Friday, April 30, 2010

Shrimp and Beef Caribbean Tacos w/ Homemade Tortillas

I hate store-bought, bagged tortillas. This all stems from my childhood babysitter, Maria Martinez. Everyday she would make homemade flour tortillas. I remember watching her hands pat the dough back and forth, making a perfect disk, which she would then through in her cast iron skillet. We'd wait patiently until they were just cool enough to eat. I'd eat one plain. I'd eat one with honey. I'd eat one with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Then we'd make one with mayonnaise for her husband--his favorite 3:00 treat.

Maria gave my mom the recipe, but they were never the same. It must have been the love and history Maria had with those tortillas. They were beyond words.

Tonight's dinner was created because Brent had some leftover shrimp that he'd cooked the night before. I wanted to use them. He'd already seasoned them with salt and pepper and some Caribbean spice. So, trying to keep it fresh and healthy, I decided we'd do shrimp tacos with a mango salsa. That's when I realized it was time for me to attempt homemade tortillas on my own. Being a rebel, I decided not to seek counsel from tortilla experts. I was going to wing it with a general formulation in mind and the delicious memories of Maria's warm creations.

Here's my tortilla formula (warning: I would not use this again--it needs tweaking): 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1/4 cup & 3 Tbsp water. I was making a tortilla that wasn't truly flour and it wasn't quite corn. It was a mix. Maybe this was the problem before I even began. I made the dough and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I divided it into six portions and began the hands-on "patting" to make the disks. It didn't work as well as I remember it working for Maria. Perhaps because I haven't been doing it for 30 years. In the end, they tasted good, but they were a bit denser and thicker than I prefer. Next time I'll add 1 tsp more oil and some more water.

So they weren't perfect...the rest of the dish made up for it!

Shrimp and Beef Tacos

Leftover cooked shrimp (probably about 20 small shrimp)
1/2 lb 96% lean ground beef
1/2 tsp Caribbean spice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook thoroughly.

Shrimp and beef mixture

Taco toppings:
Spinach leaves
1 avocado, diced
Mango and Peach Salsa (I would have made salsa, but I figured the tortillas were enough for the night)
Queso Fresco
Queso Fresco--in case you have no clue what I'm talking about. Purchased at King Soopers

On the side I served no-salt-added black beans topped with some of the queso fresco. We each had two tacos. Then for dessert, we each had one more tortilla with honey and cinnamon.

The finished dish--served with a nice glass of white wine

Up close of the taco filling

Brent's commentary from dinner, "Very good. Filling yet not too heavy."

I figured that the points for two tacos each is about 11. The black beans and "dessert tortilla" added 4 more points.

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