PORTLAND, Maine — As D., from a village near Uspantan, Guatemala, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Note: My Guatemalan friends eat these thick tortillas like bread with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The day we cooked together they ate them with their favorite homemade Guatemalan chili sauce and chicken and vegetable soup.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Cooking Time: 45 min

Ingredients

  • 3 cups instant corn masa flour (she used Maseca brand)
  • about 3 1/4 cups water

Instructions

1. Put the masa flour in a wide bowl. Add water and knead with your hands for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Form a smooth top and let the dough sit for 5 to 10 minutes in the mixing bowl covered with a clean towel.

2. Heat a crepe pan, flattop griddle, or an iron skillet (whatever you make pancakes in should work) to medium heat.

3. Form the tortillas by hand. Her dough was softer (it had more water in it) than the dough that works well in a tortilla press. You basically break off a enough dough to form a lime-sized ball, then pat it back and forth between your hands until you have a flat disc shape about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Place the tortilla on a hot, dry pan and don't move it for about 2 minutes. (Depending on your pan, you may have to wipe an oiled paper towel on the surface to help the tortilla not stick. My Calphalon stainless steel pan does not work at all for this. My iron skillet works well, as does any pan with a nonstick surface.)

5. When the side of the tortilla facing down looks golden in parts, flip it over and heat the other side for minute or two until it is golden in parts. If you are burning the tortilla before the inside is cooked (cooked looks a darker shade of yellow than the pale raw dough), then turn your heat down a smidge.

6. Place the finished tortilla in a basket. This allows the steam to release - otherwise the trapped steam makes soggy tortillas. Continue forming and cooking tortillas until all your dough is gone.

RELATED: From Maine to Guatemala, with love

Guatemalan Chicken and Vegetable Soup

As E., from a village near Uspantan, Guatemala, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. 
Makes: 8-10
Cooking time: 1-2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole free range chicken, cut into 2-3inch, bone-in pieces
  • enough water to cover the chicken by 3-4 inches
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 chayote squash, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered + 2 whole tomatoes
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3" segments
  • 4 culantro leaves (he called it samate) or small handful cilantro leaves, rough chopped
  • small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon + 1 Tbsp as desired
  • 2 fresh hot chili peppers of your choice
  • 1 lime
  • 16-20 thick, homemade tortillas (substitute corn bread or bread)

RELATED: Butternut Gnudi is a simplified twist on gnocchi

Instructions

1. If you are handmaking the tortillas, start by making the dough first. Once it's resting, then get the soup started.

2. In a large pot cover the chicken pieces with water by 3-4 inches, add salt, 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon and boil until chicken is cooked (opaque throughout). While that's cooking, if you are making your tortillas from scratch, this would be a good time to make them.

3. Once the chicken is cooked, then add potatoes, squash, carrots, and the 2 quartered tomatoes to the soup pot.

4. While those are cooking, in a separate pot boil the two whole tomatoes and 2 whole fresh chili peppers until the chili peppers are soft. Peel skin off tomatoes and roughly chop chili peppers and then mash the tomatoes and peppers together in a mortal and pestle.

5. When vegetables in the soup are tender, add all the chopped herbs (culantro/cilantro, mint, and parsley). Taste. If you think it needs it, add 1 Tbsp bouillon to enhance flavor. Serve bowls of soup with a basket of warm, thick tortillas, a bowl of lime wedges, and a bowl of the chili-tomato mash for guests to add to add spice their soup as desired.

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Lindsay Sterling is hosting Global Feast events at Frontier in Brunswick on September 26th, October 24th, and November 14th in partnership with Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. For more information, click here.