A pita-riffic dinner idea

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been buying cheap whole wheat pita bread from the Food Basics that my friend has taken me to a couple of times–$1.69 for 6 huge pitas. Turns out they’re a great replacement for tortillas. I think they’re tastier too, and more filling.

So tonight we had sort of a Tex-Mex burrito/fajita/wrap kind of dinner, which could have been very inexpensive if it hadn’t been for the red and yellow peppers that each cost $3.99 a pound. It was around five dollars for just two peppers! But if you can get your peppers cheap, this would be a very tasty, filling and inexpensive meal. I should also mention that this turned out to be another accidentally vegan meal!

One thing with using pitas rather than tortillas is that they do tend to get soggy faster. I suppose one could use a lettuce leaf to hold the fillings to protect the bread from the moisture, or possibly skip the salsa, or at least squeeze the juice out of it. I just went with it, and then gobbled my wrap quickly before it fell apart.

I’ve never had much luck eating tacos neatly either ūüôā

Pita Fajitas

four large whole wheat pita breads, split into rounds

one onion, sliced lengthwise

two red, yellow, orange or green peppers, or a combination, sliced

chili powder

salt

refried beans

salsa

2 avocados, sliced lengthwise

other optional additions: sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, guacamole, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, etc.

Saute the onions in olive oil until dark brown in places. Remove from pan and set aside. Add peppers to the pan and season with chili pepper and salt. Saute the peppers until blackened in places.

Build your pita fajita with generous spoonfuls of refried beans, avocado slices, onions, peppers, salsa, and any optional condiments you choose. Wrap and enjoy.

Serves four.

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One of my next projects will be to make my own refried beans. I’ve got the pinto beans–now I just need a good recipe. Any recommendations?

The “other” kind of tortillas

I didn’t mention yesterday but on Tuesday I actually went crazy and at the same time as making flour tortillas, I also made corn tortillas! ¬†Bloggers, especially those living in New York City, really love their tortillas! ¬†Here is a post about making corn tortillas on¬†30 Bucks a Week (thanks Tina!) and another on¬†Homesick Texan.

I checked out Grace Ottawa after seeing it recommended on Ottawa Foodies as a place to buy Masa Harina–a specific type of corn flour that is recommended for making tortillas. ¬†Sure enough, they had it (and many other wonders and goodies, which I will report on tomorrow) so I grabbed a bag of “Masa Mix by Mr. Goudas (2 kilos for $4) and made my way home.

Now these tortillas are also very delicious, and totally easy! ¬†Even easier than the flour variety. ¬†And the taste? ¬†Well, I imagine the Mr. Goudas brand is probably not the height of flavour, but even so, they were completely delicious. ¬†They smelled amazing and the texture was lovely and soft. ¬†I can’t wait to try frying these babies to make hard tacos and home-made corn chips.

So, is it worth it to make your own tortillas? ¬†Absolutely! ¬†The flavour is incomparable, the ingredients are pronouncable and safe, they are fast and easy, and so CHEAP! ¬†While I don’t see the corn tortillas replacing bread for me for summer wrap sandwiches (not like flour tortillas), I also don’t see myself spending another penny on Old El Paso any time in the near future.

I should add that I made them without the aid of a tortilla press, which Grace Ottawa also sells for $20. ¬†I’m guessing a tortilla press would make them even thinner, and thus do even more for the texture and flavour. ¬†I’m putting this gadget on my list of things to look out for at garage sales this summer.

Corn Tortillas

2 cups Masa Harina

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix the masa harina with salt, then add water and stir until it comes together as a soft dough. Knead for a few minutes until smooth. Let it sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Divide into 12 round balls and then cover so they don’t dry out as you press and cook.

Next, flatten them into thin rounds using either a tortilla press with two circles cut from thick plastic wrap (like a freezer bag), or cover two heavy cutting boards with plastic wrap and use those to press the rounds.  Heat a heavy bottomed cast iron skillet on medium.  Cook tortillas 30 to 40 seconds on each side, or long enough to produce some browned spots on the surface.

Enjoy with your favourite tex-mex or Mexican food, or fresh from the pan with some butter and salsa.  Let me know if you try it!

Tortilla-riffic!

Since my tortilla-making adventure on Monday, I have begun a quest–QUEST, I say!–for the perfect tortilla recipe. ¬†I scanned the blogosphere and found a couple of references (here and here) to one recipe recommended as the most authentic flour tortilla to be found north of the US-Mexico border. ¬†I had to try it.

Luckily it is a very easy recipe. ¬†It was also very very good, much better and lighter than the recipe I posted yesterday. ¬†The dough was also much easier to work with, given that it wasn’t sopping with lard. ¬†This is a tortilla one can eat two of and still have room for salad.

I think *now* I have found my new summer bread. ¬†My next challenge will be making it on the barbecue, which I am sure is possible, with my cast iron pan–the goal being to continue to eat home-made bread throughout the summer, without heating up the house to make it.

Texas Flour Tortillas (from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)

2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vegetable oil

3/4 cup milk, warmed

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add oil and milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave, stirring to form a soft dough.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently for 2 minutes to bring together into a smooth dough.  Oil the bowl, roll the ball of dough so it is oiled on top, and then cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let sit for 20 minutes.  Divide into 8 balls and let sit another 10 minutes.

While dough is resting for the second time, heat a heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron is recommended) on medium heat.  Roll out your first ball of dough to form a circle and place into dry hot pan.  While it is cooking, roll out the next tortilla.  Let it brown and puff up on one side, then flip.  It will probably char in places, which adds a depth of flavour.  Cook on each side for 30-40 seconds.

Keep tortillas covered and warm, and serve immediately after making.  Can be frozen in a foil package and reheated gently in the oven.

Makes 8 tortillas.