Saturday, October 20, 2012

Flour Tortillas

When making these flour tortillas, always add all of the water as directed.  The dough will be quite moist--add the least flour possible as you knead the dough for the most successful tortillas.  Getting the dough moist is the key to fluffy, thin wonderfully flavored tortillas.  Enjoy!!


These taste best when they’re fresh, however they freeze well for up to three months (only half as long as the corn tortillas).

Yield:  8-12 (6-inch) tortillas
4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup lard, butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups warm water

1. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Then add the shortening, preferably lard and mix until the lard is evenly distributed and resembles corn meal.  Add  water all at once, and stir  to form a rather soft dough; then turn out onto a board and knead until the dough is smooth, working in the least flour possible. Test for well developed gluten by stretching a bit of dough between your fingers.  When gluten is developed, the dough will develop strings.   Allow to it rest 10 minutes, covered with the inverted bowl.  

2. When the dough is relaxed and an inserted finger will sink easily to the bottom of the dough, divide dough into 12 equal portions and stretching dough and form each portion into a smooth ball.  Pat to flatten.  Cover the balls of dough with a moist towel.  

3. Preheat a well seasoned* cast-iron comal or griddle over medium heat.  Then, working with one ball of dough at a time, roll into a round, thin disk, using a small rolling pin, known as a bolillo or if unavailable, use the smallest diameter rolling pin available.  Each disk should be about 1/8” thick.  When it is hot, bake the tortillas about 45 seconds on the first side, or until small brownish spots appear on the cooked surface.  Turn with a spatula and cook for just a few seconds on the other side.

Whole-Wheat Flour Tortillas:  To make whole-wheat flour tortillas, substitute whole-wheat flour for one-half of the unbleached flour.  Follow directions above.

*Note:  You may season a griddle by brushng peanut oil or vegetable oil onto the surface of the griddle. Place in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes, then turn heat off  and leave over night or until cool enough to touch. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Pinto beans cooked this way are amazingly delicious!  And, with pintos being the healthiest of all beans, it is so wonderful to know this easy to make and yummy recipe.  They freeze amazingly well and are a staple in so many Southwestern, Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes.


More highly flavored than ordinary beans, these can be served as is as a side dish or as a main course with sliced ham on the side.  In any case, top them with chopped onions and pickled jalapeno chiles.  Corn bread is a must.

Yield:  2 quarts or 4 to 6 servings

1 pound dried pinto beans
1 ham hock, ham bone or ½ pound salt pork
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coarsely chopped Spanish onion (1 medium to large onion)
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 or 4 cups rich chicken stock or as needed

1. Rinse and sort beans, picking out any foreign objects.  Place beans and ham hock in a heavy 5-quart pot.  Add enough water to come about 3 inches above the level of the beans and meat.  Boil 10 minutes, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.  

2. Add the pepper, garlic, and onion and simmer 2 hours or until a bean will mash easily against the side of the pot.  Add chicken stock as needed to keep the liquid level about 1 inch above the level of the bean mixture.  When beans are done, cook to reduce the liquid to the desired consistency.