Homemade Corn Tortillas Will Change Your Life

A week ago I learned how easy it is to make corn tortillas at home and how absolutely delicious they are fresh off the griddle. Want to guess how many times I’ve made them since then? Let’s just say it’s definitely closer to 7 than I care to admit…

All you need is masa corn flour (Maseca), water, and a little salt. That’s it. I pour a cup of masa into a bowl, add about 3/4 cup of warm water, throw in a pinch of salt, and mix to make a soft dough. I break off about 6-8 pieces and roll into balls.  Then I tear two square sheets of plastic wrap, place a ball in between and press. I don’t have a tortilla press (YET) so I just use my cutting board and a rolling pin to flatten it to about 1/8 inch thick. Heat a griddle or pan, carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic wrap, and place into the pan.  Heat it for about 1 minute then flip over to the other side for another minute.  Repeat with the rest of them and you have a hot stack of delicious corn tortillas that are much better than any cardboard imitations in the grocery store.

Maseca

There’s also something really therapeutic about pressing the dough into a delicate disk and placing it carefully in the pan. The attention it requires helps me slow down (even if I am moving fast) and clear my mind, like pressing pause on life outside my kitchen.

Now that I know how easy they are, corn tortillas will now be in my regular rotation.  The first time I made them, I used them for tofu breakfast tacos by making a tofu scramble and pairing with a sweet potato hash and Cholula.

Tofu B-Fast Taco

The second time I made tempeh tacos by crumbling up some tempeh and sautéing it with kale, tomato, and spices like adobo seasoning, chili powder, and oregano.

tempehtacos

I even made buffalo pear blue cheese tacos, which I regret not taking a picture of and will definitely have to revisit.  I topped a couple corn tortillas with sliced pears, crumbled blue cheese, and slashes of buffalo sauce, and then placed it under the broiler until the cheese melted. The combo of sweet pears, tangy blue cheese, and spicy buffalo sauce on a base of a fresh corn tortillas was a symphonic blend that put me in a state of pure bliss.

So in conclusion: Go out and buy Maseca. Make some corn tortillas. Change your life. Most delicious life hack ever.

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All the Small Things: Pupusas Stuffed w/ Vegan Chorizo & Platanos Maduros

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Sometimes in a small moment, I wonder if I am creating a lasting memory.  I did this upon my first visit to Chicago almost two years ago, standing with my little brother in his first apartment kitchen eating slices of deep dish pizza from around the corner.  I asked myself, will I remember this years from now?

Yesterday I sat at my brother’s table sharing a giant cinnamon bun we got from Whole Foods because the frigid day gave us a craving for one and Ann Sather’s was closed.  We listened to a Nina Simone record and he taught me about Wong Kar Wai’s films and sure enough I turned inward at one point not only to remember that time in the kitchen, but also to wonder if my brain would randomly call upon this current moment sometime in the far future.

Because of this strange self-awareness, I inevitably make memories out of many small moments.  These moments don’t really have much significance.  There’s really no reason for me to remember that the post office clerk yesterday answered my question of “How are you doing today?” with the cool, smooth enthusiasm of an old jazz radio DJ. “I’m supercalifragilistic!” And how he bid me a farewell as if signing off his show. “Have a great day, a great weekend, and a Happy New Year.  I’ll see you on the flip-side.”

There’s no reason for me to remember that on my personal brunch at 3rd Coast Cafe today, while enjoying my coffee and magazines, my thoughts were interrupted by the punching and ringing of an old-fashioned register I hadn’t noticed before.

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These are small moments with little significance, but pausing to ask myself if I will remember them, while makes me an observer of my own life for a second, forces me to appreciate the present.  And appreciation allows me to enjoy laid-back lovely weekends such as this one when I can just do whatever my whims call me to do without the pressure of what a fun weekend for a 20-something is supposed to be–whether that’s buying myself brunch and magazines, or making vegan chorizo and frying up the plantains that are finally ripe enough for maduros.

Because I’m trying to use up what’s in my fridge so I can start fresh for the new year, I had to get creative with dinner.  I fried ripe plantains in a little vegetable oil to make plátanos maduros and afterwards the vegan chorizo I made a couple days ago using Terry Romero‘s recipe from Viva Vegan.  Then I chopped it into smaller pieces and used them to stuff them into pupusas.

Pupusas, a traditional Salvadorean dish, are essentially fat corn tortillas stuffed with various fillings.  They’re simple to make since you just add water to Maseca (which is a maize flour you can usually find in the Latin foods section of the grocery store) until it forms a damp dough that you can shape into patties, stuff with whatever you want, and pan fry.  Shaping them is a little tricky, but this is a good step-by-step tutorial.

I haven’t made them in the traditional Salvadorean way quite yet; I have been opting to fill them with whatever I have on hand–in this case, chorizo and plantains!  Since I didn’t have the customary tomato salsa or slaw (curtido), I opted to blend a couple chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with a little vegan mayonnaise, slather it on top, and garnish them with some extra chorizo and plátanos maduros.

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It wasn’t the healthiest of meals, but it was pretty delicious for an iron-cheffed dinner.  I also made some hot chocolate with a bar of Olive & Sinclair (a Nashville-based artisan chocolate company) for dessert, just to make extra damn certain that I would spend the rest of the night in food coma.  Highly effective.

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