Cinco de Mayo

5th of May yeah so what? Well in Mexico “Cinco de Mayo” is a holiday which commemorated the victory of the Mexican army over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This celebration should not be confused with their independence day which is celebrated in September. This celebration is actually more widely observed outside of Mexico than in. The United States, has adopted this day where we have celebrations emphasizing Mexican cuisine, culture and music, in American style. Those crazy Americans.

Mexican food is a combination of Spanish food combined with the indigenous food found here when the Spanish invaded meso-america in the 16th century.

The Spanish invaders brought with them the popular staples of, corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, and chili peppers, cheese and  rice. The Aztec people incorporated these food with their cooking. Pork, beef and chicken are common meats available in Mexican food. Fish and shrimp have become favorites as well.

The ever present tortilla is found in many Mexican dishes. The food is either eaten rolled in the tortilla or as a side item eaten with a dish, as with chile verde. Since I am not Mexican nor have any close Mexican relatives, I am a gringo when it comes to my Mexican favorites. (Or if you prefer the politically correct term Hispanic).

First on the order for Cinco de Mayo is tacos, of course, who does not love a taco. Crunchy from our favorite fast food restaurant or warmed and delivered to your table in a finer dining restaurant. My brother loved tacos, second to chocolate it was his favorite food. I can not eat tacos without remembering the day he came home from his LDS mission.  He took me (I was 12) to Taco Time so he could have his first taste of tacos after being in Montreal, Canada for two years.

OK enough history lets get to the food.

I have decided to be brave this Cinco de Mayo and make my own tortillas. I decided to try my hand at a tortilla press I found this worked well for the corn tortillas but not the flour ones as it did not get them thin enough. These turned out really delicious and the flour tortillas made great enchiladas

Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup regular shortening or lard
  • 1 cup warm water
Instructions
  1. Use dough hook and electric stand mixer.
  2. Pour flour, salt and baking soda in mixing bowl.
  3. With the mixer running on medium speed, add shortening, mix until shortening is broken up into small pieces.
  4. And water. Mix for 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. When mixture begins to form a ball, decrease speed to low. Continue mixing for another minute until dough is smooth.
  6. Transfer to a well-floured counter. Divide dough into 16 equal portions, form each into a ball.
  7. Cover the dough balls with a kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Using well-floured rolling pin, roll each dough piece into a circle, about 6-7 inches round. As thin as possible. This will work best if you keep the counter and rolling pin well-floured.
  9. Using a electric griddle set to about 400degrees, place one dough circle onto griddle.
  10. Cook about 1 minute, until top forms a few bubbles and the bottom starts to develop a few brown spots.
  11. Flip tortilla over and cook for about 30 seconds more.
  12. Remove from griddle and stack on a covered plate if eating immediately or in a covered container if saving for later.
  13. Repeat with remaining tortillas, dust off any flour that accumulates on the griddle.
  14. If serving later, heat in microwave for 15-30 seconds until warm.
Notes
The tortillas will keep well if kept in airtight container or zipper bag. They can also be frozen for a later event, separate tortillas with waxed paper and place in a freezer zipper bag.
Transfer to a well-floured counter. Divide dough into 16 equal portions, form each into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes. This step is important, the dough will respond better if it is allowed to rest.
Combine flour, salt and baking powder in the electric mixer bowl stir to incorporate well. Put on the dough hook. Add shortening and mix a bit to break into smaller pieces. Add water with the mixer running on medium speed. Mix for 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl.  When mixture begins to form a ball, decrease speed to low. Continue mixing for another minute until dough is smooth.Using well-floured rolling pin, roll each dough piece into a circle, about 6-7 inches round or as thin as possible. This will work best if you keep the counter and rolling pin well-floured. You have seen them do it at the fresh-mex restaurants.Using a electric griddle set to about 400 degrees, place one dough circle onto ungreased griddle. Cook about 1 minute, until top forms a few bubbles and the bottom starts to develop a few brown spots. Flip tortilla over and cook for about 30 seconds more. Remove from griddle and stack on a plate if eating immediately or in a covered container if saving for later. Repeat with remaining tortillas, dust off any flour that accumulates on the griddle.If serving later, heat in microwave for 15-30 seconds until warm.

They will keep well if kept in airtight container or zipper bag. They can also be frozen for a later event, separate tortillas with waxed paper and place in a freezer zipper bag.

*In all this took about an hour. To speed things up you could make the dough ahead of time, and have someone rolling and someone cooking.

*This was fun to do and the Tortillas made great enchiladas the next day. They were stiff the day I made them but softened up after sitting in the fridge over night. I think using real lard will remedy this.

To create an entire Cinco de Mayo Menu try these other recipes from my gringo cooking.

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