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.  Here’s me giving it a go!

Recipe: Homemade Flour Tortillas

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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 Instructions

  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together. 
  2. Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter crumble the lard with your hands to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
  3. Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. 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 tray piece of parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes. 
  5. When you’re ready to make the tortillas, heat a dark or cast iron griddle flat pan to medium/medium-high 7.5 heat if your electric stove 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… One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. 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. To warm, nuke tortillas in the microwave, or wrap in foil and warm in the oven. 

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.  Travis 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.

Fava Beans!

I’ll admit – just two years ago, I would have categorized myself in the group of people that learned everything they knew about fava beans from Dr. Hannibal Lecter (liver & a nice Chianti, anyone?).  Then they appeared in my CSA share one week and I asked what to do with them.  I was surprised at the enthusiasm Valerie answered with – she really loves these beans.  A little research for recipes, and I found that seasonal eaters and farmers from around the country look forward to the taste of fava beans as one of the harbingers of spring.  After last year’s fava bean season, I find myself re-categorized.  So today, two different fava bean recipes – enjoy!

Fresh Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad

(found on the NPR website)

 Fava bean and pecorino salad

David S. Deutsch 

Fava beans are a spring favorite in southern and central Italy. This salad, adapted from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria (William Morrow 1993) is popular as a starter or as part of an antipasto spread. If you can only find a hard grating pecorino, use a soft goat cheese. If there are leftovers, saute the beans and cheese with a little oil in a small skillet. They are fragrant and delicious as a warm appetizer.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans (about 2 cups shelled beans)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley basil leaves, snipped with scissors
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
  • 8 4 ounces soft sheep’s milk cheese such as a pecorino or a soft fresh goat’s milk cheese feta cheese, cut in small cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Bring a small or medium pot of water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, string and shuck the beans.
  3. Add the beans to the boiling water for one minute, then drain & run under cold water to stop them from overcooking.
  4. Each individual bean has a waxy coating that needs to be removed – the bright green bean will look so much “springier” than the pale green casings do.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning.

 The Verdict:

Obviously, I made quite a few changes to the recipe, based on what we actually had here.  I don’t know how true to the original we were, but this dish was full of flavors we love, so I think we made the right choices!

Tuna and Fava Crostini

(found at epicurious) Bon Appétit  | June 2006

Tori Ritchie

yield: Makes 6 servings

Favas lend a fresh note here. For the most robust flavor, use tuna packed in olive oil rather than water.
Ingredients:
  • 18 thin baguette slices
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh fava bean pods
  • 1 6- to 7-ounce can solid light tuna in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion purple scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley plus 18 leaves for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet; brush slices with 3 tablespoons oil. Bake until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Rub fresh garlic clove on each baguette slice.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Set aside.
  2. Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Shell fava beans, then drop beans into boiling water and cook 1 minute. Drain. Slip beans out of skins. Place beans in small bowl; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat.
  3. Combine tuna with its oil, minced red onion scallion, chopped parsley, and lemon juice in small bowl. Using fork, mash tuna mixture to coarse paste. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Baguette slices, fava beans, and tuna mixture can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let baguette slices stand at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate fava beans and tuna mixture separately.
  5. Divide tuna mixture among baguette slices. Top with fava beans and garnish each with 1 parsley leaf.

The Verdict:

I have what may be described as a crazy amount of love for all things crostini-related.  At our engagement party, Travis & I had several appetizers that involved crostini.  We (along with several of our closest friends) made about 15 loaves of bread into crostini.  That may be an exaggeration – it’s been 4 years – but I’m pretty sure that there were more than 10 loaves of bread.  We had bruchetta and tapenade, and I ate those leftovers for the next week straight.  I did not know about fava bean & tuna crostini back then, so it wasn’t on the menu.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love this version of crostini topping as well!

New Potatoes with Garlic & Lemon

This week, we had potatoes in the CSA for the first time this season.  Of course, this early in the season, they’re bitty.  I love potatoes in many different (fat and/or dairy-soaked) preparations, but with new potatoes, I love the simplicity of roasting.  Since they’re too small for me to want to peel and since their skins are so tasty anyway, this is a delightful way to prepare spring potatoes.  Trav and I let our potato plants die again this year, but maybe next year we’ll actually have potatoes from our own yard as well!

Spring Recipe: Teeny-Tiny New Potatoes with Lemon
(found at thekitchn.com)

Here’s a quick, easy recipe for roasted tiny potatoes, tossed with lemon for brightness and sweetness. Of course you can also add in other things like herbs, or a bit of chopped prosciutto. Try some leftover new potatoes baked with an egg on top, too! That’s a wonderful spring breakfast.

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound teeny-tiny new potatoes, ideally no bigger than your thumb
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, put through a garlic press
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Clean the potatoes and pat them dry.
  2. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for a moment or two, until fragrant.
  3. Toss the potatoes with enough olive oil to coat, and with salt and pepper. Spread them on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are tender enough to be pierced with a fork, and their jackets are wrinkled and crispy-golden.
  4. Toss immediately with the lemon juice and zest, and serve.
  5. Options: After roasting, toss with a bit of chopped mint, rosemary, or thyme. Toss with chopped cooked bacon, or pesto.

~Faith Durand

The Verdict:

I loved these.  I don’t know why I have a continual habit of taking something that could be reasonably healthy and soaking it in fats with a little lemon juice.  Oh, yeah – because it’s really, really tasty.  I HAD to add garlic to the recipe, because what’s the point of cooking if there’s no garlic?  I really should have topped the whole thing with bacon, but we were out and I’ve become super lazy about going to the store.  Good for the grocery budget (read: I only cook what we have at home), bad on the variety of foods front.  But we still have tons of flour, so it will be a while before this becomes an issue!  I’m sure Trav & I can survive on flatbreads and CSA for weeks and weeks…

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)!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces (or so) blue chees
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup + buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup + sour cream
  • 1/4 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.