Today I am posting my 100th blog entry! I wanted to make it special. I am posting my handmade tortillas because one of my first recipes was Tortilla Soup, bién rica. I’ve perfected this soup by popping homemade tortillas into the broth.
I am fortunate to work in the Fruitvale section of East Oakland, near La Finca tortilleria which sells both their own tortillas and the fresh masa (dough). I’ve bought their tortillas for years, because I love to take home a warm package and because they are preservative-free. I recently dug out my tortilla press and began making my own tortillas from their fresh masa. This is stone-ground nixtamal, corn soaked in a lime mixture.
You can also make decent tortillas from dry masa. Mix 1 cup of the masa to a bit more than 3/4 cup water in a bowl. The dough should not be dry (the balls of dough should not crack) or too wet.
The trick was to make the tortillas not stick to the pan or come out misshapen. The key is to have the comal hot enough and to handle the tortilla carefully so it doesn’t bunch up. My friend and colleague Maria helped me perfect my tortillas and showed me how to make them puffy by pressing on them lightly after turning.
Here’s the drill: Heat a comal or heavy frying pan. Spread a long piece of plastic wrap over the inside of the tortilla press. Roll a golf-ball size piece of masa into a ball and place it slightly off the middle towards the back of the bottom press.
Flatten it a little bit with your hand, then close the press and press the handle down. Don’t press so hard that the tortilla is too thin and squishes out beyond the edges. When you open the press, the masa should make a perfect circle.
Slide the tortilla on the hot comal so that it lies flat on the comal. I usually can fit about 3 tortillas on my comal.
You should be able to flip them with your hand, although you can use a spatula if you wish. If the comal is hot enough, they won’t stick. Heat the other side for half as long. Both sides should be lightly toasted. Flip it one more time and press your fingertips on them several times.
Tonight we had tacos de Tinga de Pollo with homemade tortillas.
I love quesadillas with grated or sliced cheese on the puffy tortillas.