Celebrating Cinco de Mayo – Homemade Black Pepper Tortillas

Tortillas are very versatile…  They are great with appetizers, main dishes and desserts.  They bring back childhood memories because when I was little my Titi (endearment for Tia) used to make them for us as an afternoon snack.  I remember feeling especially lucky (and proud) when she made them for my third grade class who had never tasted tortillas.   By the way, there were 42 kids in my third grade class.  Wow!  That was definitely a labor of love…. 

This week was my first attempt at making tortillas.  Inspired by this childhood memory, my sons and I worked together on this article.  They really got into rolling the dough.  We were very excited when one of the tortillas ended up in the shape of a heart.  We took pictures as we went along to share. 

We decided to put a dessert twist on tortillas and peppercorns.  So, for the feature picture of this article, we took a homemade black pepper tortilla and used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out 3 hearts.   We then made a little napoleon dessert by layering the  tortilla with Nutella and Strawberry Preserves.  The flavor combination rocked!  You definitely have to try it.  For more information on Peppercorns, check out my post in the archives,  https://gypsyworldspicecafe.com/2010/09/19/provocative-peppercorns/

Enjoy!

Denise

P.S. Sending Special Birthday Wishes to my sister, Desiree.  Love Ya!

 

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Homemade Black Pepper Tortillas

Yields:  12 tortillas

Ingredients:

3 cups Flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough

1-2 teaspoons Salt (depending on your taste)

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 tablespoon coarsley ground Black Pepper

3/4  cup Hot Water

3/4 cup Shortening

Instructions

  • Measure your flour, salt, black pepper and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.  
  • Add the shortening to the flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the shortening until the mixture has consistency of meal (crumbly).

  •  

 

    • Add hot water to flour mixture.  Use a spatula to combine the ingredients into a ball (until the dough does not stick to the sides of your bowl).  Note:  You may have to add a few tablepoons of flour. 
    • Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let rest for 1 hour.
    • Divide the ball into 12 smaller balls.  Cover with a clean dish towel.

  • Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into to be about 1/8 inch thick.  

 

  • Place tortilla on a hot skillet.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on first side.   It will start to bubble which is a sign to flip it. 
  • Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side.

 

*Variation:  Instead of black pepper, try your favorite blend of Herbs.  We made a variation by swapping out the coarsley ground black pepper with with 2 tablespoons of our “house blend”.  You might want to try Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence…

 

Assembling the Black Pepper Napoleon:

Using a cookie cutter, cut out 3 shapes from a black pepper tortilla.  Spread some Nutella and Strawberry Preserves onto the first tortilla.  Top with the second tortilla.  Repeat.   Garnish with whipped cream and mini-chocolate chips.

 

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Herb Focaccia Onion Serving

Herbed Focaccia with Onions

This  past weekend I needed to make something to take to our neighborhood Halloween party.  It was Saturday morning and I had no clue what I was going to pull together.  Normally, I would have it all planned out…however, last week was more hectic than expected …so now I had to wing it with ingredients I already had in my pantry. 

It was really easy to make.   I made one for the party and one to put in my freezer.

To serve, I sliced up the focaccia into small squares and served with a store-bought black olive tapenade. 

Note:  This recipe is based on using stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the bread dough.  If you do not have one, knead by hand.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe –  Herb Focaccia with Onions

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 packet instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/4 cups warm water

2 tablespoon olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons Corsican Herb Blend, divided

1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly

ground black pepper

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, 2 teaspoons of the Corsican Herb Blend, yeast, salt and sugar.  Stir to combine.
  2. Attach your mixing bowl to your mixer and place on low-speed. 
  3. While the mixer is mixing, slowly add the warm water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  4. Mix to combine ingredients then increase the speed to medium-high.  
  5. Mix until the dough is smooth.  This takes about 5-7 minutes depending on your mixer.
  6. Remove dough from mixing bowl and shape into a ball. 
  7. Spray another bowl lightly with cooking spray.
  8. Place the dough ball into the bowl and turn to coat. 
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to rise (double in size – about 1 hour).
  10. While the dough is rising, saute your onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 30 minutes (until golden and soft).  Season onions with 1 teaspoon of Corsican Herb Blend and salt/pepper to taste.
  11. Set onions aside to cool.
  12. When dough has finished rising, shape dough into a rectangle on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  13. Lightly brush with olive oil.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove plastic wrap from dough.  Use fingers to press dough down (giving a dimpling effect).
  15. Top the dough with the sautéed onions.  Season with pepper to taste.
  16. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  17. Transfer to a cooling rack and drizzle with olive oil.
  18. Cut up and serve warm or at room temperature.

Provocative Peppercorns!

 

 As we continue on though the Back the Basic series, this article will focus on Peppercorns.  

 Why use an adjective like provocative to describe Peppercorns?

Well, provocative is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate” (listing synonyms as “charged… edgy…exciting…inciting…stimulating”).  Peppercorns, either ground or whole, add that background heat to a dish that leaves the palate with that tingly sensation…and has health benefits (listed below) that charge the body!

 The recipes at the end of the article are recipes that I have either chosen or created to demonstrate that you can use Peppercorns in non-traditional ways to enhance your culinary experience.

 

History of Peppercorns

Peppercorns have been used for over 4000 years.  It quickly gained popularity and value.  This was because Peppercorns easily enhanced food to make it seem fresher than it actually was as well as added zing and heat to otherwise bland food.   Peppercorns were often used as a commodity which is why the spice trade grew and many explorers were tasked with finding more sources for Peppercorns.  Due to the unstable currency systems, landlords often requested to be paid their rent with Peppercorns in place of currency.

 

Peppercorn Harvesting

Peppercorns are typically grown in India.  However, Peppercorns are imported from India as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and China.   The pepper plant grows small flowers which become green berries that turn pink when ripe.   These berries are typically harvested when they are green.  The green peppercorns are dried and result in a black color.  White peppercorns are actually created by removing the outer skin of the peppercorn.  

Flavor Breakdown

  • Green Peppercorn -> Flavor is Hot ( However More Subtle than Black, White, or Pink)
  • Black Peppercorn -> Flavor is Warm &  Full-Bodied
  • Pink Peppercorn   -> Flavor is Sweet, Berry, Fruity with Delayed Heat
  • White Peppercorn -> Flavor is Hotter, Sharper then Green, Black or Pink

 

Health Benefits to Peppercorns

  • Powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Promotes mental clarity
  • Combats fatigue and tiredness
  • Increases metabolism
  • Promotes Digestion & calms stomach
  • Essential oil of black pepper added into oils used to treat aching, painful joints
  • Used in teas with mint to combat colds, viral infections and flu.
  • Added to mouthwashes to treat sore throats.

 

 

Snack Recipe – Peppered Caramel Corn

  • 1  (12-oz.) package Buttery Toffee Popcorn with Peanuts
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coarse Black Pepper

  1. Microwave popcorn with peanuts in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals.
  2. Stir in Black Pepper.
  3. Spread mixture in an even layer in a lightly greased jelly roll pan.
  4. Let cool 10 minutes; break into pieces.
  5. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Source -> Southern Living, OCTOBER 2007

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I actually cut this recipe out several years ago and was excited to finally make this.   Microwave time is dependent on your microwave.  You will know it is ready to be peppered when it gets gooey and sticky.  I increased the amount of pepper to 1 teaspoon.   This is a great recipe and the variations are endless.  I think this would be great with a cinnamon based spice or with cayenne pepper….

Taster’s Comments: 

My tasters really liked this and snacked on it all weekend…

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Corsican Herbed and Peppered Goat Cheese

  • 4-oz log of Goat Cheese
  • 1  tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons Corsican Herb Blend

  1. Mix together the Black Pepper and Corsican Herb Blend
  2. Pour the Pepper/Herb mixture onto a flat surface (wax paper, plate, etc)
  3. Roll the Goat Cheese log on the mixture to cover
  4. Serve with water crackers (or cracker of your choice)

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I like to use goat cheese for appetizers and have to definitely say that the flavor combination of the Goat Cheese, with the Herbs and Black Pepper was awesome.   Corsican Herb Blend is a unique blend of herbs commonly called for in Corsican recipes.

Taster’s Comments: 

This was a big hit with the tasters.   One taster commented that it was “addictive”…

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup

This recipe is a nice thing to have in the refrigerator.  It has many uses.  The recipes that follow this all call for Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar/Splenda Blend
  • 1 tablespoon Peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain into  an airtight container and keep refrigerated.

 

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Espresso Brownie Cupcake

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • 1/3 cup strongly brewed Coffee, chilled
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Ganache Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3 tablespoons Half & Half
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend
  • 1 tablespoon strongly brewed Coffee, chilled 
  1.  Mix the cupcake ingredients with a spatula until well blended.
  2. Pour batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 25-30 minutes until set.  Cool on wire rack.
  4. Melt chocolate chips with half & half in the microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate chips soften.
  5. Add Peppercorn Syrup, Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend, Coffee.  Whisk until creamy.
  6. When cupcakes have cooled completely, cover tops of cupcakes with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of chocolate ganache.  Top with chocolate covered espresso beans.
  7. Chill until set.   Save remaining ganache for other recipes.

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

Have fun when making cupcakes.   The craft stores all have great cupcake liners.  I chose a cheetah print for my cupcakes.  

Taster’s Comments: 

My taster had one when first frosted and another after it had been chilled.  They said the flavor was better when it was chilled.

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Spicy Pepper Martini

  • 1/2 teaspoon Zest of a Lemon, divided
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1-oz Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 4-oz Vodka
  • 2-oz Vermouth
  1. Put the ingredients (except zest) in a shaker with some ice.
  2. Give a good shake.
  3. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with reserved zest.

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I thought this was a little bit too spicy for my palate (and I love black pepper).   Next time, I may add a splash of diet cola.

Taster’s Comments: 

My taster thought it was great and finished mine!    I guess this time, the drink was not too girly.

 

 

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Peppered Strawberry Orange Martini

  • 1-oz Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 4-oz Vodka
  • 2-oz Orange flavored Vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar-Free Strawberry Preserves
  • Slices of Lime
  1. Put the ingredients (except lime) in a shaker with some ice.
  2. Give a good shake.
  3. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with reserved lime slices.

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I loved this one!  Strawberries and Peppercorns are a classic combination…  So, thought this might be the drink for me since the other one was too spicy.

 

I hope you try some of these recipes…

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