Thursday 6 January 2011


Some of you may remember that on our holiday in Vancouver in September we visited Granville Market and acquired (amongst other things) an authentic Mexican tortilla-press. For one reason or another we have not got round to using it - until now...

I'm not going to attempt to advise you on how to make tortillas. That would be a bit arrogant for someone who has had a less than 50% share in making tortillas ONCE... But, I do want to prove to you that we did actually make some tortillas. The inspiration for our meal was a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Plenty" (which I recently reviewed).

It wasn't as easy as we had hoped. For a start, making good tortillas really depends upon having the right sort of cornmeal or flour. We initially tried using polenta (fine corn meal), but we couldn't get the "masa" or dough to the right texture. It was either too crumbly or too sticky. Then we tried using plain flour, and had a lot more success.

We found the tortilla-press to be really easy to use, once we had established (by trial-and-error) how hard you need to press in order to produce tortillas of the right thickness. We used some cut-open plastic bags to stop the dough sticking. We felt that clingfilm was perhaps a bit too flimsy for this purpose.

We cooked the tortillas on an Indian "Tava" - basically a cast-iron sheet that you heat on a gas hob. We have had this thing since my days in the Army, when Jane was taught by the wives of our Gurkha soldiers how to make chappatis on it (the technique is very similar).

The end result was very pleasing! We ate the tortillas with a black bean paste, grated cheese, soured cream, and a salsa made from tomatoes, red onion, avocados and lime juice. Mmmmm!

[We left out the coriander / cilantro which is mentioned in the original recipe, because I'm allergic to it. If we had had any, we could have used parsley instead.]

Definitely worth the wait. We'll be doing this again...

And now just to prove that I can do it (thanks Ali from Mud Pie for shaming me into learning how to do this), here's a collage of the four pictures above, courtesy of Photobucket. A whole new photography avenue stretches out in front of me now...

"Quesadilla Collage"


  1. Oh nice red border, very bold.

    "...since my days in the Army, when Jane was taught by the wives of our Gurkha soldiers how to make chappatis on it..."

    Mark... that sounds very exotic.

  2. Yummy! Your Tortillas look much nicer than my composted egg!

  3. Yum, I shouldn't have looked at your tortillas so close to dinner time. Now I am famished! They really look delicious!

  4. Nicely done! Witch such a large hispanic population here in West Chicago, Masa (premixed) is easy to come by.

    I'll have to give that a whirl!

  5. That "cast iron sheet" looks very much like my cast iron pizza "pan" except for the handles. Mine has two handles, and weighs several pounds. I love cast iron cookware. It's so functional!

  6. I love kitchen gadgets but I end up using them once or twice then they get shoved to the back of a cupboard never to see the light of day again. I hope the same doesn't happen to your tortilla press as your tortillas look delicious.

  7. Thanks for your comments, everyone. I have to be honest and give most of the credit for the tortilla meal to Jane, though in our usual way I did provide the "Brute force and ignorance" element, by operating the tortilla-press and doing one or two ancillary tasks. I think with a bit of practice we will get good at using this machine. We plan to make some chappatis soon, to have with an Indian meal, so we might try it for those.

  8. Those look delicious! We've been talking about trying to make them from scratch and haven't gotten to it yet... it may take us as long as it took you. :)

  9. The "cast iron sheet" sounds very useful, and I love the story of Jane being taught to make chappatis by Gurkhas. That's one way to make sure your chappatis are authentic! Do you have the recipe for the black bean paste?

  10. Oh i made tortilla's tonight for dinner we love them in this house ..i also use plain flour i also add differnt things like garlic and rosemary, linseeds some times chives just what ever i have on hand and they are are a great hit with the family i do mine bye hand though and dry cook them in a pan ... i think i may have a picture on my blog :-)


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