Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Homemade (Plastic-Free) Tortillas

Two weeks prior to going camping in the NC Outer Banks, I had my friend and her two kids over for dinner.  As we were eating, my friend said, "Can we do Mexican night when we go camping??"  Ummm... YES!!  I thought it was an absolutely brilliant idea!  I immediately became super excited about having Mexican night while camping because:

  1. I could live on Mexican food. 
  2. I knew that the meal could be plastic-free!  
  3. My kids dig quesadillas.
  4. I had no doubts it would be quick and easy...
  5. ...and GUACAMOLE!!! mmmmm :D
So... over the weekend, my family and I went camping with our friends in Ocracoke and had our Mexican camping dinner!  Check it out!!  So YUMMY!!

Quesadillas made with homemade tortillas and plastic-free cheese**
Black bean corn salad (yup, some of us put it IN the quesadillas!)
Homemade guacamole (made before the trip and stored in a glass jar... and it stayed bright green!)
Local watermelon and cantaloupe

We will definitely be doing Mexican night every time we go camping... No joke... this was the best meal that I've had camping.  In fact, I loved it so much that I would make it when we weren't camping and even serve it to company!! I've been waiting procrastinating sharing my homemade tortilla recipe.  ...and I think that today is the day that it needs to be shared!  As I'm striving to reduce the amount of plastics we use...homemade tortillas have become essential.  When I don't have any bread, don't have time to make bread... etc etc etc... tortillas are quick and SUPER easy to make (why didn't I do this years ago?!?) and are so versatile that they can be used for so many different things.  Sure we make quesadillas with them... BUT...we also make pizzas, wraps-- egg salad, hummus, pb&j--, tacos... you name it.  Did I mention that they're SO much better tasting than store bought??  oh, right... everything is.  

Homemade Flour Tortillas

4 c unbleached flour* 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder*
1 1/2 tsp salt*
1/2 c organic butter, cut into 1" chunks
1 to 1 1/2 c warm water

To make vegan or low-fat tortillas:  In lieu of using butter, take 1/2 c of the flour and blend it with 1/2 cup of vegetable or olive oil and freeze for 2 hours.  Then use in place of the butter. 

1. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  (If you don't have a stand mixer, use a large bowl with a fork or pastry blender.)  On low speed, add the butter. When the butter is incorporated and the flour mixture looks crumbly, add the water in a slow stream with the mixer running, just until the dough sticks together and clears the side of the bowl.  NOTE: Don't add too much water... not only will the dough be sticky and difficult to work with... too much water makes for tough tortillas!  Knead briefly-- no more than 10 times-- until a smooth ball forms.  Shape into a cylinder and cover with a dish towel.  Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. After the dough has rested-- for 8"-9" tortillas-- divide the dough into 15 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a ball, cover with the dish towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

3. To roll out the tortillas, place the ball on your thumb and make an indention creating a "mushroom" shape.  The air pocket inside helps the dough roll out into a (near) perfect circle :)  Flatten the ball then roll it out into a thin circle just like you would for a pie crust.  Start from the center, making quarter turns often and never pressing the edges.

Tip: I roll my tortillas out right next to my stove, so that I can flip them off the pan and on the pan quickly when I'm cooking them :)

4. To cook the tortillas, heat an ungreased cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  Place as many tortillas in the pan that will fit without overlapping.  Cook until bubbles start to form then flip to the other side.  Also, as bubbles form just take a spatula and press them down.  When the tortillas are done, the dough will look dry and have brown spots.
Remove the finished tortillas to a cooling rack (ummm... I always throw mine on top of my toaster!) and let cool.  Don't worry about the tortillas overlapping each other... not a big deal.  You can use the tortillas right away or let them cool.  Once the tortillas are cool you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week.

Storage Tip: A 9x13 pyrex dish with a lid or round glass baking dish both work really well for storage :)

Mmmm... all this talk of food and I'm all out of tortillas... see ya later! ;)

**Last month, I bought an entire wheel of cheese from Tidal Creek.  It came in a wooden box with no plastic.  I shred and chop it into cubes then freeze it until we're ready to use it  :)

*Using my own containers, I buy these items in bulk at Tidal Creek.