The Gluten Free Tortillaria: How to make Homemade Corn Tortillas

July 24th, 2007 yum Posted in Corn, Corn Tortillas, Mexican, Vegetarian, leftovers 13 Comments »

tortillas.jpgIn many ways, mexican food can be one of the easiest or the hardest cuisine for the gluten free diner. Because many Mexican restaurants in the US rely so heavily on flour tortillas and use flour to thicken sauces for enchiladas etc., restaurants like Jose Muldoons often give us few dining options. Even those items naturally gluten free like tacos made from corn tortillas or nachos made with corn chips can be cross contaminated by shared cooking surfaces or fryers, causing many of us to despair. Some restaurants are willing to work with their customers to reduce risks of cross contamination, but you can’t always count on them to provide you with a safe meal. However, at its heart, Mexican cuisine has a lot to offer the gluten free chef, including a rich array of corn based products from its Aztec heritage. As Wikipedia informs us, “when Spanish conquistadores arrived to the Aztec capital, they found that the people’s diet consisted largely of corn-based dishes with chiles and herbs, usually complemented with beans and squash.” This diet was modified by ingredients introduced by the conquistadores, along with “indigenous foods of pre-Columbian Mexico, including chocolate, maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chile pepper, beans, squash, sweet potato, peanut and turkey.” These ingredients are ideal for a gluten free diet, and the corn tortilla is a wonderful staple. I’ve heard many recently diagnosed people basing their entire menu on the tortilla- using it for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese “sandwiches”, and other traditional sandwich fillings. Personally I’ve never been all that crazy about pre made corn tortillas, but the homemade corn tortilla is another thing entirely. Devoid of the preservatives present to increase the lifespan of the packaged tortilla, a homemade tortilla is soft and malleable, with a sweet, fresh flavor that surely rivals, if not surpasses, that of its wheat cousin. I recently purchased a bag of Maseca Corn Flour that has a lovely “Gluten Free” seal on the side and includes an easy recipe for tortillas. Of course it would be gluten free, as the ingredients are simply “selected corn treated with lime” – but it’s nice to have the extra reassurance.

I decided to make 16 tortillas, combining two cups of corn flour, 1 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 tsp salt and stirring/kneading for a few minutes. The dough was a bit dry, so I added one or two tablespoons of water. doughballs.jpgWhen I had a lovely ball of dough, I separated the dough into sixteen balls and placed them in a bowl, covering them with a damp cloth so that they wouldn’t dry out. Then I cut open a thick ziplock bag, quart sized, and used it to line my tortilla press, placing one ball of dough in it for each tortilla. After pressing out a tortilla, I placed it on a plate, then alternated cut open plastic bags between tortillas so they wouldn’t stick together. I heated my cast iron pan and cooked each one for 50 seconds on each side, setting a timer to avoid overcooking any one of them. I layered the cooked tortillas under a cloth to keep them warm.

tortbreak4.jpgNext, I got out some mixed shredded cheese and made quesadillas out of my homemade tortillas, filling them with cheese and cooking them on the cast iron skillet. When the cheese had partially melted, I cut them into triangles and put them back on the griddle surrounding the next whole quesadilla, to brown them a bit more. For side dishes, I made a black and pinto bean cake that I sauteed in a nonstick frypan, and made delicious pico de gallo. I garnished the quesadilla triangles and bean cakes with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole, and DH pronounced them delicious. And, since I made extra tortillas, I had leftovers for the next night… Post to follow.

If you’re unimpressed by pre made corn tortillas, try making your own. The texture is entirely different, and the flavor of the fresh tortilla enhances any recipe. They are wonderful in homemade corn tortilla fajitas, enchiladas, simple tacos, of course in quesadillas, or simply eaten as a flatbread. I also recommend purchasing your own tortilla press- IMO, rolling out each tortilla takes way too much time, and I’d rather spend the time on some extra side dishes or sauces!

tortbreakcls.jpgquesadilla.jpg tortbreak3.jpg

Pico De Gallo Recipe
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups diced fresh tomato
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoons stemmed, seeded, and minced chili (I used serrano)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Directions
Combine ingredients and mix well, adding salt and lime juice last. You can leave at room temperature while you prepare the rest of your other food or put in refrigerator. Liquid separates over time so you may want to strain the pico de gallo before serving. But, don’t throw away the delicious, salty broth. It’s tasty!
Homemade Corn Tortilla Recipe
Bread  Corn  Mexican  
Ingredients
two cups of masa harina, corn flour for tortillas, (Maseca is a good brand, and labeled Gluten Free)
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt

Will make 16 tortillas

Directions
Thoroughly combine ingredients, kneading or mixing for a few minutes. The dough was a bit dry, so I added one or two tablespoons of water. When I had a lovely ball of dough, I separated the dough into sixteen balls and placed them in a bowl, covering them with a damp cloth so that they wouldn’t dry out. Then I cut open a thick ziploc bag, quart sized, and used it to line my tortilla press, placing one ball of dough in it for each tortilla. After pressing out a tortilla, I placed it on a plate, then alternated cut open plastic bags between tortillas so they don’t stick together. I heated my cast iron pan and cooked each one for 50 seconds on each side, setting a timer to avoid overcooking any one of them. I layered the cooked tortillas under a cloth to keep them warm.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Tofu Poppers and Half Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

May 8th, 2007 yum Posted in Corn Tortillas, Nutritional Yeast, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, tofu 6 Comments »

tofunachos.jpg

nachos.jpgThe other night I watched an Alton Brown episode where he made his own baked tortilla chips from corn tortillas in order to make nachos. I was intrigued, but we already had dinner plans for that night. The next morning though, I decided to make my own version of “nachos,” that was light on cheese but high on protein. I made some baked tortilla chips, and while they were cooling, concocted the following recipe for “tofu poppers.” I served them on tortillas chips with sliced tomatoes and salsa as an unconventional brunch, and they were tasty. Not swoon worthy, but tasty. They were also very easy and required little prep time. For DH, who thinks nachos just aren’t nachos without a little cheese, I added a little crumbled Cotija cheese to his chips and melted them in the oven quickly. I stole a bite, and have to admit, the cheese did add a certain salty, vinegary something to the dish.

Baked Tortilla Chips
Ingredients
8 or more corn tortillas
canola oil
salt
Directions
Lightly brush whole tortillas with vegetable oil. Stack and cut into wedges. Place chips in a single layer on a rack and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Bake in a 400*F oven, for about 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp and light golden brown, turning chips halfway through the baking time. Transfer to paper towels and cool completely.
Nutritional Tofu Poppers
Ingredients
2 tsp olive oil (or more, to taste)
4 large scallions, chopped
1 green chili, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 block firm tofu
onion powder
poultry seasoning
salt
corn starch, as needed
nutritional yeast, as needed
1/2 Avocado, cut into cubes optional
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts, optional
Directions
Slice tofu into thin slabs and press between a towel while you prepare vegetables.

Heat oil in pan and saute scallions, green chili, and red pepper. When halfway done, add garlic. When vegetable saute is soft and releases a slightly caramelized fragrance, take off burner. If needed clean pan.

Take tofu slabs and cut into small squares. Combine 1/2 cup (or so) of cornstarch, onion powder, salt and poultry seasoning to taste. Dredge tofu in cornstarch mixture and set aside on a separate plate. When cornstarch has partially absorbed, cover tofu with nutritional yeast and lightly toss so they are evenly covered with nutritional yeast.

Heat 2 more teaspoons of olive oil in the pan (or more, to taste), and when heated, add tofu, trying not to spill flour in the pan. Fry until golden brown, tossing to get all sides. When golden brown, add vegetable saute into the pan, toasted pine nuts, and avocado, heating for 30 seconds to a minute. Serve!

Notes
I tried this recipe in two batches- one without nutritional yeast and one with. We vastly preferred the nutritional yeast version.

A “Seamaiden” Original recipe. Do not distribute.

tofu.jpg

AddThis Social Bookmark Button