Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pot of Beans Volume 2: Re-cooked Beans with Tortillas

So, I made that big pot of Soup Beans a while back, and was left with a rather large amount of leftovers. Really, I’ll have to call them plan-overs, because I did this on purpose. I fully intended to make the rest of those beans into refried beans.

Well, really it would be more accurate to call them re-cooked beans, since I don’t add any extra fat to the pan when refrying. They just don’t need it. There’s plenty of flavor in the original Soup Beans recipe, and if I want more, I’ll just add extra herbs and spices. Really, the somewhat overcooked beans just need to be smashed up, perhaps seasoned a bit, scooped together, and applied wherever you need them. These re-purposed leftovers are delicious simply scooped up with a tortilla chip as an appetizer or snack. They are also good in this layered dip or spread on a pizza crust as the base of a Mexican-style pizza or simply plopped on a tortilla with plenty of the type of garnishes that taco-lovers have come to count on.

I was going to go on a bit more about the re-cooked beans and how to make them, but I did that quite a bit in this post. This is pretty simple stuff, and I probably don’t need to go over it again. What I will go on about, however, is the homemade tortillas with which I made my soft bean tacos.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been making flour tortillas, although it makes sense to assume I was making them several years ago when we lived in south Texas. Not only were tortillas more in line with the local cuisine, but they also were a way to make something bread-like without running the oven in the unbearably hot climate. (I’m no fan of the heat!) I do remember not being very good at rolling out the dough to make round tortillas. A good-looking tortilla in those days resembled a map of Australia more than the perfect circle in the supermarket packages.

I also remember that I’ve always made my tortillas from Gourmet Tortillas by Karen Howarth. The book is packed with recipes for different flavors of flour tortillas as well as recipes that use the tortillas to great advantage. I’ve been revisiting some of these recipes to see how they go with a bit of whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose flour. There is a whole wheat flour tortilla recipe in the book, but I wanted to apply the whole grain philosophy to one of my favorites: Yogurt Tortillas.

I like these tortillas because they are especially soft. Since they turn out a bit thicker than store-bought tortillas, they get slightly chewy and a bit pillowy. The yogurt contributes to this texture and also provides just a bit of tang to the flavor. The added whole wheat flour did no harm whatsoever to that texture, and I think it actually contributed quite favorably to the taste.

Flour tortillas aren’t difficult to make and they’re even better than most of the packaged ones. They are time consuming, however, since each tortilla needs to be rolled out and griddle-cooked. That makes a simple filling like re-cooked Soup Beans or grated cheese (for a quesadilla) the perfect accompaniment, since they don’t take much time to prepare. I’ve become a much faster tortilla-maker over the years, and my tortillas are even more circular than they once were. I wouldn’t want them to look exactly like supermarket offerings anyway. If they were perfect, no one would know about all the love and effort I put into making them myself.

Yogurt Tortillas with Whole Wheat Flour
Adapted from Gourmet Tortillas by Karen Howarth

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup water, plus more as needed

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk together.

2. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands (or with a fork or pastry blender) until it is in very small pieces that are well-coated with flour.

3. Mix together the yogurt and 1/3 cup water. Add to the flour mixture and stir to combine as much as possible. Continue to work the dough gently with your hands or a spoon until all of the flour is moistened and you can pull it together into a ball that holds together. Add more water a little at a time as needed. (If the dough is too moist you can add more flour.)

4. Knead the dough briefly, just enough to make it come together firmly. Form into a disk and cut into 8 equal wedges. Form each wedge into a ball. Cover with a towel and let stand for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat a cast iron griddle (preferred) or a frying pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Take one ball of tortilla dough and flatten it slightly. Place on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough into a circle (or as close to one as you can) about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch or less thick.

6. Place the tortilla on the preheated griddle and cook for about 1 minute or until it is beginning to get a few browned spots and the top looks bubbly. Carefully flip the tortilla and cook on the other side about 1 minute more or until just beginning to brown. Repeat with the remaining dough. You can roll out the next tortilla while one is cooking, but be sure to keep an eye on the stove. Stack the tortillas on a wire rack as they are done. Wrap them in a towel to keep them warm until ready to serve.

Makes 8 8-inch tortillas. Keep leftovers in a zip-top bag for a day or so. Rewarm in the microwave to serve.

Other recipes like this one: Rustic Homemade Crackers with Thyme, Naan with Whole Wheat Flour

One year ago: Black Bean and Corn Croquettes and Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

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