Monday, March 11, 2013

{a breath} small distractions and {a bite} meatless monday: soyrizo & potato tacos with homemade corn tortillas & mexican pickled red onions

"sometimes the smallest things take up 
the most room in your heart." 
~ a.a. milne, from "winnie the pooh"

The silence is being punctuated with the whirr of a hand saw. Grandma's neighbor is building a fence in her garden to protect her plants from Starbuck's curious stomping and chomping Starbuck from eating any potentially dangerous plants. Starbuck, meanwhile is perched on the pile of pillows and blankets behind the sofa between it and the windowsill watching Joe as he goes about the business of building. All she knows is that while he is here, she is stuck inside instead of being outside amongst Grandma's plants.


Grandma is trying to entertain and distract Starbuck. I'm thankful for my fur child's ability to provide Grandma with entertainment and distraction. Grandma has been particularly sad lately. Death has been on her mind. Her goddaughter died recently. She told me that she loved her goddaughter as if she were her own and it fills her with so much sadness, the recent grief intermingling with the grief she carries in her heart all the time for my Auntie Sally's passing. I didn't know my cousin myself but I feel for my Grandmother and it makes me happy to know that Star can make her laugh, even for a few minutes. 



{a bite} made with love

Without fail, every time I cube and fry potatoes, I think of my Auntie Sally. Pan fried potatoes with scrambled eggs was her speciality. No one made it as good as she did. Maybe it was the love she made it with that gave it that extra bit of flavor? She was on my mind when I started working on this dish Sunday morning. Although, I don't think she would have gone for the soyrizo.

I love Mexican chorizo. I grew up loving it. We usually had the store bought kind in the refrigerator but every once in a while, when pork butt was on sale, Dad would make it from scratch. Dad makes an awesome homemade version that I hope to get him to teach me so I can share it here with all you. For today's post, I wanted to share with you a meatless Monday version so I swapped out real chorizo with soyrizo in one of my favorite preparations: chorizo con pappas.




I was first introduced to soyrizo about 12 or 15 years ago when I was in total workout mode and looking for a less fat and greasy alternative to authentic Mexican chorizo (not to be confused with the smoked and dried Spanish variety). I made soyrizo with eggs and potatoes once for my mother during one of our sleepover weekends and it got her approval. Real chorizo often gives her heartburn so she liked that this vegetarian version did not. I took it on a group camping trip once and fooled everyone, not telling them that it was vegetarian until after breakfast was consumed. They were all dumbfounded at being duped. 

I paired this simple preparation with homemade corn tortillas (simple and yummy!) as well as homemade Mexican pickled red onions.

Simple Mexican Pickled Red Onions

There is a tendency to make this recipe super complicated but really, fast and simple is all you need for this tasty condiment. This simple condiment adds a bright acidic note to sandwiches, green salads and on tacos. Letting the onions steep overnight, the onions will take on a gorgeous bright magenta hue but you can make this and let it sit for as little as 30 minutes before adding it to your favorite recipe.






1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced.
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place onions in a non-reactive mixing bowl (glass or stainless steel).
  2. Add water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and gently pour over the onions. Add the ground pepper, stir and cover with plastic wrap and allow to steep on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Use immediately or once the onions are completely cool, pour out most of the juice and place the onions into an airtight glass container. Will keep for a month in the refrigerator but I doubt it will last that long. 

Homemade Corn tortillas

Masa harina is made from corn that has has gone through a Nixtamalization process which makes the corn more nutritional than corn flour corn meal. You cannot substitute corn flour or corn meal in recipes calling for masa harina as it behaves very differently when baking and cooking than does it's simpler prepared cousins. It's available at most supermarkets under the Quaker label in the baking aisle along side all purpose flour. Additional brands (I use Maseca) are available at Mexican markets or online. You can make the tortillas by hand by pressing the ball of dough between your hands and flattening, or you can place the dough between plastic wrap or parchment paper onto a flat work surface and use a large plate with a smooth bottom to press the ball down. Tortilla presses, which is what I use, are usually available at most Mexican markets or online here and here.














Makes about 15 4-inch tortillas

2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups very warm water

  1. Place harina in a mixing bowl. Place baking powder and salt in a sieve and use the back of a spoon to force it through the mesh. Whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined. Use your hand to make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients, Add 1 1/2 cups of the warm water and use your hands to mix the flour into the water. Add more water 1/4 cup at a time until the dough holds together in a big ball, is pliable and smooth. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more masa a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. 
  2. Divide the dough into 15 golf ball-sized balls of dough. Cover with a damp towel so they don't dry out while you make the tortillas. 
  3. Place a cast iron griddle or skillet on medium heat to start warming.
  4. To press the tortillas, I use sandwich wraps from Smart & Final to line my press (you can use plastic wrap, waxed paper or parchment paper. I like the sandwich wraps because they are convenient in size and come in large quantities). Fold a sheet in half, open it and place it on the press. Place a ball of dough, centered, between the sheets of paper. Close the press and press down on the lever. Open, flip the tortilla over and press again. Pull the entire sheet out and set aside. Repeat with remaining dough and additional paper until all dough is pressed. 
  5. Take stack over to the griddle, with the stack on the counter, carefully peel back one side of the paper. Place the newly exposed tortilla carefully on the griddle and then carefully peel back the rest of the paper. Cook until the edges of the tortillas start to curl up, about 45 seconds to a minute. Flip the tortilla (depending on how well seasoned your cast iron is, you might need the aid of a spatula) and cook for 30-45 seconds on the second side. Remove to a tortilla warmer of a towel lined bowl. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. 
  6. To store leftover tortillas, wait until they are completely cooled then place in a resealable quart-sized plastic bag and refrigerate. Eat tortillas within 2 -3 days. To reheat, you can do it Mexican style and place the tortilla directly on the flame of a gas stove, reheat on a hot griddle or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and heat in the microwave for 15-30 seconds until pliable (time depends on quantity you're heating).



Soyrizo & Potato on Homemade Corn Tortillas with Mexican Pickled Red Onions

Enough for 10 tacos



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Russet potato, diced small
1/2 package Soyrizo
10 homemade corn tortillas

Optional Toppings:
homemade Mexican pickled red onions
queso fresco
Mexican crema or sour cream
chopped cilantro leaves

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium high. Add the olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add the potatoes and cook on medium low until golden and fork tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Squeeze out half the soyrizo directly into the same pan used for the potatoes. Use a spatula to break up the sausage and brown to your liking of color and crispiness. I like mine with brown bits so I cooked my for about 8 minutes. 
  3. Add back the potatoes and stir to combine well. Remove from heat. 
  4. To assemble, place 2 - 3 tablespoons of soyrizo and potato mixture in the center of a warm tortilla. Top with onions, queso fresco, crema and some cilantro. Enjoy immediately. 


I hope you all have an incredible week. Until next time …
¡Buen Provecho!
Ani

3 comments:

Joanne said...

Just found your website. The photography is brilliant! I'll definitely be returning often. :)

afotogirl said...

Thank you, Joanne! And welcome! So glad you found me. :)

Colette Joseph said...

Homemade tortillas, too?! Girl, you rock!