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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.

Chicken Enchiladas

I really like this dish. The original recipe called for frying each tortilla in oil, which I have done many times. As far as flavor goes, I don’t see much advantage to doing it that way. This way works just fine and is much faster and less messy. It’s probably better for us, too. I don’t see why you couldn’t use a low-fat cream cheese for the filling and a fat-free Half n Half instead of cream if you wanted to.

Stir fry 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (or use leftover chicken meat) with 1 cup chopped onion. Be sure that chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add one 7-oz. can diced green chiles and 8 ozs (1 package) of cream cheese. Heat and stir until cheese is melted.

Spread filling down center of a flour tortilla and roll up.

Place rolled tortillas into a greased 13 x 9″ baking dish. I’ve tried using a spray-on oil, and it works, but is so slippery that it’s hard to deal with.

Continue filling and rolling tortillas until you’re out of filling, which makes 10-11 enchiladas.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese: Monterrey Jack, Colby, cheddar, or a combination of them.

Pour cream over all, about 2/3 cup or more.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Serve with favorite salsa.

Ingredient List

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 cup chopped onion

1 7-oz. can chopped green chiles

8 oz. (1 pkg) cream cheese

10-11 flour tortillas

1-1/2 cups shredded cheese: Monterrey Jack, Colby, cheddar, or combination

2/3 cup cream