Tortilla Crepe Stacks

To some of us, Mexican food terms get a little confusing. I mean there is the taco, burrito, quesadilla, enchilada and taquito just to name a few. Before anything, one needs to know what a tortilla is. Simply put, it is wheat or corn plain bread that is used as a wrapping material around different types of filling ingredients to make the various Mexican dishes. 

Masa Harina is a traditional flour used to make corn tortillas and tamales as well as other Mexican meals. To make masa harina, field corn (or maize) is dried and then treated in a solution of lime and water called slaked lime (or wood-ash lye). This loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the corn. In addition, the lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract.

The soaked maize is then washed, and the wet corn is ground into a dough called masa. It is this fresh masa, when dried and powdered, that becomes masa harina. Water is added again to make dough for the corn tortillas or tamales.

Cornmeal and masa harina are very different preparations of corn. Do not try to substitute cornmeal or regular wheat flour in recipes calling for masa harina as they will not produce the same results.

Today, I want to make some tortilla crepe stacks. Crepes as we all know, have always been a hallmark of French cuisine. So the question is, ‘how did they come to be in Mexican cuisine’? In the 1860’s, French forces invaded Mexico. They came, they conquered, they cooked and then they got kicked out. Cinco de Mayo commemorates that victory for Mexico from 1862. However, it took another five years before the French left Mexico for good. During their stay, the French left their mark on the country’s cuisine.

One of the reasons I have always loved crepes, is that they are so easy to make and taste so good. You can either roll the filling inside or just stack them with their fillings and make a ‘cake’.

These tortilla crepes are made with half masa harina and half white flour. Next, I made a mushroom rice & barley pilaf and some guacamole. You can pick and choose when it comes to the extra filling add-ons. I guess it did get a bit more involved but worth it —.

Print Recipe
Tortilla Crepe Stacks
Instructions
Tortilla Crepes
  1. In a blender, beat eggs with milk & oil. Gradually add masa harina, white flour & salt, beat until smooth. Allow to stand for 1 hour or longer. Heat an electric griddle to 350 F. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter onto griddle. With bottom of 1/4 cup, make circles in the batter, gradually enlarge to size of tortilla you wish to make. I made 3 for each crepe stack. Cook each crepe for a few minutes on each side then remove to a wire cooling rack.
Rice & Barley Pilaf
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion, garlic & mushrooms until tender crisp. Add chicken broth & bring to a boil. Add all remaining pilaf ingredients & reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until barley & rice are cooked & liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; place in a dish & set aside to cool.
Guacamole
  1. Mince onion & sun-dried tomatoes & mash avocados. In a small bowl, combine avocados, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, & remaining guacamole ingredients. Blend well, cover & refrigerate.
Crepe Stack Fillings
  1. Cook chicken & shred, Grate cheese & prepare all filling ingredients.
Assembly
  1. Spread 4 tortillas with guacamole, reserving a bit for 'decorating' the top of each stack. Over the guacamole, put a layer of rice/barley pilaf. Top each of them with chicken, green peppers, olives, corn, red onion, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, black beans & a sprinkling of cheese. On 2 serving plates, place one filled tortilla topped by a second one. Complete each stack with another corn tortilla. 'Decorate' each with remaining guacamole, salsa, sour cream & remaining cheese. Heat each crepe stack for a few minutes in the microwave before serving.

Orecchiette Pasta with Turkey Meatballs

Italians have been making and eating orecchiette pasta ‘forever’ and the way it is made has changed very little over time. Orecchiette means ‘small ears’, a name derived from the shape. They are a bit less than an inch across, slightly dome-shaped and their centers are thinner than their rims. This characteristic gives them an interesting, variable texture, soft in the middle and somewhat chewier around the edges. A very distinctive type of pasta that originates from the Italian region of Puglia, the southeastern region that forms the high heel on the ‘boot’ of Italy.

Orecchiette require only four ingredients: hard wheat, flour, water and salt. Their particular shape, combined with the rough surface, makes it perfect for any type of sauce. Although they are best in the fresh version, dried certainly are a good second choice.

As ordinary as this meal seems, the flavor is really good and the orecchiette does a great job of cupping the sauce. For a little extra flavor, I added a few bacon slices to the turkey meatballs. 

Print Recipe
Orecchiette Pasta with Turkey Meatballs
Instructions
Turkey Meatballs
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove, drain on paper towels, & chop finely. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, bacon crumbles, seasonings, egg & breadcrumbs. Mix & form into 20 balls. Brown meatballs in bacon drippings until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
Orecchiette, Vegetables & Sauce
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta & cook as label directs adding broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta & broccoli.
  2. Pour off any bacon drippings from skillet, then add 3 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes & 1/2 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring 1 minute. Add the pasta, broccoli florets & meatballs. Whisk egg with reserved cooking water in a small bowl, then add to the skillet & stir until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt & pepper. Serve with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.