You’ll also find jars of juices and jams as well as frozen berries and fruit. But the pantry is decidedly heavy on south-of-the-border fixings — even though we generally stick to more Mediterranean-style fare.
So, to spice things up and make the most of our garden’s largesse, my husband, Kevin, and I decided to create a Mexican Christmas dinner for the extended family. After all, we already had most of the ingredients, right?
We had poblanos to stuff, beans to re-fry, tomatoes and peppers to blend into sauces, salsas to open and serve.
But after perusing online authentic recipes, we realized there’s more to Mexican cuisine: Corn meal and cheeses. Annatto seeds and dried roasted peppers. Not to mention limes and avocados.
We gamely forged ahead, stocking up on ingredients at specialty grocers. Kevin even found a cast iron press to make our own tortillas.
With to-do lists in hand, we mapped out our tasks, thawing and chopping, blending and baking, mixing and assembling right on schedule until 5 o’clock Christmas Eve when Kevin set out to press and fry 36 tortillas for the enchiladas and quesadillas.
He had waited to attempt this until I finally got home from work to provide moral support. The corn flour, salt and water dough was set, the pan was heated, the press was ready.
But, evidently, we weren’t.
To our dismay, we couldn’t get the hang of a seemingly simple skill mastered by millions. The dough rolled into small balls just as it’s supposed to. Then, it pressed into a perfect circle just as it’s supposed to. But peeling the raw tortilla off the press without tearing it wasn’t so easy. Those that came off intact were soon mangled after sticking to the pan.
After an hour, we had managed fewer than half a dozen that puffed in the pan just as they’re supposed to. Flipped without flopping just as they’re supposed to.
And tasted as amazing as they’re supposed to.
But the clock was ticking and stress levels were rising. This was no way to spend Christmas Eve!
So, off to the store we raced before they closed. Four packages of uniformly made corn tortillas saved the day — and the meal, which our guests deemed a success.
We’ll have to learn to make tortillas another time. After all, we still have all those south-of-the-border fixings.