Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For the love of Tortillas

When I was a little girl we lived many years in Texas, often near the border of Mexico. That's where my mother learned to make tortillas, which became our main food staple throughout most of my childhood. They were our main bread, we ate them with almost every meal and sometimes they were the meal.

My mother would make a huge batch, 60 or more tortillas at a time, all those little balls resting under towels for their turn to be rolled out and cooked.

The first tortillas were always the best. My younger sister and I were almost always hungry and my mother would usually give us fresh hot tortillas. I loved those sacred first tortillas, there was something very special about them to me.

Now I make them myself and I still love them just as much. The simple basic recipe is perfect because it's so very versatile. As it is, the tortillas can go with anything, sweet, spicy, sour or bland, they fit right in. Over the years I've experimented by adding different things and discovered hundreds of different ways you can make them.

To the basic recipe some of our favorites adds are ...

cinnamon and sugar
garlic, onion and cayenne
garlic, some Italian herbs and ground parmesan
cayenne, chili powder and onion
sun dried tomato paste
chopped dried herbs
chopped dried spinach
chopped black olives

You can substitute up to half the flour with ...

corn flour (ground cornmeal)
oat flour (ground oatmeal)
whole wheat flour

(up to half because if the flour is too dense it won't cook properly)

You can make them as thin as you like or make them a bit thick for a heartier flat bread. I often make them double thick for that purpose.

You can make the tortillas into chips by cooking as usual, then brush with a little vegetable or olive oil, cut into wedges, sprinkle with things you like (the add list above works well) and bake for a few minutes in the oven until they're crisp. Our favorites for chips are parmesan chips, cinnamon-sugar chips and chips from the corn version.

Here's my mothers recipe and the only one I've ever used ...

4 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
4 T shortening (I have also used margarine and it worked fine)
1¼ c water
flour for rolling

Kneed together with hands working the dough well. Form 12 palm sized balls and set aside. Prepare a rolling surface and roll each ball out round and thin. In a large, dry skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, cook on both sides until done. Cool each tortilla seperately. Makes 1 dozen.

Tortilla dough, ready to be made into balls. It looks rustic and wonderful :)

My beloved tortilla pan, found at a yard sale about 12 years ago.
I've also used it to make tortillas and pancakes on the woodstove.
An iron skillet or tortilla pan is the best to me
but you can use any sort of flat pan or griddle.

I roll up the balls and then put them back in the bowl to wait their turn. Cover with a towel or cloth napkin. I made 12 balls for regular tortillas but you can make 24 smaller ones or make 12 and don't roll them as thin for thicker tortillas or to make pockets.

I start by flattening out each tortilla with my hand, then I roll them out, maybe around 6 inches.
There's no wrong or right, make them how you like them best.

Our house and kicthen are very small and counter space is limited.
I use the counter for rolling and the stove top or dinning table for the rest.

When the tortillas are ready, put them on the dry pan and cook until there are some light bornw spots. the tortillas will get air pockets which go down when removed from the heat. Lightly cook on each side and then allow to cool.

One plate for rolled tortillas waiting to be cooked and another for cooked tortillas cooling. If the windows are open or I make them outside I cover both plates with a cloth napkin but the cooked tortillas need to get air while cooling or they will become damp.

The end result and time to eat :)

Now you guys experiment and share your favorites and what you come up with :)


clairedulalune said...

Thanks Juli, these sounds yummy! I love the way you have carried on tradition with using your mother's recipe, and thank you very much for sharing it! I feel a bit of a tortilla weekend coming on!

marjean said...

Thanks, I've copied this recipe to try later. When we were kids my mother, who baked several loaves of bread twice a week, would sometimes cut off pieces of dough and drop them into the deep fat fryer and cook the bread to a golden brown. They were delicious with jam of just butter as I preferred. It's something from childhood that I really miss, but of course "deep fat frying" is a "no no" now plus, I no longer have the cast iron stomach I had when I was a kid. .

Mel said...

Wow! Thank you SO much for the recipe..esp. since it's a family recipe ;)! We love tortillas here too and it'd be nice to be able to make our own...

oldcrow61 said...

I've made these flat breads many times and they're wonderful.