Monday, August 3, 2009

Tortillas, How I Love Thee

I know, I know, I promised Spring Rolls. And I promised Friday...but life got in the way, and these tie in so nicely to last weeks bonus recipes, that I don't feel bad. Much.

We love Tex-Mex. I have my own quesadilla recipe, the base of which serves as the base for much of my cooking. Chili, fajitas, quesadillas, you name it. Anything Tex-Mex-y is fair game. But you know, tortillas form the base for much of what we use that recipe on, in and around. We love flour tortillas, but frankly, buying by the 8 pack is cost prohibitive. Honestly, these things are just flour and a bit of other stuff, so why do I have to pay so much for them? I decided to stop making the tortilla company rich, and make my own.

So, I did what I always do. Scoured the net for recipes to adapt to my way of thinking. Unfortunately, there are 2 camps for tortilla making. One camp uses a decent amount of lard or Crisco, the other uses almost no fat what-so-ever. Ever being the scientist, I decided to perform the experiment. I hypothesized that the low-fat tortillas would be blah, and not what we wanted, and the ones made with Crisco would be yummy.

Next step, design the experiment. Simple enough, make two sets of tortillas. Eat them. Decide which are better. This is subjective, and perhaps not quite scientific, but hey, it's about food, right? Pure science this is not.

Here are the two recipes, adapted for our use, with their notes. Don't let the "F" word scare you. Fat, in moderation, is no more a problem in one's diet than anything else.

Low-fat or Texas-style Tortillas

2 cups all-purpose flour (I routinely use unbleached, personal principle)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher, again personal principle)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (cheap stuff here)
3/4 cup warm milk (whole milk, I'd use raw if I had it)

1. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add vegetable oil. Slowly add milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball forms.
2. Knead for 2 minutes on a floured surface. The resulting ball will be firm and soft.
3. Place dough in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or damp cloth. Let rest for 20 minutes.
4. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Cover once more with plastic wrap or damp cloth, rest for 10 minutes.
5. Heat griddle. You want this thing hot, but don't burn down your house.
6. While griddle is heating, roll out first ball of dough. In my experiments (I made this recipe twice), six to seven inches is about as big as I can get it and keep it round. I have a lousy rolling pin. Flour the pin and rolling surface lightly to prevent sticking.
7. Place tortilla on hot griddle.
8. Roll out next tortilla. Flip the tortilla on the griddle as it browns on the underside and starts bubbling as the air inside expands. Cook on second side for about 30 or so seconds until desired brownness is achieved. Remove from griddle and set aside to cool on a rack.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you are finished.
10. Serve as desired.

Oh, my goodness, these were so good. Chewy, delicious. Filled with refried beans and the aforementioned Tex-Mex base, grated cheese and sour cream....Yummy!

Fat Version

2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Crisco or lard (I used Crisco. The local grocery doesn't carry lard.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup warm water.

1. Mix flour, salt and baking powder.
2. Cut in Crisco
3. Follow the directions as above. Really, it's simple.

These roll out to 8 inches fairly easily, and 10 inches is do-able. They were not as nice a texture as the Texas version was, and needed some more salt. Adjust to your taste. I will have home-rendered lard this fall, so that may make a bit of a difference.

Rest assured, I will be conducting more experiments to determine the best ratios for our tastes. Use the base, adjust according to your tastes, really. It's not rocket science. And 99.99% of the time you can eat your mistakes! They may not be perfect, and honestly, I very, very rarely have anything come out so bad as to not be repeated. Ever. Twice in 10 years of marriage. Not a bad thing, really. There have been many things I've told my husband he is not to make again. Ever.

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