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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


When I first moved to Texas, my next door neighbor Gloria made flour tortillas on a regular basis, using White Wings tortilla mix. The dough itself is not the trick; it's the rolling and cooking. Gloria was fast and accurate. She could roll out scads and scads of perfectly round tortillas in the blink of an eye. I watched her over and over, but I could never get such nice round tortillas. She baked them on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet and flipped them quickly with her fingers. They were delicious.

Not too long ago, I read a food blog by Homesick Texan, with a recipe for homemade tortillas, and despite the fact that I wasn't good at it 20 years ago, I decided to try again. My technique has probably improved a little, although I'm not sure I'd serve them to guests. Then again, I'd eat them first, while they were hot off the griddle, and there wouldn't be any to serve, so I guess that's not a problem.

Texas Flour Tortillas
(adapted from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Slowly add the warm milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.

After the dough has rested, divide into eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place them on a plate so that they aren't touching, and cover them with a damp cloth for 10 minutes. Let them rest so that they won't be so elastic and will roll more easily into a proper thickness and shape.

After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.

In a dry iron skillet (or comal) heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done. Keep cooked tortillas wrapped in a cloth napkin or towel until ready to eat.

Makes eight tortillas.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ashley Learns to Make Risotto!

My last night in Twinland. They had their best baths of my whole visit! Both were very kicky & splashy. At bedtime, E (who is always on the move, very busy girl) was especially snuggly with her Auntie. Aww... so sweet. A very good evening. After they were in bed, Ashley made risotto for the very first time.

The recipe in her new Everyday Italian book is a basic risotto. Nothing new or different in the instructions. Leave a pan of chicken broth simmering on one burner. On another burner, sweat the onion and then add the arborio rice. Add the wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Add chicken broth, one ladleful at a time... Well, Giada actually says 1/2 cup at a time, but damned if I'm going to measure out a half a cup when every other time I have made risotto it's been a ladleful.

The end result was very good. What wouldn't be good with that much butter and parmesan?? I could have eaten the whole pan. Instead there was a roasted chicken to go with it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I am in Twinland! Yay! For Ashley's birthday back in February, David gave her a copy of Everyday Italian and she has been wanting to make braciola. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I was a little skeptical. Thank goodness I trusted Ashley's judgment!

All the grocery stores that I went to in search of a 1.5 lb. flank steak had them labeled as London Broil and they were huge. I was 99.9% sure that London Broil is method of preparing flank steak, not the name of the cut of meat, so I googled and sure enough, it is. I finally found one that wasn't ginormous. But I couldn't find any butcher's twine. At home, I think it's always on the aisle with the utensils and such. But none of those three stores had any. At the last one, I asked the butcher where to find it. He said he didn't think they sold it, but he cut some off, wrapped it in plastic and gave it to me. Weird. Sadly, by that time, Thomas was in the midst of his nap, and woke up after we got home, so he never really got his good afternoon sleep. Poor Thomas. Poor Mommy & Daddy!

First I made Giada's marinara sauce, which is what the braciola would braise in. Then I made two slight variations from the recipe: I decided to butterfly the flank steak. I don't know if they come in different shapes or not, but the one that I found was long, narrow and very thick. There would be no way to spread cheesy breadcrumbs on it and then roll it up jellyroll-style. After butterflying, it was about 1/2" thick and much wider. It accommodated the filling and rolled up much better that way. I consulted Ashley and we also decided to close up the ends with toothpicks, or else the filling would fall out when I seared it and when I turned it during braising.

I cooked up some spaghetti to serve with the marinara and steamed some broccoli. Ashley and I laughed that brock-e-ola and broccoli sounded funny together as a menu, but I found out that it should be pronounced bra-chee-ola. We can't quite get used to saying it like that. We better practice because we both think the whole dinner turned out really well and would definitely make it again.