Thursday, November 21, 2013

Roberto's Beans and Tortillas

One of the foods we missed the most while in Tasmania was Mexican food.
We have lived here since 2006, and just this last year have small Mexican food stalls started appearing here in Hobart.  I love Mexican because it is one of the easiest vegetarian "really don't" hate meat eaters meal to make for everyone.

Sometimes you need a friend to get you from "We really should." into "Gee that was easy."

Our friend,Roberto, was the catalyst for us making our own beans and tortillas and we do, quite often.  Zok has gotten a tortilla warmer and two tortilla presses.
An advantage to tortilla is that corn meal is a great substitute for the gluten intolerant.  
Here are Roberto's recipes that got us started.

I will put up the corn recipe in a separate post.

Flour Tortillas:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder (not soda!)
3/4 cup of 'hot'! water (we use the tea kettle)
1/4 cup of vegetable shortening *

1. Mix all the dry ingrediants: flour, powder, salt
2. Cut in the shortening*
3. Add hot water, if the mixture feels too sticky (it should at the end come cleanly from your hands and the bowl) add more flour (tip: have a flour shaker so adding in flour is easy, even, and gradual)
4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes (Zok now uses his Kitchen Aid for all and any mixing)
5. Cover dough for 10 minutes
6. separate dough into balls to either press with your tortilla press or to roll out with your rolling pin.
7. Fry in a hot pan- the dough will bubble up a bit and that is a good time to flip it.  Otherwise you can just continually flip until done 

*In Australia and Sweden the vegetable shortening is some form of coconut, and it comes cold and we have to grate it with the small part of a cheese grater.
If you are using soft American shortening you could just put in small scoops at a time.

The tortilla warmer does keep the tortillas hot.

Pinto Beans: (We actually use a variation of Bolito beans because that is what we can find here and in Stockholm-they work really well).

2-3 cups beans
6-8 cloves garlic
1 medium onion (I use white or yellow as I find they dissolve in, leaving flavor but not too concentrated a flavor)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1 tbl. cumin seeds

1. Separate and rinse beans (compost any funky looking ones or sometimes there are non-bean bits depending on how you buy your beans)
2. Chop onion and half the garlic
3. Crush your cumin seeds, and then crush the rest of your garlic into the crushed seeds, I use a mortar and pestle, and then use water to rinse the whole lot into the pot
4. Add all to a pot with a large bottom (wide as opposed to deep)
5. Add enough water to cover to about 2 inches above the beans.
6. First bring to a rapid boil for about 8 minutes, then lower to a simmer.
Cover and remember to check often, and stir often.

I cheat a bit and crush my beans towards the end with a potato masher, but I do spend hours letting them slow cook.  They always seem to taste best when I don't speed up the process.  You can always add more water if too much evaporates off.  This will happen if you are cooking them faster.
If the flavor isn't quite right I will add more cumin or garlic.

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