Friday, 11 November 2011

Gluten Free Tortillas Trial 1 ~ Smokey White Bean Quesadillas with Mexican Green & Orange Salad

Kitchen Play List: Sara Sant'Ambrogio ~ Ave Maria
                                     Uh Huh Her ~ Explode
                                     Billy Joel ~ Just The Way You Are
                                     Rage Against the Machine ~ Killing in the Name
                                     Madeliene Peyroux ~ Once in a While
                                     ABBA ~ Mamma Mia
                                     Shania Twain ~ Don't Be Stupid

In my effort to reduce my wheat consumption I have started to explore the Gluten Free world even more than I had before. And one of the first things I knew I would have to tackle was tortillas. Now I dislike the 'white' wheat tortillas and have always favoured the wholewheat varieties...Darn! And I have to say..I've hated the pre-made mass produced gluten-free offerings. But you don't really get much of a selection here in England. As I'm neither allergic or intolerant to gluten I may have to face the fact that to get a good tortilla, I'll just have to eat the wheat ones. But I want to at least give it a serious shot at trying to find the perfect recipe. 

So that said, I have a stack of 'very good' gluten free and vegan tortilla recipes to work through. And hopefully I shall start coming up with recipes of my own. I shall make two batches per trail as a comparison.

Smokey White Bean Quesadillas with slow cooked red onions. Two types of Gluten free tortillas
As a filling this time I'm trying out a simple recipe I found online and as it has no name listed with the posting I cannot give credit where it's due. But if you recognise this recipe to be yours..please drop me an email and I shall amend this paragraph for you happily. The filling is a Smokey White Bean filling for Quesadillas. I also slowly cooked some red onion slices to go with the filling. And I served a Green and Orange Salad from Linda Majzlik's A Vegan Taste of Mexico.

The first batch of tortillas I made was a recipe I found online at
This recipe appealed to me because it used very few ingredients and was simple in method. I used Dove Farms Gluten Free Flour blend which states it's an all purpose flour. And I have to say the dough came together very easily. It stayed together very well and I was able to knead it and then form a dough with no dramas. I cut it into its 8 pieces and as I don't have a tortilla press yet (On my kitchen gadget wish list, that's for sure! lol) I pressed the dough balls between sheets of greaseproof paper..and for an initial weight I used my incredibly heavy mortar and then proceeded with a good old fashioned rolling pin....which lead to some seriously funny shaped tortillas. lol. I heated an old heavy based skillet and I feel the need to tell you...leave the pan 5 minutes to heat up!!! You get such a different result if you are patient. My first impatient tortilla..hardly bubbled or coloured and remained pale and raw looking. However the next 7 puffed up and coloured up quiet nicely in comparison. I got 8 tea plate sized tortillas which were noticeably harder than their wheaty cousins. I left them to cool and then stored them as was suggested. 

GlutenFreeCookingSchool Gluten Free Tortillas
GFCS Gluten Free Tortillas Makes 8 tortillas
(Recipe from

2 cups of GF All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of warm water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then add the warm water and using your hand mix the two together until the dough begins to form. Then knead for a few minutes until it is a solid mass that can be rolled into a ball. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces and roll into balls. 

Heat a heavy based skillet or frying pan over a high heat for 5 minutes. The pan needs to be extremely hot. Between two sheets of greaseproof or parchment paper, press the dough ball into a flat disc. Then using a tortilla press (lucky you!) or a rolling pin roll the dough out to approx 8-10 inches. Place the tortillas into the pan and cook for approx 1-2 minutes per side until they have bubbled up and coloured from the cooking. Stack them together with sheets of grease proof paper in between each one. If eating later package the tortillas in tin foil or cling film and store in the fridge until needed. To reheat either heat them through in the skillet or on kitchen towel in the microwave for 30 seconds. They can be frozen but always allow to defrost naturally before using. 

Gluten Free Cooking School Gluten Free Tortillas ~ Close up...not bad looking!
The second recipe I tested was from a cooking blog and blimey did I have some trouble with this one. Firstly I hastily scribbled down the recipe and I had incorrectly written down the water ratio..and also I had to use a 'fix' for one of the other ingredients. I have a cupboard that is stocked with many gluten free flours and I needed potato starch for this recipe. I had potato flour! Darn as they are quite different things. So after a desperate call to My Love who was on the way home from work..I subbed it for potato flakes. Many online forums assured me this was an adequate fix. I was a little unsure. So the first attempt at this recipe turned out like wall paper paste as I had the wrong amount of water! Strike One! So after checking out the recipe and getting the correct amount..I started once again. Only to have a horrible mess of lumps. Not matter how much drizzles of water I added to it, it wasn't going to stay together. The ingredients list 1 1/2 tsp of oil but doesn't state where to use I assumed that it was the oil suggested for cooking them in. My Love suggested kneading it into the lumps. Couldn't I did and it kinda came together in the bowl but then collapsed as soon as you tried to use it. So I left it in the bowl and walked 
The demon dough lumps! Urgh!
Sat at my desk with my head in my hands...a thought suddenly came to me. I remembered a biscuit recipe many years ago that had done pretty much the same thing. Just crumbled into bits. It had been an expensive recipe so I had persevered with it and in the end I had to push in cookie dough pieces into a cookie mould directly on to the baking sheet. So back into the kitchen I went..I took a 1/4 cup measure and pressed in pieces of the dough. Then knocked it out on to my palm and pressed it together. It held...just...long enough for me to get it between the pieces of paper for pressing and rolling. My Love joined me and pressed and rolled whilst I cooked and flipped. But I wasn't convinced they would be edible as they were so crispy. But I stored them as I did the others but at least they were cooked. I got 8 slightly smaller tortillas from this recipe. 

GlutenFreediscoveries Gluten Free Tortillas ~ What a
GFD Gluten Free Discoveries Makes 8 med tortillas
(Recipe from

1/4 cup of each; tapioca flour, cornflour, potato starch, White Rice Flour and Brown Rice 
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 generous tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup of water (Yes that's 1/2 cup not 1 1/2 cups!! ~R~)

Mix the dry ingredient together in a medium bowl. Add the water and the oil (?!)  allow to rest for 10 minutes. (I mixed mine together than had the waiting time as the original recipe doesn't define this matter ~R~) Then knead the dough into a ball and divide into 8 equal portions or press into 1/4 cup pieces, press and roll as the recipe above. Then also cook in the heated skillet exactly the same too. And too! lol 

GFD Gluten Free Tortilla Close Up ~ Crispy and fragile
So that was the two batches made. And I have to say I was relieved that I had chosen a Quesesdilla recipe and not a burrito or fajita recipe. I wouldn't like trying to roll them. So hard...anyway...on to the next stage. 

Smokey White Bean Quesadilla Filling Fills 2 quesadillas
(Recipe from 

1 cup white beans or 1 14oz tin rinsed and drained (I used haricot ~R~)
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
garlic powder, to taste
1/2 tsp salt
few drops of liquid smoke (We can't get that in the UK so I use a product called Liquid Animos ~R~) 
pinch of cayenne pepper

Blend together the beans and the tomatoes until smooth. Add the nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic powder and salt. Blend again until till smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. 

Heat a heavy based skillet and spread the filling over the surface of one tortilla. (This is where I used the cooked red onions ~R~) Add additional fillings of choice. Cover with another tortilla and then place into the heated skillet. Cooking for a few minutes on each side until the filling is bubbly hot. Cut into portions and serve with a salad. 

The results: 

GlutenFreeCookingSchool Tortillas were hard! It was like eating a giant water cracker. It wasn't unpleasant but it really didn't feel like a tortilla. I would make these again for use as a tortilla chip with dips. For that I think they would be great! And the remaining ones will get used for that purpose this  

GlutenFreeDiscoveries Tortillas were surprisingly good. They were quite hard on the very edges but were the filling touched they had softened slightly and the taste was better..not a hint of water cracker. I would make these again despite the problematic dough. But after I have tested the other recipes first. Out of the two..this one was our favourite. But again..I was very glad that I didn't have to attempt to roll them into some other kind of meal. 

Update: Since writing this post I have tried them again..same exact batches but I filled them with the Smokey Bean Filling and heated them in the microwave which gave me soft and pliable if I want a burrito or fajita I shall be microwaving them a little first! Made a huge difference to them. Just wanted to share this little nugget with you as I was so happy to be enjoying soft gluten free tortillas. ~R~ 

I served them with a Green and Orange Salad that is simply salad leaves, orange segments and avocado pieces, tossed in a dressing of one part olive oil, one part white wine vinegar and one and half parts fresh orange juice. Garnished with coriander leaves and chopped pecans. This salad is as you would suspect citrusy and just plain delicious although we both time less dressing more leaves. lol. Ah well..

Mexican Green and Orange Salad..quite lovely.