Tortillas are a staple food in many Latin American countries and all over the world! There's nothing quite like a warm, freshly made tortilla. While store-bought tortillas are convenient, there's no comparison to the flavor and texture of traditional handmade tortillas. Not only are they delicious, but they are also an easy and healthy gluten-free option. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about making homemade tortillas, including the differences in corn flour, vegan and meat-based filling recipes, using a tortilla press, and more.
Making traditional handmade tortillas may seem intimidating, but it's actually quite simple! With just a few ingredients and a kick-butt tortilla press, you can make your own tortillas at home in no time 😉
One of the key differences between store-bought and homemade tortillas is the type of flour used. Traditional tortillas are made with corn flour, while many commercial brands use wheat flour. Corn flour, also known as masa harina, is naturally gluten-free, making it a great option for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. When it comes to making homemade tortillas, choosing the right corn flour is crucial. There are two types of corn flour that you can use to make tortillas: masa harina and regular corn flour. Masa harina is made from nixtamalized corn, which means that the corn has been soaked in an alkaline solution before being ground into flour. This process enhances the flavor and nutrition of the corn, making masa harina the preferred choice for making tortillas. Regular corn flour, on the other hand, is simply ground corn and is not treated with the alkaline solution.
When choosing masa harina, look for brands that are made from 100% corn and do not contain any additives or preservatives. Some popular brands include Maseca, Bob's Red Mill, and Gold Mine. It's important to note that not all grocery stores carry masa harina, so you may need to visit a specialty store or order from Amazon online.
Why press? Using a tortilla press is important because it helps to create tortillas that are thin, evenly sized, and have a consistent thickness. This is important because it ensures that the tortillas cook evenly and consistently, which in turn affects the taste, texture, and overall quality of the finished product.
Without a tortilla press, it can be difficult to roll the dough evenly and to the correct thickness, which can result in tortillas that are too thick or too thin in some areas. This can cause uneven cooking, which can lead to burnt or undercooked areas of the tortilla. In addition, pressing the tortillas by hand can be time-consuming and can lead to inconsistent results. The press is best!
Now that you have your corn flour and your tortilla press, it's time to start making tortillas. Here's a basic recipe to get you started:
2 cups masa harina
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn flour and salt.
Gradually add the warm water to the flour mixture, stirring until a smooth dough forms. You may not need all of the water, or you may need a little more - the goal is to achieve a soft, pliable dough that is not too sticky.
Knead the dough for a few minutes, then cover and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12-16 equal portions, depending on the size of tortillas you want to make. I like 8” inches for tacos!
Using a tortilla press, flatten each portion of dough into a thin, round disc and place a piece of parchment or cling film on both sides of the press for easy dough removal. Use the same 2 pieces of film for every disc you press. It's OK. If you don't have a tortilla press, you can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. A tortilla press can also be used to make other flatbreads, empanada discs and pupusas or Indian rotis as well.
Heat a dry skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook the tortillas for about 30-45 seconds on each side, until they start to puff up and develop a “pancita” or a little belly with brown spots. They’re READY!
Transfer the cooked tortillas to a clean kitchen towel and cover to keep them warm and soft until ready to use. I personally love my tortilla “holder” (warmer)-Just stack them up, and it keeps them warm and moist until you’re ready to eat! Warmers can be plastic, woven or terra cotta for something a bit more special. I adore the one I purchased a few years ago from Kohl’s. It’s so pretty and traditional looking I think it really makes the meal complete when my table is beautifully set!
Now that you have your homemade tortillas, it's time to fill them with delicious ingredients. Here are two recipe ideas - one vegan and one meat-based - to get you started:
Vegan sweet potato and black bean filling:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder or chipotle powder for extra smokey kick
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
8-10 fresh corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel and dice sweet potatoes to a medium dice
In a bowl, mix the diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and chili powder until coated evenly.
Spread the sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until fork-tender and slightly browned.
In a large skillet, sauté the chopped onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is translucent, and the garlic is fragrant.
Drain canned beans and Add the black beans to the skillet and stir well to combine.
Add the roasted sweet potatoes to the skillet and stir until everything is evenly combined.
Remove the skillet from the heat and let the filling cool for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, cook your tortillas in a dry skillet and transfer to tortilla warmer
Fill each tortilla with the sweet potato and black bean filling.
Roll up the tortillas tightly and serve warm.
Enjoy your delicious and nutritious vegan sweet potato and black bean tortilla filling!
Another filling option would be:
1 pound ground beef or ground chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin or more to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh corn tortillas
In a large skillet, cook the ground beef or ground chicken over medium heat until browned. To make the ground meat smaller in size and more uniform, add about 2 TBS of water immediately after adding the meat to the pan and stir vigorously until meat is broken down. This will distribute the fat in the meat more evenly, resulting in small crumbles and the water will just cook away, so the meat can brown.
Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion is translucent, and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the skillet and stir to coat the meat evenly with the spices.
Add the drained diced tomatoes to the skillet and stir well.
Lower the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the flavors have melded together.
Just before service, Add the chopped cilantro and lime juice to the skillet and stir to combine.
Cook your corn tortillas in a dry skillet.
Fill each tortilla with ground beef or ground chicken filling.
Roll up or fold your tortillas and serve warm- with a lime wedge
P.S.- Ever have a fresh warm tortilla out of the pan with salted butter? Now you can 😊
Enjoy your delicious and flavorful tortilla Journey!
Spicy and exotic, Latin foods are perfect in the warmer months. However, they’re equally delicious during the cooler months, and you don’t have to compromise your taste buds or your diet to enjoy them. Check out these four Latin dishes that will help you beat the winter blues and bring some much-needed life back into your kitchen routine this fall and winter!
Chile Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers)
Poblano peppers are a staple of Mexican cuisine and make excellent Chile rellenos. They're typically stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried. This dish is perfect for satisfying any comfort food cravings you might have during the winter months. To make this dish, begin by selecting your peppers. Poblano peppers are most used and available in most Latin markets- but if they're not available in your area, any large bell pepper will do just fine. Once you've selected the peppers, cut the stem end of the pepper and remove the seeds from inside using a spoon. Next, stuff each one with about 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Mexican cheeses such as queso anejo or Monterrey jack are ideal). I like to dust with flour, coat with egg before dredging it in flour again or panko breadcrumbs and then frying it until golden brown. If you have an air frier- Go for it for an even healthier touch. Top them with either tomato sauce or green tomatillo salsa. Serve these with warm tortillas and additional cheese melted to gooey perfection!
Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)
Arroz con Pollo is a dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner- at least in our family! It's simple to make and takes only about 35 minutes from start to finish. The ingredients are easy to find at your neighborhood store. The dish is composed of cooked rice, chicken, tomato sauce or sofrito, vegetables of your choice, and seasonings like fresh garlic, cilantro and oregano. To make arroz con pollo you will need 2 cups of white rice, 1 cup of water-plus a little extra (in case of evaporation), 1 cup chicken broth, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 cups of chopped onion (about 1/2 onion), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into cubes and 2 tablespoons flour. Mix the flour with the cubed meat until it becomes evenly coated with flour before adding it to a large skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. When browned add onions, salt and pepper and cook 3 more minutes stirring occasionally so they don’t burn on the pan bottom. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil then add whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand like: tomatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, ect., check your salt to taste then add oregano and cilantro. I like to add a healthy shake of smoked paprika to mine! Bring back to boil then lower heat and simmer uncovered 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has reduced in half. Add green peas (frozen are fine) during last 5 minutes of cooking time if desired. Serve warm with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top for garnish. Its much easier than you may think-I encourage you to try this with your family.
Cuban Chicken & Rice Soup
This recipe makes 8-10 servings so it's perfect for dinner or lunch over a few days. Try substituting brown rice for white rice to add extra fiber and protein into your meal. Ingredients: 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3-5 garlic cloves, minced 1 onion (diced) 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon salt, 1-pound boneless skinless chicken breast (chopped) 2 cups of long grain white rice, 4 cans of chicken broth, 2 cans of low sodium tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes Instructions: Heat olive oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion then stir for about 30 seconds until onions are translucent. Stir in oregano, cumin, and salt before adding chicken. Stir frequently while cooking until cooked through then mix in rice. Pour in broth and bring to a boil before reducing heat to simmer. Cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes before adding tomato sauce, water, and tomatoes. Bring back up to simmer again then cover lid again and cook another 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed by the rice. Top with sliced avocado and toasty garlic bread for a complete- ‘stick to your ribs’ family meal!
It may be cold out, but you don't have to go without your favorite sweet treats. Chocolate caliente or simply Hot Chocolate is a hot drink that will warm you up from the inside out. Made with dark chocolate and cinnamon, this drink is creamy and rich, with just enough sweetness for dessert. You can also make low-calorie, or dairy -free so you can indulge guilt-free!
If you want to make it at home, here's an easy recipe: Mix 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons (or to taste) sweetener of choice (panela, Splenda, coconut sugar) with 3/4 cup whole milk in a small saucepan. Heat gently until all ingredients dissolve. Top with whipped cream or for a “foamy” option put a small amount of milk in your frother add fresh dusting of nutmeg for a seasonal pick me up! You just might need to double this recipe- Wink, Wink!
Latin America has influenced cuisine around the world with its interesting combination of flavors and has been influenced in turn by the cultures it has encountered. Whether you’re looking to learn more about Latin American culture or are just interested in trying out some new foods, Latin food is sure to surprise and delight your taste buds. Read on to discover Latin food’s unique mix of flavors and where it all started.
The Rise of South American Cuisine
New age foodies are loving Latin American dishes like tamales, empanadas, and arepas. A few reasons why these dishes have become popular is that they're quick to make and easy to find ingredients found at grocery stores. Food boredom has set in and diners are looking to be more adventurous. The cuisine also has influences from 33 different countries such as Africa, the Caribbean and Europe, which makes it more interesting. Latin American cuisine isn't just about tacos or burritos!
What is Pan-Latin food?
Pan Latin food is a term used to describe cuisines from several regions in South and Central America. These are countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala among others. The ingredients for their foods can vary by region but their spices and flavors remain largely similar. One common spice used throughout many dishes is cumin. Cumin brings a unique aroma that can be identified with every dish it's included in. Other common staples include chili peppers, garlic, cilantro (coriander), paprika, oregano and other dried herbs. Some of the most popular staple dishes in these regions are tacos, tamales, pupusas, yucca fries (a fried cassava root) and arroz con pollo or rice with chicken. Rice is eaten as a side or on its own as well. Some people use corn tortillas while others use wheat flour tortillas. Beans are often used as well whether they're black beans, red beans or pinto beans - these popular types of beans are found in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean respectively.
Traditional Ingredients (And Their Health Benefits)
Latin food is a delicious and healthy way to explore new flavors, while simultaneously incorporating more fresh food into your diet. Fresh produce, beans, nuts, peppers, spices and whole grains are staples in many Latin dishes. As a bonus, many Latin ingredients are naturally vegan, so even the biggest meat lovers can get in on this flavorful good eating.
10 Things to Know About Latin American Cuisine
1 . The most famous cuisine is Mexican, which has a large variety of dishes and flavors because it is influenced by many different cultures like Spanish, French and Indigenous Mexican
2. One thing that sets Mexican food apart from other cuisines is their use of chilies in dishes like mole, enchiladas, and an amazing array of flavorful sauces.
3. Another popular dish in Latin cuisine is tamales- which consist of meat wrapped in a cornhusk and cooked for hours on low heat. Even better the next day! and something I am looking for perfect in the future.
4. A traditional Colombian dish called Arepas consists of corn flour dough filled with cheese, then deep fried and served as an appetizer or a main dish. My favorite is arepa rellena (stuffed) and I mean stuffed! with shredded beef or pork and melted cheese- Yummo!
5. Pupusas are thick tortillas made from corn masa (dough) then filled with either cheese or beans or pork rinds then cooked on both sides until crispy before serving them hot with curtido (pickled cabbage) and salsa roja (tomato sauce).
6. Chicharrones are pieces of fried pork skin usually eaten as a snack but can also be added to soups or salads. They make an excellent gluten-free crouton ;-)
7. Chimichurri is Argentina’s version of pesto sauce consisting mainly of parsley and garlic mixed with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
8. Empanadas are turnovers typically stuffed with ground beef, onion, tomato, and olives then baked until golden brown before eating them piping hot for breakfast, lunch or dinner time!
9. Buñuelos de viento are a common street food in Argentina consisting of shredded white bread dipped into egg batter then deep-fried till crisp while still retaining their shape.
10. Ceviche is one of Peru's signature dishes - raw fish marinated in lime juice mixed with peppers, onions, and spices - but has now become so popular around the world people have taken liberties with making their own interpretations such as adding ketchup instead of lime juice to make what they call Ceviche Colorado!