Homemade tortillas and queso fundido = wild times with Lindsey and Megan.

My friend Lindsey and I love nothing more than cooking up a plan that includes cooking. You know, like that time we decided to teach ourselves to can things and like this weekend, when we decided to cook a giant feast for our husbands while we forced them to watch our children. You see, if you want to go hang out with your girlfriend and have cocktails all afternoon, it's best if at the end of that time you have something with which to bribe your husband. Then he can't complain that you abandonded ship all day while he changed forty diapers since your child is sick with you-know-what.

So off I went on Saturday afternoon, to Lindsey's house, where we planned to make a feast. For our husbands. Right. It was for our husbands. It had nothing to do with the fact that we'd been discussing La Bodega's sangria recipe (they use grape juice!) for the last couple of weeks and finally needed an excuse to make a vat or two of it. It was for our husbands. I said, FOR THE HUSBANDS.

Lindsey had made a vat of the sangria ahead of time, and I was an hour late due to some sort of brake pad experiment that was going on in my garage at home. When I arrived and started drinking - I mean cooking, Lindsey was already well into our first project. You see, my goals for this evening were many. Aside from getting away from Mr. Poopy Diaper and his daddy for a minute, and aside from my goal of consuming an entire batch of La Bodega sangria on my own, I wanted to learn to make my own tortillas. Lucky for me, Lindsey grew up in Dodge City and if there's one thing that girl knows, it's how to whip out a batch of homemade tortillas.

I was so impressed when Lindsey told me she made her own, and finally she admitted it was easy. In fact, I distinctly remember her saying "You're going to feel so dumb when you find out it was this easy."

And now, here I am, sharing that love with all of you. Hope it makes you feel dumb.

The most beautiful thing about a homemade tortilla, besides the fresh taste, is that it costs about a nickel to make a whole batch. I do love a bargain.

You buy a bag of masa, and you follow the ingredients on the bag. That's right, they're right there ON THE BAG. The mysterious and rare ingredients for homemade corn tortillas? Are you ready? Hold onto your seats: Masa, and warm water. Did you get all that? Write it down. Masa. Warm water.

The proportions on the bag will work just fine. It's basically like making pie dough. According to Lindsey, you want it to be wet enough to gather into a ball, but not so wet that it is sticky or mushy.

Lindsey is organized, so once she created her masa "dough" she portioned it off into individual balls, about the size of a golf ball.

Each of those balls will one day blossom into a beautiful tortilla.

Lindsey's super scientific process, because she doesn't own a tortilla press and doesn't believe she needs one, goes like this: first, place the ball between two sheets of wax paper or, in this case, two large plastic storage bags. Use a small skillet to press the ball into a pancake. Then, while the disk is still between the plastic sheets, use a rolling pin to further flatten it out.

You don't want it paper thin. But, you know how thick a tortilla should be, right? Too thick, and it's a doughy mess. Too thin and it won't hold ingredients.

Next, heat a nonstick pan to medium heat, and toss your tortilla in it. Cook it (dry! no oil!) for thirty seconds on one side, a minute on the other side, and then back to the first side for thirty seconds. Basically, before you flip it this first time, you want to see that the edges are getting dry. You want a little color on each side, but don't burn them black. This is just par-cooking. You'll be finishing the job later.

As you finish them, stack them on a plate and cover with a towel for safekeeping while you cook the rest.

Later, we fried those little beauties in order to create my favorite stacked enchiladas with homemade chili gravy.

But that's beside the point. I just put those pictures there to taunt you.

The other thing we tried out this time, and it will be a repeat offender, was queso fundido. That's right, we put the fun right back into Mexican food. As if the fun could ever go out of cuisine that revolves around cheese and tequila.

I remembered working in a Mexican restaurant once upon a time, and how the only thing I ate for lunch for a month was fundido, until I could fundido no more. But, it's been almost twenty years since then. I was ready to fundido again.

Fundido is basically a Mexican cheese fondue, except that it's served in a cast iron skillet instead of a fondue pot. You can be very liberal about what you do with it, but it's important to remember that it's more about melted cheese than it is about being a creamy dip.

The basic ingredient of any fundido is queso fresco, which you can buy on the shelf of basically any grocery store these days. I got mine at Dillon's. And because I was at Dillon's doing my shopping and not a Mexican market, I had to sort of improvise with the other cheeses, and that is TOTALLY OKAY. I don't want to hear about it from your Mexican grandma, alright? I realize I am a total recipe bastardizer and I am here to say that I just don't care.

So, in addition to 12 oz of queso fresco, I also purchased 8 oz capiello and an 8 oz mozzarella ball. I know, I know, Italian cheeses. Whaddaya gonna do? I wanted a smoky flavor because I think poblano peppers go great with smoked cheese, and the only real smoked cheese I could find at Dillon's was capiello. And you know what? I bet your Mexican grandma wouldn't have known what I did. Because the stuff was insane. Better than insane. I needed a Haldol after I ate that stuff.

I started by heating my medium-sized cast iron skillet over medium high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil was hot, I added one poblano pepper, cut into thin strips, and two cloves of garlic, minced.

When the garlic was starting to brown and the pepper strips were tender, I added two cups of chopped mushrooms. In this case, I used baby bellas, but whatever you have will do. Also, here, a dash of salt and pepper.

I sauteed the whole thing until the mushrooms softened, and then we added in the cheeses, which we just cut into large hunks.

I stirred everything around for awhile and let the cheese get about half-melted, and then I moved the whole thing into a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes, or until everything was melted and bubbly. Then we ran it under the broiler for about a minute, to brown up the top, and then we took it out of the oven and called our mamas to tell them what a good thing we'd just done.

We put the fundido on the table and threw out a bag of chips, because we were on a schedule and had a bajillion other things to make, but if I'd had an extra minute I'd have warmed some small flour tortillas. To properly eat fundido, you spoon it into a tortilla and roll it up. But regular tortilla chips work great as well, as long as you keep a spoon handy because the stuff is too thick to actually "dip" with a chip.

This, my friends, is what Lindsey and I now consider a totally wacko weekend event. WHAT. You don't consider making a tortilla and cheese dip a raging good time? Well, you clearly have not yet given up and started wearing sensible shoes either. But mark my words, you will. And then you will be SO HAPPY I told you about the melted cheese.


bwilson 12 years, 5 months ago

Dear lord, those photos. Total envy.

... I don't suppose you have more information about that sangria recipe? Grape juice, you say?

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 5 months ago

Lindsey is the one with the hot setup on the sangria, but if memory serves me...

Grape juice (like, one of the big plastic containers) 2 bottles of cheap red wine some brandy some triple sec

cut up citrus fruit in there

When you serve it, top with some sprite for the sweet and fizzy part, and drop in a few blackberries because they soak up booze and taste awesome later.

As for proproportions, I'm sorry, I don't know. But maybe Lindsey will chime in and help us out!

linswri 12 years, 5 months ago

And chime in, I will...:)

I used two bottles of cheap wine (I think it was Tempranillo) 1/2 cup ish of brandy 3/4 cup ish of triple sec 1 1/4 cup ish of grape juice cut up citrus

When you go to serve, add a splash of sprite for fizz. It was glorious. Just like every other thing!

twedelc 12 years, 5 months ago

fruit juice content shouldn't exceed booze contents... good proportions... :)

good god, that enchilada looks awesome!!

John_Taylor 12 years, 5 months ago

Fundido + stacked enchiladas + sangria = 2 happy husbands. No doubt about it.

ilovelucy 12 years, 5 months ago

Ohhhhh, the fundido sounds fabulous!! That Sangria would be nice to try too...

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