In Mexico the simple tortilla is at times a spoon, a plate as well as bread. The contribution of the tortilla to the cuisine of Mexico is irrefutable & there is really no way to describe the flavor of a handmade tortilla hot off the stove. Whether you enjoy corn or flour the one thing you should do if only once is to try making your own tortillas.
Last weekend we had family Tortilla night. Bytes from Texas, (one of my daughters) served up a menu of Fajitas, roasted corn & my Patatas Bravas all of which required fresh tortillas. The highlight of the evening was when my daughter's boyfriend made flour tortillas the way his Grandmother taught him to make them. Nothing was measured, everything was by feel & touch. It was almost therapy watching him figure it out with a pinch of this & a handful of that. His flour tortillas were perfect. I on the other hand used Masa Seca for my corn tortilla dough. Masa in Mexico means "dough". The true masa is made from field corn, called maiz blanco or "cacahuazintle" which was dried, treated with a lime water solution, then ground. For a few dozen tortillas I will always start with a quality Masa Seca. The masa can be used for corn tortillas or for tamales.
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
about 1 1/4 cups warm water
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add vegetable shortening or lard. (Or use a combination of half lard, half shortening.)
Use a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just do it the old fashioned way and use your hands.
Next add warm water a little at a time until your dough is soft and not sticky. You do not need very hot water.
Knead the dough for a few minutes.
Let the dough rest a few minutes then divide the dough into 12-15 golf ball sized round balls. Heat the comal (griddle) to medium high heat. Roll out with a rolling pin or press the tortilla dough between two pieces of wax paper & press in a tortilla press.
Lay the tortillas on the comal & cook for brief 20-30 seconds or till they brown slightly. As the tortillas cook they will develop brown specs on the tortilla. Wrap the cooked tortillas in a fresh tea towel & keep warm in a basket or tortilla keeper till all the tortillas are cooked.
2 Cups Maseca Corn Masa mix
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/8 Cup Water
**Use the same process as above for the flour tortillas but keep in mind that the corn dough will be more dense to work with. There are very good instructions on almost all masa packages. The reason many people use pre-packaged masa is that finely milled masa is perfectly ground for making corn tortillas.
The process of tortilla making can be a family experience. There is something for everyone to do.
This potato dish is unique to Spain. Often served with a simple glass of wine in as a tapas dish in bars throughout Spain. It is as commonplace in the countryside as it is in the big city restaurants. The potatoes can be eaten as a side dish or appetizer with toothpicks on small plates. The "Bravas" or Brave title comes from how brave one may have to be to eat this spicy potato dish. However you decide to try this dish remember both the heat & the amount of paprika are up to the discretion of the chef! It is a great addition to any Mexican meal.
* 3 Tbsp olive oil
* 4 - 5 Lg Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut to 1-inch cubes
* 2 tablespoons minced onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* Salt & Pepper
* 1 1/2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
* 1/2 cup Ketchup
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
* Chopped parsley, to garnish
* 1 cup olive oil, for frying
In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic cook until the onion is soft. Turn off the heat, and add the paprika, and thyme, stirring well. Transfer to a bowl and add the ketchup and mayonnaise, sherry vinegar & Tabasco or preferred hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Sprinkle the potatoes lightly with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet fry the potatoes in 1 cup olive oil until cooked through and golden-brown, stirring occasionally. Drain the potatoes on paper towels, check the seasoning, add more salt if necessary, and set it aside. (*if you wish to use other vegetable oil it is fine but the olive oil imparts a nice flavor on this traditional dish. )
Keep the potatoes warm & pour sauce over them while warm. Serve immediately.
If you are lucky enough to have any left the next morning be brave & serve them with eggs & tortillas.