In re: Homemade texas flour tortillas

Breakfast Tacos!

So to improve upon my breakfast tacos I decided this morning to make some fresh flour tortillas, in the Texas style. While many may say that flour tacos are an Americanized bastardization of the corn tortilla, they would be wrong.  True corn tacos dominate mexico, but there is some flour tortillas in the north where wheat grew.  Anyway, thats neither here nor there as breakfast tacos, at least as we are using it is an American creation or adaptation, so using the flour tortillas is of course entirely appropriate no matter what you consider the flour tortillas.

Tortilla dough resting

Banana peppers from the garden and onions

I have only made tortillas a few time and usually make corn ones out of masa for taco purposes, but due to the breakfast nature of my tacos I wanted to use flour and I came across this recipe on the Homesick Texan blog (recipe and link below).  The recipe was interesting as you’ll see it has both milk and no lard or shortening – the milk unexpected and the other decidedly missing (and go read her post on the tortillas as she was on quest to duplicate the TX tortilla).  Eitherway sounded easy so I gave it a try.  Indeed it wasn’t hard, I think next time I’ll roll out them out a tad thinner than I did (they were a hybrid between almost a think pita and a thick tortilla) one of the great things about TX tortillas is their thickness but I may have gone a bit too thick.  Either way they are delicious – pillowy, fresh and with some nice charred spots from the hot cast iron skillet.  They nicely housed my breakfast tacos and made a great start to a Sunday.

Texas Flour Tortillas (adapted from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)

Ingredients:

Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

3/4 cups of warm milk

via An end to my quest: flour tortillas | Homesick Texan.

In re: Battle of Ohio – Mustard edition

Over the Fourth of July weekend I went down to see one of the Battle of Ohio/I-71 Series/Indians v. Reds/whatever you want to call it interleague game between my Cleveland Indians and the Reds. Was a great time, a pretty decent number of Indians fans showed up, which helped add to the atmosphere. I can’t say I am a huge fan of the Great American Ballpark – nothing wrong with it, nice, clean, new, fairly generic stadium. I guess I wish they would have done something a bit more interesting and a bit more open to the river (on the lower deck you can’t see out to the river, which would be a nifty feature I think). Okay, well not to go on about the stadium, I wanted to mention the mustard. One of the truly great features of going to ballparks is local foods, unfortunately for quite a while the trend to go w/ a mass market food service provider and having national brands pushed a lot of these aspects out – but fortunately Jacobs Field, oops Progressive Field, up in Cleveland has not gone to only having yellow mustard (while they do have the ubiquitous Heinz yellow mustard) they also have the famous and popular Bertmans’s Ballpark Mustard.   Cleveland actually has two mustards (neither is made there) (Stadium Mustard is the other and is the one at Brown’s Stadium – and seems to be made in IL) and they are both great and they are the main reason you must grab a dog at the ballpark or a Browns game. There is debate among some Clevelanders about which is better, some folks don’t seem to know there are two or that there is a difference and both seem to claim to be the original (they share some overlapping history, when the one handled retail sales and the other was for the stadiums).  Some say that following a lawsuit Stadium Mustard got the name and Bertman’s got the recipe.  (see a cleveland.com Battle of two spicy mustards.   Hear more on the story about it on the Splendid Table Podcast – May 9, 2009) including how the two split, the legal battle between the two and how neither is made in Cleveland (Bertman’s is made in southern Ohio – go figure).

So back to the ballpark in Cincy, in one of the fun interstate rivalary elements they cooked up for the weekend the ballpark was conducting a mustard taste off, Cincinnati Reds stadium’s Uncle Phil’s (more on that later) versus Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard. I am biased towards the Bertmans so I voted for that, but Uncle Phil’s was pretty good too. Neither were yellow mustard so I was happy to grab a dog before we sat down and I put some Uncle Phil’s on it and enjoyed the Indians win and the hot dog. Not sure who won the voting or if they even counted up the slips.

Interestingly enough I got home and looked up Uncle Phil’s and learned it doesn’t have much to do with Cincy and that it hasn’t been around for a long time as the Red’s mustard and it seems like for a year or two they stopped using it as the mustard – but it seems to be back.  According to this article the Red’s featured Uncle Phil’s for 6 and 1/2 seasons (see here).  And is made in Wisconsin.  Funny enough that Bertman’s is the one that is made nearby Cincy – kinda wonder why they don’t get into using that one.

In re: Paella

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Last year I took a trip to Spain and brought back an amazingly cheap (around 5 euros on clearance ) paella pan that I found on clearance at El Corte Ingles (where I found myself frequently shopping with their open late grocery store – a rarity in Spain).
Anyway since then I hadn’t gotten around to giving the pan a spin but the other night we finally did. Due to bad weather ended up indoors, which led to some less than ideal results as the pan isn’t made to lie flat on a smooth electric stove top and that led to hotspots and burning when I tried to form the all important crust (soccarat). That said I was happy with the flavor overall despite being fairly inexperienced with making paella, but do plan to do it outside next time – and there will be a next time.

The basics of what I did are below:

Cooked up some cured chorizo to render a bit of fat. (they have some dried Spanish chorizo at Weilands here in Columbus)
Browned chicken pieces (legs here) and removed.
Cooked up a sofrito (onions, then garlic and then grated tomato – used 2 tomatoes and 1/2 an onion, 3 cloves garlic)
Added rice (short grain, of course Spanish Bomba or Calispara work, but could use arborio or others as well)
Cooked slightly added wine, then smoked paprika, stock, saffron and chicken, sausage and baked for a bit. Then added more liquid because my pan was so short compared to rice volume and tucked in mussels and shrimp and added peas.
Baked then stove top for crust (don’t burn like I did).
Garnish with parsley and lemon
Enjoy with some chilled wine or a cold nice dry sherry (manzanilla would be nice).

Dessert was some vanilla ice cream with some pedro ximenez poured on top.

In re: Flip Flop Fly Ball

Recently recieved as an early birthday present (very early indeed) a fantastic book Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson.  I had seen a few shots from the book and knew instantly when I saw it that I would love it.  (I love graphical representations of information and have the amazing Charles Joseph Minard depiction of Napoelon’s march on Russia hanging in my office — order here)  What I didn’t realize and if you don’t want the amazing opening lines of the book ruined stop reading now — the author is not American, didn’t grow up watching baseball, got interested in it less than 8 years ago and lived in Germany at the time he got into baseball.  What you say!  I was surprised to say the least, but he has a great story of how he got into baseball, watched on the internet and eventually created all kinds of amazing infographics depicting all kinds of cool stats like the altitudes of each ball park and a venn diagram taxonomy of team names.  So for any baseball fans who have a soft spot for good visual design and some nifty infographics I highly recommend Flip Flop Fly Ball.

see his blog Flip Flop Fly Ball and also see a review on Slate of the book Flip Flop Fly Ball: Four infographics from Craig Robinsons baseball graphics tour de force. 1 – By Craig Robinson – Slate Magazine.

In re: Wall Street Journal sinking to new lows?

The measure that really matters is the market’s, and on that score Mr. Hinton was at the helm when we again became America’s largest daily.

via Review & Outlook: News and Its Critics – WSJ.com.

To be fair the Wall Street Journal is a good publication excluding aside some of their crazy opinion pieces that pop up from time to time (more frequently in post Muroch version, but still I enjoy the paper and agree their weekend edition has improved under New Corp stewardship).  That said todays opinion piece defending News Corp and the WSJ is quite possibly the craziest opinion piece yet and really quiet astonishing.  Aside from the above quote, which sounds more like a defense of reporting like Fox News or a tabloid (ratings first, integrity? eh..)  Several other papers and blogs have responded to the WSJ’s opinion piece that among other things says “Phone hacking is illegal, and it is up to British authorities to enforce their laws. If Scotland Yard failed to do so adequately when the hacking was first uncovered several years ago, then that is more troubling than the hacking itself.” which is just weird to think, let alone publish it in their paper.

For more see a post by Richard Adams over at the Guardian’s Blog and a good piece in the Economist that points out some of the good parts of Murdoch’s news gathering including his investments and continued spending on quality publications like the Times of London and the WSJ.

In re: Netflix price rise should be no surprise

If your a Netflix subscriber (and I am currently not, but I do join on and off when I get in the mood to watch some movies) you have no doubt heard about the change in pricing coming up this fall making streaming and disc mailing two seperate prices and that being a pretty steep increase if you choose to stick with both (had you been only interested in one or the other not so bad for you).  While quick increases might not be good, they also make some sense as getting known for pricing creep a couple bucks now and a couple bucks later adds a lot of uncertainty and Netflix has had fairly long periods of time on the pricing planes although they have changed several times in the past.  The backlash at least in cyberspace has been enormous and somewhat surprising, but I have found it interesting that some of the backlash is pretty unrealistic, demanding in their “Dear Netflix” tweets that the price shouldn’t go up and oh get more streaming content.  The reality of the situation is Netflix was able to grow streaming on the cheap as content providers had yet to learn the income that could be earned from it and two because they needed to grow to a certain size to get their streaming tech put into every blu-ray, connected tv, video game system, etc and one way to do that was keep it cheap/give it to everyone with Netflix.  So fast forward a few years, add in some new content deals that have cost a lot more to Netflix and add that customers don’t seem happy w/ only obscure content and demand more high value content and price increases were inevitable.

But don’t worry Netflix folks there is competition out there to keep a check on Netflix despite every mail order disk besides the red envelope failing,  folks like myself who would be prime users can get away from it.  I am pretty stocked up on movies on our DVR right now w/ Directv (during the first three month promo we had every channel it seemed and that meant a lot of movies) couple that with the HBO Go service that streams every episode of HBO shows ever (yeah, ever, pretty neat) and you can see that Netflix doesn’t have any time at my place.  Add in some things like Hulu, YouTube getting into premium content, along with RedBox, on demand content via cable/sattelite and any number of online video services, Amazon (their prime subscription gives quasi Netflix content) and iTunes.  So basically yeah price increases suck, but this has to happen if online content is going to become their primary business, which there is no doubt is where they are going as mailing DVDs is not the future.

 

In re: breakfast tacos

Not a breakfast taco, but two delicious tacos from Torchy's in Austin

 

Recently took a trip to Austin, TX and came away wanting to go back for a number of reasons.  One of them has to be the breakfast tacos, not necessarily the actual items which can be duplicated fairly easily at home, but the idea of them.  There is something about the cross cutting nature of the breakfast taco in Austin that is interesting to see – Mexican places have them (so called interior Mexican), Tex-Mex places most definitely have them, and so do Burger King, coffee shops and taco chains and all serve real breakfast tacos because the ‘true’ breakfast taco is an American creation riffing off the Mexican taco of course and sometimes using Mexican ingredients.  Anyway, back to the taco, you can do anything with it, I think eggs make sense as the only given, flour tortillas are the norm in Austin and point to its anglo roots.  Other than that you could go in any direction – American cheese and jimmy dean sausage, sure why not, but you could of course go towards more interesting ingredients, delicious fresh salsas, mexican cheeses, avocado, fresh chilies, beans, chorizo?  All sound good and all have a place.
This morning looking at a freshly picked banana pepper (spicy) from our garden – the first pepper of the year – I decided a breakfast taco was in order.  And here is where they are great, they are so scalable.  I wanted a lighter meal so one taco for me, one for the gf using one egg split made for a perfect meal w/ some fresh blueberries, but hungover craving a large meal three tacos w/ chorizo would fit that bill too.

Today’s breakfast taco featured:
2 flour tacos griddled them to be hot, but not crispy
1 egg, beaten w/ a dash of milk, pepper and salt
finely chopped onion (red today) sauteed
chopped banana pepper (hot) sauteed w/ the onion
chopped tomato (added to the egg mid cooking)
dash of Tapatio
green onion tops for garnish
shredded cheese (was TJ’s Mexican blend)

After cooking the onion and pepper quickly, took 1/3 of it out to garnish on top, then added the egg and scrambled adding tomato part way through just to warm.  topped w/ cheese to slightly melt.  put half of the egg, pepper and onion filling into each taco, top w/ the remaining onions/peppers and green onions and a few dashes of hot sauce (some Tapatio today)

It was delicious, featuring the fresh flavor of the banana pepper whose heat was slightly cut by sauteing it.  Served w/ some blueberries it was a quick meal start to finish and we were off to work.

See NY Times United Tastes– Tacos in the Morning? That’s the Routine in Austin
for more on breakfast tacos in Austin  (oh and for Torchy’s that does have breakfast tacos as well as the delicious ones above, I think one was brisket and one was fried avocado see their website here)