What’s cooking

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about food on here, and I know that people often enjoy the recipes I share and what not.

If you had been at our house for dinner on Friday night you would have been eating rice, beans and homemade tortillas. We went to visit friends last month and they made us this simple meal and we all loved it. So much that I had to give it a try at home. I had been wanting to make my own tortillas for a while, just hadn’t had that push. They’re expensive to buy here. Actually, I think tortillas are expensive wherever you buy them considering what’s in them. I looked around online a bit, found a few recipes, then gave it a whirl. I’ve made them a few times now and Friday night I found the variation to the recipe that I liked the most. It has just the right amount of everything. 

Homemade Tortillas:

3 c. all purpose flour (you could use whole wheat if you wanted, or half and half)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. oil
3/4 c. hot water

1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a good sized bowl.
2. Add oil and using a fork mix well. Squish the oil into the flour mixture until it’s crumbly.
3. Add water. Use fork to mix until almost combined. You should have a dough at this point. Using your hand knead the dough around the bowl to pick up all the little bits. This only takes a minute or so. You just want a nice, soft dough. No need to knead it for any length of time once everything is combined.
4. Move dough out of bowl and start breaking off golf ball sized pieces. Roll into a ball and place back in the bowl. Once all the dough is rolled into little balls cover the bowl with a lid or towel and let the dough rest for at least an hour. 

To cook the tortillas:

You need a large skillet or even a griddle. I use a cast iron skillet turned upside down over the burner so I don’t have to “dig” the tortillas out and it works really, really well. You want to heat the skillet/pan for about 5-10 minutes on medium (depending on your stove) before you start cooking.

I have a Silpat (silicone cookie sheet liner) that I roll my tortillas on, but you could use parchment paper or even those thing cutting sheets that you can get for meat, fish etc. (Check out the dollar stores. I love these for rolling out pie crust because you don’t need to fold it or anything, just lift up the mat and turn it over your pie plate – the crust peels right off and no rips.). You could just roll them right on the counter too, but I like to have something down just because my counter is a wooden butcher block thingie.

Using a rolling pin roll out the tortilla. It took me several times of making them to get them nice and round. They’ll still taste the same if they’re square! You want them pretty thin, but not so thin they’re ripping. You see that you can sort of push the dough around a bit if it’s too thin on one area. The dough is very pliable, but doesn’t do well with being squished back together and then rolled out again. Just gets really elasticy, which is why I make the balls before letting it rest. 

Once your pan is hot and your tortilla is rolled, you can lift it up by the edge. You’ll see how easily it comes up. Flop it onto the pan. You can move it around a bit if it gets wrinkled. You want to cook them for about a minute and a half on each side. You want light brown bubbles, not dark brown. If they’re dark brown just reduce your heat a bit. It’ll take some playing with to find the right temp. I just slide a fork under the edge and hold the tortilla with my finger, then flip. 

While one tortilla is cooking you can roll out the next one. 

Now, this is a key thing. Once the tortillas are cooked they need to be kept moist. I use a gallon Ziploc bag for this. Take one piece of paper towel and fold it in quarters to make a square. Wet down the paper towel and squeeze out the extra moisture. You just want it damp. Open it back up to the small square and lay it flat inside the Ziploc bag. When I take a tortilla off the pan I let it sit for a minute just so I can touch it, then I put it in the bag. No need to seal it, just push it closed. The moisture from the paper towel and the heat from the tortillas keep a nice steam in the bag and stop the tortillas from drying out. I put them on the table in the bag, and after we’re done eating just zip it closed. The next day, even after being in the fridge, the tortillas are still nice and pliable, not dried out at all. In fact, I almost like them better the second day. 

I took a picture so you could see how I set myself up. I have a very small kitchen and I just found doing a bit of an assembly line worked really well for me.

You can see the bubbles on the tortilla on the skillet. This is what you want to see.

This recipe is very flexible and I would encourage you to play around with it a bit. You can use shortening instead of oil, and you can omit the baking powder if you want. You’ll just get a more translucent tortilla, but it tastes really good. If you want more salt you can add it too. 

You can really eat these with whatever. I make them with refried beans. The rice I made yesterday was yummy. This is what I did…

Tomato Onion Rice:

2 1/4 c. water
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2-3 plum/roma tomatoes cut into small chunks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 c. rice
1/2 medium onion

In the pot combine water, tomato paste, tomatoes, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil. Add rice and cook until desired doneness. Turn off the heat. Cut your onion in half, then instead of slicing it like you would for rings, slice it the other direction to make small wedges. Throw onions in the pot and using a fork “fluff” them into the rice. Cover the pot again and let it continue steaming until you’re ready to eat. The heat in the pot will continue to steam the rice and is just enough to nicely cook the onion without making it mushy. This also helps deepen the flavors in the rice. You may want to add more salt to taste at this point. Again, this is very flexible and you can alter things to your personal preference.

So, there you have it. Tortillas, rice and beans. Throw in some hot sauce, maybe some sour cream and cheese…so many options. A yummy, simple dinner. If you do your tortilla dough, then cook your rice while you’re resting the dough, it can steam while you’re cooking the tortillas. Refried beans can be thrown in a pot or done in the microwave, whichever is most convenient. We can get them in a can here, but beans are pretty cheap so I want to get an inexpensive pressure cooker and just cook them up ahead of time with a bit of garlic so I just need to re-warm them to serve.

For the record, Chris isn’t the hugest rice fan, and he doesn’t like tomatoes, but he loves this meal. In fact, when I was making the dough up he and Matt we’re both in the kitchen and when the found out I was making this for dinner they we’re both excited. Makes me happy!
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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

3 thoughts on “What’s cooking

  1. too funny! I just bought this tortilla press thingy….I’m a total sucker I geuss! Never thought about just rolling it out. duh. anyhoo, gonna try your recipe, have been searching online too for all the good ones. my husband/kids love them and they are expensive, but also so many bad ingredients (partially hydrolized whaterver) that I wanted to start and make my own. I love them with breakfast,, eggs, beans, rice yummy! Amy

  2. The tortillas sound delish; however, I do have question for you. I’m a native Southern Californian, and as such, have eaten tortillas (de maiz, de trigo, gorditas–you name ’em) my whole life, but I’ve never seen them cooked/heated on the bottom of a skillet before. Fascinating! Is that some Canadian technique–:-)?P.S. I’ll be trying out your recipe this week. It sounds yummy-yum-yum.

  3. Amy, once you get the hang of it you’ll be making tortillas ALL THE TIME. Now that I’ve started making my own the store bought ones just taste floury, and I agree with you about all the “extras” that are in them.Candis, I am so far from knowing what is “authentic” :) My skillet trick was learned from the lady that made them for us, and she’s Mennonite. Her daughter was cooking with her and had a special tortilla pan, but the skillet worked just as well and was essentially the same principle. I haven’t tried them on anything else because I have the skillet. I like that it has no sides to contend with when it’s upside down.

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