Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fiesta Time! Fresh Flour Tortillas

My mom gets 100% credit for inspiring me to try this recipe. She's always been adventurous about cooking recipes from cuisines around the world, and Mexican is one type of food she's really mastered. Trips to visit our relatives in Southern California inspired our family's love of Mexican food. We started with eating-- there was always so much great stuff to eat on our vacations to Los Angeles. Then my mom got some first hand lessons on making tortillas, and she was off and running. She started with traditional corn tortillas, then expanded out to tamales, flour tortillas, chiles rellano, and more.

The flour tortillas have always been my favorite, and they're a dinner request pretty much any time I visit my parents. I've helped my mom make them, and I've seen how simple the recipe is. Last spring my mom typed up the recipe for a friend, and emailed a copy to my sister and me. I have had this recipe sitting in my inbox ever since! I have no idea what took me so long, but these are the best tortillas EVER! They are not hard to make, and the taste is worlds away from the boring, dry tortillas you buy at the grocery store. You have to make them one at a time, so I put my oven on low and kept the cooked ones in there as I kept working. They stayed warm without drying out, and I put Joe to work on the fillings while I flipped the tortillas.

Grilled veggies with black beans on the side made for a delicious
vegetarian meal. We were disappointed when we got full, because
everything was so good we wanted to just keep eating!

On a Chicago note-- I got the supplies for my guacamole and pico de gallo from Maxwell Street Market, down in the South Loop. It's a Mexican street market with a ton of different vendors. You can dine on amazing tacos and quesadillas, buy fresh fruits and veggies, and browse a LOT of (fake? stolen?) purses and clothing. It was beautiful weather last Sunday when we went, and I really enjoyed shopping around with about half the residents of Chicago! I thought I didn't have my camera, so I didn't take any pictures... then I got home and realized my camera was in my purse the whole time! But this picture, courtesy of google images, gives you a good idea:

Picture from

Flour Tortillas
from "Breads of the Southwest" by Beth Hensperger

4 cups flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. salt

½ cup Crisco ( or butter, lard or bacon drippings... I used butter flavored Crisco)

1 ½ cups warm water

Combine flour , baking powder and salt in bowl of heavy duty mixer. Cut in fat until crumbly. Gradually add water, stirring just until dough sticks together, clears the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. (too much water makes it tough so go slowly). Give the dough a few kneads – fewer than 10, no longer than a minute) to make a smooth ball. Form into cylinder and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temp. for 30 mins. to two hours, until slightly puffy and shiny.

To shape tortillas, divide dough into 15 equal balls. Let them rest 20 – 30 mins covered (To be honest, I usually skip this step when I am in a hurry). Drape each ball around your forefinger, making a depression on the underside. This makes a mushroom shape and help in rolling it into a round. Flatten the ball with you hand then roll it out to form a thin round 8 – 9 inches in diameter. You can stack these between waxed paper and store in fridge for up to six hours. I just make them up two or three at a time and cook them. Then roll more as they are cooking.

To cook: heat an ungreased heavy cast-iron skillet, griddle or “comal” over medium high heat until drops of water sprinkled on the surface “dance”. Bake for 30 seconds – the tortilla will form bubbles, flatten them slightly with the spatula.

Turn and bake for 30 seconds longer. Remove and stack in a warm towel. Keep them warm so they stay soft and serve them as soon as they are all cooked.


Darius T. Williams said...

Your own flour tortillas? Love it! And you were over in the market? Um, next time - invite me to tag along. darius@everydaycookin

I wanna have you as a guest on the radio show too. Everyday Cookin' Radio - we're on tonight at 8PM CST -

Emily said...

I've always wanted to make tortillas. I'm envious. They look fantastic!

Sarah said...

How great! So many times I never even would have thought of making certain items until I see them in a blog. Thanks for posting this recipe.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Erin, You could sell these, they look that good!