Today’s cooking escapades: the first has to do with Mexican food and the other with chocolate – two of my favorite foods.
For years, I’ve wanted to make homemade corn tortillas. Today, my husband and I tackled the project. Turns out that they are so easy to make. We are fortunate to have a Hispanic grocery store about 2 miles from our house. We bought a bag of masa harina and a tortilla press (manual, not electric) and we just followed the recipe on the bag of masa harina. The first couple of tortillas didnâ€™t quite come out that well â€“ but by the 4th or 5th one, Peter (he assumed the task of being chief tortilla maker) had it down to a science! They were beautiful specimens, and quite scrumptious!
Homemade Corn Tortillas
2 cups masa harina
Â¼ tsp. salt
1 Â¼ cups warm water
I heated the water in the microwave until it was warm â€“ not too hot to touch though. I imagine that the temperature is important in getting the dough to be the right consistency. I mixed the ingredients, covered it with plastic wrap, and waited about 30 minutes. Then I pinched off 16 just a bit smaller than golf ball sized pieces, rolled them into balls, covered them with a damp towel, and then pressed each one into a tortilla with our new tortilla press.
Peter, who always finds the most efficient way to do everything, explained the following instructions: cut the top off a large ziplock bag, then cut the seams open so that you end up with two separate pieces. One piece of plastic is put on the bottom surface of the tortilla press. Then put one dough ball on the bottom plate of the press. Press the top plate down firmly onto the bottom plate of the tortilla press. Lift the top lid. Gently peel the top layer of plastic from the flattened tortilla. Flip the tortilla onto your other hand. Peel off the second layer of plastic. Put the finished tortillas on a towel. Cover tortillas until ready to cook them. Layer each new tortilla on top of the prior ones. Don’t bother putting wax paper or anything in between them – that isnâ€™t necessary. Put the tortillas on a preheated very hot griddle. When the edges begin to curl, flip. After about 20 seconds, flip again. When it begins to bubble, it’s done. Remove and add to tortilla pile on the towel. Remember to keep them covered until ready to assemble your tostadas.
Meanwhile, I made Simple Chicken Consomme with Tomato, Mint, Chile, and Avocado from Mexican Light by Martha Rose Shulman. It had to be one of the easiest soups I have ever made and boy, was it good!
Simple Chicken Consomme with Tomato, Mint, Chile, and Avocado
2 quarts chicken or garlic stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
2 fresh spearmint sprigs
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped (I used a 14 oz. can diced tomatoes)
Â½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges, for serving, optional
Combine the stock, spearmint, onion, and chili in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and add the tomatoes and cilantro. Turn the heat to low, simmer for another 5 minutes, and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary.
Place a spoonful of chopped avocado in each bowl, ladle in the soup, and serve, with lime wedges to be squeezed into the soup if people wish.
While the soup simmered, I assembled the ingredients for the Black Bean Tostadas we were also having for dinner. They were absolutely delicious. Weâ€™ve had them before, but always with store-bought corn tortillas. I think the taste of the homemade ones added so much to the dish â€“ definitely worth the effort.
Black Bean Tostadas
1 can Amyâ€™s Gluten-free Black Bean Refried Beans, heated
Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 1 cup, depending on how much cheese you want on your tostada)
Put a few tortillas in the microwave oven and cook on high for about 45 seconds or until they begin to crisp up. Then build your tostada, adding refried beans, grated cheese, cilantro, sour cream and salsa. Yum. Enjoy!!!
On to dessert – Baked Hot Chocolate! I have to say that this might be the best dessert I’ve ever eaten and the best one I’ve ever made. I got it from Veronica’s Test Kitchen blog. If you like chocolate, trust me, make this dessert. I’ve added a few edits based on my interpretation of this recipe.
Baked Hot Chocolate
Adapted from “Essence of Chocolate” recipe by Heidi Friedlander
4 servings (my edit: the recipe calls for 8 ounce ramekins, but I definitely think you could make it in smaller ramekins and get more portions – it’s VERY rich!)
9 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (make sure it’s gluten free)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
Â¼ cup granulated sugar
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350Â°F. Arrange four ovenproof cups or mugs or 8-ounce ramekins in a baking or roasting pan.
Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water and whisk occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
Stir the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer set over the simmering water and stir until warm to the touch. (my edit: make sure you don’t heat it so much that it cooks the eggs)
Place the bowl on the stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Remove from the mixer, and fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture until it is light and smooth. (my edit: at first, it will seem as if the chocolate and egg mixture will not blend – but eventually they will)
Spoon the batter into the cups. Add enough very hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. (my edit: after the egg mixture has finished heating, add some more water to the pan that was used to heat the chocolate and also the eggs. Bring that water almost to a boil and then pour it into the baking pan, halfway up the ramekins) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The baked hot chocolates will be done when the tops lose their glossy finish. A wooden skewer inserted in the top will emerge but the batter toward the bottom of the cup will still be very moist.
Carefully remove the cups from the pan. The cakes can be served warm, at room temperature or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. To reheat, bring to room temperature and place into a preheated 350 Â°F over for 5 minutes or until warm.
Top with cocoa whipped cream if desired.
This chocolate dessert is an extremely decadent three layer extravaganza. The top layer is crusty almost soufflÃ© like, the middle layer is like chocolate pudding and the last and bottom layer is very thick â€œliquidyâ€ chocolate. This was almost too rich for me believe it or not; although I probably would not have thought so if I have not bombarded myself with sweets this past few days. I could not find a roasting pan that was deep enough to fill water half way up my mug but my 9x9x2 baking pan did pretty fine work. As with any chocolate dessert, raspberries are a perfect accompaniment.