My mother-in-law is a wonderful cook, and whenever we visit I try to soak up any cooking tips and recipes from her that I can. Unfortunately, with a little Monkey running around, this is not always easy to do! Luckily, when we visited Costa Rica this past summer I managed to get her recipe for tamal asado, a delicious corn cake that I and my little Monkey loved. It is perhaps better described as sweet cornbread, since it is not super sweet and does contain cheese, but it is sweeter than most cornbread we are used to in the US.
Unfortunately, because cooking comes so naturally to her, getting a recipe from my mother-in-law is not always easy. She is very much a little-of-this, little-of-that kind of a cook, so our conversation (while I was eating yet another piece of her tamal asado) went something like this:
- ¿Cuánto leche? ¿Un litro? How much milk? A liter?
- Si, puede ser. Yes, that could be.
- Y ¿la maseca? ¿Cuánto anadió? ¿Una taza? ¿Dos? And the Maseca? How much did you add? One cup? Two?
- Y ¿agregó huevos también? And did you add eggs, too?
- No, pero se puede si quiere… No, but you could if you wanted…
With my sister-in-laws’ help, we did manage to write down a recipe, which I then took home and tinkered with a bit to figure out the exact amounts. I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out well the first time! The real test, of course, came when the boys (little Monkey and Daddy) tried it. Monkey wanted more, and Daddy had several pieces! I couldn’t have been more pleased The only difference we did notice is that my version cooks up rather pale, while my mother-in-law’s tamal asado is always a beautiful yellow. Otherwise, it looks and tastes (pretty much) just like home!
Here is how you can make your own tamal asado. It seems to be one of those recipes that every family does a bit differently, so I have also included below links to other versions I found on the internet. Enjoy!
Maseca, 2 c.
Sugar (azúcar), 1/2 c.
Baking powder (royal), 1/2 t.
White cheese (queso blanco) (Monterey Jack is best), grated, 1 c.
Vanilla (vainilla), 1 t.
Sour cream (natilla), 1/4 – 1/2 c. (optional)
Butter (mantequilla), melted, 1 T. (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8 x 11 glass pan.
- Combine first four ingredients in bowl, then add the remaining ingredients. Do not worry if at first the batter seems very soupy. The Maseca will quickly absorb the liquid. If it is still soupy, let sit for a few minutes so that the liquid can absorb; you can also add a bit more Maseca if this does not help, or more milk if the batter is too dry.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to one hour. (I baked mine for an hour, but my oven tends to be a bit slow). Test with a knife to make sure it is baked through, but don’t overcook, as it can quickly become dry. The finished corncake should be moist.
Dona Hilda’s Tamal Asado – from Beyond Rice and Beans
Tamal Asado – from Cocina Costarricense
Tamal Asado – from Sabores