My ceramics store is finally opened, and I have even made a few sales... but there are still many things available. I am calling it Firecooked Ceramics. I also have a new Firecooked Ceramics Facebook page, along with my Firecooked Instagram feed. It's been a learning experience, I am using a web platform called Shopify which sets up to take credit cards, manage inventory, and provides a discount on shipping. And for all my loyal followers (and because I am still trying to figure out what I should charge, here is a discount code for 20% off that is good for the rest of March: GRANDOPENING )
Now a year in on the pandemic, with hope on the horizon that soon we can all gather and travel and go out to eat, I am making a list of things that have changed for the better ... I'm thinking on-line grocery shopping, the ability to do meetings on Zoom when you need to, and what is better cooked at home.
One of the things I have added to my cooking repretare is corn tortillas. I love tacos (who doesn't?) but didn't cook them at at home that often. It's hard to get good corn tortillas at the grocery store, then they would typically sit in the fridge a few days before I used them, at which point they were less good. Plus I would always have leftover tortillas that I didn't use that would get tossed. But when you make your own, you can make just as many as you need, and nothing beats a freshly cooked tortilla. Early in the pandemic, when we couldn't get basics like bread and pasta and beans, I discovered not one but two bags of masa harina (corn flour) in my pantry. You see, I have a recipe for empanadas that called for a 1/4 cup of masa .. that I have made twice. And the second time that I made them, I couldn't find the bag of masa I thought I had (turns out it was buried in the freezer) so that's how I ended up with two bags. And while in March and April last year basic food items were hard to get, I could buy a tortilla press on Amazon and have it in 2 days. I just followed the recipe on the bag, and got amazing tortilla's.
Some special equipment is needed... The above mentioned tortilla press, plus some type of a griddle. I use my cooking steel (a large heavy sheet of steel that I usually cook pizza on in the oven), but you could also use any kind of griddle, or a traditional comal, which is a low sided cast iron pan.
To make the dough, you just mix the masa with a bit a salt and warm water. You want the dough to be springy, and neither too sticky or too dry. You let the dough sit for an hour or so, then divide and make small balls (how small depends on how big you want your tacos.. I like them on the smaller size, and make 8 tortillas from 1 cup of masa. To get even sized balls, I cut the big ball in half, then each half into quarters.
I get everything ready (including the add-ons), then cook the tortillas, then the filling. Both are pretty quick.
The last part of great tacos at home is the add-ons... I like something crunchy like radishes or shredded cabbage, something creamy like greek yogurt or sour cream, maybe something cheesy .. cotija is great but I usually don't have that, feta or cheddar are my typical go-to's, bonus points for avocado and cilantro. Plus hot sauce and lime.
Scale to make as many as you like, this makes 8 small (5 inch diameter) tortillas, which feeds 2 of us. Water hot from the tap is warm enough, although rather than wait for the water to heat up I usually just warm the water in the microwave.
1 cup of masa harina
½ teaspoon salt
¾ to 1 cup of hot water
In a medium bowl, mix the masa and salt, then slowly add the water as you mix (I usually just use a fork to do this, would opt for a wooden spoon if I was making a bigger batch). As the dough starts to come together, knead with your hand several times. If it is too dry and cracks, add a bit more water. If it is sticky, add a bit more masa. It should feel a bit springy when you are done. Roll into a ball (leave in the same bowl), cover and let sit for an hour or so. Whe ready to make the tortillas, heat up the griddle. You are aiming for about 450F, a medium high heat that water droplets will “dance” on. Divide the dough into 8 pieces (can do more or less depending on how big you like your tortillas). I cut the ball in half, then in quarters to get even sized pieces, then roll each piece into a ball (they are about golf ball sized). Place a cut open plastic baggie in the tortilla press (I think the weight that works best is the ziplock storage bag thickness). Put a ball of dough between the sheets of plastic, then press. Cook tortilla on the hot griddle for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Transfer to a plate lined with a towel, keep wrapped in the towel as you finish cooking all the tortillas. Serve warm.
This makes about 2+ servings.. Please use this as a guideline and feel free to improvise. Leftovers are good in a quesadilla, on a baked potato, or in a salad.
Olive or vegetable oil
Cauliflower or zucchini, about 3 cups. Cut in small pieces (about ¼ inch)
Onion, about 1 small, diced
Garlic, a couple of cloves, minced
Bell pepper, about ½, diced (optional)
Hot Peppers, diced (optional, to taste..)
Black beans, about 1 can, drained and rinsed
Cumin, about 1 teaspoon
Chili powder or chili flakes, to taste, ¼ to 1 teaspoon
Garnish (pick at least 2-3):
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Shredded lettuce or cabbage, maybe mixed with cilantro
Avocado. Radish slices. Cheese.
Salsa. Hot sauce. Lime wedges
Warm corn tortillas (3-4 per person)
Heat thin layer of oil in large sauté pan over medium hot flame. Add cauliflower or zucchini, let sear on one side. Add the rest of the veggies, let cook a bit, then add bean and spices. Stir well and let beans heat through. Make tacos with warm tortillas and desired toppings.