Tag Archives: masa harina

Homemade Tortillas

I stopped making fresh tortillas a few years ago when I lost my tortilla press in my divorce.  The other day I got a new tortilla press, and I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.  For a mere $15.95 I could have had fresh, fat free, low calorie tortillas anytime I wanted them, a cost that I would have recouped after the first few batches I made vs. buying Mi Abuelita Bonita tortillas at Whole Foods.  Don’t get me wrong,  Mi Abuelita Bonita tortillas are a great product that I have written about before, and they in no way resemble the the crap on the end of the supermarket isle.  That said, nothing beats a freshly cooked homemade tortilla.

These are surprisingly easy to make once you know a couple of key points.  The first is allowing the dough to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to making the tortillas allows the masa to absorb the liquid and will give your tortillas a better texture that is more pilable and less crumbly.  The second is using parchment paper in the tortilla press.  There are tons of recipes out there for tortillas that recommend wrapping the press in plastic wrap, or using pieces of garbage bags, or putting a freezer bag around each of the flat surfaces.  I have found that using plastic is really cumbersome.  It doesn’t want to hold to the press, and it’s really hard to get the pressed tortillas off it.  Parchment paper works great though. You may need two or three pieces to make a batch of tortillas though, because once the paper has absorbed a certain amount of moisture, it becomes a little more difficult to work with. 

Summer is almost here, and summer is taco season.  Pair these with homemade “refried” black beans, mango salsa, and cliantro lime crema and you have a world-class taco.  Or “refried” black beans, shredded pepper jack cheese and pico de gallo.  Or use them for shrimp or fish tacos.

 corn tortillas
Continue reading Homemade Tortillas

Sweet Corn Tamales



My favorite way to serve tamales: topped with ancho shrimp and served with salsa and cilantro lime crema.
My favorite way to serve tamales: topped with ancho shrimp and served with salsa and cilantro lime crema.

Sweet Corn Tamales with Black Beans and Cheese

Making homemade tamales really isn't as hard as you might think. This is a simple, yet delicious recipe that is well worth the effort.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins


  • 1 ear of corn kernerls removed from cob
  • 2 cups masa harina* or yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine**
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 1 cup vegetable broth***
  • 10 corn husks soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
  • 1 recipe Black Bean Dip
  • 1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese cheddar or jack would work as well****


  • Place corn kernels in food processor and puree for 1 minute.
  • Combine masa harina, baking powder, salt and corn puree in a large bowl.
  • Work butter into masa mixture until evenly distributed.
  • Add vegetable broth, a little at a time until a dough is formed.

To Assemble Tamales

  • Lay corn husk on work area with small end pointing down and place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dough on husk. Flatten and spread the dough on the top half of the husk (but don't spread dough all the way to the top of the husk, leave at least 1/2 inch of space at the top.
  • Place 11/2 TBSP of bean dip and ~11/2 TBSP of shredded cheese in center of dough, and use husk to fold sides of dough over the filling.
  • Wrap sides of husk around tamale and fold bottom half of husk up to make a package that is open on one end.
  • Continue making tamales until all dough is used.
  • Place a steamer basket in a large pot and fill the bottom of the pan with water.
  • Place tamales in steamer basket. Depending on the size of your pan you can place them upright, with the open end pointed up, or you can lay them on thier sides, seam side down.
  • Steam the tamles on low heat for 1 hour. You will need to check the pan periodically and add more water as needed.


Serving Suggestions:
You can serve these tamales simply with salsa and avacado or guacamole, or you can create a heartier meal by adding grilled shrimp and a squeeze of lime, or a poached egg.
*Masa harina is a finely ground cornmeal used for making tortillas and tamales. You can find it at most natural grocery stores or Hispanic markets. Regular cornmeal can be used as a substitute.
**I like Earth Balance vegan margarine
***I like Better Than Bullion No Chicken Broth
****For a vegan version of this recipe omit cheese or substitue a non-dairy cheese