Tortillas

Back when I posted my recipe for pita, I raved about how easy it was to make, and how quick.  But tortillas are even more simple, and just as delicious. The dough is wonderful to work with and perfect for rolling out.  Like pita, I like to make tortillas in bulk, freeze what I don’t eat, and then pull out tortillas to use for quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, even Indian food (tortillas are extremely similar to chapati, a south Indian flatbread)!

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water

In a large bowl, combine the flour and oil, working with your fingers.  Dissolve the salt in the water, then pour this into the bowl and begin to knead.  When the dough has come together, divide it into twelve balls, then cover the bowl with a damp rag and let it rest for 25 to 30 minutes (longer is okay, but unnecessary).

Dust a work surface with flour (I like to use a cutting board), making sure to keep flour on hand.  Turn the stove to medium heat and place a pan on it.  Roll out the dough into circular shapes roughly seven inches in diameter.  Once the pan is hot, place the rolled out tortillas on it one at a time.  Flip the tortilla when the dough starts to puff up and allow the other side to cook.  This should take very little time, so be watching constantly.  For a richer flavor, brush the tortillas with oil or butter once they are finished.  Enjoy!

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Ratatouille

One of my favorite things about summer is the variety of fruits and vegetables that are in season.  In winter, things can get pretty boring (apples. Bananas. Apples. Bananas).  But right now, there’s zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers…just what we need to make ratatouille.

While it is an excellent film, the movie Ratatouille can give you the wrong idea about the dish. First, ratatouille is a side, not a main course, and it’s considered a very homey, casual sort of thing.  Secondly, the dish made in the movie is actually tian (in which the vegetables are sliced and then arranged in a pattern and baked together).  In true ratatouille, the vegetables are diced and sauteed separately before being mixed and served.

The following is my adaptation of the ratatouille from my favorite cookbook, A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson (who also runs a fantastic blog).  You can make it all at once, but I personally find it easy to make the vegetables throughout the day and then assemble the dish before eating.

Ingredients

  • 5 tomatoes
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 large onions
  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Over medium heat, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Once it is boiling, place the tomatoes in the water until the skin begins to crack.  Remove them from the water and dry them off.  Place a large pan over medium heat and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil.  Chop the onions into small chunks then place them in the pan with the bay leaf and allow them to saute, stirring every few minutes. Crush the garlic and add it to the pan, along with the thyme.


While the onions are cooking, dice the peppers.  When the onions are done (they should be lightly browned), scoop them into a bowl, then add more olive oil to the pan and pour in the peppers.  Again, saute them.
  

Repeat the same process with the zucchini and tomatoes, returning the bay leaf to the pan each time.  Make sure to add salt and pepper to each vegetable.

When all of the ingredients have been sauteed, place a large pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add all the ingredients to the pot, along with salt and pepper, and saute for a short time.  Ratatouille must be served hot; if you are making it a while before dinner, the put a lid on the pan for storage, then reheat it on the stove when it is time to eat. Enjoy!

 

 

Chocolate Cookie Cake

It’s summer at last!  For me, school ended a few weeks ago, but what with visiting relatives, friends visiting us, the SAT and a violin concert, I’ve been too busy to post anything.  I have still been making food, of course–earlier this week I tried out this chocolate cookie cake from a Martha Stewart Living magazine, and now I’ve finally gotten around to posting.

What really makes this cake is good quality chocolate.  The rich flavor comes almost entirely from the cocoa, so I  cannot emphasize enough how important it is not to use Hershey’s (which is just not good chocolate).  Dutch cocoa is always excellent, and  Ghirardelli also tastes great.   Once you have acquired some good cocoa, you can sit back and relax; this cake takes about six minutes to make.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 3/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs and vanilla.  Mix in the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, then stir in the chocolate chips.  Butter a nine-inch diameter cake pan and scrape the batter into it, then place in the oven and bake for twenty minutes.