A Happy New Year in the Kitchen

My bad attitude about the holidays (tired, sick, too much to do) followed me into the New Year’s celebrations. I was tired and I didn’t want to cook anymore and I definitely did not want to have our annual party. Well, I got outvoted and my husband invited people over for New Year’s Eve.

It was a potluck, but of course I made way too much food. I made posole, gluten-free vegan chocolate cake with a chocolate/cinnamon frosting and salted caramel drizzled on top, coffee flan, homemade pinto beans, and tamales. A couple of friends came over Wednesday afternoon and helped me make the tamales in preparation for Thursday night.

Tamales, if you haven’t attempted, are very time consuming. My mom used to make them when we were kids and it was a two day affair. She does not have good memories of it. While I was shopping at Trader Joe’s I got a frantic call from her. “Don’t make tamales,” she said. “It’s too much work and you’ll be too tired to enjoy New Year’s Eve. Don’t make them!”

It wasn’t that bad. You start by making the dough, which is made of masa (ground corn flour), lard or shortening (I used vegan butter and regular butter in an attempt to be somewhat healthy), baking powder, salt, and water. After you’ve soaked the corn husks for two hours, you spread the filling in the husks. I bought carnitas, green chile, tomatillo sauce and jack cheese from Trader Joe’s. (I bought the corn husks and masa from Top Valu in Culver City, my new favorite grocery store.) One by one, we spread the masa dough in the husks, added the filling and folded them together. Then we put the wrapped tamales in a steamer. Several hours and 50 tamales later we were done.

It ended up being a great time. It was one of those rare occasions where all the kids were in good moods and got along, leaving the moms in the kitchen to cook.

After everyone left and I put my kids to bed, I made coffee flan with Starbucks Via coffee. I hope no one was lactose intolerant because it had whole milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Delightful.

On Thursday, I made the cake, beans, and my mom’s posole, which is soup with pork, chili (I used a can of chile colorado), and hominy. My mom has no real recipes, just vague directions. She said to put everything in the pot with chunks of onion and garlic and add some water or broth. I used gluten-free chicken broth and water. It turned out great. Spicy, but not too hot and the pork was really tender.

As the night wore on I broke out the Abuelita, which is Mexican chocolate. I melted it with sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, and one packet of Starbuck’s Via instant coffee. I served it with a shot of Kahlua and it was fantastic.

This was not a low calorie New Year’s Eve, but everything was gluten-free and the party was really fun. It started at 6 and the last people left after midnight. It was a lovely and happy New Year’s Eve.

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