Welcome to Life at the Holman's.

Within this blog, you will find everything from recipes to school ideas to everyday fun stuff and things we have learned along the way. From time to time you will find just a tidbit of our journey here in Oklahoma. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's for Dinner? - Homemade Tortillas

One of the things that my family really enjoys is good food, and I LOVE to cook.  One of my favorite past times is trying to figure out how to re-create some of our favorite restaurant recipes.  Over time, I have learned some things that work and some that don't.  Every now and then, my husband will say..."I wish you knew how to make..."  To me that issues a challenge, and I love a challenge just about as much as cooking.

From time to time, I will be posting various recipes in the "What's for Dinner?" part of my blog.  I will be posting recipes that I have tried that my family really enjoys.  Some are restaurant "copy-cat" recipes that I have tweaked and changed until they fit our "restaurant" standard.  I have to say that some of these recipes have come about through much trial and error.  We have had some not-so-great trials that have had a lot of "tweaking!" 

The next few days, I will be posting various recipes in honor of Cinco de Mayo, the celebration of Mexican Independence Day!  We like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at our house because it is a great excuse to make some really good food!  The ultimate goal of this next two-part recipe entry is Restaurant Style Chicken Taco Salad also called Chicken Taco Loco.  Part one is making homemade tortillas.  Part two will follow with the recipe and directions for creating the fried taco salad bowls as well as the preparation for the salad portion. 

Part 1 Making Homemade Tortillas
I found that homemade tortillas are both cheaper and taste much better than the store bought ones.  Here is the recipe:

Homemade Tortillas

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon shortening or lard
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup boiling water

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening to resemble cornmeal.  I use my finger to break the shortening through the flour.  

Add water slowly, mixing with your hands to make a soft dough. You may not need all the water.  
Knead a few minutes on floured surface or in the bowl until smooth and elastic. Covered for 10 minutes.  

Pinch off a golf ball size of dough and kneed into a ball shape. Roll out into size and thickness you prefer.  

Cook on top of stove over medium heat using a cast iron grill or heavy skillet until top is slightly bubbly then turning on opposite side for a minute or two.  

Keep stacked and warm inside of a DAMP kitchen towel

Tips for making the tortillas:
  1. Make sure you allow the dough to sit after the first kneading (about 10 minutes).  This allows the baking powder to activate.  If you do not allow it to sit, you will not have the light softness in the finished product.  
  2. The dough should be warm and soft when you begin working with rolling it out.  If it is too dry and stiff, add a very small amount of hot water and work it in until you have a soft, workable dough.  
  3. Make sure you roll the dough in your hands into a fairly smooth ball before you begin rolling it out.  This will produce a more rounded tortilla when you roll it out.
  4. When rolling the dough, make sure you have adequate flour on the surface or it will stick, or when you remove it to cook, it will stick and tear.  I also try to have a couple of tortillas rolled out and ready when I begin cooking them.  As you finish rolling them out, do not stack them directly on top of one another (stack them in a stair step pattern).  Make sure there is a little flour in between.  
  5. When I am rolling the dough, I roll in one direction and then turn the dough a quarter of a turn (either clock-wise or counter clock-wise).  This helps in forming a more round shape.  However, they are tasty whether they are perfectly round or not.  
  6. I use a cast 12" cast iron skillet.  However, I have used a regular stainless steel heavy bottomed skillet and achieved great results also.  Try to knock off any excess flour on the tortilla before cooking or the flour will burn.  If you have a build up of flour in your skillet that is burning, use a damp paper towel to quickly swipe it out.  
  7. It will begin to bubble on the top (about 45-60 seconds depending on the heat of your pan).  After a there are several bubble on the surface, flip the tortilla and cook for about 30-45 seconds on the other side.  When you remove the tortilla, place it in a damp kitchen towel and close it up.  This is the secret to getting the tortillas softened.  They actually "steam" to softness because as you continually add tortillas a continuous heat is kept up.  The damp towel allows for adampness that in turn softens the tortilla.  
That is it!  You will get 10-14 tortillas depending upon the size of tortilla that you make.  You can make any size tortilla from your dough just vary the amount of dough accordingly.  I make 6-8 inch tortillas for my kiddos and the 10-12 inch tortillas for the adults. These tortillas are great for fajitas, Chicken Taco Salad (which will be the next recipe installment), or for just dipping in re-fried beans.  Make and enjoy!