Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Flour Tortillas

This is not at all french....but
I can't help my American cravings from time to time. The cost of El Paso brand flour tortillas is ridiculously high in Paris. At the little food store below our apartment, a pack of 8 runs ~3.69 euros (they are the big size at least). At today's exchange rate, that's an outrageous cost of $5.48!!! I don't remember what flour tortillas used to cost us....but wasn't it pennies on the dollar? Half a dollar maybe?

A high cost of something I really crave is the perfect motivational tool for trying to make it myself! So, I found a recipe on YouTube and guess what...making your own tortillas turns out to be really simple, easy and fast. Really. Even if you don't have one of those spiffy tortilla presses (which is now something I added to my gadget wish-list!). And the cost: maybe 30 cents?

Here's the recipe:

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening*

* Since I can't easily or cheaply find Crisco here, I substituted goose fat.....which I did have on hand, oddly enough....and which is not that expensive when you buy big quantities of it. This is just one of the things that has changed in my life. NEVER, EVER before would I have dreamed that I would be buying 5 liter cans of goose fat & gladly using it!

1. Mix all ingredients together
2. Let dough rest.
3. Portion off the dough into equal-sized balls (I think I made 10 x 6" tortillas)
4. Roll out until it's thin (or use tortilla press)
5. Heat pan until its really hot & cook dough ~ 1 min per side or until you see light brown spots
6. Store in cloth-lined pan, stacking them on top of each other until all are cooked. Wrap in towl.

2 Things worth trying with your home-made tortillas:

1.) A quesadilla pie -- this is simply a tortilla that has piled on it various ingredients (such as sauce, some cheese to bind it down a little, some vegetables like tomatos, red peppers, shredded carrots, some sliced proscuitto, and topped with more shredded cheese). Then broil until golden & bubbly. Serve with arugula salad on top. OK, so my version is a slightly european-ized by using french gruyère cheese (it's similar to a swiss), basil pesto for the sauce, and serving it with a nice red bordeaux wine!

This has a high yum factor, and guess what? It's easy & fast, which makes it a great meal to pull together when you're hungry & need to feed the family & kids in minutes (assuming the tortillas are pre-made). I think even the kids would have fun building their own pies! 2 quesadillas/person.

2) Tortilla Chips - Cut the tortillas into 1/8ths and fry in oil at 180°C until done (30 sec - 1 min). Sprinkle with salt. This is a really CHEAP way to make tortilla chips, and they are much, much better-tasting than the small packs of chips they try to sell here! When you do them yourself, the chips are light & fresh & have a nice crunch. Next time I'll try to flavor them with lime juice...will let you know how that turns out. It helps to have a deep fat fryer in your kitchen, which I do, thanks to the insistence of my Belgian husband, aka, master frite maker (master fries maker, who can't stand the fact that they're called "french fries" when it was the Belgians who invented them!! At least they're not referred to as "freedom fries" anymore...) :)


Anonymous said...

I tried this one - man it was great!

Catanea said...

I'd actually vote for NOBODY EVER using anything called "vegetable fat" or shortening or whatever. If it won't go by its name: Olive Oil, Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil. You-name-it; I don't want to eat it. Carthame is good.

girlcookinparis said...

Good comment on the use of the word "shortening". I quite agree! If you can't distinguish it, then don't use it!

Don't know what Carthame is - a plant derived oil? Is it solid or liquid? When do you prefer to use it instead of say olive oil?