homemade tortillas

tortilla makerI had been thinking about getting a tortilla press for a long time. I had one that my uncle and aunt gave me many years ago, but it got lost somewhere along the way.

When Terry and I saw Bobby Flay make tortillas on The Bobby and Damaris Show (which episode we watched twice)frying the tortilla we decided that we wanted to give it a shot. I ordered a moderately-priced, highly rated tortilla press from Amazon and when it showed up we went to Cardenas, our Latino supermarket, to get fresh masa and their marvelous marinated flap meat.

the final resultIt’s not as easy as it looks. The first time we made a lot of mistakes and made a lot of modifications. The last three or so tortillas we made came out pretty well, but we still had some tweaking to do in the process.

The second go-round was a disaster. One of the mistakes we made the first time was Mistousing plastic wrap between the press and the masa rather than a cut up ziplock bag as both Bobby and the instructions that came with the press recommended. Our first time out we bought the smallest bag of masa that the store had, but it was still twice what we needed. I asked Siri if we could freeze masa, but all I got back from her was the temperature in Massachusetts. A Google search turned up the result that yes, we could.

Wrong. The masa was crackly and would not hold together. I tried adding water and some additional polenta which I had on hand, but to no avail. No, masa can’t be frozen. Not the kind they make at Cardenas, anyway.

Bobs Red Mill packageAs the cliché goes, third time’s the charm. I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina. We used a cut-up ziplock bag again, and I quickly learned that spraying it with olive oil from our Misto  (not a Mexican cooking staple, I know) was essential. I discovered that the ideal size tortilla came from a 1 ¼ ounce ball of masa, rather than one ounce as Bobby suggested. We learned to use a hamburger spatula rather than tongs when we cooked them. I rolled and pressed thenTerry cooked at 30 seconds a side in a dry (not oiled) cast iron frying pan. We got a rhythm going.

By Jove, I think they’ve got it!

The nice thing is that we know exactly what’s going into our tortillas: Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina, just a bit of salt, and water. That’s it.

We’ll keep moving forward from there.


mole chicken tacos

I was watching a recent episode of Pati’s Mexican Table in which Pati Jinich explained that mole is the Mexican equivalent to Indian curry. That is, it is a range of flavors and seasonings, not one specific flavor as we often assume. Certainly the recipes she showed on that episode reflected that.

moleWe hadn’t had a mole dish for a while, but we had half a jar of mole concentrate in the fridge.  I decided it was time for a mole meal, so I chopped half a pound boneless chicken breast into pieces and cooked it up in a cast iron skillet. As per the 3 to 1 instructions, I mixed a third cup of mole concentrate with a cup of water. I mixed it with a wire whisk and put it in the microwave for two minutes. I added it to the chicken. Turned out it was twice what I needed.

I served it with tortillas heated over the gas burner, along with chopped onion, chopped green chilis, olives, and guacamole. It made for a great evening meal.

chili lime chicken

Chili Lime ChickenI pulled up the recipe for chili lime chicken in my database because I was looking for a pressure cooker meal. It was a recipe I had gotten from my Yahoo pressure cooker recipes group. But as I looked at the recipe I asked myself if there was enough liquid to bring the pressure cooker up to pressure. I decided to convert it into a slow cooker dish.

I cut a boneless skinless chicken breast in half and seasoned it with chili powder, cumin, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, and granulated garlic. I put the pieces in my crock pot and added vegetable broth to cover half the chicken. I squeezed in the juice of two whole limes. I set the slow cooker to high for three-and-a-half hours, and on low for another two-and-a-half.

The chicken was moist and tender and delicious.

easy vegetarian chili

I recently shared with you my recipe for easy (beef) chili, but I do a vegetarian version as well. The ingredients and seasonings vary, but here’s what I did most recently.

Vegetarian ChiliI used a can of black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, and a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce. I added a bag of Morningstar (soy) Griller’s Crumbles. For seasoning I used ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, granulated onion, granulated garlic, and freshly ground black pepper.Grillers Crumbles

In the title I wrote “easy.” I didn’t write “quick.” You really need to let it simmer for an hour.

Terry said that it was as good as always, and there was enough left over for another supper.

Great stuff, that.


sandwich with aioli sauceI had aioli on my mind. I’m not sure why, but I did. It partly had to do with Terry stocking up on deli meats and cheese at Sprouts and my desire to make a deli-style sandwich at lunch rather than throwing a frozen entrée in the microwave. I found this recipe on Epicurious and decided to try it. I scaled it back and made just enough for one sandwich, omitting the egg yolk and vegetable oil, but using the olive oil.

I made a sandwich with chipotle chicken, cheese, tomato, onion, and sprouts. I put the aioli on the bottom slice of bread.aioli jar

Very, very tasty.

I thought, however, that I don’t need to make everything from scratch. And it is a bit of work to mix your own aioli when you’re putting together a sandwich as well. I looked for aioli locally and just couldn’t find it, even at Sprouts. So what did I do? I went to Amazon of course. I bought a jar of basil pesto aioli. It turned out to be a good choice. It worked well on a sandwich.

I like the idea of varying the flavors in my sandwiches.

turkey meatballs in guajillo sauce

meatballsI am quickly becoming a fan of Pati Jinich. She offers authentic Mexican recipes with seasoning that is bold and flavorful. When I saw her do this recipe on her television show for meatballs in guajillo sauce I decided I had to make it.

I scaled back the recipe considerably, using only a half pound of ground turkey for Terry and me. I used granulated and minced onion instead of fresh onion, and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth (I always do, you know). For the bread crumbs I pulverized some slices of sourdough that were getting old. Beyond that, I pretty much followed the recipe as it was written. I served the meatballs with brown rice.

The result was marvelous. It was a bit of work, but well worth it. Terry certainly loved it.

our whistling tea kettle

Tea KettleAt the same time that we realized we needed to replace our toaster oven we noticed that the cord on our electric hot pot was getting hot as well. As my firefighter brother, who knows about such things, told us with respect to the toaster oven, that is a fire hazard waiting to happen.

We therefore put the hot pot in the cabinet in the garage and went to that store where we’ve been spending a lot of money lately: Bed Bath & Beyond. We bought a stove top whistling tea kettle.

As the weather starts to turn cooler and we drink more hot tea the kettle provides a comforting, reassuring sight and sound.