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Test Kitchen: Viva Tortilla

I really, really love food. I love trying a restaurant I’ve never been to before, and I love experimental cooking in my own Test Kitchen. I adore reading food blogs, especially by folks that live here in Minnesota and offer practical ideas and suggestions that are fun and easy to implement.

I do promise to get back to a more well-rounded discussion of other interests, anecdotes, and exploration soon (maybe?), but in the mean time… I couldn’t resist one more food post because I really have been spending an extraordinary amount of time cooking lately.

I just discovered the deliciousness of tortillas from scratch and I don’t think I’m ever going back to the packaged ones. True story!

When I know I want to spend the evening playing in my kitchen, around 2pm in the afternoon, I start thinking about what I’m going to do. What do I have on hand? Do I need to pick anything up on my way home? Do I need to check a recipe for inspiration or should I just start throwing things together?

On Tuesday, this thought process went something like this:

I have tofu I’d like to use soon and I have that Thai Kitchen Pad Thai in my cupboard… I have eggs… and I could add things to it like other veggies… no, no, no, I want to cook from scratch tonight.

No boxes.

Hmm… but I do have peppers and onions, and some chicken. And I have some cilantro-lime rice leftover from when I made that fish last week… peppers, onions, and rice?  Sounds like a fajita burrito from Chipotle… mmm, but I bet mine would be way more healthy than that delicious gut-buster.

I bet I could do that at home. I mean, I know I have chicken. I wonder how they season it. Well, I can look around the grocery store and see what inspires me. I don’t have tortillas though. I wonder if I could make those from scratch. I have flour and salt and water. It can’t take much more than that, right?


I searched a bunch of recipes online for “homemade tortillas,” but every single recipe I found called for shortening (which I don’t have, and don’t really want to need to use), and most of them required that I let the dough rest for an hour or more. Sorry, but I’m an instant gratification kind of person and just don’t have that kind of time.

So, I emailed Kate and asked for some input. Here’s what she told me:

We make scratch tortillas all the time and use flour, canola oil and water. Put two cups of flour in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of canola oil. With your fingers, mix the oil into the flour until it’s all incorporated, then pour in about 2/3- 3/4 cup of warm water. Mix with fingers until a dough ball is formed- add in more flour if too sticky. You should be able to roll them into balls without too much trouble. We let the dough balls rest for about 20 minutes. We have a big tortilla grill that presses out the dough. Otherwise you have to roll them out with a rolling pin.

I got right to work, and she was right! They were simple and delicious, easily the freshest (duh) tasting tortillas I’ve ever had and the extras reheated fine both yesterday and today.

I’m never going back.



Like Father – Lessons in Wine and Sauteed Mushrooms

My dad’s taught me a few things over the years:

  • How to throw a softball
  • How to swing a golf club from the tee box and how to putt from 10′ away
  • How to pronounce “gewurztraminer”
  • How to peel, de-vein, and boil or saute shrimp
  • What the differences are between Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco (location, really)

One of my favorite things he taught me? How to saute the perfect steak mushroom. The best part? It couldn’t be easier.

We start with baby bellas and slice them thick — those little guys shrink up a lot!

While I’m slicing the mushrooms, he’s got a saute pan on the stove heating with red wine, butter, and Worcestershire sauce. That’s the jist of it. The mushrooms go into the pan and simmer and soak up the sauce until they’re a lot smaller than they were when they started and until you’ve eaten about 10 or so out of the pan to test for the perfect texture and flavor.

Quality control is crucial.

Before we did the mushrooms, I chopped up all of the of the red potatoes that were then sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper (fresh ground peppercorns), and topped with rosemary (fresh, from the potted plant in their kitchen). Really basic, but oh-so-tasty.

Ok, this was kind of a silly little post about mushrooms and potatoes, but spending quality time with my dad is something I enjoy more and more as I get older. Ma’s been telling my sister and I for years how much fun we are as we get older, and well… the same is true of them.

Don’t tell them I said that.

As for wine, we started with a pretty Chardonnay and had a Nebbiolo to go with the steaks. Everything was perfectly seasoned and chopped to perfection (because that’s my job, and I’m really good at it).