Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mexican Style Feast

I recently bought a 1960's Western American/Mexican cookbook.  It fit my "should I buy this" criteria of being old, unique, and containing recipes I didn't already own in another form such as a more comprehensive cookbook or a church cookbook.  Weather here in the Pioneer Valley has been quite hot lately.  Perfect weather for cooking on the stove top.  Perfect weather for Mexican style food!

At my friend Kate's house a few years ago, we made a huge Mexican style feast of slow cooked pork and homemade corn tortillas with all the fixings (including a stellar mole sauce of her own creation).  The corn tortillas require a tortilla press.  I do not have a tortilla press.  I don't want to buy another piece of kitchen equipment right instead of corn tortillas, I decided to make 50/50 (white/wheat) flour tortillas.  The recipe was much more simple than I anticipated.  I went to my trusted search website, and looked for a recipe.  I settled on one and modified it.

50/50 Tortillas

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk

Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in the vegetable oil.  Heat the milk in a microwave safe container (I use a glass measuring cup) in the microwave approximately 15 seconds at a time until it is warm to the touch.  Stir the milk into the flour mix.

Knead the mixture for 2 minutes.  Roll it into a tight ball and let rest in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a wet cloth, for 20 minutes.  This gives the flour's gluten strands time to relax.

Knead the dough briefly and separate into 10 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Set the balls on a plate, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll out each piece of dough into a large circle.  If you find the dough springs back, simply set that particular piece aside and go to work on the next piece of dough.  This allows the gluten to relax and when you come back to the "trouble" piece, you will be able to roll it out more easily!  Dust them with a tiny bit of flour if you must, but, they stretch much better if you roll them slightly sticky.  I use a marble rolling pin and I absolutely love it for this type of task.  Roll out each piece and set them aside - do not let them touch each other or they will stick.  Setting them on a cookie sheet and on the counter top should work.

Heat a large skillet to medium high.  Place one rolled out tortilla on the dry, hot skillet.  Count to 30-40.  Flip the tortilla (I use a fork to pry up the edge and then use my fingers - be careful!).  Let it cook for another 30 seconds.  You should have light brown spots on both sides.  Set the tortilla to rest on a plate.  Do this with each tortilla until you are done.  You can stack them on top of each other.  You can also place them in a warm oven to keep hot.

- I rolled out 2-3 tortillas at a time, and then cooked them, so that my arms did not get so tired with the rolling.  It is work...but just think of all the glorious calories you're burning off while making your delicious dinner!

- Do not cook up the tortillas until your dinner is almost done!  You want the bread to be as fresh as possible.  It is okay to let the rolled out tortillas wait on the counter top - just be sure to cover them if you let them sit for longer than 15 minutes as they may dry out.

I served the tortillas with a recipe from the same old cookbook - Mexican Potted Steak - which is much more appetizing than it sounds!  It's a simple concoction of stewing beef with canned tomatoes (in my case, my husband cannot handle tomato chunks in his food), a chopped carrot, a chopped onion, diced green chiles, salt, pepper, and a bit of flour, with some frozen peas added in at the end.  I also took a stab at making refried beans...but that did not work out so well.  Oh well!  Just the first attempt! 

Now we have tortillas...dinner...but we were still missing something on a hot, steamy day in Western Massachusetts.  We were missing the beer!  I picked up a 22 oz. bottle of Berkshire Brewing Company's Hefeweizen.  They are hands down my favorite brewery.  Now, dinner is complete.

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