We recently took a family trip to Belize. Family trips don’t happen often, especially when the children are late twenties early thirties. It was a fantastic trip and we were able to do some amazing things. We went deep sea fishing, snorkeled, kayaked, and lounged. Lounging is a necessity in beachy places. We stayed off the coast of Belize on a tiny island, Ambergris Caye, in a house a short boat ride north of San Pedro. I read three books, and made it into the ocean without panicking too much. I don’t like being near fish, but I really enjoy watching them. So I have this huge dilemma of wanting to snorkel but being slightly terrified at the same time. Yep you see those fish and nurse sharks. You’d be terrified too….
On land, we made dinner with the fish we caught, and were lucky enough to have a house keeper who offered to make us tortillas a few times. They were amazing and we gobbled them up. After we showered her with compliments, she said she could teach us how to make them. While half the family was fishing, the other half stayed for a tortilla lesson. Marena said that she learned to make these from her family (not in Belize) and that they make more corn tortillas than flour in her home town. She preferred to make the flour version because they are a bit easier and her little son loves them.
I documented the process step by step so I had a better chance of recreating them again, and I thought it would be a great post to share with you. Here we go!
Measure 4 C flour into a large bowl. Add 1/2 spoon of baking powder (using a normal spoon here), 1/2 spoon of salt (optional), and a handfull of shortening (about 1/2 C).
Using your hand mix the dough together much like you would a pie dough (but it’s much softer due to the amount of shortening).
Knead the dough for five minutes until it is thoroughly mixed and soft (don’t add flour during this step)
Once you’re done kneading, give the dough a little pat and let it rest for another five minutes.
After the dough has rested (it’s already had a hard life in only 10 minutes) divide it evenly into about 16-17 pieces.
They should fit nicely into your palm like this.
Once you’ve divided them all, let the dough rest again for another five minutes. At this time, heat a large flat griddle pan on your stove on high heat.
Now it’s time to flatten them into tortillas. They should be very soft and elastic. Grease a flat surface with canola oil. It can be your countertop or a cutting board. Flatten a dough ball and begin pressing it into a circle using your fingertips. Move your hand in concentric circles to try and keep it round (harder than your think).
Marena’s perfect tortilla
See, we tried to make ours as round as Marena’s but failed.
Then place top side down onto the hot griddle. Marena has a beautifully seasoned cast iron griddle but I’m guessing your pancake griddle will work just as well. It’s important that you place it quickly on the grill so it doesn’t deform on the way over. Work closely to your stove. Once it starts to bubble, flip it over by sliding it towards the edge of the pan so you can grab it and flip it quick. Why? because it is hot and burns your fingers. Cook on this side until it starts to brown just slightly on the bubble areas and flip one more time. This whole process takes about a minute or so. If it takes longer, increase your heat.
Repeat and keep them in a tortilla warmer until ready to eat.
While you’re waiting for dinner have your captain-fishing guide-snorkeling expert make you fresh ceviche on the dock with a snapper your family just caught. Yum! Then indulge in your tortillas and cooked fish.
I thought the tortillas would be a lot more difficult, and thankfully they are not. It means when I make them on my own I’ll hopefully succeed. There are countless uses for a tortilla. We fried fish for fish tacos, and ate them with eggs for breakfast. You could also do shrimp tacos if your backyard is not an ocean. However you eat them, I suggest eating them in moderation since they are full of fat… and you’re working on your bikini body. Or you could always just make a bunch for your friends so they get fatter and you look better in comparison!
Thanks family for a fantastic vacation! Michael and I are ready to plan our next adventure….
If you want to see more gorgeous photos from our trip, feel free to peruse Michael’s Flickr site. I promise you’ll want to go there for your next vacation!