HungryTexans Flour Tortillas


tortillas
Y’all, something fun happened this weekend- the HungryTexans took their talents off the interwebs and into the District Flea (brought to you by the kind folks at Brooklyn Flea and gracing DC for the next few weekends).

As hungry Texans, we are huge proponents of the breakfast taco- eggs, cheese, savory meats and veggies, all rolled up into a perfectly fluffy flour tortilla.  The breakfast tacos at Chacho’s in Houston have capped many nights out (as well as nursed our headaches the morning after).  But when I find myself reaching hungrily for a breakfast taco in DC, I come up empty-handed.  So what better to bring to the denizens of our great district than these breakfast treats?

Of course the eggs are important.  Cheese?  Essential to a proper breakfast taco.  But what really makes our breakfast tacos special is the homemade flour tortilla, the perfect vehicle for savory goodness.  And because I promised plenty of market-goers the recipe and top-secret-super-secrets for a tortilla that stays soft and pliable and tasty, I want to share it with all of our readers!  It really is extremely simple and quick to make a tortilla, if not labor intensive.  This recipe uses all vegetable shortening to make our veggimatarian friends happy, and makes exactly 16 tortillas (counting helps visualize the size they should be).

You’ll Need:

2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 generous cups vegetable shortening (you could use lard, but we’re accommodating the masses here)
1 cup hot water

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl or a stand mixer.

Add the shortening in small handfuls and use the mixer (or your hands, which I did for 180 tortillas on Friday- not sure if I can recommend doing this to our readers- it’s quite cruel) to combine until the mixture looks like sand.

making dough 2

Slowly add a cup of hot water (I do 3/4 cup first, then add as necessary).  You want the dough to seem a bit moist and definitely not crumbly.  Knead the dough ~30 times (or let the Kitchen-aid do this work for you) until the dough becomes a ball.

Let this dough rest, covered with a tea towel, for 30 minutes (up to an hour).  Once the dough has rested, pinch off golf-ball-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls, and set on wax paper.

rolled out

Using a tortilla press or a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into thin, round discs.  I try to get these as thin as possible with a tortilla press by using my hands to flatten the dough against the press.  Also, breaking news: my grandfather just mailed a beauty of a tortilla roller and I cannot wait to try it out.

pressing dough

You can store these tortillas between wax paper for a few hours in the fridge before cooking them.  When you’re ready, just pop a disc of dough onto a hot cast iron skillet or an electric griddle and cook for 20 seconds on each side.  Keep warm in a…tortilla warmer!

Tortillas cooking

Happy pressing and, if you can’t make your own, we’ll be at the District Flea every Saturday until October 18th, slinging tortillas!

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Raw Corn & Tomato Salsa

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If you’re a member of a CSA or just get carried away at the farmers market, then you probably have a surplus of tomatoes and corn in your kitchen.  Put them to good use with this quick and tasty Raw Corn & Tomato Salsa.

Freaked out by raw corn?  Feel free to char the summer kernels over an open flame, but when corn is this fresh and sweet, I promise it is just as delicious raw!

I make a few cups of this salsa on Sundays and top my salads with it for lunch throughout the week.  It stays colorful, fresh, and healthy for days.  Or spoon it over eggs and black beans for a perfect brunchy treat.  This recipe makes ~6 cups.

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You’ll Need:

  • 6 ears fresh corn
  • 4 small tomatoes
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • S&P, to taste

To make the salsa:

In a large bowl, shave the corn kernels off of the cob.

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Dice the tomatoes (removing the seeds), jalapeno, bell pepper, and onion, and combine with the corn.

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Add the juice of two limes and olive oil, and season with salt & pepper.  Finish the salsa with a handful of cilantro.

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You can use this salsa immediately, or store for up to 5 days in jars or tupperware.  I do both!

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xoxo,

Liz

watermelon mint julep popsicles

This recipe is featured today on Fortique, a fun DC startup that offers an online marketplace for local talent and creative services.  When Stephanie, their founder, asked me to dream up a Fourth of July cocktail, my mind immediately went to grenadine and blue curucao.  But you don’t need a sugary mess to show your stars & stripes!  Opt instead for a fresh, cool cocktail that highlights America’s bounty.

Nothing says “America” like watermelon.  Except for maybe bourbon.  Okay, let’s face it: together, they’re like the Star Spangled Banner in a glass.  And on a scorching Fourth of July, these polar pops are worth their weight in A/C, packing punches of watermelon, mint, and bourbon, all frozen to summery perfection.  title page

You’ll need:

  • 4 cups of seedless watermelon (about half of a medium watermelon)
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup water)
  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup bourbon (adjust to your desired strength)
  • 24 Dixie Cups
  • 12 Popsicle Sticks (cut in half)

Makes 24 lil’ pops.

This recipe is so simple, and most of your time is spent waiting for the pops to freeze.  Dice your watermelon and add it to a pitcher (or a blender if you’re not using an immersion mixer).  Want to know the key to finding the sweetest watermelon amongst mounds of the fibrous fruit?  Search for the melon with a large, white spot on it’s side.  You want a watermelon that has been ripening on the ground for a while, and the larger the white spot (that’s where the sun couldn’t hit it), the juicier and sweeter your fruit will be.

Alright, Farmer Liz, we’ll get back to the recipe.  Add your simple syrup and juice of a lime to the pitcher.  I also added a couple extra tablespoons of sugar on top.

chunks in pitcher

Using an immersion blender on high speed, mix the contents of your pitcher until your watermelon looks like melon-colored-water.

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Add your mint and bourbon, give the whole thing a quick stir, and you’re ready to fill your popsicle molds!  While there are a slew of modern gadgets designed to pop out the perfect popsicle, you don’t need a store-bought popsicle mold to dazzle your Fourth of July crowd.  Use 3 oz Dixie cups and wooden sticks to make perfectly miniature frozen treats.  The wooden sticks keep the look classic while the small size ensures your guests don’t overindulge on the sweet nectar too early in the afternoon.

Fill the dixie cups with your watermelon-mint-bourbon goodness and pop the ‘sicles in the freezer for about 45 minutes.  Once they are semi-frozen, stick the popsicle sticks in the center of each one and then let the popsicles freeze over night. Depending on the amount of bourbon you use, these little guys could take up to 24 hours to get good and frozen, so plan ahead!

in cups frozen

When your guests are ready, just tear off the disposable cup and watch the fireworks fly!

watermelon mint julep popsicles

Whew, was that easy.  And you didn’t even have to break out the blue curucao & grenadine to capture the spirit of Independence Day.

Love,

Liz & The Hungry Texans

basics: homemade date syrup

When Boston Boy & I visited LA, his uncle whipped together this incredible middle eastern cauliflower dish.  And when he explained how easy it was (tahini + date syrup + cauliflower = wow), I had to try it as soon as possible.  just one itsy bitsy problem- there is no date syrup to be found in the DMV!  I searched high and low, and once I had come to terms with the Great Date Syrup Shortage of 2k12, I knew what i had to do…

Make my own!  

So, this “syrup” didn’t really turn out syrupy in the maple sense.  It was actually more the consistency of tahini.  But it tasted delicious and was the perfect substitute for date syrup in the absence of the store-bought stuff.

You’ll need (for two cups of syrup)

36 dates, pitted and diced
2 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Blend the mixture in a food processor or blender and let cool before using.

Ta da!  Date Syrup.

xoxo

the hungry texans

favorite things: and we danced edition

1. Bottomless Brunch at Zengo in Chinatown.  For $35, you get to nosh on the yummiest eats and sip some delicious drinks.  We ordered…everything.  Favorites included these lobster-chipotle grits, the crispy tofu with roasted corn-potato salad, shrimp-vegetable potstickers, short rib hash with poached egg and the angry zengo roll.  We literally stayed from open to close.

2. Crafty Bastards in Union Market!  Admittedly, the crowds pushed one of these Hungry Texans indoors to the Rappahannock oyster bar, but we scored a couple of good finds nonetheless.  (pic)

3. Seven thousand people outfitted in neon & music for miles?  Count us in!  We had such a blast at the LivingSocial Glow-in-the-Dark 5k at RFK Stadium.  One of us ran the distance while the other volunteered with the video crew behind the scenes, but a good time was had by all.  Highlights were the step performance at the post-5k dance party and the 1000 Solar Lamps that were donated by LivingSocial to Somalian school children.

4. Why on earth would you wake up at 5am when it’s so blistery cold outside?  To make 24 dozen eggs for breakfast service at Miriam’s Kitchen, of course!

5. Thanks to our frayands John & Julia, we’re lovin’ Macklemore this week.  Sure, his thrift shop threads are bumpin’, but his power ballad “And We Danced” makes us…well…dance. (pic)

6. And finally, happy Bijoulais Nouveau to all you mediocre wine enthusiasts out there.  The celebration is far stronger than the vino, but it gave us a chance to make these French Onion Soup Dumplings, so laissez les bons temps rouler!

xoxo,

the hungry texans

le nouveau est arrive! french onion soup dumplings

a happy bijoulais nouveau to y’all!

bijoulais nouveau is really a cute little holiday.  i only learned about it since moving to DC- the closest I’ve ever come to speaking french in texas is “laissez les bons temps rouler!”  the young french wine is actually quite un-tasty.  it’s aged for only a few weeks, but brilliant marketing has awarded it an entire midnight celebration- brava!  french law prohibits the young red from being uncorked until 12am on the second wednesday of each november, so francophiles wait in anticipation.  a few classic dc bistros, like 1905 and Bistro du Coin, were throwing their celebrations  last night, but who were we fooling- 2am on a school night?

so i hunkered down with Boston Boy in my kitchen, while my roommates set some serious mood lighting and french music, and embarked on a journey into these french onion soup dumplings.  there are recipes for these little succulent pouches of magic all over the internet (ever since making their Cooking Channel debut), so i glanced at all of them and then decided on my own approach.  and here it is!

for 20 dumplings, you’ll need: 

20 wonton wrappers
2 onions (mix of red and yellow)
1/2 bouillon cube
1 tbs flour
10 sprigs of thyme
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups shredded gruyere or swiss cheese
1 french baguette
Optional: a cut of beef (we used new york strip)

1. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Thinly slice your onions and add them to the oil.  Give the whole thing a stir, then cover and let them cook for 10-15 minutes without messing with them.

2. While the onions are softening, dice your beef into 1/2 inch cubes (if you would like to make this vegetarian or if you don’t want beef in your dumplings, then omit this step and just heat your beef broth over low heat on the back burner).  Season with salt & pepper, then sear on each side over medium-high heat until they are caramelized.  Add your beef broth and dry white wine and a couple sprigs of thyme, then reduce the heat to low and let the broth & beef simmer.

3. Remove the top from the onions and stir in 1 tbs flour, leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme, 1 tsp salt & pepper, and 1/2 bouillon cube.  Re-cover and let simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.

4. When the onions are ready, you’re ready to start building your dumplings.  Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and dip each wonton wrapper in the beef broth (this makes the wrappers easier to work with and more flavorful).  Drop a tablespoon of the onions onto each wonton and wrap the sides up into a little onion purse.  Since you’ve dipped these into the beef broth, the dumpling edges will stick perfectly.  I preferred the more traditional onions, but Boston Boy added a cube of beef to each of his- man hunger!

5. Place the dumplings into an oven-safe dish, ladle the broth over your dumplings, and top with (a lot of) shredded gruyere and swiss cheese.  For that delicious crouton (arguably the best part of french onion soup), poke a toothpick through a cube of french bread and into each dumpling.  In addition to being delicious, these are like little buoys to mark where the dumplings lie.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, then broil for a minute or until the cheese is golden.

We had tons of broth and onions left since we only made a few dumplings, so we ended up just combining everything for a delicious french onion soup- hello leftovers!   And full disclosure: we popped the Bijoulais cork about an hour before midnight.  BB says we’ll be cursed with bad french kisses for a year… I haven’t noticed yet.