There’s one day of the year where my home cooking needs to be precise, and flawless. No, it’s not the intricate traditional thanksgiving meal that requires the will and determination of the spartan army in the movie 300. It’s not the endless stream of christmas dinners that test your love for cooking.

This special day comes once a year on my brother’s birthday. For those who don’t know this mysterious lad, he is probably the best food critic without a platform. Very particular and not easily impressed, he is a young food connaisseur who deserves a great meal for his day of birth.

Last year’s birthday featured a portion of homemade sweet potato gnocchi, and some sort of cake that is obviously forgettable because I cannot recall what it was for the life of me. My efforts were remarkable, but the dish fell short and did not hold up to my standards.

This year, in celebration of the new decade and my brother’s anniversary, I wanted to switch it up. That’s just what I did, and this discovery became a revalation. Something I will continue to cook for many special occasions to come and something I reccomend to every home cook.

For Christmas, my parents bought me an authentic tortilla press. It was the only thing I wanted to find under the tree on that faithful morning. I knew I wanted to make homemade tortillas using my new gadget that would later become a friend, for my brother’s birthday.

The sense of accomplishment I felt while pressing the little balls of masa into vessels for toppings was incredible. The flavour of store-bought shells cannot even touch the flavour of the homemade tortillas. If I could give any advice to anyone enjoying a taco Tuesday soirée, I’m talking to you Lebron James, take the extra time to press your own tortillas. It’s what separates the weak from the obsolete. The dinner was spectacular and very hands-on for everybody who attended.

My awesome grandma and I pressing tortillas.

Here is a little recipe I have developed for the occasion. Please get cooking! If you have any favourite taco toppings, let me know!

Mole beans tacos with pickled onions

What you’ll need:

For the Tortillas

1 tortilla press

2 cups of masa

1 and a half cups of water

salt, pepper

2 sheets of parchment papers

For the beans

2 cups of black beans

1/4 cup of dark chocolate

2 garlic cloves

1 medium sized onion

2 charred poblano peppers

Juice from 1 orange

1 tbsp cumin, chili powder, coriander

Olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 cup vegetable stock

1 tbsp tomato paste

For the onions

1 red onion

1 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

3 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp salt

How you will do it:

  1. In a pot, cook down the onions, and garlic until translucent. Meanwhile in another pan, char the poblano peppers until soft and blackened.
  2. Chop the peppers and add to the onion and garlic. Throw in the spices and the tomato paste.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the juice from the orange. Then add the stock.
  4. Submerge the beans in the liquid and add the chocolate. Cook on low heat for atleast an hour.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Mix the masa with the water and salt in a small boll. The texture will become like Moonsand (weird toy that used to be big when I was younger.)
  7. Form little 1 and 1/2 inch balls. Then press them in the middle of the tortilla press, between the 2 parchements.
  8. Cook them in a pan with a little oil until browned and crisp.
  9. Boil the water vinegar and sugar in a small pot. Salt the onions. Then submerge the onions in the boiled liquid. Enjoy!

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