Tacos with refried beans and roasted cauliflower
On a recent extended stay in the Yucatan I attended a cooking class (several, really) and watched local Maya women making corn tortillas by hand, beautiful, symmetrical, thin and perfectly formed round tortillas. When you watch them making it seems so simple, roll the dough into little balls and slap it into a perfect rounds between the palms of your hands. Not so fast. Try and do it yourself and let’s see how easy YOU find it.
So today for some unknown reason I got the urge to make my own corn tortillas. From scratch. By hand.
It doesn’t need many ingredients:
Tortilla press…ummmm, no, didn’t have it this morning (I do now).
So I mixed the masa harina, water and salt and made a nice soft dough, something like a cookie dough, and thought I’d do what I saw the Maya women do and roll it by hand into little rounds. How hard can it be? As you may imagine, this didn’t work as well as I would have liked. The tortillas were not round, not thin, had rugged edges and sometime kept falling apart. But, call me stubborn or determined, I did make tortillas out of the entire batch of dough (see the yellow ones above) before I ran out to a local kitchen shop to pick up a tortilla press (for next time). The white tortillas in the images are store-bought from a local Mexican food store.
For the filling I made refried beans and roasted cauliflower and for a crunchy element added leftover shredded cabbage from dinner last night. You can use shredded lettuce if you wish.
Sauce? once you make your own salsa there is no going back. So in no time I roasted red tomatoes, garlic, onion and chile peppers in a cast iron skillet on the outdoor grill and made roasted tomatoes salsa, the one I learned to make at a class on the Riviera Maya. See the recipe here.
It was a delicious and aesthetic simple dinner that we enjoyed on the patio among my herbs, lilacs, hydrangeas and lavender. Life’s simple pleasures are always the best. Ummm, yes, but luxury is also important.
12 Corn tortillas
Refried pinto beans from 4 cups cooked beans
2 cups shredded cabbage or romain lettuce
2 cups masa harina
1 1/3 cups water (more as needed)
1 teaspoon salt
- Place masa harina in a food processor with the salt and pulse a couple of times.
- Start adding the water through the feeding tube as the machine is running and process until a dough forms and leaves the sides of the bowl. If the dough doesn’t come together add water, a little at a time.
- Remove the dough, press into a ball and let rest for a few minutes.
- Test run: Pinch off 1 small ball, about 1 1/2 inch diameter or 1 1/2 oz and roll it between your palms.
- Line a tortilla press with plastic (I use a freezer bag plastic), place the ball of dough in the center and press down the top of the press to flatten the dough into a thin circle. If the edges of the dough are cracked the dough is too dry. Return to the food processor and mix it with a little more water (or do it b y hand), then form into 12 balls, 1 1/2 oz each and proceed with the recipe.
- To cook the tortilla: heat up a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. you can brush the skillet with a little oil or cook them dry.
- Lay a tortilla in the hot pan and cook about a minute and a half on one side, them another minute on the other side, I cooked them on the grill outdoors, flipping them with kitchen tongs.
- Keep warm in a tortilla dish or wrapped in a warm slightly moist towel.
Cut cauliflower into small florets, spread on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Roast in 400F oven until golden and crisp on the edges.
2 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
4 cups cooked beans or 1 large can organic pinto beans, drained
1 teaspoon ancho chilli powder
1 cup vegetable stock (can use canned)
Tablespoons Mexican style hot sauce
- Heat oil in a skillet, add the onion and cook until soft and fragrant.
- Add the jalapeno and continue cooking until it softens
- Add ancho chilli powder, beans and 1 cup vegetable stock
- Mash the beans roughly using a potato masher or a fork, adding just enough liquid so they are not dry.
- Keep warm until ready to assemble or reheat when ready.
Spoon refried beans into each corn tortilla, top with roasted cauliflower, spoon salsa over and top with shredded cabbage and cilantro leaves.