The Right Tools Make "From Scratch" Cooking Easy!

With the average consumer becoming more and more aware of the preservatives and chemicals hidden in many pre-produced and processed foods (not to mention the over the top sodium, sugar and fat content), a movement towards “from scratch” cooking...

With the average consumer becoming more and more aware of the preservatives and chemicals hidden in many pre-produced and processed foods (not to mention the over the top sodium, sugar and fat content), a movement towards “from scratch” cooking is steadily gaining popularity. Many cooks, both new and experienced, are finding that creating “from scratch,” the food they have been buying pre-made for years is not only a more healthful option, but also better tasting and more rewarding. Of the multitude of homemade foods that are gaining in popularity (from pastas, and breads, to sauces and sausages), there are several that are so simple it is almost a crime to buy them pre-made.

Homemade Corn Tortillas
Homemade Corn Tortillas

Tortillas

That's right... tortillas!  Believe it or not, tortillas are incredibly easy to make from scratch and much more flavorful when not mass produced. Making your own also means a significant reduction in the amount of sodium commonly found in average store bought tortillas. The process is essentially the same for both corn, and flour tortillas, the only difference being that of whether you use corn masa harina for corn tortillas, or flour and a few additional ingredients for flour tortillas. Neither corn, nor flour tortillas take much time and is simple for cooks of all ages and skill levels.

A basic corn tortilla recipe consists of:

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • a pinch of salt.

Directions:

  1. Mix the dough and then knead for a few moments to create a pliable, “play dough” texture.
  2. Add water as needed, or, if the dough is too moist, a little additional masa harina to achieve the right texture.
  3. Separate the dough into even lumps of dough that you can then roll into 1 and ½ inch dough balls.

    Flour Tortillas
    Flour Tortillas

  4. Place the dough between two pieces of wax, or parchment paper and press to an even thinness of about 1/8th of an inch using either a tortilla press, a rolling pin, a seasoned grill press, or even a pie plate.
  5. Remove one side of the parchment paper and heat the tortilla, exposed side down, 30 seconds to one minute in a lightly oiled skillet. Cast iron works wonderfully for tortillas.
  6. Once the paperless side has been cooked, remove the second piece of parchment paper and flip the tortilla to cook the second side. If your tortilla is no longer moist to touch and has a few “browned” spots on both sides-- it is ready to eat!

Flour tortillas are prepared in almost the exact same manner as corn tortillas.

A basic flour tortilla recipe consists of:

  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour,
  • ¾ tsp salt, ¼ tsp baking powder,
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (or lard),
  • ½ cup hot water (about 105 degrees F).

Directions

Combine the dry ingredients and then “rub” the shortening in (using your hands) until the shortening is barely noticeable in the dough. Add the water to form a dough and knead for a few minutes before separating dough and forming 1 ½, to 2 inch dough balls.

Continue with the same process as with corn tortillas and enjoy!

Creamed Corn

Whether you love creamed corn because it brings back memories of eating Sunday dinner at Grandma's, or because you simply love the flavor of this old fashioned favorite, it is an unbelievably easy dish that will quickly become a go-to side to almost any meal and leave you wondering why you ever ate creamed corn out of a can.

Creamed Corn on a Cast Iron Skillet
Creamed Corn on a Cast Iron Skillet

Directions:

In a cast iron (or similar deep) skillet over medium heat, combine two packages frozen corn kernels, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons white sugar, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk together 1 cup milk with 2 tablespoons flour. Once whisked, stir into the corn mixture. Heat stirring frequently over medium heat until the mixture becomes thickened, and the corn is heated through. Remove from heat. If desired, stir in ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and serve.

This recipe is as good as it is easy and will make a creamed corn fan out of even the pickiest of eaters. Yet, even better than its flavor and ease, is the simple fact that you have drastically reduced the amount of sodium, sugar and preservatives in your meal--making flavor AND health a top priority.

Creamed Corn
Creamed Corn

Eggnog

This creamy holiday indulgence is a festive addition to the list of items that are easy to make and very satisfying when created from scratch. Sure, it's easy to just pick up a carton of nog at the nearest store, but once you have tasted the difference between store bought and homemade, we'll bet you are a die hard homemade fan.

Directions

  1. Start by separating 6 egg yolks from the whites (don't throw those whites away, use them to make quick egg white omelets, or a mini angel food cake).
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk yolks and ½ cup granulated sugar together until the yolks have lightened and the mix is creamy. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan bring 1 cup heavy cream, 2 cups milk, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg depending on taste and a pinch of salt to a low simmer. Once it has reached a bare simmer, remove the milk mixture from the heat and ladle small amounts (approximately ½ of a cup at a time) into the egg mixture, stirring briskly.This will temper your egg mixture and make sure you do not end up with unappealing scrambled egg bits in your eggnog.
  4. Fully incorporating each time, mix the rest of the milk mixture in ½ cup at a time until both the milk and egg mixtures are combined.
  5. Once the mixture is combined, return the eggnog to the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or 71 degrees Celsius. Once this temperature is met, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon rum extract (optional).
  6. Chill over night and serve cold with whipped cream if desired.

Eggnog
Eggnog

This delightfully creamy eggnog will not only "wow" at any holiday function, but it will also quickly become a family favorite for the Winter holidays and maybe even--for a very non-traditional Christmas in July.

With a few basic cooking tools, and the right skillets and saucepans from Cilantro, The Cooks Shop--converting your family from eating out of boxes and cans to a “from scratch” haven is a lot easier than it might seem!  Contact us to ask how we can help you move away from pre-processed food and move towards more healthful cooking today.