Flour Tortillas – Take II

My good friend thought I would like Pioneer Woman (how well she knows me!) and I spent some time this afternoon checking out what look to be amazing recipes.  I was just browsing through until I came to a recipe for homemade flour tortillas.  Anyone who has read anything on this site knows how I love my flatbreads!  I tried flour tortillas a few months ago, but found that the ones I was making didn’t turn out how I’d hoped.  It turns out that Pioneer Woman has a recipe using lard.  I’ve never used lard before to my knowledge, but it sounds like just the thing to add flexibility and chewiness to my flour tortillas.  Of course, the original recipe involves things like stirring and bowls, so I’ve adjusted the whole thing to the Cuisinart.  I’m sure you’re all shocked.  Here’s me giving it a go!

Ingredients:

  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ cups Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preparation:

  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor with a few pulses.
  2. Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use ½ cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then pulse briefly again to combine the ingredients. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
  3. Slowly pour hot water through feed tube, pulsing to bring mixture together until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour.
  4. Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a piece of parchment paper, cover with a towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. When you’re ready to make the tortillas, heat a shallow skillet to medium/medium-high (which is 7.5 on my electric stove that goes to 8 and then HI).  Be sure to allow your pan to fully heat, or you’ll think it’s too cool and then you’ll turn it up, and then you’ll burn some…
  6. One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the  skillet. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots. Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container.

Pioneer Woman also has these Helpful Tips:

* Make sure the water you pour in is very warm.
* Allow the dough to rest, both after kneading and after forming into balls.
* Roll out very thin.
* Get the heat right on your stove: Too hot, and the tortilla will burn in spots. Not hot enough, and the tortilla will begin to crisp before you can get it to brown. I get my stove between medium and medium high heat; that seems to do the trick.
* Use a dark griddle or cast iron skillet to brown the tortillas.
* Cook just long enough to lightly brown the tortilla in spots; don’t cook too long or tortillas will crisp. You want them to be soft and pliable when you serve them.
* Finally: Have fun! And enjoy them. They’re absolutely scrumptious.

The Verdict:

These are really wonderful.  Hubby loved them.  I loved them.  They had a strange texture when we used them to make our normal tacos.  Instead of getting hard and crispy and weird, they were instead still pleasantly soft.  I don’t know if that’s the lard or the fresh-cooked aspect, but I’m calling it a “win” for now.  Now that I’ve figured out the intricacies of actually cooking the tortillas, I’m going to have to try the other recipe again.  Not that I have anything specifically against lard, but it’s difficult to find in our city.  And then it is partially hydrogenated, when the entire point of lard (for me) is to avoid the trans-fats (and stick with the regular fats only).  There’s apparently a butcher in Bonney Lake that makes their own lard, but since I can’t seem to get myself to the store to buy bacon, going a few towns over for lard seems…  let’s go with unlikely.  We’ll see.

Update: I now have my ultimate tortilla recipe, which is what I recommend using if you decide you want to make your own homemade tortillas!

Blue Cheese Dressing

This is strongly based on the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe, and we make it enough that I’ve stopped measuring.  This is something I always like to have on hand during the early season of the CSA (when we have lettuce every week and there’s always something I enjoy raw, dipped in dressing).  This week, I enjoyed this as a dip for kohlrabi, snap peas, celery, and even as salad dressing (on salad – crazy, I know)!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces (or so) blue chees
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
  • generous ¼ cup buttermilk
  • generous ¼ cup sour cream
  • scant ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • pinch sugar
  • splash vinegar (white wine vinegar is recommended, but as long as you don’t mind a brown tint or red tint to your dressing, balsamic or red wine vinegar will both work as well).
  • salt & ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Mince garlic or put through a garlic press.
  2. In a small bowl, combine blue cheese, garlic, and buttermilk.  Mash together with a fork until the mixture has a cottage cheese-like consistency.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix together.
  4. Use as a dip or to top salad.

The Verdict:

What I love about this recipe is the extra bite that comes from the fresh garlic as well as the tang from the buttermilk.  Although many grocery store brands of blue cheese dressing are overly heavy on the mayonnaise taste, this recipe includes both buttermilk & sour cream to round out the flavor.  I really dislike being able to taste the mayonnaise, so I go easy on that part and then increase the sour cream.  I love this recipe, and I’ve even added buttermilk to our milk delivery schedule so that I never have to run to the grocery store for buttermilk to make this recipe happen.  I do have to figure out how to make buttermilk pancakes or biscuits or something though, since I don’t like the taste of buttermilk by itself and I don’t ever use up the whole carton before it goes bad.