Three foods deserve special mention on my blog. These are the foods that get a huge flavor boost when you make them yourself and also have an infinite list of ways you can prepare them to make them suitable for just about any person about to sit down at your dinner table. If someone forced me to eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be a toss up between these three dishes.
The first one is the tortilla.
12 medium-sized tortillas can be cranked out and ready to serve in 30 minutes. For a quick weeknight supper, you can throw some cheese in between two of these and in another 15 minutes everyone has a ooey-gooey quesadilla. You can throw some veggies and a few strips of chicken breast with your favorite seasonings, and you have a self-serve fajita station. And, this pliable, Mexican favorite, is an awesome way to get the whole family in the kitchen on the weekend.
Or at the very least, give them an excuse to come to the dinner table.
I actually have some very fond memories of Sunday afternoon taco making with my father, my mother, and whichever siblings happened to be in the house. My dad was in charge of the tortillas, we were in charge of flipping them and putting them on the serving dish and my mom would be busy making the filling.
Today, I’ll be sharing my recipe for corn tortillas, which are a little more time consuming and not quite as foolproof as the flour tortilla-although a little practice and you might be whipping these out by hand, just like my mother-in-law. Scratch that, making them 100% by hand is actually extremely difficult, although Mexican tradition says that you’re good to marry if you are able to do this impressive feat.
If you have it readily available to you in your local supermarket, I would splurge on the Maseca corn flour…but in France, one kilo would have cost me 9 euros a bag, and there was NO way I’d ever spend that much on flour. In China, I’m pretty sure, I won’t find it (I can’t find basil or ground cinnamon). But, I think the Portuguese culture, some countries in Africa and some regions in China do use corn flour for their own bread and meat concoctions.
If you happen to be in France and you want tortilla making tips either for finding or making tortillas with corn flour, send me an email!
Otherwise, let’s be on to the making of corn tortillas.
Makes 12 small/medium tortillas
3 cups of corn flour (Maseca if possible)
1 ½-1 ¾ cups of boiling water (I always make extra and have my tea kettle on hand)
1 tsp. salt
1 sheet of plastic wrap that will be long enough to fold and flatten your tortilla into the circle you with to obtain.
A little oil for the plastic wrap.
1) Sift flour and salt. I just use my fingers. No fancy tools here.
2) Add one cup of water and start to stir with a wooden spoon (or a metal fork, or a pair of chopsticks). At this point you can slowly add in the last ½ cup and continue stirring.
3) Start to poke at it with your fingers, when it is cool enough to touch (but still hot), you can start kneading the dough.
4) If you can still see dry flour that isn’t being incorporated into the dough, add a few drops more of that extra ¼ cup.
5) As soon as it comes into a ball, cover it with a dish towel and let sit for 10 minutes while you heat up the non-stick pan you’re going to use to make the tortillas. At this point you can also make a quick salsa for your dinner if you want or get the meat simmering. (Disclaimer: I know how long it takes my pan to heat up, and so I might start the salsa and halfway before I finish, get the pan heating…you don’t want that aggressive smoke signal telling you it’s too hot…I’ll let you be the judgeJ)
6) Then comes the part where it can be useful to have an extra pair of hands in the kitchen. Drizzle your plastic wrap with a little oil, sprinkle it with corn flour and then take a small, golf-ball sized piece of dough and flatten it slightly before setting in down and folding the plastic wrap over the top. Leave plenty of room at the top for you to flatten. Then start to roll it out, rolling from new directions each time to achieve a circular tortilla (If you don’t care what shape your tortilla is, you don’t have to change directions). Change directions does not mean you have to turn the tortilla, but I alternate what angle I roll from…moving from the left side, to the right, to the center.
7) Remove the top layer of plastic and then pick up the bottom layer and the tortilla and slowly remove. Flip onto the griddle or the pan and go back to flatten another.
8) Mid-way through your next flatten you may need to flip the tortilla and get it onto a plate.
Note: The written directions may sound a bit complicated, but it’s really not. It goes fast. I promise. It’ll go even faster if you have a friend or a partner flipping your tortillas as you go.
Note: Keep some hot/warm water near you so that you can add a few drops to your dough if it gets dried out as you go.
Note: Keep your fresh tortillas warm (and soft) by covering them with a tea towel. This will make them even more flexible so you can fold them up and get the full tortilla experience!
Note: Don’t have a rolling pin? (what, who doesn’t have a rolling pin?!) You can use a clean beer bottle (the big ones) as long as the glass is smooth…That’s actually what I did here.