreadable.

To make the tamales: Using a tablespoon or a knife, spread a thin coating of the storebought or homemade masa over the broadest part of the corn husk, allowing for turning down about 2 inches at the pointed top. Spread the masa approximately 3 inches wide and 3 ½ inches long.

Spoon some beef filling down the middle of the dough, about 1 tablespoon. Fold the sides of the corn husks together firmly. Fold up the empty 2-inch section of the husk, forming a tightly closed “bottom” and leaving the top open.

To cook the tamales: Fill the bottom of large soup pot or a tamale steamer with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. If using a pot, either put a molcajete, bowl or ball of aluminum foil at the bottom of the pot and fill in with leftover corn husks. Stack the tamales upright, with the folded part down at the bottom. Pack firmly but not tightly. Cover the tamales with more corn shucks. Cover the top of the steamer with a dishcloth or thick cloth, or cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid.

Cook tamales for about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours over a medium flame.  Keep water in a teapot simmering so that you can refill the pot when necessary. If you use a tamale steamer you should not have to add any more water.

To test the tamales for doneness, remove one from the center, and one from the side of the pot. Tamales are done when you open the corn husk, and the masa peels away easily from the shucks and the tamale is completely smooth.

— Ellen Riojas-Clark

You can put so many different fillings in tamales, including pork, beef, chicken and beans. Contributed by the Beef Loving Texans

Where to buy stollen, challah other holiday breads in Austin

In America, we might associate the holidays with decadent, buttery sweets, but in many cultures around the world, Christmas and other winter holidays are the time to break out the specialty breads.

Stollen is a popular Christmas bread that originates in Germany. This is the loaf you can find at Easy Tiger through Christmas Eve, but other bakeries in town sell it, too. Contributed by Easy Tiger.

Throughout Europe and the U.S., you’ll find families serving slices of fruitcake, German stollen or Italian panettone dotted with candied fruit all month long. In Sweden, where St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13) is one of the most beloved days of the season, saffron buns and vörtbröd are found around every table. 

Where can you buy these baked goods in Austin?

RELATED: Mastering the art of the challah braid

In a hurry? Here’s a pumpkin-spiced French toast to slow you down

Stollen is lighter than the American fruitcake, which might be one reason why it’s so popular here during the holidays. 2007 AP Photo/Jens Meyer

Upper Crust Bakery4508 Burnet Road, is well-known for the challah it sells only on Fridays, but during the holiday months, you can also buy stollen and gift-wrapped stollen.

Sweetish Hill Bakery, 1120 W. Sixth St., sells stollen this time of the year, and it’s also one of the few places that will make the Swedish holiday bread limpa, which you have to call (512-472-1347) in to order ahead of time.

RELATED: If you’ve never baked bread, here’s the absolute easiest way to get started

A boozy bread pudding recipe from specialty food pioneers Fischer & Wieser

Easy Tiger baker David Norman is making these saffron buns this week ahead of St. Lucia Day. Contributed by Easy Tiger.

At Easy Tiger, David Norman is selling stollen through Christmas Eve, and he’s also making Swedish saffron buns until Dec. 13. In the following weeks (Dec. 15-17 and Dec. 22-24), the baker and author of a forthcoming book on European breads will be making vörtbröd, another Swedish holiday rye bread with cloves, ginger, the peel of Seville oranges and “wort,” the malt and hop mixture that would be brewed into a strong porter ale. To order, you’ll have to order them 48 hours ahead of time by contacting specialorders@easytigeraustin.com or 512-614-4972.

The Austin-area locations of Central Market and Whole Foods also sell stollen and panettone that are made in-house, as well as fruitcake.