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So, in December I purchased a tortilla press . . . and a tortilla warmer . . . and a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina . . . and some parchment paper pre-cut into rounds. I realize I was purchasing my own Christmas present, but I’m quite happy with it. I try never to buy anything that only has one use and discourage others from buying them for me. I don’t know what got into me, but I’ve found a place to stow it so it’s all good. Both the recipes found below here are gluten-free. I guess I better say that the Sope recipe below does not require a press or any special equipment. I only used the press for tortillas.

There’s a grocery store in Palm Springs, California called Cardenas and it is like heaven on earth. You can smell the fresh tortillas from the in-store factory. I once filled up a large cooler with fresh produce purchased at Cardenas for about 17 USD and the same produce would have cost me around 100 USD here in Anchorage. Cardenas is a magical place. It reminds me of the big covered markets you see in Mexico full of sights and smells. It’s always hard for me to decide whether to get something they’ve already cooked at the Deli counter or buy the ingredients and make the dishes myself. I usually do both. It drives my mother crazy, “Why are these rice and beans in my refrigerator? What are you going to do with them?” I answer her that by the time I go back home, I’ll have eaten all of it.

My husband took this picture to show the joyous market called Cardenas.

Corn Tortillas

I used the recipe from Isabel Eats. Her tortillas get nice brown marks on them, but I couldn’t get mine to do that. My tortillas were still quite fabulous, so I’m thinking it doesn’t matter? The first two times I made these I used Bob’s Red Mill Golden Corn Flour Masa Harina. It’s very yellow with a grainy texture. The third time I made these, I ran about 1/2 cup short of Bob’s and made it up with Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour. The color is white and the texture is fine, like cake flour. It threw me off, but I sallied forth and came up with a delicious product. A word about Masa Harina: it is ground corn that has been processed with lime (not lime fruit, but lime stone). According to web sources, ground corn is not the same and will not work the same. You need to use Masa Harina.

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups Masa Harina
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Makes 12 tortillas, about 6″ diameter. Stir the ingredients together until it’s a smooth ball. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let sit for an hour. Divide the dough into twelve pieces (about 2″ in diameter) and roll each piece into a ball. Keep the dough balls covered with the damp kitchen cloth as much as possible.

As I said earlier, I use parchment paper rounds, top and bottom, to keep my dough from sticking to the press. Most people cut slits in two gallon-size plastic bags and put one bag on the top and one on the bottom. I haven’t tried that yet. Place a dough ball slightly off-center on the parchment on the press and place the second parchment round on it. Flatten the dough ball slightly with your hand and then lean on the body of the press to flatten more. Finish off by pressing on the handle. Be mindful not to break the shear pin that attaches the handle to the body. Pushing down on the body of the press should do most of the work.

I have an old non-stick griddle and heated it thoroughly over medium-high heat. I sprayed it with non-stick spray and carefully lay the tortilla to fry. I left it for about thirty seconds and then turned it over. I do not want crispy tortillas. I want them soft and easy to manipulate.

My process was to roll a piece into a ball, press it, and put it on the griddle. While that was cooking, I’d press the next one, etc. A dozen tortillas took me about 50 minutes. I’m usually trying to do too many things at once, so it probably could have gone much faster if this was all I had to do. As they were cooked, I put them into my tortilla warmer.

The first time I made these, I used them to make Shrimp Enchiladas. What a glorious flavor! Oh my, oh my! There is just no comparison to store-bought tortillas. My second tortilla-making venture I made tacos with leftover Cuban Pork Roast and grated cheese. The third time I did this, I used more of the leftover Cuban Pork Roast and made enchiladas.

Sopes

I had bought the Sopes from Cardenas one time, but I wouldn’t know where to purchase something like that here. That is to say I did know what my end-product was supposed to look like. This recipe comes from Kristin at Yellow Bliss Road. I looked all over the web and Pinterest and found a lot of Sopes recipes, but they all called for a lot of finagling. Most of them say to press the dough, lightly fry them, then turn up the edges and deep-fry them. Oh, please. No, thank you. It’s hard enough just cooking things once! Kristin’s recipe does not require a press and she only cooks them once. While I was doing this I thought I had made a huge mistake and I would never, ever make them again. I’d have a perfect disc with a lip and then it would stick to my hand and tear. Oy! Keep your hands as wet as possible. HOWEVER, once they were finished, I realized they were darn near perfect and incredibly delicious. I WILL make these again.

  • Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups Masa Harina
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cooking oil (My skillet had about 3/4″ in it)
  • Toppings like refried beans, shredded or ground meat, cheese, salsa, lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, sour cream (whatever strikes your fancy)

Makes about 9 Sopes, approximately 3″ diameter. Stir all ingredients, except cooking oil, together to form dough. Heat the cooking oil over medium high heat until a drop of water sizzles when it touches. Divide dough into golf-ball sized portions and roll into ball shapes. Keep remaining dough balls covered with a damp kitchen towel while working with the others. Using your hands, press each dough ball into a disc of about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. Pinch the edges of the disc to form a lip.

If you keep your hands wet, you’ll have greater success forming the discs and the lips. Place the disc, lip side up, in the hot oil and let fry for a little while. Try to get a brown spot on the bottom. Carefully flip the disc over onto the lip and let fry a little longer. I thought this would be a huge mess and fall apart, but it hardens fairly quickly in the oil and becomes easy to get a spatula underneath. You could probably even use tongs. Your goal is to have a crispy edge, but a soft center. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain. I did three Sopes at a time in my frying pan and it didn’t take long at all.

These are now ready to serve, and if you’re using cold toppings like lettuce, sour cream, or tomato, you’re done. I spread a tablespoon of warm refried beans over the bottom of each Sope and then spread warm leftover Cuban Pork Roast over that and sprinkled with grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese on top. Then I popped them into the oven at 400 degrees for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese melted. These were heavenly delicious. I topped them with sliced fresh jalapenos and salsa. They were easy to eat by hand. I see this being a hearty game-day snack.

I’ve just returned from California with a bag of Meyer lemons from a tree in my dad’s back yard. This recipe does not require Meyer lemons, but it’s what I had. Also called Limoni de Amalfi Cotti al Forno, the recipe comes from Jamie Oliver (Jamie’s Great Italian Escapes – 2004 – Food Network – Amalfi Baked Lemons). I love this dish because it combines so many ingredients that I love. Anchovies, yes! Basil, yes! Tomato, yes! Lemon, yes! It’s a bit of a messy dish, but oh, so yummy!

  • Ingredients
  • 3 large lemons
  • Approximately 6 oz. Mozzarella (I used Mozzarella Pearls)
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 anchovy filets
  • 3 cherry tomatoes (I used 12 grape tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted bread (I used baguette slices)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tops and bottoms off the lemons, then slice the lemons in half cross-wise. Carefully remove the lemon pulp with a knife. Set the lemon rinds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Place a slice of mozzarella into the bottom of each lemon cup (I was using Mozzarella Pearls so I put four of them into the bottom of each lemon). Next add a basil leaf, then half of an anchovy filet, and then half of a cherry tomato (or two grape tomatoes sliced in half). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with another slice of Mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and scoop the filling out of the lemon onto a piece of toasted bread. Eat it while it’s still warm and melty!

Once again I’m reaching into Preserving by Oded Schwartz (Dorling Kindersley, 1996). What an amazing and wonderful book. Mostly I wanted to remember how I did this, where I got the recipe. I haven’t tried these yet, but I did can three pints. They look good.

OliveOilPickle1OliveOilPickle2OliveOilPickle3

So I heard a local radio guy go on a rant about what a dirty trick it was to use dill pickle relish instead of sweet pickle relish in potato salad and/or tuna salad. I have to say that I agree with him. I never expect that sour pickle flavor in those dishes. His rant was on my mind the entire time I was making this dill pickle relish. I had so much cucumber though, what else could I do! I won’t be using it in potato salad or tuna salad, that’s for sure. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. Here is the recipe just in case I come up with some fantastical use for it this winter and need to do it again next fall.

The recipe comes from cottageatthecrossroads.com. I made half of her recipe and it was four pints. I used half-pint jars. It was very simple to make. Here is how I did it.

DillPickleRelish

Ingredients:

4 lbs. cucumbers, chopped
1/4 cup canning/pickling salt
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 cups water
1-1/4 cups onions, chopped
1/4 cup (SCANT) sugar
1 Tbsp. dill seeds
2 cups white vinegar

In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, working in batches, finely chop the cucumbers, transferring them to a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt and turmeric and mix with hands. Add water, cover, and let stand for 2 hours. Drain through a XXX and rinse with cool water. Fill the glass bowl with water and place the cucumber in it again, then drain through the XXX again. Using your hands, squeeze out as much water as you can.

Prepare your canner, jars, and lids.

Process the onions in the food processor so that they are finely chopped, like the cucumber. Place them into a large pot. Stir in the cucumber, sugar, dill seeds, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thick and vegetables are heated through, about 10 minutes.

Ladle hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch of head space. Run a table knife around the jars to remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary, by adding more hot relish. Wipe the jar rims and screw lids onto jars.

Process in hot water bath canner for 15 minutes. Makes four pints.

 

GreenTomatoSalsaVerde

So, this is now my favorite green tomato recipe. I found it at MontanaHomesteader.com. I was making so many pickle-type things yesterday, it’s hard to keep it all straight.

This recipe makes about three pints. I water-bath canned two pints and then used the remainder for dinner. I had some leftover Cuban-style pork roast, so I layered a few corn tortillas, salsa verde, meat, and cheese. Then another layer of tortillas, salsa verde, and cheese. Baked for 35 minutes and delish!!

Ingredients:

7 cups green tomatoes, cored and rough chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed, chopped
2 cups onion, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tsp. salt

In batches, run the green tomatoes through a food processor fitted with the S-blade so that it’s very small pieces. Be careful not to over-process into mush. Place green tomatoes into a very large pan. Now run the jalapeño peppers, onion and garlic through the food processor and add to the pan. Stir in lime juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer for ten minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt. Remove from heat.

Ladle it into pint jars, top with lids, and water-bath process for ten minutes. Voila!

Gueritos6

I had something approximating this at a Mexican restaurant in Palm Springs a few years ago. I came up with my own way to make them, without using rice as a filler. There is no set recipe, just a description. They are a super-delicious snack.

On this day I used six yellow chiles, (these are no longer than your index finger and very mild), 3/4 lb. of raw shrimp (any size), grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar). That’s it for ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the “core” of the chiles, then cut a slit down each chile, and remove the seeds. This is the most tricky part of the whole process.

Gueritos

Make a shrimp paste using about 2/3 of the shrimp. I use a small food processor. Hand-chop a few more of the shrimp into pieces and stir the pieces into the shrimp paste. Then stir in grated cheese.

Gueritos1

Use a teaspoon as a tool to stuff each chile.

Gueritos3

Place stuffed chiles on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Gueritos5I don’t add any dips when serving mine, but I’ve heard that soy sauce or mayonnaise can be used to dip your gueritos in.

CucumberMintJam1I have a glut of cucumbers and we can only eat so many pickles. Since I do prepare lamb chops pretty frequently, this jam may be a good accompaniment to that and other meats. It also would taste amazing with cream cheese or brie on salty crackers. Oh, yeah!

I started with a recipe found at Homespun Seasonal Living, but then branched way off to do my own thing.

I am not a canning expert. Please remember that as I tell you how I did this. I have made a lot of jams and jellies in my life. This is how I do it, right or wrong.

Ingredients:

6 cups cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and rough chopped
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 envelope of Certo liquid pectin
Few drops of green food coloring, if necessary
4-5 Tbsp. finely sliced fresh mint leaves

Run the cucumbers through a food processor using the S-Blade, just a few pulses should do. Don’t make your cucumber pieces too small. Place the processed cucumbers into a large pan. Stir in lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar.

Sterilize 8 half-pint jars. Heat lids in water. Cut open the envelope of Certo and place the envelope upright in one of the jars for easy access when needed. Get a ladle ready, as well as your canning funnel if you have one.

All set up? Okay, heat the cucumber mixture over high heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Let it boil for one minute. Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the Certo. Continue stirring while you quickly add green food coloring, if needed, and the mint.

Ladle the jam into the jars. Remove the lids from hot water. Wipe off the jar rims and screw the lids on tightly. Invert the jars. Let them sit upside down for at least 30 minutes. Shake the jars around over the course of the next few hours, every so often, to try and get the pieces evenly distributed throughout the jars.

Notes: I found that there was no foam, so this did not require skimming. Easy! I used lemon cucumbers for 2/3 of the cucumbers and regular green cucumbers for the other third. I didn’t realize the color would matter as much as it did, so I added green food coloring at the end. It’s really nice looking. I used a mix of half-pint and quarter-pint jars. This didn’t set well until the next day. Be patient. And I had a few tablespoons extra, so I’ve tasted it and deem it GOOD! It was great with brie!

CucumberMintJam2

 

My cucumbers are humongously fat so I thought it would be nice to make these dill chips layered carefully into pint jars (makes 6 pints). They are pretty. The recipe is based upon one found at CookingBride.com. She says it will take about 3 weeks before they’re ready to eat. Maybe I can wait. Maybe.

DillPickleChips1

2 Tbsp. canning salt
3 cups water
4 lbs cucumbers, sliced into 1/4" slices crosswise

In a very large non-corrosive bowl, mix together salt and water until salt has dissolved. I used my 32-cup Tupperware bowl. Add the cucumbers and stir around gently with your hands until all has been coated with salt water. Let stand 2-3 hours.

Drain cucumbers and rinse with fresh, cold water. I rinsed my big bowl, added cold water and put the cucumbers into it for a few minutes, then drained it again. Let stand until called for.

2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
3 cups water
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. canning salt
6 tsp. dill SEED
6 tsp. minced garlic
6 tsp. DRIED minced onion
2 tsp. dried chili flakes

In a large saucepan add vinegars, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, add 1tsp. dill seed, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp. dried minced onion, and a pinch of dried chili flakes to each of 6 sterile pint jars.

Ladle a bit of hot brine into each jar. Start layering the cucumber slices into the jars, adding brine once in awhile so the slices do not stick together. Once all the cucumbers are used up, distribute the remaining brine. Run a knife around gently and tap the jars so as to get the bubbles out and use up as much brine as possible. Make sure to leave 1/2″ head space at the top of the jars. Screw hot lids onto the jars. I shook the jars around to get the spices distributed.

Place the jars in a boiling water bath for about 20 minutes of processing.

DillPickleChips2

 

SweetChiliSauceToo many cucumbers! This one looked good, not sure it’s going to withstand the canning process, but . . . too many cucumbers!

I started with a recipe from Many Grandmas. My cucumbers were so big it was difficult to slice them into strips as indicated in her recipe, but I went for it anyway. Here is how I did the recipe.

2 very large cucumbers
1 very large carrot
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then lay the cut side down on the cutting board. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber down into very thin slices.

Peel the carrots and then use a lemon zester to score the length of the carrots several times. Slice the carrots cross-wise. The scoring will make them into a pretty flower shape.

Put the cucumbers and carrots into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix gently, but well. Let stand for 30 minutes or so. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Let stand.

In a saucepan mix vinegar, water, sugar, and sweet chili sauce. Heat to boiling.

Sprinkle the minced garlic into two pint jars. Divide the vegetables into the jars and pour hot brine over all, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Screw lids onto the tops of the jars and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove.

In case you don’t know what sweet chili sauce is . . .

AsianPickles1

Pickled-Eggs-w-Beets1

I had never cooked fresh beets before last year, so I really didn’t realize what I was missing. It’s been a revelation. This recipe is sort of thrown together, so take it for what it’s worth.

Scrub beets well, try not to pierce them. I snap off the long root. Wrap tightly in foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour for tennis-ball sized beets, maybe longer if you have extremely humongous beets like I did. I baked mine for 1-1/2 hours. Last year I put my foil-wrapped beats on one of my oven-safe dinner plates. It ruined the plate. This year I laid a piece of foil across a metal pie pan and then put the foil-wrapped beets in the pan. I was trying to protect my cookware and it worked. No problem. Let beets cool until they’re not too hot to touch. Peel the beets. It’s easy, the skins slide off. Slice one beet into about 1/2-inch slices, not thin. You probably won’t need more than one beet.

In the meantime, boil 4 eggs to hard-cooked. I put my eggs in cold water and bring to a boil, let boil 5 minutes, then let them sit in the water until it cools and I’m ready to use. I don’t think it matters how you do this. Peel the eggs.

Make a mixture of 2/3 cup vinegar (I used cider vinegar) to 1/3 cup water and a sprinkle of salt. This mixture does not have to be precise. You may need more.

In a clean quart jar, pour a little vinegar mixture. Drop in a few beet slices. Drop in a boiled egg. Add vinegar mixture to cover. Drop in more beet slices, another egg, more vinegar mix . . . layer until you reach the top of the jar. Cover the jar with a lid.

Refrigerate for three days, you can shake the jar around a little bit every day or so. These pickles are so yummy. The eggs are quite beautiful when sliced. They taste great and so do the pickled beets.

Pickled-Eggs-Sliced