Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I think I have made the transition to 'flat breads'.

It all began with my passion for Knäckebröd (Swedish style rye crisp [as in flat & hard] bread)...

Still make 'em. Still love 'em.

Gotta  always have  Knäckebröd on hand.

With the invested practice I can quickly put together a batch of these made from whole rye buds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Crunchy.

No sweat. Much easier than making and baking bread. Better nutritionally too than 'bread'.

So with so many Knäckebröds under my belt -- in the making and consuming sense --I became interested in the versatility of Tortillas.

There are usually two types of tortilla on sale in any aisle's 'Mexican' section: wheat and corn -- with wheat being more common.

A bit obscene when you think about it: 'wheat tortillas!' That makes the tortilla like any other wheaten flat bread like Pita et al.

[Maybe I'm a snob, but I used to get pita  direct from a Lebanese bakery in Virginia straight out of the oven. Great until they got taken over by a Toowoomba conglomerate and moved to the Downs. getting fresh pita was thereafter so much harder in Brisbane.]

But there are gross ironies in this seeming preference  that warrants attention:

  • Since corn tortillas are made from whole grain corn they are nutritionally better for you than wheat.Fact.
  • If there are gluten intolerance issues, corn is free of gluten.
  • Although the masa flour ( masa harina or masa lista) is soaked in lime before grinding, the process makes the flour even more nutritious than the raw grain.All you lose is a wee bit of fibre.
  • Because of their much higher fibre content, corn tortillas are very filling.
  • Making tortillas is no mess! Once you form the dough ball, there's nothing sticking to the bowl that requires hard scrubbing. And you 'fry' on a hot plate/pan without fat or oil.Matter of minutes.
  • I find tortillas readily adaptable to meat or vegetarian options (assuming you don't use lard) --especially with the ready investment in pulses like the magnificent black bean.
  • You can pile  your 5-a-day onto a tortilla easily. Especially if you embrace salsa! That's both fruit and veg options:(SAMPLES LINK)
  • And here's the killer: 130 million Mexicans can't be wrong. Tortillas not only taste great and are so serviceable for eating different  foods -- but they are  so easy to make. That is once you get it right. They've been making tortillas in Mexico since the day of the the Maya and Aztecs so there is an apprenticeship gap...Awesome skills over there.

While you can roll'em flat like I do with the Knäckebröd with a rolling pin and baking sheet,  a Tortilla Press is fun and quick to use. [Buy locally HERE] More or less the same prep principle as the Knäckebröd .

Generally, all corn Tortilla recipes are the same (flour + water + salt) but I prefer this one which includes lard: LINK.-- or an oil of your choice.Olive Oil is good but pork lard is tastier.

I suspect that the edge offered by fresh masa makes the makings easier without a fat addition.

And they re-heart OK for lunch the next day.
Of course once you have mastered your tortilla-ista skills, so much can be thrown into them. You can also make other things like quesadillas.

...or use them like naan with curries.

If you are not familiar with tortillas I suggest you buy the Woolworths home brand corn tortilla to get you started in the mode. Your own home-make will  taste much better -- but Woolies offer a useful product. Better than the other brands on offer I think.

For some reason we can only get Masa Lista flour in this country -- imported from either the USA or Mexico. Available if your search online.

I've never been to Mexico but have spent some time among Latin and Central American folk in this country. And I gotta say that there is a huge difference in food quality and taste between Latin home cooking (including my own) and the menu at the local Mexican restaurant.

So much of the Mex restaurant trade seems microwave food.

That's my warning: don't judge Mexican food by what you may be eating when eating out. If you were in Los Angeles -- well, that would be gastronomical tortilla heaven ... probably from any corner food truck.

And there, there's a great Mex/Korean fusion going on. Just as there was with Mex/Tex food.

Needless to say: going flat bread -- Knäckebröd and Tortilla -- means I don't shop at bakers anymore.Not that I dislike bakers at all,indeed I respect their labors and hours,  but the bread quality on offer from commercial bakeries is pretty low.

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Comment by Dave Riley on January 5, 2019 at 6:21

Thanks, Valerie.

I see that Pennisi Cuisine Distributors (the store in Balaclava St)  sells a range of corn flours (LINK) at good prices. Including MASA HARINA.

17 Balaclava Street, Woolloongabba, Qld 4102

I used to spend a lot of time and money at Pennisi for Greek or Middle Eastern supplies. On Saturday mornings it is mayhem. I did not realise it supported Latin American cuisine too.

Another feature of corn that enables it is that it keeps better than, say, the rye I buy which must be refrigerated as would whole grain wheat. So bulk buying is not so risky.

Comment by Valerie on January 4, 2019 at 18:50

last night we looked at our local baker throwing away not one, not two but three trolleys full of bread. It was to say the least disheartening. I am going to have a chat and find out why it is not given to charities like the previous owner did. 

Re Masa harina, my Mexican friend tells me it is available for a shop in Balaclava St. I've not checked but West end is well known for selling unusual ingredients. Pennisi has it on their website.

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