A friend of mine just purchased a “tortilla press and cooker”. I am intrigued and not a little envious! I’ve made a few jillion tortillas, both flour and corn and cooked them on the old cast iron grill. The thought of making a batch these days brings on  a serious case of Rolling Pin Blues!

A few years, okay, around 30, our local High School introduced a class called International Foods. This was an inspired effort by the teacher Addie Johnson to show the students some different cuisines and menus from places around the world. It was a great idea at the time. The world was just beginning its expansion, or should I say shrinkage, about that time. Techonology and outside influences had started slowly but surely to reach our corner of the planet.

On more than one occassion, I was asked, co-erced, drafted to come into class to do a presentation of Mexican (tortillas from scratch, refried beans, enchiladas and sopapillas) Indian, ( a curry dish) and an English tea, which brought about the novelty of HOT tea, finger sandwiches and tiny cookies, served on plates with paper doilies).

More on the curry and tea at a later date.

Flour tortillas are easy to make, and quite tasty. The recipe appears below:

3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.  salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add vegetable shortening or lard. Or use a combination of half lard, half shortening. 
Use a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just do it the old fashioned
way and use your hands.

Next add warm water a little at a time until your dough is soft and not sticky. You do
not need very hot water.

Knead the dough for a few minutes.

Now you will pull off pieces of dough to form 12 small balls. Let them
rest for at least 10 minutes, longer if you like.

This is a good time to heat up the griddle. You will want to set it at medium to high
heat. If it is too hot the tortillas will cook too fast.

Now you can roll out the dough with your rolling pin. It is a good
idea to dust each ball with a little flour just before you roll them out. Lay the pin 
in the center of the dough ball and roll up, center and roll down. It is good to lift the
dough and turn it.  Again, rolling pin in the center and roll. Roll them out fairly thin.

Lay your tortilla on the hotgriddle. It takes just a few seconds to cook. Flip to the other
side. When they are done it should have lots of nice brown speckles. Place them in a
towel to keep warm
They are ready to be served!

The key word in that is THIN. Making 20 -30 of them is a bit daunting, so I of course enlisted the assistance of the young males in the class.

Some of them were already familiar with the technique. It had been a sneaky trick at my house if a task needed done that required extra ‘help’, the girls would pass the word at school and always they showed up, Payment? A mexican dinner! Often they would be recruited to help roll tortillas. Did anyone complain? Not that I ever heard…