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Stir Fried Rice w/Nopalitos and Sonal’s Curry Masala

June 8, 2016

Rice nopalitos curry stir fry

Who doesn’t like stir-fried rice? It’s easy to prepare and lends itself to endless delicious variations.  As a vegan (going on 1 1/2 years) stir fried rice is a meal I find myself going back to very often.  It makes for a quick and easy lunch at my restaurant job. Cooked rice is already set aside.  Prepping  the veggies and stir frying is done in a matter of a few minutes.   My vegan diet forces me to try new flavors all the time so I’ll different styles for variety.  Indian stir fries are one way I am learning how to blend curry spices. I usually start with coriander, ginger and turmeric, and add one, two, maybe three other spices.   Eventually I’ll learn how to add 5 or more but for now I’m ok with my simple versions.   I always take notice when someone can whip up a complex blend of curry spice.  Enter Sonal from simplyvegetarian777.  She was so nice to send me some of her incredible Masala curry blend.  I knew I wanted to post something featuring it, but I didn’t want to do a strictly Indian dish, there are plenty of top-notch recipes, including those from Sonal.   I enjoy a Mexican style rice stir fry often,  usually lightly spicing up the dish with a ground chilles, serrano pepper, oregano, cilantro or comino for example.   In fact,  nopalitos rice stir fry has become one of the most tasty and satisfying meals I’ve eaten in recent times.  It finally occurred to me to use Sonal’s blend.  I made a quick sample of cactus stir fry with a very simple spice mix and immediately knew this would work nicely to feature her blend.  Let me tell you, the combination of cactus and Sonal’s masala curry spice makes for a most memorable tasting dish.  I can’t tell you what spices she used, I think there is a bit a cinnamon in there that gives it a kind of warm sweet flavor.  Correct me if I’m wrong Sonal! I never would have thought of adding that type of spice in my cactus stir fry.  It works fantastically!  So delicious and aromatic! Thank you Sonal!!  I must also mention that her fusion of Indian and Tex-Mex  ingredients and techniques that she has presented on simplyvegetarian777 has been inspirational and the first I’ve seen anywhere!

For the side condiments I made Thai style pickled baby carrots, Mexican pickled red onion, and fresh sliced small red radishes.  In case you were wondering,  those are fresh arbol peppers on the cilantro at the very top of the 1st photo. Those are traditional flour tortillas and turmeric, cilantro and chilli flavored flour tortillas. I was all over the map today.

Curry masala

Finding fresh nopalitos in your area might be a problem for you.  They are sold with the spine still on or cleaned and packaged in plastic bags either diced or whole.  If not, look in the “Latin American” aisle for nopalitos diced and brined in bottles.  Though not as good as fresh cactus, they are not bad at all.  You may decide to wash off the brine before using.  I use them if I don’t have time to prepare fresh cactus pads. Cleaned cactus will last just a few days in the refrigerator before they start to turn brown and slimy at the scraped off parts and edges.



Hijole! Handle with care!



This recipe will feed 2 or 1 with good leftovers for later.  I have to admit the quantities for each ingredient are a rough estimate.  Adjust to suit your taste.

Use your favorite curry spice blend.

If you don’t have a wok, substitute with a large non-stick pan.

I like using brown rice, but any long grain white rice will do. The rice in these photos is long grain white. I rinsed the raw rice in several washings to remove some starch. This helps prevent it from sticking together during cooking.


For 2 people: 

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or other mild oil with a high smoking point)

2-3 tablespoons diced onion

3 medium size cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons curry spice mix

3 tomatoes, juice squeezed out, and diced

3 nopalitos pads (or a 8 to 10 ounces bottled cactus)

about 3 cups long grain cooked rice (previously refrigerated)

About 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste


To prepare nopalitos:  Be very careful with spiny cactus.  I recommend using protective gloves when handling.  Trim off the outer edge with a knife,  then carefully scrape off the spines.  No need to dig them out, just kind of slice them off.  Dice the nopalitos into 1/4 inch by 1 inch pieces.   Our local international grocery store often has 1 or 2 “representatives” scraping off the spines in a small display stand encouraging the customers to buy fresh cactus which was imported from farms in Mexico. It’s amazing to watch them deftly clean a pad in a matter of  seconds.  They all seem to be very adept at it.  A slower worker would probably not be tolerated in that situation. Put your diced cactus in a pot with about 2 quarts of water.  Add a heaping teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.  Some cooks add a 1/4 teaspoon baking powder to help maintain a greener color.  I’m not sure it makes a difference. Keep them at a good rolling simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  Besides tenderizing and cooking, this will remove the mucilegeous part of the cactus.  After the simmering, they should be crisp yet tender. Drain from the pot when done and set aside.

Many of you must surely have your personal rice stir fry method which you can adapt to here.  I start with moderately heated oil to fry the onion and garlic so as not to burn them.  Add the curry spice blend and stir fry briefly.  Push the ingredients to the side of the wok or remove them while leaving the oil if things start getting to the burning point. The idea is to flavor the oil.  Turn up the heat to high and get your wok or pan vey hot.  Add the nopalitos and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato and stir fry briefly. Return the onion and garlic if you had removed them.  Add your rice and fry for a bit keeping things constantly stirring around to blend all the flavor together.  Add the fresh cilantro and incorporate. Season with salt to taste.  Serve immediately.

Stir frying nopalitos

You may need to add a little more oil during the stir frying process.

Nopalitos rice stir fry


Nopalitos curried stir fry

I hope you can try this someday!







Tortillas “De la India”

May 9, 2016

Curried tortillas


Thank you very much to those of you who have visited Chicano artist Roberto Gonzalez’ website!  My interview with him is in the works and will be posted here at “Bread and Tortillas.”  If you haven’t yet had a chance to explore his site, please do so at  He greatly appreciates the visits!

These delicious and unusual tortillas with the whimsical title are a kind of prelude to what’s to follow, which is a recipe involving a wok, a very rustic Mexican ingredient, and one of Sonal’s  fabulous spice mixes, a curry masala.   Her wonderful blog is at I had to do justice to the masterful blend of Indian spices she so generously took time to send me.  These tortillas are designed to accompany the dish I came up with using her mix.

What I can tell from looking at recipes and photos,  chapatis are the Indian flatbread which most resemble the Mexican tortilla.  At their most simple and basic they involve atta, oil or ghee (optional), salt,  and water.  Atta is an Indian style whole wheat flour which give chapatis their particular taste and texture.  The dough is portioned and rolled out to a flat thin round shape then cooked on a special griddle.  This sounds like a very close relative to the tortilla.

Some of you might remember my cilantro and serrano pepper tortillas from a while back.  I removed the serrano peppers and added turmeric and ground toasted red chillis to the recipe for a taste that might remind one of India.   The dried red chillis, which I found to be very flavorful, moderate to high in heat,  and slightly sweet, are a product of India.  They are a distinct variety from the Mexican ones I’m familiar with. The one teaspoon of turmeric is just enough to give a nice color and slight flavor to the tortilla.  I tried to imagine other Indian spices in the recipe, but ultimately decided on keeping it simple .  Using fenugreek leaves instead of cilantro sounded intriguing but where was I going to find fresh fenugreek?

I also made a batch using a 50-50 mix of all-purpose flour and sifted whole wheat flour.  I used 2 tablespoons of a neutral flavored oil, grapeseed, instead of vegetable shortening. This was a dough I believed to be closer to what a chapati would resemble.  It turned out tasty and much healthier,  I just preferred the flavor of the 100% all-purpose recipe.  I found out that atta is a lighter textured and sweeter tasting whole wheat flour than ours because of the milling process.  I need to visit our specialty market soon!


For 10 tortillas:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted and ground dried red chillis (3 Indian chillis)

3/4 to 1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro

1 good full teaspoon salt

about 3/4 cup warm water


A couple of twists of black pepper from a pepper mill would be a nice addition to the recipe.  (See Roberto’s comment below).  Oil could also be substituted for the vegetable shortening. though you will likely have to adjust the amount of water. Start with less than 3/4 cup water.

Place the flour and shortening in a mixing bowl.  Using your fingertips, work the shortening into the flour until thoroughly blended. Mix in the turmeric, ground chillis, and salt.  Next add the cilantro and mix in well.  Pour in the water and blend well to make a loose dough.  Put it on your work station and begin kneading. Go at it for about 4 to 5 minutes or until it becomes smooth.  We are not looking for elasticity,  just smoothness.  Add water or flour as needed to make a dough that is neither wet or dry.  Experience is the best teacher.  Divide the dough into 10 portions and form each into a round. Cover with plastic and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes.



Get your griddle, comal, heavy pan, or iron skillet hot over medium heat.  Take one of the rested portions and roll out with your rolling pin to about 6 inches in diameter.  Place it on the hot comal. A few bubbles will probably begin to form.   Turn it over after about 45 seconds to a minute.   There should a few brown spots.  Turn it over once more after a minute or so and let cook another 30 seconds or so.  Just make sure it’s not overdone.  You know what a tortilla looks like!  A lot will depend on how hot the comal is and how moist the tortilla dough is.



This is a flatbread with an identity crisis! Or maybe it’s comfortable in 2 worlds.  More likely it’s somewhere in between.  The title, by the way,  in case you missed it,  is a kind of play on words,  “Tortillas ‘from India'”   or   “Tortillas ‘from the Mexican native Indian woman.'”


I bet this would go nicely with Mexican or curried lentils.  However…

Next up on the prep table will be my recipe using Sonal’s curry masala!








Roberto Gonzalez: Sacred Waters

April 14, 2016

Hello/Hola dear friends and readers.  I’m writing this quick post to highly recommend to you the art exhibit,  Roberto Gonzalez: Sacred Waters,  at the “Centro de Artes” in the heart of downtown San Antonio.  Roberto is a highly esteemed artist and great friend of mine I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years.  It gave me great joy to find out he was exhibiting at “Centro de Artes”,  and more so because  his work is up during Fiesta Week San Antonio during which the city receives thousands of people from around the state of Texas and the U.S.  If you plan to be in the city,  give the museum a visit. If you are an out-of-towner going to Fiesta Week, the museum is conveniently located  in the middle of it all by the Mercado (Market Square).  If you are interested in contemporary and timeless Xicano art,  go see his magnificent work.

I spent a memorable afternoon visiting with Roberto as he gave me a personal tour of his paintings.  What an honor!  The personal imagery and vibrancy of his work stayed with me as we left the museum to find lunch.  From the evocative and meditative ambience of the museum we stepped into the bustling and dynamic atmosphere that is the city of San Antonio.  It was preparing for its biggest city wide cultural celebration, which was only a few days away.   We eventually found a couple of spots to sit and chat to catch up on what we’ve been up to in our lives lately.  I always get a sense of peace and well-being from him as we talk.  I had more questions to ask about his work and philosophy.  I thought it would be interesting to share his ideas and reflections about his art through “Bread and Tortillas”.  He was his usual gracious and generous self as he shared some insights into his work.  Through the coming weeks I’ll be posting the interview in parts.  Stay tuned!

His website can be found at     You’ll find that he is also a performance artist, composer, and musician.

“Centro de Artes” is located right on the Market Square at:  101 S. Santa Rosa Avenue       210-784-1105      It is open Tuesday-Sunday  10 AM to 5 PM.

His exhibit will be up through June 19.



Roberto G. exhibit

Roberto G.

From his “Artist Statement”:

“The Xicano artist works as an agent to restore our cultural spirit before all is lost, before we all become the same.  Being a Xicano artist is and has always been a searching reflex.  The search is for cultural attachments.  The separation and loss of connection to Madre Mexico has been profound historically. It forced Xicanos to have the need for developing a new selfhood.”

“My path as an artist is a practice of the following.  Being,  secure attachment to self,  natural state,  conscious integration,  mindful bonding,  creative and spiritual transformation, enlightenment,  liberation, and oneness.  All of this is in support of my reverie in the studio when I begin work and in the very real sacred space of the creative moment.  It is a grace of oneness in creation,  soma in bliss. Who I am becoming,  is who I am as an artist.”




Sourdough Baguettes w/Chipotle Chile

March 6, 2016


If I happened to be in Paris during the city’s baguette competition, I’d make sure to go and see all the excitement and commotion.  Or is it more of a laid back affair? There are probably hundreds of entries,  can anyone really get worked up over thinking they have the best chance to win? There are strict rules to follow if you’re competing in the “Grand Prix de la Baquette de la Ville de Paris”.  Your baguette must be 55-65 centimeters long and 250-300 grams in weight.   It’s judged on appearance, cooking, texture, smell,  and taste.  The crust should be crisp, while the crumb should be elastic with irregularly sized and unevenly spaced holes.   Dark crusts and 5 slashes are the norm. It must be made with only flour,  water,  yeast,  and salt.  I make French style baguettes as often as I can at my restaurant job to serve crostinis, bruschetta, special sandwiches or whatever other excuse I can come up with to make them. It’s a type of bread I have to make on a semi-regular basis just to stay in practice.  Proper shaping is kind of a tricky thing.  It took me more than a few tries and fails before I started to get some kind of handle on it.  Sooner or later I will post a recipe because it is one of my favorite breads to make.  My baguette today is world’s away from the French type.  For one, it’s leavened with sourdough.  Then,  besides bread flour,  it has ground chipotle chile, some whole wheat flour,  a bit of rye flour, and agave syrup in it’s ingredients.  “Baguette”,  which means “wand” or “baton” refers only to the shape of this bread, not the texture, flavor, size etc.  I wanted a flavored bread that could sub(really, no pun intended) for the telera or bolillos, the traditional  white flour rolls used for making tortas, the iconic Mexican sandwiches.  I’ve made  chipotle flavored sourdough loaves before,  but sliced bread doesn’t work very well for making tortas.  A baguette, a flavorful spicy one at that,  however,  is a good stand-in.

The main challenge I encountered along the way was managing this very wet and sticky dough.  Lightly flouring my work surface and sometimes the dough itself was very helpful.  After dividing the dough and letting the pieces rest for 1/2 hour,  I formed them into rectangles 3/4 to 1 inch thick (about 2 centimeters).   I folded them up as if folding a letter then shaped them into a “batard” form.  I then rolled them into “batons” by rocking them back and forth and gently pulling the ends as well to get them to the right width and length.  I made them as long as my baking stone allowed.  Of course they had to proof in a couche.

I didn’t want to have a fully developed sourdough bread flavor and texture.  I doubled the usual amount of levain I usually use and cut back on the amount of flour.   I have noticed that the crumb comes out lighter and softer when I make those adjustmenst, 2 qualities I was looking for in the bread.





15 grams sourdough starter refreshed 8 hours before (1 Tablespoon)

200 grams water at 78 degrees F.

200 grams bread flour

Final Dough:

All the levain

500 grams water 80 degrees F.

45 grams agave syrup

600 grams bread flour

150 grams whole wheat flour

50 grams rye flour

2 Tablespoons ground chipotle chile

20 grams salt plus 50 grams water


  1. I made the levain the night before baking. It was ready in about 8 hours.
  2. The next morning I dissolved the levain and agave syrup into the 500 grams water.
  3. I stirred together the 3 flours and ground chipotle pepper and mixed them into the levain water mixture, making sure everything was well moistened.
  4. I let the dough autolyze for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. I mixed the salt into the 50 grams water and then squeezed it into the dough, making sure it was evenly dispersed.
  6. Bulk fermentation lasted 3 1/2 hours.
  7. I shaped them as I described above for a proof of 4 1/2 hours.
  8. I scored them and baked 3 at a time in a 475 degree oven for about 15 minutes per batch. After 7 to 8 minutes I lowered the temperature to 430 degrees. During the first 7 or 8 minutes I misted the oven 3 times with water.
  9. After they were done, I let them cool on a rack.
There is no way around using a couche.

There is no way around using a couche.

The result was a very flavorful baguette. It doesn’t have the crackling crust that a true baguette has, but it is crusty and tasty.  The crumb developed nice holes,  good for absorbing whatever you may want to spread on. In my case, I was looking toward slathering refried beans for making tortas.  The agave syrup added just a touch of sweetness to compliment the smoky spiciness of the ground chipotle.  I guess I must mention that I lightly roasted several dry chipotle peppers in the oven, let them cool, and ground them in a spice grinder. Two tablespoons gave the baguettes moderate heat only.  I could just as well have added more.





Spelt Sourdough Bread w/Mixed Seeds

February 29, 2016



One of the nice things about the blogging world is that you get to see what other bakers and cooks are doing and thinking about  foods. For a self-taught bread maker like myself, it is an invaluable window into the baking world of those who share similar experiences.   It’s even better when you can share some humor while you’re at it.  You’ll see what I’m talking about if you check out Angie’s Fiesta Friday.

The last several weeks have found me trying out spelt flour in sourdough bread and tortillas.  I had used it a couple of times before in regular bread but appreciated it’s flavor and qualities much more when I recently made 100% spelt flour tortillas as well as this sourdough bread.  It has won me over as a flour to keep in my kitchen.  Today I’m presenting a take on spelt sourdough with 3 kinds of seeds.  By coincidence Elaine and Ginger were also baking versions of sourdough bread with spelt flour in the ingredients. Their delicious looking loaves are more complex in flavor with their use of rye berries, oats, and seeds. It’s always very interesting to read as they generously share how they approach their breads.  They are two who take baking and cooking very seriously…  Meanwhile, I was taking a less complex route!

To get a better feel for using spelt I kept it simple and used a minimum of ingredients.   There are equal amounts of bread, spelt, and whole spelt flour.  I wanted to make sure I would get some decent gluten action. When I make sourdough bread,  I usually aim for a loaf with alveoli big enough to drive a truck through.    What I understand about spelt is that it is somewhat comparable to whole wheat flour in the amount of gluten it can develop.   So you bet I’m going to go for a high hydration percentage,  70.5% in this case.  I also thought about what effect the seeds might have on the developing gluten.  I read somewhere that even some of the ground components in whole wheat flour can cut gluten that’s trying to build up as you knead.  Who knows to what extent that’s true.  Perhaps if you knead for a long time it would make a significant difference.  However,  I have noticed in several recipes I’ve come across that nuts or seeds are not added until the middle or end of kneading.   None explained the reason for delaying the addition of these extra ingredients.  It occurred to me that  seeds or nuts would interfere with the dough and perhaps even cut some “strands” no matter how carefully it is stretched and folded.  So this dough had been proofing at least an hour before I carefully folded in the seeds.   This I believe, would give the dough some time to develop and strengthen.

This is a very wet and sticky dough that requires some deft handling in case you’re not used to it.  As the portions rested for the 1/2 hour before shaping, they flattened out to the form of a thick pancake.  Even at the end when I placed the finished dough in the oven, they flatten out on the baking stone.  As I misted them with water during the first 10 minutes of baking I could see them magically began their oven spring.



I underestimated the gluten potential in spelt. The holes came out larger than I expected.  The flavor and texture turned out very nice too.  Spelt flour adds a “sweet”flavor to the bread  and has very little if any of the bitter taste you find in whole wheat flour.  The toasted seeds added a nice nuttiness and bite.

I’ll just give a summery of the process with key points.  If you want more details, let me know, I’ll be happy to further elaborate.


For two medium size loaves:


1/2 to 3/4 Tablespoon starter (refreshed 8 to 9 hours before)

100 grams water

100 grams bread flour


Final Dough:

All the levain

600 grams water 80 degrees F.

300 grams bread flour

300 grams spelt flour

300 grams whole spelt flour

20 grams salt mixed with 35 grams water

150 grams mixed toasted seeds (I used 50-55 grams each of sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds)


  1. I made the levain the night before.  It was ready to use in about 10 hours in my 75 degree F. kitchen.
  2. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds were toasted in the oven. The sesame seeds were pan toasted over a stove.
  3. The levain was dispersed in the 600 grams water and the flours were mixed together then added to the water/levain.  All the flour was evenly moistened.  Autolyse lasted 1 hour.
  4. The salt and 35 grams water was mixed together, then squeezed into the dough. I then covered the dough and gave 6 turns over 3 1/2 hours.  I added the seeds during the turning phase after about 1 hour.
  5.  I took it out of the bowl and divided it into 2 portions.  Each was formed into a ball, covered and allowed to rest about 30 minutes.
  6. I shaped them,  then placed them in bannetons.
  7. Final proofing lasted 5 hours.
  8.  They baked in an oven pre-heated to 500 degrees.  I lowered the temp to 420 after 10 minutes.  During the first 10 minutes I also misted the oven several times with water to mimic a steam-injected oven.
  9. They baked in about 15-20 minutes.  I let them cool completely before slicing.


Here are the baker’s percentages if you’re interested.

Final dough

Bread flour  33.3%

Spelt flour 33.3%

Whole spelt flour 33.3%

Levain 24%

Water 70.5%

Salt  2%

Seeds 16.6 %


Bread flour 100%

Water 100%

Starter 14%








Tortillas de Quelites

January 4, 2016



I hope everyone of you is having a great holiday season and a good New Year!  I wish you all profound peace for the upcoming year.  I think we can always use a bit more of it.

I should  go over the nomenclature of the main extra ingredient for these tortillas.  I saw them in Diana Kennedy’s beautiful and massive “Oaxaca al Gusto, an Infinite Gastronomy”,  a cookbook dedicated to 11 distinct regions of that southern state in Mexico.  This is not the post to get into the book but I’ll just mention it is  gorgeous,  with many beautiful photos of foods and dishes which can only be found in that region’s remote corners.  “Tortillas de Quintonil” which she translates as “Tortillas of Wild Greens” is the recipe I found in the book.  In another one of hers,  “From My Mexican Kitchen”,  she writes that quintoniles include several species from the amaranth family and fall under the umbrella of quelites or wild greens.  For Rick Bayless,  quelites are more specifically what is known as lamb’s quarters.  Marilyn Tausend in “Cocina De La Familia”, also refers to quelites as lamb’s quarters.  So you dear readers who are  forager’s and/or gardener’s, I include a photo of the green so that you can comment on the identification of it.  I appreciate any clarification. In Mexican cooking they are primarily used as a light stew with perhaps onion and garlic, as taco filling, or as an ingredient added to pinto beans.  This is the only time I’ve seen them as an ingredient in the masa for corn tortillas.  These greens are readily available year round in one of our supermarkets alongside verdolagas, huauzontles, epazote, yerbabueana,  berro, other greens or herbs used in Mexican cuisine.  We are fortunate to have them.  I’m also keeping a good eye out for wild quelites, since they seem to grow wild in many parts of the U.S and Mexico.


According to Kennedy,  quelites are used especially during the rainy season to help in times when corn is running low, thus stretching the stock of maize for a longer time.  They add a green earthiness to the tortillas which I enjoy.  My cilantro flour tortillas came to mind when I made them,  but these have a different flavor altogether.  They are very tasty and unusual,  good for making tacos,  quesadillas,  or just eaten alone with salsa.  They will surely attract curiosity if you present them on your next Mexican buffet.

Kennedy uses fresh corn masa but I opted for masa harina, which means an addition of water is necessary.  The quelites provide some moisture so I watched carefully as I added the water.  Cooking the greens with a bit of onion and garlic before adding them to the masa makes them more flavorful.

This recipe is an adaptation of hers.   She also suggests using other types of edible greens or spinach.

This will make 9 to 10 tortillas:

3 good bunches of quelites ( it will render about 1 cup after cooking down)( each of the bunches weighed about 1/4 #)

about 1 heaping tablespoon  chopped onion

2 medium garlic cloves chopped

2 tablespoon oil

1 cup masa harina

1/2 cup water

3/4 teaspoon salt

To be more specific,  you need about 6-8 ounces of leaves only. The stems are too tough to use.   Remove the leaves from the stems and thoroughy wash them to remove the dirt.  Drain them. Get about 2 quarts of slightly salted water to boil in a pot.  Add the greens and cook until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain them and run cool water over them.  When cool enough to handle,  squeeze as much water as you can from them.

Heat a frying or saute pan to medium heat and add the oil, I used grapeseed, but olive oil, vegetable, or other kinds of mild flavored should do ok.  Saute the onion for a minute, then add the garlic.  Don’t let them burn.  Finally add the quelites and fry just lightly for a minute or two.  Add more oil if necessary. Remove from the heat and let them cool down.  Next,  finely chop the green mixture.

In a mixing bowl,  put the masa harina, salt,  and chopped quelites mixture and blend well together.  Add most of the 1/2 cup of water and incorporate.  Add more water as needed to make a moist dough. It should be neither too moist or too dry.  One way I check is by squeezing a small portion between my thumb and index finger.  It should not be too dry that it cracks at the edges.


Divide the masa into 9 or 10 portions and form each into a ball.   I let them rest for a few minutes. Keep them covered with a moist towel.  They tend to quickly dry out. Get your trusty tortilla press and a piece of plastic wrap.  Cut the plastic into two pieces that are each just big enough to cover the plate of your tortilla press.


You might have one of these or the metal type of tortilladora.  If not, you can get away with using a rolling pin to shape your tortillas. If you can do it by using your two hands, I’ll be quite impressed.

Get your comal or heavy skillet pre-heated over your stove to medium hotness.

Place one of the pieces of plastic on the plate of the press and put one of the masa balls on top.



Put the other piece of plastic on top. Then press. You may have to rotate the dough once to get a nice circle.



Remove the top plastic



Place the dough and bottom plastic on your weak hand.


Carefully flip it over onto your strong hand and remove the remaining plastic.


It’s ready to flip over onto your hot comal.

The tortilla should give a slight sizzle when you place it on the comal. Cook the tortilla for about a minute to 90 seconds,  then flip it over.  After another minute or two turn it over again and let it cook maybe another minute.  If your tortillas are sticking, they are too moist.  If they crack and harden,  they are either too dry, or the comal is too hot.  You’ll get the hang of getting the dough the right consistency and the skillet to just the right hotness with practice.

When they are done, they may have a few nice brown spots.  They should be nice and flexible and not crack when rolled or folded. Keep them covered with a kitchen cloth.  So far they’ve kept well after a day when kept in the refrigerator.  They just need to be heated up to get their flexibility back.



They tend to be a little thicker than regular corn tortillas, but they are still quite soft and flexible.  Just keep them covered.


I made some mouthwatering quesadillas with some of the dough.


Pureed butternut squash flavored with ancho chile powder and epazote for one,  and refried beans and epazote for another.


Or the butternut squash and ancho powder puree with cilantro and mild red pepper.


That’s a stripe of New Mexican chile tomato salsa there.  Many different types of salsa go well with these.


I know I’m very late but I’m sending these tortillas over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to help celebrate the 100th edition of her fabulous party where you’ll find insanely talented cooks, gardeners, storytellers, and more presenting their incredible creations.  It is quite a feat to have kept it going strong for so long.  She also has her many friends who have assisted with the work it takes to keep such a labor of love going.  Congratulations Angie!











Roasted Tomato Salsa w/3 Chiles

November 22, 2015


What kind of salsas do you more often make at home?  There are many types to choose from for different uses aren’t there?  Within each type there are many variations to try out or create.  Much depends on what is available to you in your stores and markets though I guess just about anything is available online these days. A wider variety have become more readily available in recent years in my area. Do you make salsa as dips for tostadas or are they used for topping your main or side dishes? The kind I seem to be making the most of lately are the roasted tomato or tomatillo variety.  It’s for the simple fact that I have all these dried chiles that need to be used up.  Chipotle,  guajillo,  arbol,  Anchos,  New Mexican  are very often the key chile ingredient.  They seem to make for the more classic roasted tomato/tomatillo salsas.  Because of their particular flavor and/or heat level they can stand alone to suit individual tastes as the sole chile in the recipe.  Some dried chiles are not as popular as a stand alone chile in salsas.  Which brings me to the mulato chile.  It is used indispensibly in many mole recipes for its deep dark color and sweet, almost chocolaty  flavor.   How does it hold up in a salsa?  I started by pureeing roasted tomatoes, onion, and garlic, then began adding the toasted mulato chiles.  Although it gave an interesting flavor, it was too muted and needed some balancing out.  I added arbol chiles for a brightness, a bit of nuttiness,  and heat.  Something was still missing so I reached for pasillas, which have  fruity notes to them.  My next choice would have been guajillos for their lighter flavor but I was completely out of them. The result in any case,  was a much more balanced flavor with each chile adding its own qualities.  It still needed some brightening up so I added apple cider vinegar.  A mere teaspoon really enhanced the flavor.   This turned out to be a very tasty salsa with a unique flavor profile.   I dipped fried tortilla chips, topped some lentils,  tried it on some tacos, and also dabbed it on quesadillas.  It was hard to ignore this one.

There are many possibilities to play with in making this type of salsa.  We also have the choice of using tomato or tomatillo, or both.   Do I want to roast the garlic or leave it raw?  Do I roast or saute the onions?  Does it need the acidity of lime juice or vinegar.  How about adding oregano, cilantro, or thyme.  Some combinations don’t work, but many will.  Why always settle for the tried and true when you can come up with something uniquely yours.


Left to right are pasilla,  arbol,  and mulato peppers.


This recipe makes about 1 quart

12 Roma tomatoes

1/2 medium onion

5 unpeeled garlic cloves

2 mulato chiles

7 arbol chiles

2 pasilla chiles

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Water as needed to adjust consistency

salt to taste


First I broiled the tomatoes until they began to char a bit. I turned them over to slightly char the skin on both sides.  I was carefull not to broil them to a mushy state. As they were going I put my comal (iron skillet) on low-medium heat. The onion was sliced and pan roasted on a heavy skillet until softened and slightly blackened.  The garlic was also added to the pan and cooked until softened.  In another heavy pan, the chiles were toasted.  Set the pan to medium-high heat.  Remove the seeds from the chiles and one by one press them on both sides on the hot skillet with a metal spatula for a few seconds.  You may notice a slight change in color.  It will release a nice aroma. Do not burn or it will turn bitter.  Immediately remove the chile and continue with the rest.  I left many of the chile de arbol seeds in the chile to give more spiciness to the salsa.






When the tomatoes, onions and garlic had cooled down, I peeled the garlic and put everything in the blender to puree.  I then added 2 mulato chiles to the blender and after tasting the result, decided that was good on that kind of chile.  Next in were the arbol peppers.  That would give enough heat and a subtle nuttiness.  The pasillas were then added to give more balance.  I tasted it after one, then added another.  The apple cider vinegar did its trick next.  I added a bit of water to adjust the consistency.  Roma tomatoes have less juice in them than most other kinds of tomatoes.  I finally seasoned with salt to taste.



The salsa paired well with refried lentil quesadillas (vegan).  The tortilla is home made with corn masa.



This is one I’ll make again.  I’d also like to try substituting guajillos for the pasillas or mulatos.

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