Okay, first off, I have to give you the best piece of advice you’ll ever get with regards to homemade Mexican food. What you do with this advice is entirely up to you but should you wish to ignore it you will spend a lifetime eating below par, inferior, less than satisfy homemade Mexican food and that, in my humble opinion, would be a travesty. So, my advice on top of advice is to take this advice very very seriously – go to this site and buy yourself an authentic Mexican tortilla press and more importantly a bag of masa harina corn flour.
Now, onto the tacos. I love tacos. I love ’em, I love ’em, I love ’em. Unfortunately getting decent tacos in the depths of Cornwall is nigh impossible so I have only myself to rely on when it comes to anything Mexican inspired. I’ve got to tell you though, since leaving Chicago my Mexican offerings have been somewhat lacking – I can no longer buy authentic corn tortillas from my corner shop any longer. Say wha? Major sad face.
Those hideous tortillas available in supermarkets are exactly that – hideous. I hasten to add they are not even tortillas, they are merely wraps. Wraps are not tortillas. Real tortillas do not stick to the roof of your mouth nor do they disintegrate when any sauce or liquid comes into contact with them. Even the wholewheat ones have a certain wallpaper paste quality to them – you know what I mean. Oh yes, and if you think these new bright yellow ‘corn’ tortilla offerings are any better or any closer to the real thing then think again. Mass produced, completely the wrong texture and that colour…..beyond scary.
Tortillas should have chew. They should be able to hold a decent filling without falling apart. They should be malleable enough so that you can hold them and twist them around said filling without them cracking, tearing or going soggy. So you see then, those supermarket ‘tortillas’ just don’t cut the mustard. No siree, not one bit.
If you’re a little daunted by making your own tortillas let me put those fears to rest immediately. There was a three to four week gap between me purchasing all the necessary equipment and mustering up the courage to make the darn things – I’m silly like that. It’s the possibility of failure that stops me sometimes. I do not like to fail! I should’ve known better though, as there was not one failure. Nope, not one. Every single tortilla from the first to the last were pretty much perfect although there was a slight panic when I initially couldn’t get the first tortilla off the second plastic sheet but then I developed a special (easy) technique and the rest of the experience was plain sailing.
Right then. I think I’ll leave it there lest I allow my perfect sales pitch deteriorate into brow beating.
Notice the difference between my first and last photos – when I started cooking it was still daylight (yay for spring!) and by the time we sat now to eat it had disappeared. Sure I coulda used my special flash but I wanted to eat – that’s food bloggin’ for ya. You got all the time in the world when you’re preparing the food and then when it’s ready patience goes out the window and you just want to scoff what you made. My belly waits for no-one or nothing and as a result my photos suffer. Hey ho.
tortillas (makes 10 taco sized tortillas)
1 cup masa harina flour
1 cup warm water
Put the flour in a large bowl, add the warm water and mix initially using a spatula.
When it comes together use your hands to lightly knead the mixture until it becomes clay like.
It should not be sticky. Shape into a ball and cover. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Tear off smallish pieces and roll into balls.
Heat a dry pan/skillet until hot.
Place a tortilla ball in between two plastic sheets cut to the size of the plates (you’ll not want the balls to go directly onto the plates, as they will be impossible to lift off).
Press until you get a generic tortilla shape. Peel off the top plastic sheet. Then place the sheets together again and use it to help peel off the other sheet – this is my patented technique.
Gently place the tortilla onto the hot pan and allow to heat for 15 seconds before turning over. Heat the other side for 30 seconds and then flip it over onto the other side again. When it puffs up remove it from the pan and keep warm in a tray covered with a clean tea towel. Repeat.
black bean, pineapple salsa
1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup organic sweetcorn
1/2 red onion
1 spring onion
1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1/2 large red or green chilli pepper
1 heaped tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 heaped tbsp chopped corinder (cilantro)
juice of 1/2 lime
sea salt and black pepper
Place the black beans and sweetcorn into a large bowl. Finely dice the red onion, finely chop the chilli and add to bowl. Give it mix.
Finely slice the spring onion. Chop the parsley and coriander and add everything to the mix. Season generously, squeeze over the lime juice and thoroughly mix.
Lastly stir in the chopped pineapple – I like uber tiny pieces but you could have them chunkier of you wish. Taste, season again if necessary and serve.
paprika roasted sweet potato
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp paprika (smoked paprika or chipotle powder)
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.
Chop the sweet potato into large chunks, as it will shrink quite a bit when roasted. Put the sweet potato in a baking tray and toss with the olive oil, thyme, paprika (or chipotle powder) and sea salt and pepper.
Bake for 40-50 minutes. When they are cooked, turn the oven off and allow them to sit in the oven until you have prepared all the other components. They will remain warm but also gain a desired chewiness – perfect for tacos.
I like to layer my tacos with the salsa on the bottom and sweet potato on top, as it holds together much better this way.
*Don’t forget to serve your tacos with some roughly chopped avocado – squeeze over some lime juice and season. A few drops of tabasco is optional but highly recommended. Perfect.