Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tortilla and Tomato Time!

As soon as tomatoes and corn both came into season last week, I couldn't wait to make tacos with beans, fresh salsa, and homemade tortillas. And then I liked my tacos so much that I couldn't wait to make them again for dinner last night.
I am not happy that most tortillas I can find in stores around here are filled with incomprehensible ingredients, including the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. Then I saw Liz making her own tortillas and wanted to give it a try. After all, it is easier and faster than making bread because yeast isn't even involved!

I ended up adapting Orangette's recipe and cut it in half because I didn't want to push my luck on this floury experiment; replaced half the flour with local whole wheat flour; and replaced the shortening with butter. My first time around, I made the mistake of greasing the skillet and dividing the dough into too few tortillas, so I ended up with some huge greasy creatures. On my second try last night, I cooked the tortillas dry in my cast-iron skillet and they came out a little more uniform and pliable. They were not at all like store-bought tortillas, but were thick, hearty, and chewy, owing to the high proportion of whole wheat flour. Once I pick up more all purpose flour, I will try making lighter versions of these tortillas. Nevertheless, I liked them enough to gobble up the extra tortillas plain (both times I made them!) Oops. All the more reason to make them again!

And so, last night's dinner: tacos with homemade tortillas made with local whole wheat flour; dried pinto beans soaked and simmered until tender (not local); fresh salsa featuring sweet farmers market tomatoes, corn, and onions, cilantro from my deck, along with a handful of the meager tomato harvest from my deck (so far just one Big Boy and a bunch of tart cherry tomatoes); and a touch of grated Bobolink cave-aged cheddar. And lucky me, I have two more tacos all wrapped up in foil awaiting me for lunch again today!
Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water
3 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp salt

Bring about 1 cup of water to boil. Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a bowl, and mix in butter. Add half of the boiling water and stir to combine. Continue to add water slowly, using only enough water as necessary until it comes together into a dough. With floured hands, knead the dough for 3-5 minutes in the bowl (this is my trick - your bowl is probably big enough to just knead in the bowl instead of dirtying another surface). Form dough into a ball, place back in bowl, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest at least 20-60 minutes. (Or up to one day in the fridge, and then let the dough come to room temperature again before rolling out.)

With floured hands, divide dough into about 10 small balls. Heat a dry skillet. On a floured surface, roll out tortilla as thin as you can get it. Cook on skillet over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes until it puffs slightly and the bottom turns golden brown. Flip tortilla and cook 1 minute longer, until the other side turns golden brown. While this tortilla cooks, roll out the next one so that it is ready to place on the skillet as soon as the first one is done. The idea is to keep rolling out the next tortilla while the previous one cooks. Repeat until you are finally done with all that rolling and flipping, and you can sit and fill your tortillas and feast. Makes 10 fajita-size tortillas (I like to eat my tacos on fajita-size tortillas - but I'm guessing this would probably made about 15 taco-size tortillas or 7 burrito-size tortillas).

Fresh Tomato and Corn Salsa
3 tomatoes
2 ears of corn
1 onion
1 handful cilantro
cayenne pepper
pot of water

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, shuck the corn. Once the water is boiling, add the corn to the pot, bring it back to a boil, and then shut off the heat and let it sit for five to ten minutes before removing corn with tongs to cool.

Meanwhile, dice onion, cilantro, and tomatoes and combine in a bowl. Once the corn is cool enough to handle, slice the corn off the cob and mix it in with the rest of the salsa, along with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

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