Ay, caramba

I need some trivial help.  For years Brad has made a dish he calls, lyrically, “burrito stuff.”  It’s good enough that I also make it now, occasionally.  It’s basic: toasted cumin, chopped onion, carrot, bell pepper, hot pepper, tomatoes, and black beans.  I add lime juice and whiskey, since whiskey improves all Tex Mex.  Or tequila, I guess, if you are the sort to have that in your home bar.  Maybe some cilantro.  Then put it on a tortilla and dress it with whatever else you want — cheese, sour cream, Cholula, salsa.

Burrito stuff. What a terrible name! but I can’t think of a better one.  Help me out.

I need a good name because now I have the tortillas to go with it.  Or to go with anything.  Or nothing.  They match my memory of fresh tortillas from Mrs. Garcia, my neighbor when I was a kid.  I am in a missionary kind of mood, so here’s how it’s done, people.  Do not be distracted by the Mexican women who will tell you something batshit to do (eggs?  pbbbbt) .  I am now convinced that all the seemingly lovely Mexicans and Mexican Americans I’ve asked for advice (and also gringas who believed they had the answer)  were purposely steering me wrong.  Or they just didn’t know.


  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (this is my only nod to my normal habits.  Go whole hog with the white flour if you want.  H-E-B does, and their tortillas are really good.  Yeah, they’re a big chain and that sounds like it couldn’t possibly be true, but I have had tortillas from the awesome home kitchen and I have had tortillas at yummy Tex Mex restaurants and I have had H-E-B’s tortillas, and H-E-B is good.  I am using hard white wheat flour.  I’m not sure if that makes a difference, but it makes a big difference in other things, so now you know, just in case.)
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk (do it.  For the vegan(s) amongst you, sub some soy milk or something, but warm it up and add it along with the water later and adjust the water amount, obviously.  If you’re a dairy eater, DO NOT SKIP THIS.  Go buy some if you need to.  Slacker.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix all the dry stuff.  Then add

  • 1 Tb oil or shortening

Cut in.

  • Then stir in some warmish water — maybe a cup or so.  Just add a little at a time.  Make a soft dough.  Then make it softer.  Sticky is annoying to handle, but it’s what you want.  Ignore the smart baker voice in your head.  What is wisdom to men is foolishness to the god of tortillas.  Do it.  Make it sticky.  Mix it fast, don’t do any kneading or anything.  Just get a sticky dough and step away.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp towel or something and leave it for about 15 – 30 minutes.  Longer if you get busy and forget about it.
  • Divide the dough into about 10 equal portions and roll it out thin, really thin.  Use copious flour.  Use more flour than you normally use.  Use so much flour that everything is a mess and then your pan gets really floury and messy too and the tortillas have a film of dry flour on them when you take them from the heat.  Also, roll them fast.  Keep the working of the dough to an absolute minimum — roll in flour (because you know, it’s sticky), flatten, roll out very thin, flop it into the pan.  Try not to make holes, but if you do, just live with them.  Don’t ball the dough up and roll it again.  You only get one shot; get it as right as you can.
  • Cook them over medium heat, dry pan.  I am not a medium heat kind of woman.  Give me high heat any day.  Except tortilla-making day.  Medium.
  • Try to survive the tortilla goodness.  Listen, I can barely taste anything.  I have listing taste buds, and it even makes me stagger.
  • Proselytize your neighbors.  This is especially needed if you’re in Upstate Extreme NY, where the folks eat bland Italian all the time and are flummoxed by cilantro.  I delivered cilantro in the local CSA shares last week, and by evening had a phone call from every single person I delivered asking me what the hell to do with it.

About sayingthings

K lives in the US with her man and kiddos, knits, cans, dehydrates, bakes bread, (but doesn't cook regular food, particularly), crochets, spins, gardens, studies for a degree that never seems to end, and um, works. Sometimes she wastes time online. Also -- and family, she's looking at you here -- sometimes she swears and says things you might not agree with. But she still loves you.

Posted on August 10, 2010, in Food. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think I might have to print your post out and try this at home this weekend. Minus the whiskey or tequila, save that for a year from now. It is a sad, sad day when people do not know what to do with the wonder that is cilantro.

  2. OK, I guess I have to make these tortillas.

    Is oil just as good as shortening? It would seem to be easier. (I’ve heard before that it’s best if you use lard…)

    Should I use “bread flour” if I don’t have “hard white wheat” flour?

    How large are your finished tortillas?

    Re: Burrito stuff. Do you cook the tomatoes or leave them fresh?

  3. Oh, and I forgot to ask…if you don’t have powdered milk, what about just using milk instead of water to make the dough? Would this work just as well?

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