Monday, January 20, 2014

Flour Tortillas with Beef and Peppers

After eating my son-in-law's favorite cuisine, Japanese, for several meals in a row, he asked
me what my favorite cuisine is.  Without hesitation, my reply...."Mexican".  I wasn't the only
one at the table to say so, but he seemed surprised and proclaimed it monotonous, using the
same ingredients in every recipe construction.  (At least in the Tex-Mex variety so readily
available here). "Yes" I replied, "that's why I like it."  I love salsas, avocados, tomatoes, corn,
beans, rice again and again!  A burrito by any other name would taste as great.  And then to
place those ingredients on home-made flour tortillas.....(actually, butter, cheese or anything on
warm home-made tortillas, would seal the deal.) Have you ever had the pleasure?  If not, you
must try these. Very simply made, similar to a biscuit dough with less fat and baking powder,
the art is in the rolling.  But even should you fail to execute the perfectly round, 1/4 inch thick
tortilla, don't despair.  Taste will forgive that which offends the eye!  A friend whose parents
hailed from south of the border, proclaimed my tortillas superior to her mother's, an opinion
she was reluctant to admit as she was tutored at my side. I thank Chevy's, a fresh-mex
restaurant - the first one I encountered that prepared fresh tortillas in house, within site of the
hungry patrons outside the window. The beef with peppers (Maria's Beef and Peppers) is
thanks to another friend who shared her authentic family recipe.  Isn't that the basis of lasting friendship - sharing recipes that help us remember - recipes that wink at us from the recipe
box, like the old friends themselves: Sue's Fudge, Chris's Rolls, Jane's Quiche!




Flour Tortillas:

            6 cups flour
            1 tsp. baking powder
            1 tab. salt
            ½ cup vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
            2 ½ cups warm water
 

            -Place the flour in a medium bowl and add the baking powder and
                 salt, stirring to mix well.  Add the shortening.  Turn the mixer
                 on low and slowly pour in the water.  Mix on low, for 90
                 seconds or until well mixed.

            -Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface.  Divide
               the dough into 2 equal portions.  Cover with plastic wrap and set
               aside to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Divide each
   half into 8 equal portions.  You will now have 16 dough balls. 
   Lightly flour your work surface.  With a floured rolling pin, roll
   each ball into an 8 – inch round about 1/4 inch thick.  Stack the
   rounds on a baking sheet with plastic wrap between each. 
   Let rest for 10 minutes.

            -Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and
               lightly coat with vegetable cooking spray. Cook the tortillas on
               the griddle or in the skillet for 1 minute on each side, or until
               light brown spots form on the surface. Press with the back of a
               metal spatula to pop the bubbles as they form.  Stack on plate
               and cover with foil to keep them warm until ready to serve. 
               (They may be stored in the fridge or freezer in a sealed
                plastic bag and reheated in the microwave.)
                
 
 

 
 
         Maria's Beef with Peppers
 
        1 1/2 pounds round steak or chuck, cut into small, 1/2 inch cubes
        1 large onion, chopped
        1 large green bell pepper, chopped
        1 large red bell pepper, chopped
         finely minced hot pepper, jalapeno, to taste (optional)
        1 4 ounce can chopped green chiles
         3 cloves garlic, minced
         2 medium tomatoes, diced
         1 ounce can tomato sauce
         2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon beef paste
         1 tab. ground cumin
         salt and pepper to taste
         chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, according to taste
 
         -Heat 3 tab. vegetable oil in large frying pan.  Brown beef cubes in
           oil tossing, until browned but no overcrowding.  Remove from pan
           when browned.
 
          -Add chopped onions and peppers to pot and fry until vegetables are
           softened, about 5-8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute. 
           Stir in green chiles, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, browned
           beef and salt and pepper, bouillon and 4 cups water.  Bring to a boil
             over medium-high heat.  Cover with a lid, and simmer over low heat
           1 1/2 to 2 hours, until meat is very tender.  (Add more water during
           cooking if necessary). 
 
          -Uncover and cook until sauce is thickened and reduced.  Remove
             from heat and stir in cilantro of parsley.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve
            with shredded jack or cheddar cheese, sour cream and guacamole
            on warm flour tortillas.
 
     


 
 
 

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