Served November 25, 2007.
Source: "Tofu Cookery" by Louise Hagler.
The Pie Filling
1 pound tofu (FTS style) - cut or tear into small pieces, set aside.
(Good alternatives to tofu are cooked and mashed chickpeas, cooked black beans, or TVP - textured vegetable protein).
Saute together until soft:
1 TBL olive oil.
1 large yellow (sweet) onion, chopped.
1 large green bell pepper, chopped.
1 clove garlic, minced.
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped.
Then stir in:
1 can - 15 oz - petite chopped tomatoes.
1 can - 15 oz - tomato sauce.
1 tsp chili powder (this is not too hot, add more if you wish).
1 TBL ground cumin.
1/2 tsp oregano.
1 cup of small black olives (pitted, of course).
1 package - 10 oz - of frozen corn.
1 can - 4 oz - diced chilies (chef's choice, mild or hot).
1 TBL of Bragg Liquid Aminos (or regular salt if no Bragg's) to taste.
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, then taste the mixture for proper salt content (or Bragg's) and level of heat in the sauce. Adjust the salt and heat first, then add-in the tofu pieces to the mixture and stir very well to allow the sauce to fill the tofu sponges.
Now make a judgment call on the amount of water in the mixture - we do not want too much water in the mixture, or the pie will be watery. So let the mixture simmer on the stove until it has a very thick, paste-like consistency. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking dish 9" x 13" with good oil on the bottom and sides.
The Pie Crust
A proper tamale pie uses a special corn flour called Masa Harina, which is prepared by boiling corn in lime water, drying it, then grinding. This is the official dough for anything "tamale." If you simply cannot obtain Masa Harina, then a "cornbread" recipe can be used (find one on a box of corn meal).
Mix in a bowl:
4 cups Masa Harina (Bob's Red Mill brand is good).
2 1/2 cups of water, warm.
2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp Bragg's) dissolved in the water.
1 cup of good oil (I like coconut oil) in liquid form.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is very smooth. Then line the bottom of your baking dish with a layer of the dough, pressing it evenly into the pan; it need not flow up the sides of the pan. Then pour the Pie Filling into the baking dish, spread it evenly.
Now the trick is to create a nice Masa Dough top crust. This is a challenge. I do it by rolling out some dough onto parchment paper, a bit larger than the size I need to cover the baking dish, then, with a helping pair of hands, quickly flip the parchment on top of the baking dish. Carefully peel back the parchment. Do not expect a clean top crust, it usually breaks. Just fill the breaks as best you can!
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. If the top crust is not a nice golden color, then set the oven on "broil" for a few minutes - be sure to watch it constantly during this phase or it will burn.
Make It Hot? Or Not?
This dish can be either savory or hotter than Hades. The Chef decides. But when serving a diverse group, especially children, it is often better to keep the hot stuff as an optional side condiment, like a spicy salsa.
Mix together very well:
1 can - 28 oz - petite diced tomatoes.
1 can - 4 oz - diced jalapeno peppers.
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped.
1 yellow onion, finely chopped.
2 TBL lime (or lemon) juice.
1 tsp chili powder (adjust to taste).
1 tsp ground cumin.
1 tsp garlic powder (if using garlic salt, then omit the next step).
1 tsp salt (or 1/2 tsp Bragg's).
Let this mixture sit at room temperature for several hours to allow the flavors to develop.