Friday, November 10, 2006

The Bit Between my Teeth

A mention of the rising cost of bread in today's TV news inspired me to chat about this and offer alternatives. This led to me hunting out a recipe for tortillas and next to that I discovered a recipe for a tortilla filling using - and here I nearly wept with pleasure - shredded cooked chicken. So yet another use for those scraps from the carcase. Further on was a pudding recipe made with coconut milk and rice flour. Have to say that once I start discovering new ways to use basic ingredients, I can't stop searching. It seems that almost every country (but ours?) has a long tradition of cooking the most economical and tastiest of meals.

Unleavened bread is my suggested alternative, with many countries having their own version, chappatis, amd tortillas are good examples - both made in much the same way. Tortillas make good 'wraps' around chosen fillings unstead of the ubiquitous sandwich.
1 lb wholewheat flour, 2 tsp. sunflower oil
warm water, butter
Mix together the oil and the flour adding just enough warm water to bind into a pliable dough. Knead for five minutes or longer (the longer you knead the softer the end product).
Divide into apple sized balls and dusting the hands with flour flatten the ball slightly. Roll out on a floured board to 4"- 5" flat discs. Heat a dry frying pan, toast the discs on this until the surface shows bubbles. Turn and press down to cook evenly. When brown spots appear they are done. Remove and smear with a very little melted butter, keep warm by wrapping in foil. Serve with curries.

8 oz cornmeal (or wheat flour),
pinch salt, 1/2 pt. cold water.
Sift the flour and salt and gradually stir in most of the water. Knead, adding a few drops of water until the dough is firm and has stopped sticking to fingers. Divide into four and roll each out between cling-film until really thin (recipe states 1/16th inch). Using a plate or pan lid cut into 5" rounds. Stack between layers of greaseproof paper. When all the dough has been prepared, cook on an ungreased frying pan for 2 minutes on each side, turning when the base has become light golden, reduce heat if browning too fast. These may be cooked up to 3 hours before needing if stacked in dozens then wrapped in greaseproof paper, a damp cloth, and finally foil and kept warm in a low oven. To reheat cold tortillas. dampen both sides with water and reheat in a dry frying pan.

In Britain, we might roll or stack pancakes with a meat and tomato filling, then cover with a cheese sauce. Italians use pasta, and in Mexico they use tortillas.
Most bought tortillas have a recipe for enchiladas on the back of the pack, but here is my version. Take a tortilla, roll this around a chosen (cooked) filling, then dip into a spicy tomato sauce. Lay, seam side down, in a shallow dish. Pour more spicy tomato sauce over and sprinkle the top with plenty of grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes (180C etc) until the cheese has melted and turned bubbly and brown.
Enchilada filling:
1/2 lb approx, cooked chicken, shredded
4 oz cream cheese
1 small tub creme fraiche
2 oz grated onion, or very finely chopped.
Beat the cream cheese until softened then work in the creme fraiche. Stir in the onions and the chicken. Season to taste. Place 3 tblsp. of this filling in the centre of a tortilla and roll up to form a cylinder.
Tip: Substitute very finely chopped spring onion including the green part. Use any left-over cold cooked meat instead of chicken. Adding chorizo sausage would give it extra bite. Using a pinch of common sense, we should be able to come up with a variety of fillings to suit all tastes.

Thought for the day: remember that bread was made long before there was machinery. Some of the best dishes were made before we had machinery. Even now the best tools we have are our hands. With these, a sharp knife, fork, spoon and a grater, plus a couple of bowls and a saucepan, plus heat to cook with, we should still be able to make almost anything. All that gadgets do is save a lot of time and labour. Short of gadgets? Think positive, the more work, the more calories burned up. Who needs a gym?