Homemade Taco Seasoning, Shells and Salsa Recipes
You can make all the things needed for Mexican tacos at home from scratch. Why make your own? You have full control over all the ingredients. It is much cheaper. the taste is sensational and like, bread once you have made and tasted your own homemade version you will be very reluctant to go back to the commercial varieties. Bought taco shells, seasonings, sauce and salsa are processed foods and have unwanted sugar, salt preservatives, artificial colors, flavors and mystery additives.
Making homemade tortillas and tacos is quick and easy. You will learn to regard the dry and brittle commercial taco shells that you can buy at stores as being totally inferior to taco shells made at home from scratch. Do it once and you will probably not want to buy commercial taco shells again. You make soft tacos first and then fried them make hard tacos.
Before describing making tacos it is worthwhile describing how to make tortillas at home - both the corn and flour versions. This article includes additional special purpose recipes for taco shells that contain eggs and a mixture of corn and general flour.
The foundation of most Mexican food and meals is the tortilla, made from corn. Tacos are basically fried and shaped tortillas. The corn kernels are cooked with a little lime to get rid of the husk. The cooked corn is then ground with a grinding stone on a stone slab. The flour is mixed with water to form a dough. Small round balls of dough and then flattened out by hand into thin round cakes (tortillas) and then cooked on a hot plate.
In northern Mexico and most of the US, tortilla means the flour version. Tacos are usually made from the corn version.
Hard shell Tacos - the deep freed U-shaped version of a fried tortilla is a modern invention that first appeared in New Mexican recipe books in 1949. These tacos were popularized by Taco Bell and other restaurants, and now widely sold by restaurants and fast food chains. For information on the calories in various types of Mexican foods see: Mexican Food Calories
How to Make Homemade Corn Tortillas
Traditional corn tortillas are made with a special type of corn flour called masa harina, which is sold in many supermarkets and food specialty stores.
1 3/4 cups masa harina
1 1/8 cups hot water
Mix the masa harina and hot water in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead the dough thoroughly until its smooth and pliable. If dough becomes sticky, add more flour; if it begins to dry out, sprinkle with water.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or seal it in a container with a lid, and let it stand for about 30 minutes. Remove the dough and divide into about 15 equal-sized balls
Preheat a cast iron griddle or skillet to a medium-high temperature.
Using a rolling pin, a tortilla press or your hands, flatten each ball of dough into a thin shape between sheets of plastic wrap.
Cook each tortilla in the preheated pan for about 30 seconds, or until slightly puffy and browned. Turn the tortilla over to cook on the second side for another 30 seconds or so.
Keep the cooked tortillas warm by covering with a towel until ready to serve.
How to Make Flour tortillas
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoons of salt
about 1 cup of water
Mix the dry ingredients. Gradually add portions of warm water to create a crumbly dough, work the dough your hands to bind it together. Remove from the bowl onto a board and knead till smooth.
Divide the dough into about 12 pieces and roll each in a small smooth ball. Cover lightly and allow to rest for about 15 minutes. Then flatten each ball into a circle about a hand-span in diameter. Roll out into 9 inch rounds using a rolling pin.
Cook on a preheated heavy frying pan, griddle or electric griddle set at moderate heat. After about 30 seconds blisters will appear. Then turn the tortilla over and press down evenly with a wide spatula. Flip the tortilla over again and cook until blisters start to turn a golden brown. Reduce the heat if the tortilla cooks too quickly, burns or sticks.
Homemade Soft and Hard Tacos
2 cups of general-purpose flour
1 cup of Cornmeal
3 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
Shortening or vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Beat the batter until it is smooth without lumps. Take a medium sized skillet or griddle, add a thin layer of oil and heat over medium heat. Pour a small portion of the batter into the pan. Tilt the pan to form a circle about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. Cook each tortilla until the edges start to dry out, turn onto the other side and cook. You can use these soft tacos directly for meals or fry them for hard-shell tacos.
To form the 'U' shape you will need two skillets. In both heat oil to a depth of about one inch (2.5 cm) in a medium-sized skillet using medium heat. Fry each tortilla and when cooked transfer it from one skillet to the other. Using a knife, tongs and a spoon, shape each tortilla into a 'U' shaped taco shell. Flip to brown both sides of the taco shells . Remove when evenly cooked and the taco shells retain their shape.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Store in a tightly closed container.
2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon pepper
Use 1-2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix for each pound (500g) of ground meat. It will depend on your taste preference. The seasoning can be used for lentils and bean dishes
Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe
2-3 medium fresh tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño chili pepper, finely diced
1 serano chili pepper, finely diced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Cumin, oregano or other herbs and spices to taste
Fine or coarsely chop the 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes. Remove the seeds from the chilies and finely chop. Mix together all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste and if hot enough, add some seeds from the chilies, dried chillies or ground cumin. Set aside covered in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to combine the flavors.
8 ounce tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of onion, chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (extra for hotter taste)
1 tablespoon cumin
1/4 tablespoon paprika
1/4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon ground red pepper
Mix all the ingredients together and blender until smooth. Then pour sauce out into pan and cook gently over low to medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. The cooking is essential to blend the flavors together and heat the sauce ready to be used.
© 2012 Dr. John Anderson
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