Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Morning Muse

Sunday morning. A blue sky outside, the soft hush of tradewinds, the dog at the foot of my bed, the house quiet and empty except for us. I could be doing anything. Do you realize how rare these moments are for me? I live with people. Lots of them. Most of them children - far outnumbering the grown-ups, life continually swirls around us; work, school, rides, needs to meet, places to go, people to be fed, deadlines to be met, bills to pay, laundry to do, kitchen to clean, it never ends

But this morning is one of those very, very rare times when I am alone. A questionable breakfast beverage in hand (no comment), my newest food mags next to me, and my computer screen feeding me inspiration.    

Sometimes this is all I need to get my mojo back. My muse deserts me sometimes, but I'm getting to know her/him/it a little better and I have noticed that it likes it when I am happy. When my mind is clear. When my heart is at peace. When I am overflowing with love. This muse of mine is a party animal, I'm learning. All the stress, drama, emotional bullshit - she(he/it) can do without all of that and, in fact, runs like the wind when that stuff is overpowering the mood. Heck, I don't blame her (him/it)! But when I am in this space, it shows up and inevitably leads me to beautiful images, words, thought, and then takes me by the hand and leads me into the kitchen, pours us both a cocktail and watches me do my thing.

SO that's where I'm headed now. Send my muse some love, because she(?) seems to be back, and I am oh so thankful.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas!

Spicy, slow cooked beef quesadillas on homemade tortillas.

So my girl from way back has moved to Hawaii and is staying with me until she gets settled, have I mentioned this? And let me tell you, girlfriend can cook, and needless to say, we are a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen! My soul sister in so many ways, yesterday she woke up with homemade tortillas on the brain. Ah, a girl after my own heart....
As she stood in the doorway to my room, we talked of a sacred, taboo, subject: lard. Yeah I said it. LARD. Uh huh, that's what we needed to fulfill this fantasy of homemade tortillas. Because we would be venturing into the annals of my home-girl's childhood memories of her Mexican & Puerto Rican aunties, making tortillas from scratch because, well, that's what you do.

So in-between school supply shopping, haircuts and dealing with a freaking out cell phone, we did it. A tub of lard now lives in our pantry.

Even in Hawaii, we managed to come across an authentic tub O' lard.  
Alright, now before you start listening to any guilt ridden, holy-crap-this-will-go-straight-to-my-butt kind of nonsense, let me just say that there are some things that you just don't screw around with. And this is one of them. It's been done this way for a million years (yes that's historically accurate) so just put aside your issues with the word, the concept, the image, and for the love of all things TORTILLA, just GO with it. And I swear, the foodgasm you experience will blur your vision, curl your toes and leave you shivering for more. Trust me on this one.

If you can make a biscuit, a pancake or the like you can make this. Flour, salt, baking powder, water and the L word. That's it!

Roll the dough into ping pong ball size and then roll out.

Roll out the tortilla pretty thin, it will puff up a bit when cooking. 

Beef and Cheese Quesadilla
The finished product garnished with avocado, sour cream, lettuce & cabbage, and a corn salsa with a  dried corriander & oregano dressing.

We packed these up and took them to the beach for a sunset dinner. And now I am forever ruined on store bought tortillas. Great. Just like my new homemade pasta addiction. How do you ever go back after this? Well, I don't believe you need to. It's a little more work, yes. But if you have your best friend over, crack open some beers and just enjoy the experience of the whole process it makes everything taste better!

Oh, and as for filling, we cooked some beef in the crock pot for a few hours with some onions, garlic, canned chipotle chilis, some wine or beer (or both), cumin, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Then when it was done, here's the big secret: Take a few corn tortillas, rip them up and then throw them & the remaining sauce from the meat into the blender. This will make the most rockin sauce - you will want to slather yourself in it! This whole tortillas in the blender concept is new to me, but holy cow, it works!

Flour Tortillas


  • 2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 cup Hot Water
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together.
Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour.
Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat a cast iron griddle to medium/medium-high heat. One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots. Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container. 
Helpful tips:
* Make sure the water you pour in is very warm.
* Allow the dough to rest, both after kneading and after forming into balls.
* Roll out very thin.
* Get the heat right on your stove: Too hot, and the tortilla will burn in spots. Not hot enough, and the tortilla will begin to crisp before you can get it to brown. I get my stove between medium and medium high heat; that seems to do the trick.
* Use a dark griddle or cast iron skillet to brown the tortillas.
* Cook just long enough to lightly brown the tortilla in spots; don't cook too long or tortillas will crisp. You want them to be soft and pliable when you serve them.

Corn Salsa
Cut the kernals off of a few ears of corn
add chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic
Combine a few Tbs. citrus juice, a Tbs or so of sugar, a splash of balsamic vinegar, 1Tbs ground corriander, 1Tbs dried oregano, 1 Tbs fresh oregano, 1 chopped chive stalk, plus a few Tbs of Olive oil, some salt & pepper and toss with veggies. 
Serve on top of quesadillas 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shave Ice Cocktail

Ok. Who doesn't love shave ice? If you don't live in Hawaii, this is the equivalent to a snow cone only shavy-er. And if you don't live in Hawaii, where there's a shave ice place on every corner, well, then I don't know what to tell you.

But if you DO live here, did you know that you can order a shave ice with no syrup, just the ice for like 50 cents and then take it home and make your own shave ice cocktail?! I know, right!!??

Why oh why, haven't we thought of this before?

Well, in case you happen upon such an opportunity, here's a suggestion of what to do with your sad, naked, shave ice: Take it home and take your jug of ginger juice that you've recently purchased from costco, a shot of vodka, and maybe some simple syrup and a splash of orange or some such juice, shake well in a cocktail shaker and pour over your rapidly melting save ice and voila! An unvirginized shave ice cocktail for your summertime sipping pleasure!