Dinner / Lunch / Savory / Uncategorized

Tried and True Tortilla and some kinda TexMex Encyclopedia

The past 2 weeks have been a cycle of work, get sick on my days off, go back to work, and repeat. I won’t go into the details but I lost my appetite and now have it back and the first thing I wanted to eat was Mexican, not the safest choice for getting over being sick but it was the only thing I wanted to eat. Salsa, tortilla chips, cumin, chili powder yum!

I decided on fajitas, which for me is basically the same thing as a taco with no beans and rice, as a burrito but smaller- basically my Mexican, which is really Texican I suppose, food is defined as such:

Burrito: an 8-10 inch tortilla with anything and everything in it. The essentials are beans rice, cheese, meat is optional, and anything else you want. By all means clean out the fridge, put it in a pan, add cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili powder, put it in with the essential beans, rice, and cheese, and wrap it up like a pro at the Chipotle on the corner, or Moe’s Southwest Grill. All my high schooldays lunches were Moe’s “kid-size” burritos with chips and salsa. OMG I can almost taste it all the way in Ireland 6 years later. Yum.

Taco: a 4-6 inch tortilla with a smaller selection of what was in that burrito, less beans, plus fresh things: cilantro, iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, folded in half cradling all the yummies inside. (This is a soft taco, which I think is an American ordeal, the soft or hard taco shell, I think the real hard taco is called something else entirely, but who cares, this is just Texican food right? I am not Diane Kennedy. I’m just girl who lives in Ireland and misses cheap, yummy go to Tex-Mex food.

Fajita: The same tortilla as the taco but with marinated grilled meat, cut into strips, grilled onions and bell peppers, and that’s pretty much it.

The “Mexican Stack Up”: This was a staple of my youth group days at church functions. I don’t know why it had that name, its just a taco salad with everything. I mean it even has another name are you ready for this…NACHOS. I think I know why it wasn’t called that actually. When you are feeding 50 teenagers who have been running around all day long and singing songs about potato chips and rigabamboos, you can’t justify a meal called nachos, so you call it Mexican Stack Up, because “it really stacks up” harharhar. Nowadays? Nachos? Sounds like a perfectly well rounded meal to me. :)

Then there are the leftover tortillas which get used as completely non-Mexican snacks. I think I ate all the leftover tortillas today in approximately 16 different combinations:

butter/honey
peanut butter/banana quesadillas
butter/honey
applesauce (leftover from being sick food)/peanut butter
butter/honey
pork pate/fresh apples/soft cheese quesadillas
oh yeah and butter/honey
You get the drill.

tortilla

The butter/honey bit is a combination that anyone who has been to Rosa’s would understand. The floury tortilla, the whipped butter packets, and the honey bear bottles sitting under the heat lamps by the pick up counter. Mouth watering.

So that’s my unofficial Tex Mex Encyclopedia. I’m no pro but I have had alot of Tex Mex. Rosa’s being my favorite. I remember my very first trip to Rosa’s. I was 5 years old and I was at my really cool friends house. The one that had the pool with a bridge, a pool house, a jungle gym, 2 toy rooms and an exercise room, and she had her own bathroom in her room AND they had a cookie jar in the kitchen AND it always had cookies in it. And we ate at Rosa’s. I remember the colorful parrots and birdcages hanging up. Actually I remember not really liking the food back then. It was a kids meal with a burrito and the beans and rice, it didn’t make an impression. What did make an impression was the tortilla machine and maker on display behind the big glass windows. If you’ve been to a Rosa’s, this needs no explaining, but it you’ve never been so lucky, let me paint a picture:

You walk into heaven and its filled with pinatas and all you can eat salsa and pico de gallo and then there is a golden window where someone is throwing puffy balls of dough into a machine. Then the puffy ball gets flattened out and spins down levels of stainless steel that is heated up by a flame on one side. and by the time it is at the bottom it looks like a volleyball of floury goodness. Then it slides down into a big tub or hundreds of tortillas and “poof”. Flattened again, packaged in brown paper and placed onto your red plastic tray right next to the chips and queso.

This is where the magic happens folks. Right by the tortilla maker. The other thing I remember was the warmth of the glass, it is so awesome.

Here is my good standby Tortilla recipe. Its no volleyball of fluffy white carbs but it is really reliable and if you want a fluffy white tortilla skip the spelt and use plain old plain flour.

230g Bread flour
70g Spelt Flour/Whole Wheat Flour
6g Salt
40g Oil (I used half rapeseed* half olive oil)
180g Water

-Mix all the ingredients till a dough forms
-Let the dough sit for a few minutes under the bowl you just mixed it in to let the flour really soak up the hydration. This makes kneading really easy.
-Come back to the dough and knead just a few times, you don’t really need to develop any gluten because you are essentially just going to stretch the dough and you don’t need it to hold any rising air because the whole point of tortillas are to be flat.
-Weigh out 18-20 3/4oz portions for small tortillas or 8-10 1.5 oz portions for big ones
-Rest the dough for 10 minutes, this relaxes what gluten has developed so that you can roll them easier
-Roll them out on a floured surface and toss them on a hot cast iron, any pan or hot surface works though, I use my mini cast iron and my non stick saute pan. 
-I roll one and put it in a pan and roll then next one as opposed to rolling all of them. You will run out of places to put the rolled ones and then they will stick to each other and then you have a mess. 

*Last week I found out the posh looking Irish Rapeseed Oil i have been buying = Canola oil, I feel terribly duped by good marketing and design.

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