Summer on Blue Mountain Road 2002, charcoal on paper, 20 x 30 inches
Friends Sherry and Jamie with Bud and I hosted a party on Blue Mountain Road for Teresa Booth Brown in honor of her beautiful exhibition just opened at Michael Warren Gallery in Denver. Twelve of us friends sat around the table and had a grand time laughing, drinking wine and eating. Bud smoked two salmon fillets on the Weber, Sherry made a tomato/avocado/basil salad and a mixed greens salad, we had fresh green beans from Zweck’s, and Jamie prepared grilled peaches for dessert, served with my almond macaroons and ginger cookies.
I like to include one complicated dish in a celebratory dinner so I made sopes as a starter. These little masa harina boats are a treat, crisp and savory with a filling of beans, cheese and salsa, but do take a bit of work.
For the masa preparation, I use a recipe in Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayliss.
Combine 2 1/4 cups of masa harina with 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/3 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Mix until smooth then divide into 12 balls. Flatten these into disks about 1/2 inch thick.
These cakes are then baked on a griddle to cook the outsides. Heat a comal or heavy iron pan until hot. Place the cakes on the ungreased surface and cook until browned a bit, turn and cook the other side. The interior will be soft and ready to be formed into little ‘boats’ (a coracle I think).
With a thin, sharp knife, split the cakes in half. Mold the raw dough on each half to form an edge about a 1/2 inch high.
Cover the sopes. I sometimes prepare them to this stage in the morning, then refrigerate until time for frying and serving. You might even do this a day ahead.
Have the filling ingredients ready. Prepare or reheat refried beans, (see Supper on a Summer Evening), grate your favorite melting cheese, make a salsa, (I used mango salsa, see blog link above), and open the sour cream.
Thirty minutes or so before serving, heat a 3/4 inch depth of safflower oil in a wok or deep pan to about 360° ─ or until very hot, but not smoking. Fry 6-8 sope shells until browned, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towels or a brown bag and keep warm in a 250° oven while you cook the rest.
Layer the warm beans, grated cheese, salsa, and sour cream into the shells and serve. (With the filling ingredients ready, and with Sandra as a helper, filling the sopes went very quickly.)
Other fillings to consider are sauteed chopped onions, chorizo, and cilantro; whole beans with feta and pico de gallo; or chopped, sauteed zucchini, poblanos and onions with a melting cheese and cilantro. Just remember to cut the ingredients into smallish pieces to fit into the little boats.