Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Flour Tortillas = L.O.V.E. (pictures to come soon)

For years I relied on the market whenever I needed tortillas for dinner. It was quick and easy and... I really didn't know any better. I grew up eating tortillas from the market. I never knew there were any other kind. When I grew up... hmmmm... let me rephrase that. When I got older I knew that you could make them yourself but for some reason I thought it would be too difficult to do. You need a press and a comal and these were things I didn't have, so more of the same tortillas from the market. Then one day I decided to hell with it. I had a rolling pin and a griddle and damn it I was going to make tortillas if it killed me. Turns out... it's not as difficult as one might imagine.

Let me set the scene...

It was a blustery winter afternoon and I was going to make green chicken enchiladas and I make everything by hand (except the tortillas of course) and I wanted to go all the way this time and make it extra special and make the tortillas. So I set forth to scan the interweb for recipes. I decided that I would keep it authentic and use lard (which I render myself... I will post that process in the not too distant future as I am almost out). Some recipes had barely any fat and others had a ton. Some recipes called for boiling water and some called for cold. How was I ever going to get it right? Well my inner voice chimed in and told me to just aim for the middle... so that's what I did. I made up my own little recipe using the basic proportions and you know what? They turned out so freaking good that my family won't eat the waxy icky tortillas from the market anymore.

The process is very simple. You mix the lard into your flour, salt, and baking soda and add the water and mix it together. Yeah... that's really it. I do it in the food processor and it takes less than 3 minutes start to finish. You must let your dough ball rest for 20 or so minutes to let the gluten relax so you can portion them out and then let your itty bitty dough balls rest again before you roll them out (if you don't... you will be swearing and eventually you will give in to the elastic powers of the gluten monster). Roll them out, cook them for 20 seconds or so per side and you are done.  If you have a tortilla press then you will save your arms from rolling the dough by hand, but it really doesn't take much effort after the dough has rested.
You will need:
  • 250 grams of all purpose flour
  • 5 grams of baking soda
  • 10 grams of kosher salt
  • 30 grams of fresh lard
  • 135 grams of hot water 
  1. Measure your flour, salt, and baking soda into the bowl of a food processor and whizz to mix.
  2. Add the lard and let it process until there are no more lumps.
  3. Add the hot water and process until the dough forms a ball. 
  4. Turn out onto a floured counter top and knead until the dough is pretty smooth. You may add more flour if the dough is too wet, but you shouldn't need much.
  5. Set the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic cling film and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Then portion your dough out into smaller balls. I like 60 gram portions for quesadillas and enchiladas and 40 gram portions for soft tacos, but you can make them as big or small as you want.
  7. Once rested, roll your dough balls into 6-8" rounds depending on the size of your dough balls.
  8. Cook on a hot griddle, or a comal if you have one, for about 20 seconds per side and keep covered until you need them.

So there you have it... in no time flat you will have amazing, soft, chewy, delicous tortillas for your meal and your family will thank you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever...

Few things say summertime like a bowl of handpicked strawberries brimming with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. My favorite thing is eating them fresh and warm off the vine. My favorite way of allowing myself to revel in their glory all year long is to make preserves. This way on a dreary winter day I can pop open a jar and be instantly whisked away to the rolling hills and the warm sun light of summer days.

Some people will tell you that making strawberry preserves isn't possible without using store bought pectin. They will tell you that it won't gel up at all and you'll end up with strawberry sauce. Of course... I don't agree. I like doing things the old fashioned way so the thought of grabbing for the pectin isn't one that sits well with me. I like my preserves to be a little looser than what you buy at the store, but not so loose that it is a sauce. I don't want to be able to turn the jar upside down and not have the contents move... that just ain't natural.


Most recipes for strawberry preserves without pectin will call for cooking for long periods of time. This will work, but will leave you with a less than bright flavor. So what I do to combat this is to leave the fruit to macerate in sugar for a while... overnight is great. This will leave you with a beautiful mix of softened strawberries floating in their own syrup. Strain this syrup from the berries into a large heavy bottomed pan and add the zest and juice of one lemon. The lemon juice and zest will give a bump to the pectin since citrus fruits are higher in pectin and will lend a bright note to your preserves. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat until the mixture reaches 228 degrees Farenheit making sure to skim off the foam that will form. Then mush up the macerated berries and add to the hot syrup and bring back up to 223 degrees (again... skim the foam) and take off of the heat... and that is it. Cooking the syrup separate from the berries allows you to bring the temp up nice and high without cooking the fruit to death and stripping your berries of their fresh, summery glory. To finish you just ladle your manna from heaven into prepared canning jars and process in boiling water for 5 or so minutes and you are good to go. Great as a gift (if you can bear to part with some that is) or spread on just about anything, you will not regret the little bit of effort it takes. There's something about looking in the pantry and knowing that those jars came from your hard work picking and cooking and canning.


  • 8 cups of fresh picked summer strawberries
  • 5 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon

If your berries are small you can leave them whole, but if they are bigger you should cut them in 1/2 or into 1/4's. Place in a large glass bowl and pour the sugar over the berries and toss together. Leave to macerate for an hour or so stirring occasionally to get the sugar dissolved and then leave in the fridge for a few hours... overnight if you can. You can also use frozen berries... just adjust the sugar if needed... you will probably need more. Strain the syrup from the berries through a fine meshed sieve into a heavy pan and mash the softened berries in the sieve. Add the zest and the juice of the lemon and bring syrup to a boil over medium heat and boil until it reaches 228 degrees (this can take some time). I'm editting to add that you should make sure to mash the berries well. You don't want them all to be whole. You can also add some fresh berries after you mash them to make it more chunky. Now add the mashed softened berries to the hot syrup and raise the temp to medium high. Boil until the mixture reaches 223 and remove from the heat. Ladle into prepared canning jars (4 oz and 8 oz jars are best) and process in boiling water for 5 minutes before removing to cool. If you don't want to mess with canning, you can use this recipe to make freezer jam as well. Place cooked and cooled mixture into freezer safe containers and pop in the freezer. Once opened you should use your jam within a couple of weeks... trust me... there will be no problem doing so.