September 19, 2012

"Tortillas to the Rescue"

When I was in University my go-to meal--besides Kraft Dinner or pizza--was quesadillas. All I needed to do was dice up some vegetables, dump some salsa and cheese into a tortilla and bake it in the oven. With my limited cooking repertoire at the time, it was the perfect easy meal:

I still buy tortillas on a regular basis to make wraps and snacks, but my cooking skills have vastly improved since my student days. So I was thrilled when Ulysses Press sent me a copy of Tortillas to the Rescue: Scrumptious Snacks, Mouth-Watering Meals and Delicious Desserts--All Made with the Amazing Tortilla by Jessica Harlan.

The book features more than 100 recipes for everything from snacks, wraps, breakfasts and even desserts. To be honest, the thought of a tortilla with ice cream or chocolate in a sweet dish doesn't appeal to me, but there were plenty of savoury recipes. There is even a section on how to make your own tortillas--obviously important in a tortilla cookbook--if you want to stray away from store-bought.

I used Dempster's whole wheat tortillas, but I would like to make my own at some point. The book has instructions for corn, flour, multi-grain and sweet flour tortillas and the recipes don't seem that complex. The first recipe I tried was Spinach and Cheese Empanadas:

There are a few other recipes in the book using tortillas instead of pastry dough, and although it's an easy recipe, I'm still not sure it's a perfect substitute. I would have preferred more of a pizza dough-type outer crust, but the tortillas are definitely easier to manage.

I suppose the book sums it up nicely: "When you don't feel like dealing with fussy pastry dough, just fold a flour tortilla around a filling and bake. It makes a light, crisp crust for empanadas and other filled pastries." (pg. 45)

I brushed the tortillas with an egg wash and put about two tablespoons of filling on each. The filling consisted of cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, spinach, salt and pepper. I used 1% cottage cheese and light mozzarella cheese, so this would make a great, lighter alternative to traditional spinach and feta filling for a Mediterranean pastry or dish. Then I folded them over, pressed down on the sides and made a few slits on the top of the tortilla for air to escape. I baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes.

They weren't quite the texture of empanadas. The filling kind of reminded me of those spinach and cheese boreks (the Turkish spinach pies). I would have preferred the outside a little more chewy and crunchy, but for tortillas they held up pretty well. They went beautifully as a side to the Chicken Tortilla Soup:

I don't really like smokey, chipotle or spicy flavoured foods, so I wasn't sure I would like this soup, but after making it I think it will now go in my repertoire of go-to chicken soup recipes.

The soup contains onions, diced tomatoes, corn, chicken, zucchini (that I substituted instead of red bell pepper), some chicken broth and a touch of cumin and lime juice. I then fried up some tortillas cut into strips as a crispy topping. You're supposed to also garnish it with avocado and lime wedges, but I thought it would be too much with the spinach and cheese empanadas as well. The crispy tortilla strips added a nice texture (you could also use nacho chips) and the chicken, corn and vegetables came together into a nice, hearty--and not too spicy--Southwestern soup.

Even after the endless quesadilla meals of my past, I will still never tire of tortillas, especially with gooey cheese and tangy salsa. But it's good to know there are a lot of creative options out there for making and using them. I can't wait to make my own and try some of the other recipes in this book (and yes, there are quesadilla recipes too), like spicy tofu wraps, ceviche roll-ups and avocado and leek omelet wraps to name a few. "Tortillas to the Rescue" would definitely save someone stuck in a wrap or week-night dinner rut. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm using them like crazy, although I;m Greek I like them because they are thin and like the book is describing they are so versatile..
    Have a nice weekend!


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