Welcome back to my ever-more-infrequent series, “Baking with Hot Bread Kitchen.” So far, we’ve been to Albania, South Asia, and Morocco to make some of their traditional breads. This installment takes us to Mexico and Central America to make tortillas from scratch. A couple of years ago, Janira and I spent an evening getting in touch with her Guatemalan roots and trying to make tortillas. However, I think we used standard cornmeal rather than masa harina, which meant that our tortilla dough was really sticky and didn’t hold together well. We got there in the end, but it wasn’t easy… Here’s how it went when I made tortillas from The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook.
Baking with Hot Bread Kitchen #4: Tortillas
This recipe comes from the “Masa y Mas (Tortillas and more)” section of The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. Sure, you can buy tortillas in the store, but let me tell you that fresh ones taste way better. In order for tortillas to work, you need masa harina, which has “slaked lime” in it; this helps the dough hold together (look it up — it’s science!). All you need in addition to the masa harina is water. Combine, mix, let sit for half an hour, then roll out the tortillas — simple as that.
Rolling the balls of dough into tortillas takes some practice; you need two pieces of plastic wrap and ideally a tortilla press. Since I am new to the art of tortilla-making, I obviously don’t have a tortilla press; the book recommends using a heavy pot or pan to flatten the balls of dough. My pan wasn’t quite heavy enough so F suggested I use a rolling pin — with lots of pressure — to get the tortillas as thin as possible. That worked well. I rolled and cooked the tortillas one at a time — each tortilla only needs a couple of minutes in a hot skillet before it’s done and ready to eat! My tortillas turned out a little crispier than anticipated, but they were soft on the inside and tasted fantastic.
It’s hard to make tortillas without going all the way and enjoying them as tacos. The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook includes a number of recipes for taco, tostada, and carnitas fixings. I decided to make their refried beans to act as a protein base for our tacos. It was a really easy recipe and it came together quickly: dice some onion, sauté it with oregano and garlic, puree some black beans (I used canned ones), add the beans to the onion, simmer until thick. No need to go back to canned refried beans — like the tortillas, these tasted much better when freshly made.
Have you ever made tortillas from scratch? What do you like to use TORTILLAS for?
These enchiladas are a definite “make again.” I had been thinking about how to use a seldom-found can of black beans and thought they’d pair well with sweet potatoes in something Mexican-inspired. But I didn’t feel like making tacos; I was in the mood for a warm, cheesy-chewy something. Enchiladas!
The sweet potato, black bean, and mozzarella enchiladas are my own creation; the sauce is inspired by edible perspective. The result was just what I had been hoping for: sweet potato contrasts beautifully with the tangy sauce and a bite of cool guacamole. Beans and cheese contribute protein and bind it all together. The enchiladas are also easy and quick to put together — we had dinner on the table in less than an hour.
Make sweet potato-black bean filling: Sauté sliced onion in some neutral oil over medium heat until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the spices and diced sweet potato; stir to combine. Cover the pan and let the sweet potato cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the black beans and turn the heat to low.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the sauce: combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and puree with an immersion blender, then bring to a boil and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C and grab your largest baking dish.
Assemble enchiladas: Scoop ~1/2 cup of sweet potato-black bean filling into a tortilla, sprinkle with mozzarella, then roll tightly and put into the baking dish. Repeat until you’ve used all the tortillas and/or filling — they should be nestled tightly together in the dish. Pour as much sauce as you want over the rolled tortillas (we ended up with extra sauce) and sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella over the top.
Bake enchiladas for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned. (While the enchiladas are baking, make guacamole.) Serve hot with a big scoop of guac and/or sour cream.
Still craving fresh, colorful foods in preparation for spring, I became inspired when I read this recipe for avocado and egg breakfast pizzas. That would be delicious for dinner, I thought. And why don’t I bump it up a notch and make full-fledged guacamole? Then I thought that roasted sweet potatoes would beautifully complement the guacamole, both in color and taste. Sweet potatoes made me think of black beans. When all was said and done, it turned into a delicious Mexican pizza night. It was German Day so I said to F, “Das war genau, was ich wollte” — That was exactly what I wanted.
doesn’t get much tastier than this
Assemble separate components, put them all on the table, and create your personalized stack of deliciousness! Recipes and guidelines for guacamole, black bean-tomato sauté, pizza crust “tortillas,”roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage, and fried eggs follow. That’s right — this is an all-in-one post to help you create a fresh, healthy, and delicious Mexican meal with a twist. Feel free to get creative and throw in a twist or two of your own.
Juice the citrus into a bowl. Scoop the flesh out of the avocado skins and add it to the bowl, then mash with a fork to your desired smoothness. Add all of the other ingredients, stirring vigorously to combine.
1/2 of this pizza dough, at room temperature (ours was frozen; I let it thaw during the day and it was ready to go by the evening)
Divide dough into four equal parts. On a floured surface, roll each part into a thin round.
Pour a small amount of oil into a large skillet on medium-high heat. Put on one “tortilla,” and cook it for a few minutes, pressing it down if it bubbles up. Flip the round and cook for another minute or two. Repeat with the other rounds.
Black Bean-Tomato Saute
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tomatoes, diced small
1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can of sweet corn, rinsed & drained
generous handful of coriander (cilantro), minced
to taste: salt, pepper, oregano
Throw the onion and garlic in a small pot with some oil. Over medium-high heat, cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the tomato and cook for a few more minutes, until the tomato begins to break down.
Dump in the rest of the ingredients and lower the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until everything else is ready.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cumin
2 sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
whole cumin seeds
Like with these roasted root vegetables, preheat the oven to 375F (190C), toss everything together in a baking dish, and roast for about an hour, stirring once or twice.
Shredded Cabbage with Coriander and Lime
1 small head of spring (green) cabbage, shredded/sliced thinly
handful of coriander (cilantro), minced
juice of 1 lime
Combine everything in a bowl and toss.
green + orange
Now you are ready to assemble your Mexican pizzas! Pile everything on top of your “tortillas” — we started with black beans, then sweet potatoes, then cabbage, then guacamole. For a little extra protein and flavor, top it all with some grated cheddar cheese and a fried egg.