Taco Night and Making Your Own Corn Tortillas

Taco night is something J and I both loved as children.  J says he loved how interactive the meal was, that everyone was reaching around, having fun together and adding things to their tacos.  I remember my sister and I chorusing “Tacos!” whenever my mom asked us what we wanted for dinner.  I also liked any excuse to add shredded cheese to just about anything.  We had friends over for taco night last night, and I thought I’d complicate the proceedings by making my own corn tortillas.

black_beans_cotija_cheese_corn_tortilla

I’ve recently started reading Gluten-free Girl and the Chef.  I’m always on the look out for new blogs to read, and I found this gem while looking for some gluten-free recipes for my sister.  I adore Shauna’s writing, and the joy that she takes in food, in cooking and eating, in preparing dishes for herself and her family.  Her photography is beautiful, and each dish she posts makes me want to reach through the screen to taste it.  Earlier this week Shauna posted a big pot of beans.  She talked about the simplicity and the comfort found in a pot of beans on the stove in the colder winter months.  While I completely agree with the sentiment, and adore all sorts of bean combinations during the winter, especially black beans with goat cheese or cannellini beans with rosemary, what struck me most was how Shauna made her own corn tortillas (and quickly it seemed!) to accompany the beans she was making.

With this inspiration fresh in my mind, I headed over to Berkeley Bowl, knowing I’d find masa harina (the corn flour you use to make corn tortillas) in the bulk bins there.  After googling around, I was shocked by how simple it seemed to be to make corn tortillas.   I mixed together 2 cups of masa and 1 1/2 cups of water, which formed a very thick dough.  I formed small balls of dough and smashed them out flat on my cutting board.

masa_harina_dough

This is where things got a little dicey.  Making corn tortilla dough is not hard, but the actual making of corn tortillas involves quite a lot of technique.  From here you just find a way to transfer the very thin circle of dough from the cutting board to a hot, dry skillet and cook the tortilla for about a minute on each side.

corn_tortilla_in_cast_iron_skillet

I can tell this is a technique that gets easier with practice.  Luckily I can also vouch for the fact that slightly thicker corn cakes also taste fantastic, just cook them a little longer on each side.  I got the same sense of accomplishment from these as I did from pickling my own peppers and canning my own tomatoes.  I can see myself dedicating some serious time to mastering the corn tortilla technique.  Really, these were so simple, and so much tastier than store bought corn tortillas, I have to imagine that most people don’t know just how easy it is to make your own.  We had backup corn tortillas for taco night with our friends, but I really loved the messy, mishapen corn tortillas I made myself.

corn_tortillas_taco_night_black_beans

We topped the tacos with all sorts of options, grilled corn with onion and garlic, cumin-spiced black beans, oven roasted tomato salsa (which somehow escaped a picture), plus guacamole, cotija cheese, and the radish, cucumber and apple slaw I wrote about yesterday.  We talked and laughed and reached over each other for extra fillings and toppings, and just generally had a wonderful night.

 

Do you have a taco night tradition?

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10 Responses to Taco Night and Making Your Own Corn Tortillas

  1. shauna says:

    These look delicious! The radish-cucumber-apple slaw sounds fantastic. And keep playing. They grow easier to make thinner. (p.s. tortilla press is in your future!)

    • Beth says:

      Thank you! I’m sure you’re right about the tortilla press, but at the moment my tiny kitchen is only accepting multifunctional kitchen gadgets 🙂 In the mean time, I’ll just have to keep practicing!

  2. I love tacos!!! And taco night of course! I just made Chili Lime chicken tacos from a Trader Joes recipe. They were pretty good! Not began, but goooood!! 🙂

    • Beth says:

      That’s what I love about taco night, though! It can accommodate so many different diets and taste preferences. Plus you can make a filling out of almost anything that happens to be in your fridge or pantry. Breakfast tacos, anyone?

  3. Cate says:

    I’ve been meaning to make my own tortillas forever and I never have! They look awesome

    • Beth says:

      The actual making of them is stupidly easy. It takes so much longer to cook the pot of beans than it does to make the tortillas. Apparently rolling them out between sheets of wax paper will help you get them thinner too. I went with more of a pizza crust, press it out with your hands method. I’ll have to try the wax paper method next time. Before I cave and buy a tortilla press of course.

  4. Alisyn says:

    This looks amazing!!! Are you having a dinner party anytime soon? 😉

    • Beth says:

      Thanks! One of these days I do need to have everyone over and feed you guys. Maybe a long run that ends with brunch at my house? 🙂 Now if only I didn’t have an Ikea Easy Bake oven..

  5. I have a mental image of lovely ladies patting tortillas into shape with their hands (never touching down on a flat surface). Theirs were round, but I like yours – very interesting. Maybe when you are home for Thanksgiving????

  6. Pingback: Roasted Vegetable Stock | Boston to Berkeley

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