Flour Tortillas

Homemade flour tortillas are quick and easy to make. I use my mother in-law’s recipe. She used to make them the traditional Mexican way with lard, but later discovered how tasty they are made with butter. That’s how my husband likes them, and he’s right!

Ingredients: Makes 6 tortillas

1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 Tb softened butter

1/2 cup warm water

extra flour for rolling out the tortillas

Directions:

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl, stirring well to mix. Add softened butter and water and stir well with a large wooden spoon until dough is shaggy.

Use your hands to shape into a smooth ball, adding more flour if needed. The dough should be soft and elastic, neither sticky nor too dry.

Tear off 6 pieces and roll each one into a golf ball-sized ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand. Gather them together and place a damp clean kitchen towel on top of them. Let them rest for 20 minutes so that the gluten can develop.

Roll each tortilla out until it’s very thin with a floured rolling pin on a floured board. Try to make them into a circle shape by rotating the rolling pin in a different direction each time you roll it.

Heat a dry (unoiled) comal, griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the tortilla in the pan for about a minute, until bubbles form

Flip the tortilla and let it cook about 15 seconds. The bottom should be golden brown.

Flip tortilla to a plate to make your burrito. Or if you’re making a stack, put it in a dishtowel-lined tortilla warmer or plate, covering with the towel after each addition to keep them warm. Eat them warm smeared with butter and rolled up – it’s super good!

I made this breakfast burrito with frijoles pintos and scrambled eggs, topped with green onions, cilantro, tomato and avocado slices and salsa.

Tortillas de maíz hechas a mano – Homemade corn tortillas

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 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.

Carefully peel one piece of the plastic off the tortilla. Holding the loose plastic over your hand, flip the tortilla on your hand.

Then carefully pull off the other side of the plastic. Flip the tortilla back on  your bare hand.

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.

Heat the tortilla until the sides begin to dry out and start to curl up slightly. (Don’t turn them too soon or they will crumple and stick.)

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.

This somehow makes them puff up, which looks really cool.

Tonight we had tacos de Tinga de Pollo with homemade tortillas.

I love quesadillas with grated or sliced cheese on the puffy tortillas.