Once upon a time, there was a restaurant located in Fountain Valley, California. Mananas’ claim to fame: fresh, hot, homemade flour tortillas.

Mananas had a machine — a big, crazy machine — set up in plain sight. It alone was worth the trip, if only to watch a tiny ball of dough start at one end, go through a series of squishers and rollers, fly onto a sizzling hot pan, get flipped at just the right moment and then deftly fall into a waiting basket at the other end. This thing was amazing — and super fast!

After a basket was filled, off it would go to a table of drooling patrons.

Every Friday night, we were waiting with our friends. We’d slather those hot tortillas with butter, roll them up and try to mind our manners while we scarfed them down.

As soon as one basket emptied, it would be whisked away and refilled.

I don’t have words to adequately describe how delicious, comforting and absolutely fabulous they were. We built deep, long-lasting friendships over fresh, hot, homemade tortillas. The restaurant failed, but the friendships remain to this day.

Here’s some good news. You can make tortillas at home. You don’t need a machine, although wouldn’t that be fun! If you’ve got flour, salt, oil and water, and a stovetop or a grill, you’re there! You can do this. How about today?


Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 2 minutes

Resting time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water

3 tablespoons olive oil (see note)

Combine flour and salt in the mixing bowl. Stir in water and oil until fully incorporated. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (cutting board, counter or pastry cloth). Knead 10 to 12 times. If too sticky, add a little flour, and work it in with your hands. Too stiff? Add water as needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest in the bowl for 10 minutes. Using a knife, cut the dough into 8 portions. On your lightly floured surface, roll each portion in a circle approximately 7 inches in diameter. Cook the tortillas one at a time over medium heat until lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side. Serve immediately, or keep warm. Servings: 8

Note: Other oils or fats will do here. In fact, traditionally, flour tortillas are made with lard. Alternatively, you can use shortening or coconut oil. If solid, you will want to cut in that lard, shortening, etc., instead of stirring it in. If the dough is too “elastic” and springy when you try to roll it out, let it rest a few more minutes until it calms down.

The secret to tender tortillas is to cook them quickly on a hot surface. But you don’t want them to burn. So, watch carefully, adjusting the temperature as needed. Rather have tortilla chips? Cut the rolled-out dough into wedges, and bake them in a 350 F oven until crisp. Sprinkle with salt or other seasonings of choice.

Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”


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