Today tortillas are prepared using the same ingredients but machines have replaced Indian women working over a grinding slab. Each tortilla is perfect and uniform in size. They are made from corn as well as wheat flour and they come in every flavor imaginable. But even with all our new technology one can still make them from scratch if they so choose.

Tortillas once only thought of as a Mexican food, is now being eaten by Americans with everything one can think of; hotdogs, peanut butter and jelly, pizza, casseroles, sandwiches, a wrap for anything you can think of. Tortillas have become, a bread product you can find almost anywhere from fast food restaurants to gourmet shops. Americans have fallen in love with this new and exciting flat bread that has been around for centuries.

Make Your Own Tortillas

FLOUR TORTILLAS
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teeaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water

Place flour and salt in the bowl of food processor. Add oil and process about 3 seconds. With machine running, pour water through feed tube in a steady stream Run machine until dough forms a ball. Dough should be medium-stiff consistency; if too stiff, add a little more water.

Divide dough into 12-15 portions and shape into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Set dough balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes. (Dough can also rest in a covered bowl before shaping.)


FLOUR TORTILLAS WITH LARD
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons lard (can be mixed with some vegetable shortening if desired)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup very warm water

Place flour and salt in the bowl of food processor. Add lard and process about 3 seconds. With machine running, pour water through feed tube in a steady stream Run machine until dough forms a ball. Dough should be medium-stiff consistency; if too stiff, add a little more water.

Divide dough into 12-15 portions and shape into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Set dough balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes. (Dough can also rest in a covered bowl before shaping.)


CORN TORTILLAS
2 cups Masa Harina
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 cup warm water

Place Masa Harina and salt in the bowl of a food processor. With machine running, pour water through the feed tube in a steady steam. Let machine run until dough forms a ball. If dough is too stiff, add a little more water. Divide dough into 12-15 portions and shape into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Set dough balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes. (Dough can also rest in a covered bowl before shaping.)

WHOLE WHEAT TORTILLAS:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup warm water

Use the same directions as those for flour tortillas above.


TORTILLA "COUSINS"
Other cultures besides the Latin countries also had it right. The French made crepes. the Italians make pasta, the Asian countries make egg roll wrappers, and many more. Here are just a few to add to your collection:
BASIC CREPE BATTER
Recipe by Sata Moulton
Yield: Makes enough batter for about 20 crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a blender of food processor blend the flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, milk, eggs, butter and salt for 5 seconds. Turn off motor, with a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the container, and blend the batter for 20 seconds more. Transfer the batter to a bowl and let it stand, covered, for about an hour. The batter may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

If necessary, add more milk by tablespoonfuls to batter to thin to consistency of heavy whipping cream. Heat 8-inch diameter nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brush with melted butter. Pour 3 tablespoons batter into skillet and swirl to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry, loosening sides of crepe with spatula, about 45 seconds. Turn and cook until brown spots appear on second side, about 30 seconds. Turn crepe out onto plate. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with butter and stacking crepes on plate.


CHOCOLATE DESSERT CREPE BATTER
This recipe came with my Berndes Crepe Pan. I can serve about 6, and is quite deliciious

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powderm
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs

In a blender, pulse flour, cocoa, sugar and salt until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time. Add milk slowly and process until all incorporated. Continue to mix 30 seconds. More milk may be added is mixture is too thick. Refrigerate 1 hour before using. Makes 12 crepes.


EGG ROLL WRAPPERS
Homemade egg roll wrappers are easy to make and often less dry than storebought wrappers.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice water
Cornstarch

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Lightly beat the egg with the salt. Stir in 1/4 cup of water. Add the egg and the ice water to the flour. Stir in as much of the remaining 1/4 cup of water as needed to form a sticky batter. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover the dough and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Knead the dough briefly, then cut in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.Roll each half into a cylinder. Lightly score so that you have 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a 3 1/2-inch square. Stack the wrappers while you are preparing the remainder, covering with a damp cloth so that they don't dry out. If necessary, lightly dust the wrappers with flour or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking together. Use immediately, or refrigerate or freeze in a plastic bag until ready to use.


Tortilla Tools


Traditional wooden Mexican tortilla press; available from many on-line markets at about $23.


Norpro Cast Aluminum Tortilla Press: For easy release and zero cleanup, place a folded piece of wax paper in this 6" diamater press with creased edge to the rear, like an open book. Put your dough ball between the waxed paper sheets, about 2/3 of the way from front to back (closer to the hinge). Close, squeeze handle, and peel off your griddle-ready tortilla. Approximately $17.


Saachi Tortilla Bread Roti Maker W/ Temperature Control: Makes 8" Tortialla Roti Chappati; 2 Year Warranty by the Manufacturer for any manufacturing defect ; Auto On/Off Ready Light, Durable Pressing Handle ; Nonstick Surface, Compact Storage ; Thermostat to control the heat of cooking plates ; Approximately $45.


Vasconia 11-Inch Non-Stick Comal: The vasconia 11" round non-stick comal is perfect for warming tortillas; Heats quickly and cools just as fast; Hook style handle is perfect for space saving storage; Cooks perfect quesadillas; Dishwasher safe; Approsimnately $12


Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 10-1/2-Inch Round Griddle: Round cast-iron griddle provides exceptional heat retention and distribution; Pre-seasoned and ready to use; Vegetable oil evenly baked into surface; Sturdy handle with hole for convenient hanging when not in use; Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly to clean; Oven safe to 500 degrees F; Measures 1/2 by 10-1/2 by 15 inches; Limited lifetime warranty; Approximately $20/


Black Enameled Cast Iron Skillet, 8 Inches: Simplicity, style and performance; Versatile, energy efficient and long lasting; Energy efficient Enamel cast iron distributes heat evenly, prevents foods from forming lumps or burning, and retains heat longer to keep foods hot for serving; Perfect for frying corn tortillas for enchiladas; Approximately $20.


Imusa Tortilla Warmer: Ideal for heating tortillas and pancakes; Made of acrylic. It is durable and ideal for everyday microwave use. Handwash is recommended with warm soapy water; Approximately $10.

Guide to Mexican Cheeses

FRESH CHEESE:

Panela:This fresh cheese is similar to an old Greek basket cheese or to the italian Ricotta. It is made with whole unpasteurized milk curds that are salted and drained in baskets. Use it as a snack, to top salads or other cold dishes, or to crumble over tacos or chili.

Queso Blanco: This is a crumbly cheese that becomes creamy when it is warmed, and is very versatile so you can use to crumble over your favorite Mexican dish.Substitute: Monterrey Jack

Queso Fresco: Literally translated, it is a "fresh cheese", with a crumbly texture and slightly acidic flavor. Crumble it on top of beans, salads or even rice dishes. It is probably the most common cheese found in Mexico as well as the U.S. Substitute: Mild Feta Cheese

Crema: A dairy staple in Mexican cuisine but not actually a cheeese. Crema is a heavy cream similar the French creme fraiche or the American sour cream. Use as an additions to sauces or as a topping for tostadas, tacos and enchiladas. Substitute: Creme Fraiche, Sour cream

SOFT AND SEMI-SOFT CHEESES

Anejo: "Anjeo" means aged. It is a dry and gratable cheese that can be crumbled then used on tacos, salads or other dish to add a zesty flavor. Substitute: Romano

Asadero: This cheese is normally used as a filling for chiles rellenos or a popular Mexican dish called Chile Con Queso. In Qaxaca, Mexico, wild berries called trompillos are used in the cheese-making process which imparts a distinctive flavor not found elsewhere. Substitutes: Teleme, Muenster, Monterey Jack, Fontina

: Chihuahua: Queso Chihuahua came to Mexico from the Mennonites. It is similar to mild cheddar but becomes tangy when aged. Chihuahua cheese is used for melting in Chiles Rellenos and Queso Fundido Substitute: Montery Jack, Muenster, Mild Cheddar

Oaxaca: Long ribbons of cheese are rolled up to form a ball to make this unusual traditional cheese. Use it to shred and top Tostadas or slice and add to Quesadillas or Chile Rellenos. Substitute: Mozzarella, Armenian String Cheese

SEMI-HARD AND HARD CHEESES

Chontaleno or Chontaleno Ahumado: These are dry cheeses usually grated. "Ahumado" refers to a smoked version. Substitute: Parmesan

Cotija: This is another more familiar dry grating cheese. "Anejo" is the aged type. Both are usually crumbed or grated. Substitute: Parmesan

Enchilado - Similar to Cotija or Anejo, but is coated with ground chiles and used for it's spicy flavor and color. Substitute: Feta

Queso Criollo: This is one of the few Mexican yellow cheeses that is very similar to Munster. It is a gratable cheese. Substitute: Munster

Wrapping Ideas, plus
Two Mexican Cheese Sauces---Click Here!

Skip the bread or biscuits. Serve warmed tortillas with chili, stew or soup.

Fill a large flour tortilla with cayenne-spiked chicken salad and chopped green chiles, and roll up nto a wrap.

Double corn or flour tortillas up for a mock pizza---top with spicy tomato sauce, chorizo and pepper jack cheese. Bake on a large baking sheet in a 475-degree oven about 9-11 minutes or until toppings are bubbling.

BBQ Enchiladas: Fill a large flour tortilla with leftover pulled pork BBQ and add some slaw and a dash of hot sauce. Top with your favorite barbecue sauce, heat and serve immediately.

Fry small flour torotillas in a little canola oil, and press each one into a small bowl while they're still hot. After the torotillas are cooled and set, use as an edible bowl for salads, dips, or other goodies of choice.

Cut flour tortillas into wedges and fry in a little canola oil. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar, and drizzle with some honey for sopapillas. If you're on a diet, place the wedges onto a shallow baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until crisp,a bout 12-15 minutes.

Cut corn tortillas into wedges, sprinkle with a little chili powder, and bake on a large baking sheet inb a single layer in a 400-degree oven until crisp. merve with your favorite salsas and guacamole.

HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN WHITE CHEESE SAUCE
Mexican white cheese sauce is a very popular smooth sauce that can be either hot or mild. It is usually served on top of Chimichanga's, with Nachos or in warm flour tortillas. Restaurants frequently use it as a dipping sauce served with chips or hot flour tortillas. This is a basic recipe that uses Montery Jack for the TexMex version and Chihuahua and/or Asadero for the traditional Mexican version.
SERVES 2

1 cup asadero cheese, chihuahua cheese, or monterey jack cheese finely shredded
4 ounces finely chopped green chilies
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons grated onions
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped fine (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the top part of a double boiler and place it over the bottom pan of simmering hot water. Cook and stir over medium heat until melted and blended together. Remove the top pan of the double boiler anpour the sauce into a serving bowl. Srve with fresh tortilla chips or pour the melted mixture over the top of the Mexican entree of choice.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 285; Sugars 3.7g; nTotal Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 21.2g; Sodium 904mg; Cholesterol 61mg; Protein 16.3g; Fiber 1.2g; Potassium 331mg;

CHEDDAR CHEESE SAUCE
Use this quick and easy sauce over vegetables, pasta, or use in other dishes.
Makes 2 cups

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar or smoky flavor Cheddar cheese

In a small saucepan, melt butter and remove from heat. Stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually add milk, stirring until well mixed. Place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Cook for 5 minutes longer and then add the cheese. Stir until smooth and well-blended.

YOUR VERY OWN "CHEESE-WHIZ"
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole millk
2-1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
4 ounces cubed cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and pinch of cayenne to taste

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine flour and butter and cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the cream until smooth. Then the milk and simmer gently until sauce is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk the cheese and seasonings. Stir until cheeses are melted and mixture is smooth.


Copyright 2012 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved