My family lives in Northern California wine country, and my two children go to school with both the offspring of vineyard workers and winery owners. Guess what the most popular item is at the local school auction: It's not the fancy magnums of wine, but rather a seat to the Fiesta dinner thrown by a group of local mothers. Why? The food is handmade and delicious and like nothing else out there. Part of the popularity lies with their fresh, puffy, handmade corn tortillas. Here's what you need to make your own:
Corn tortillas are made from masa, a mix of corn and water. You can get fresh masa from Mexican stores (our local mercado carries it), but you can also buy masa flour at stores like Whole Foods. Making the dough is all about the mix of masa flour and water—that's all you need. For advice on water-to-flour ratio and preparation instructions, consult Kelsey Brown of Happyolks on Food 52.
Above: Masa Harina Corn Flour is available online from Bob's Red Mill; $11.03.
The truly ambitious can make their own corn masa from scratch following this recipe from Mexico in my Kitchen.
Once you have created your dough and rolled it into balls, they need to be pressed into shape before you put them on the griddle or in a hot iron pan. A tortilla press is not essential but is useful. Placing the dough between wax paper (or a plastic baggie cut in half) is recommended for easy removal. Some people prefer a traditional wooden press; they are easily sourced on Etsy (ike this vintage Tortilla Press from Mexico for $25).
Above: Use a heavy pan like this Lodge Cast Iron Round Griddle for grilling your tortillas; $23.95 from Williams-Sonoma.
Above: Keep tortillas warm in a clay pot; the porous clay prevents the tortillas from drying out quickly. Pomaireware Clay Tortilla Warmer; $32.95 from Amazon.
Above: Before you embark on the journey, you may want to arm yourself with a copy of The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, by food authority Diana Kennedy; $15.43 from Amazon.