Dinner with Kirsten

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Taco Night

May 4th, 2008 · 37 Comments

Tortilla Main

Ole! My infatuation with Mexican food and Spanish culture has led me down a rocky culinary path. The disastrous mini flans I made for my 8th grade Spanish class come to mind, as well as the oily churros I fed to my Mom’s Bunco group. That being said, I make great sopapillas (a hollow doughnut that is by far my favorite Mexican dessert), I’m always ready to whip up my stand-by Midwestern-style enchiladas, and, most of all, I make a mean taco.

My philosophy is, “Where there’s a taco there’s a party.” My go-to dinner party equation includes ground beef, taco seasoning, a box of shells and plenty of chopped veggies. Oh, and if my guest are lucky, I’ll buy sour cream and grate some sharp cheddar. When I was in graduate school I hosted taco and poker parties about once a month, and I’ve tried to keep the tradition going since then—mixers, with new and old friends bonding over tacos.

Taco folded

Geoff and I have our own taco nights every few weeks. I sometime experiment with different meats and sauces, but too often I fall back on beef with a spice packet. I recently hit bottom—I bought a Taco Bell kit for double-decker tacos, complete with glue-like nacho cheese in a foil tear-off-the-corner packet. As Geoff rolled his eyes and filled his plate, I had to admit that I was in a taco rut.

This week I was determined to make up for it. But, of course, I was busy. I remembered a tortilla recipe I once saw on Cookiemag.com (a parenting magazine), so I tracked it down and printed it out. I decided that if they’re recommending this recipe for mothers with little “helpers,” I was sure I could manage on my own after a long day at work.

I was amazed when the flour and oil mixture I kneaded together rolled out and toasted up easily, elevating Taco Night to an almost indecent sophistication in a matter of minutes. I’m adding tortillas to the list of foods I’d rather make than buy. It really is worth the effort.

Tortilla overview

Shrimp Tacos on Homemade Tortillas
Adapted from CookieMag.com

For tortillas:

3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for flouring the board)
1/3 cup vegetable oil, with extra for coating
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 to 1 cup warm (not hot) water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Add vegetable oil and mix lightly, then add warm water gradually, kneading until you have a soft dough.

Divide the dough into 12 equal balls, coat them lightly in vegetable oil, then cover with a dish towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll each ball into the familiar tortilla size and shape. Stack them out of the way, separating layers with wax paper or plastic wrap.

Preheat an ungreased griddle (I used a cast iron pan). Throw a tortilla on and cook until it begins to puff and the bottom is brown in a few spots.

Flip the tortilla and press down on the top, squeezing out air pockets. After about a minute, remove the tortilla and keep warm in the oven or wrap them in a cloth.

For tacos:

2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
juice of half a lime

1 pound frozen pre-cooked shrimp (thawed and dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 avocado, cubed
grape tomatoes, halved
lettuce, shredded

Combine the sour cream, sugar, cilantro and lime juice to make a cream sauce. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Toss the shrimp in. Add salt and pepper and sauté until just heated through.

Wrap in the tortillas and serve with avocado, tomatoes and lettuce.

Tags: dinner · mexican food · recipes · seafood

37 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kathy C // May 5, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I have never made homemade tortillas before. I am a big time Mexican food junkie. Bring on the tacos, enchiladas, nachos and my new favorite tamales. Now that you say you would prefer to make your own tortillas instead of buying them it makes me want to try them.
    There is a small grocery store in south Omaha I like to go to on Saturday mornings. If you get there right on time they have tortillas that are still warm. I buy the biggest bag they have and head back to my car. The package usually has 50 fresh tortillas in it. By the time I make the 10 miles trip back home it is guaranteed that I have ate 3 or 4 of them right out of the package and plain. I should start thinking this small trip through and buy some cheese or salsa to put on them for my snack home. But I am like a kid in a candy shop. I can smell those fresh tortillas as I walk through the door and I make a beeline to the back of the store, grab the warmest bag I can and up to the register and back to my car in record speeds.

    It is still early here but all this talk is making me think taco’s for breakfast.

  • 2 Jess // May 5, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Oh my god, those pictures are gorgeous! I can’t wait to make tuna steak tacos later this week.

  • 3 mimi // May 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    love taco night!! so simple, yet so fun. thanks for the recipe for homemade tortillas, they look delish!

  • 4 Madeline // May 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I love tacos and I love making my own tortillas even more. You just can’t compare homemade tortillas to store bought, they are the best!

  • 5 Hillary // May 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    That looks absolutely delicious. Happy Cinco de Mayo! If you need more cooking ideas - try this.

  • 6 Camille // May 5, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    I made these for dinner tonight, in honour of Cinco de Mayo, and they were fantastic! I only wish I had had cilantro, as I can see that adding it to the sauce would have been very tasty. Thanks for the recipe!

  • 7 Foodaholic // Jun 9, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Shrimp and avocado are two of my fave foods, but I have never tried them in a taco before. Thanks for the idea!

    I just ate, but those still look appetizing!

  • 8 Tacos « angela’s blog // Jun 20, 2008 at 9:10 am

    […] by using black beans. But the reason I’m going to make tacos tonight? Kirsten talks about this recipe for homemade tortillas that literally sounds like throwing flour and oil in a bowl. Seriously. And I […]

  • 9 angela // Jun 20, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Hey Kirsten, I made the tortillas for dinner tonight because my husband loves Mexican food and they were a HIT. I used a black bean filling that I put together myself (plus my other half doesn’t eat seafood), but the tortillas were definitely the crowning achievement of the evening.

    By the way, I don’t even know if you would remember me but I lived across the hall from you our freshman year at Wash U - my last name used to be Wong.

    I’m ridiculously jealous of your job at Food Network. :-)

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