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Living in the great frozen north as we do, we are confronted with a distinct lack of ingredients for making Mexican food. No fresh peppers except Jalapenos, no tomatillos, no Mexican cheeses except for Jack, and only flour tortillas.

However, we have plastic wrapped stacks of corn tostados. Hard crunchy corn discs, 6" across.

Please, some ideas of what one does with them. :wacko:


Darienne

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Sorry to hear that Darienne. I thought way up here in the far north we were the poster child for unavailable ingredients but even we have corn tortillas and, during the summer, a better selection of peppers than just jalapenos. The owner of the local grocery store is somewhat decent about ordering things in on request if he can get them without having to make too much effort. I've never seen pre-fried corn tortillas but, if the store can get those, it can probably get fresh or frozen as well. Have you asked? When I was a kid, my stepmom used to spread refried beans on fried tortillas (she fried them herself though), add some cheese and toss 'em in the oven a minute to melt the cheese then pile all of the stuff you would generally put in a taco on top. Nothing fancy but I liked them.


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They're very accommodating! Other possible toppings include radishes, cilantro, minced red or white onion, crema (or sour cream), pickled onions or jalapeños, chorizo or some other minced or ground meat.


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Sorry to hear that Darienne. I thought way up here in the far north we were the poster child for unavailable ingredients but even we have corn tortillas and, during the summer, a better selection of peppers than just jalapenos. The owner of the local grocery store is somewhat decent about ordering things in on request if he can get them without having to make too much effort. I've never seen pre-fried corn tortillas but, if the store can get those, it can probably get fresh or frozen as well. Have you asked? When I was a kid, my stepmom used to spread refried beans on fried tortillas (she fried them herself though), add some cheese and toss 'em in the oven a minute to melt the cheese then pile all of the stuff you would generally put in a taco on top. Nothing fancy but I liked them.

Hmmm....I could ask.

Also I know that things are available in and around Toronto, Hamilton, et al, but not around Peterborough. On the other hand, we don't have traffic jams...


Darienne

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They're very accommodating! Other possible toppings include radishes, cilantro, minced red or white onion, crema (or sour cream), pickled onions or jalapeños, chorizo or some other minced or ground meat.

Yes but, yes but...do they have to stay crunchy and hard? I don't like that concept.

Can you soften them and then use them? Like lasagna noodles? Etc?

Well, I suppose you CAN, but do folks?


Darienne

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Nope, they don't work like that (unless you use them to make chilaquiles, where they soften up in the sauce). They would just fall apart completely if you tried to soak them.

ETA: Can you get masa harina? You can make tortillas yourself, even without a tortilla press.


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ETA: Can you get masa harina? You can make tortillas yourself, even without a tortilla press.

Even I was able to make them, and they tasted a heckuva lot better than the stacks of thick, fat-laden corn tortillas available in the refrigerator section of my local markets.

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I'm pretty sure I can buy masa and thanks for the information.


Darienne

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Yes but, yes but...do they have to stay crunchy and hard? I don't like that concept.

Can you soften them and then use them? Like lasagna noodles? Etc?

Well, I suppose you CAN, but do folks?

Yikes!! Don't try the lasagna idea, they'd probably just disintegrate and you'd end up with something rather unpleasant.

How do you feel about ceviche? If you can get a jalapeño, a couple of limes, a little onion, a little red tomato, some cilantro and your local fish, you can turn out a respectable ceviche. Break the tostados into smaller pieces, pile some ceviche on it and eat.

Over on the Making Mexican thread on the last page there are a number of posts about Carne con Col, which is a ground beef and cabbage dish. It's easy and the only Mexican specific ingredients you'd need would be jalapeño and cilantro. The recipe was originally in one of the Diana Kennedy cookbooks. In her recipe header she indicated she came across the recipe in a market in Chiapas where it was used as a topping for tostadas. I've got friends who have made this with every kind of ground meat including beef, bison, lamb, turkey and even venison. It works, tho' I've tweaked the recipe just a bit to add more chile and more tomato. You could easily make this recipe and top the tostados with it.

The suggestion for chilaquiles is good. You can make a pretty good sauce for it with just red tomatoes, onion, garlic and the jalapeño. You wouldn't need Mexican cheese for this, you could use whatever good melting cheese you can find in your area.

Then there are the ubiquitous nachos. Break up your tostado shells into manageable sized pieces, top with cheese sauce followed by pico de gallo (tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and salt). If you're feeling generous, marinate some skirt steak in orange juice, garlic and salt for about 30 minutes, grill and add to the nachos for carne asada nachos.

Tostados are also an accompaniment to posole and you don't particularly need a lot of specialty ingredients to turn out a decent pot of posole.

Throw the tostados in a food processor (with the seasonings of your choice if you want) and process until crushed to a size similar to panko. You can do this with a rolling pin and zip lock bag as well, it just takes longer. Use as a coating for fried fish or fried chicken.

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How do you feel about ceviche? If you can get a jalapeño, a couple of limes, a little onion, a little red tomato, some cilantro and your local fish, you can turn out a respectable ceviche. Break the tostados into smaller pieces, pile some ceviche on it and eat.

Over on the Making Mexican thread on the last page there are a number of posts about Carne con Col, which is a ground beef and cabbage dish. It's easy and the only Mexican specific ingredients you'd need would be jalapeño and cilantro. The recipe was originally in one of the Diana Kennedy cookbooks. In her recipe header she indicated she came across the recipe in a market in Chiapas where it was used as a topping for tostadas. I've got friends who have made this with every kind of ground meat including beef, bison, lamb, turkey and even venison. It works, tho' I've tweaked the recipe just a bit to add more chile and more tomato. You could easily make this recipe and top the tostados with it.

The suggestion for chilaquiles is good. You can make a pretty good sauce for it with just red tomatoes, onion, garlic and the jalapeño. You wouldn't need Mexican cheese for this, you could use whatever good melting cheese you can find in your area.

Then there are the ubiquitous nachos. Break up your tostado shells into manageable sized pieces, top with cheese sauce followed by pico de gallo (tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and salt). If you're feeling generous, marinate some skirt steak in orange juice, garlic and salt for about 30 minutes, grill and add to the nachos for carne asada nachos.

Tostados are also an accompaniment to posole and you don't particularly need a lot of specialty ingredients to turn out a decent pot of posole.

Throw the tostados in a food processor (with the seasonings of your choice if you want) and process until crushed to a size similar to panko. You can do this with a rolling pin and zip lock bag as well, it just takes longer. Use as a coating for fried fish or fried chicken.

Thanks for all the ideas. Some might work for me. Some won't work (DH). Some I know about. Some I didn't.

I have been following the Mexican threads lately and giving it much thought, while drowning in an overload situation. It'll come clear as I apply myself no doubt.

Thanks for the information.


Darienne

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They're very accommodating! Other possible toppings include radishes, cilantro, minced red or white onion, crema (or sour cream), pickled onions or jalapeños, chorizo or some other minced or ground meat.

How exactly do you eat these things? Does everything fall off the tostado as it breaks apart? Does it stay crunchy through the eating?


Darienne

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How's the flour tortilla situation? If you cannot find those, they are easier to make than the corn ones and they use more common ingredients.

Flour tortillas very available. Thanks.


Darienne

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Some good suggestions so far. Tostadas are very commonly used in both Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine (I don’t know about Cal-Mex). Tostada refers both to the crisp disc of corn meal and also the dish including toppings. They are also used in Guatemalan and Honduran cuisine where the finished dishes are called enchiladas and will typically have shredded cabbage as a topping. The word tostada means toasted though the cooking process involved is frying

They are seldom eaten alone or without toppings but can be. You can break them up but you may wind up with ots of little pieces and scraps.

I don’t eat much Tex-Mex anymore so I had to look up a couple of restaurant websites to be sure I remembered how these are served and was surprised to see there isn’t much evidence of them on menus any more. You still encounter them as one element on a typical Tex-Mex combo plate, along with an enchilada (rolled) and taco (crispy), a tamale and beans and rice. They almost always have a layer of refritos in the toppings. You can think of them as open faced crispy tacos and use any topping you might find in a taco.

Here in the US we tend to prefer them thin and crispy; south of the border (Mex/US) they tend to be less obsessed with crispness as a food group and prefer them thicker, freshly prepared (dripping, or at least glistening, with hot oil) and more toothsome as they also prefer tortilla chips.

Around here at taquerias etc. I see them more often as appetizer items and the most popular ones probably would be Tostada de Camaron (shrimp) or Ceviche. The shrimp ones are one of my favorite appetizers and would be topped with a generous number of grilled shrimp, refritos, queso, aguacate, lettuce, crema, etc. Again, you can use any topping that you would find in a (folded) soft taco.

These things are typically piled high with fixings and sometimes break when you pick them up due in part to the juiciness of the toppings and yes they can get a little soggy.

You can use them for the New Mexico/West Texas version of enchiladas - stacked enchiladas. Those are usually made with freshly and briefly fried tortillas, layered with alternating layers of red and green salsas and topped with a fried egg but I’ve made them and had them with crispy tostadas such as you can buy at a store.

By the way, Monterey Jack is an American, not a Mexican cheese. The spelling with one r indicates a connection to Monterey, California, where the cheese was first created in the 1800s. Monterrey, Mexico, is spelled with two r’s. Jack is used in Tex-Mex and does find it’s way into Mexican restaurant dishes around here, at least, but if a place claims to be serving authentic Mexican rather than Tex-Mex and lists Monterey Jack as an ingredient, they eventually will get some negative comments by purists in online message boards and review sites if not face-to-face.

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By the way, Monterey Jack is an American, not a Mexican cheese. The spelling with one r indicates a connection to Monterey, California, where the cheese was first created in the 1800s. Monterrey, Mexico, is spelled with two r’s. Jack is used in Tex-Mex and does find it’s way into Mexican restaurant dishes around here, at least, but if a place claims to be serving authentic Mexican rather than Tex-Mex and lists Monterey Jack as an ingredient, they eventually will get some negative comments by purists in online message boards and review sites if not face-to-face.

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Darienne

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Heat the tostados on a grill then spread with mashed beans, white cheese and avocado. Some salsa fresca will not hurt.


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How exactly do you eat these things? Does everything fall off the tostado as it breaks apart? Does it stay crunchy through the eating?

The key is to use a layer of hot frijoles as the first step to building your tostada. That's not only the glue that helps to hold all the other toppings in place, but it also sort of "seals" the surface of the tostada so it doesn't get too limp from any liquid-y ingredients. You can make the layer of frijoles as thick or as thin as you like, depending upon how much you like refrieds.

However, if you're using the tostada shells as a base for a seafood cocktail or a ceviche, no beans. Just eat quickly ! :wink:

There are a million options for these. You can use them as a base for "super" nachos, or for a tostada salad, as well as layering on the toppings and eating out of hand. Just about anything you'd put in a taco can go on a tostada.

Be sure to toss the tostada shells into a warm oven (~300°F) for a tiny bit (no more than 5 minutes) before you use them. This will refresh them, crisp them up, and take away some of the stale taste.


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I am grateful for all the information, and just now from Pierogi, answering my question about actually eating on the tostados. The only thing to do is to buy a new package of tostados and try them out. The old one went into the bin...it was so old it had whiskers almost...

If I can't make them work as described for some reason, I can always cut them up and use them for chips.

Thanks.


Darienne

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They are also ideal to crumble and use as toppings for a couple of Mexican soups - Sopa Tarasca and Tortilla Soup come immediately to mind.


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Thanks, Jaymes. I have some sopa de albondigas in the freezer and I'll try them there.


Darienne

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Going beyond the ceviche tostada concept; one of our favorite appetizers when eating in a marisquería (seafood joint) are seafood tostadas.

Begin with a base of smashed fresh avocado spread on the tostada surface.

1. Top with small, cooked peeled shrimp. Maybe some red onion for garnish.

2. Small pieces of calamares cooked in a salsa diabla.

3. Marlín ahumado. (true, you won't be able to get it up north, but you might try substituting mashed kippered snacks, sasoned with tomato, onion and chile. Or even sardines in tomato sauce with salsa picante.

Moving inland, a very popular snack here in Michoacán is patas de puerco en vinagre on tostadas. Unless you bone them and cut them up, it's really necessary to pick up the pickled pig's feet in the hands.

Carne Apache tostadas are popular here (but I normally won't eat them, especially on the street.) If you like steak tartare, you can use the Mexican version, minced raw beef, lime juice, minced onions, tomatoes, cilantro and fresh chilles to taste.


Buen provecho, Panosmex

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a lot to think about and a lot to look up online. Thanks.

Also I did look up a recipe for carne Apache to see what it is and found one on tostadas. The tostadas did not look like the ones we can buy in our local town. These ones are about 6" rounds and completely rigid. There's more than one kind.

My confusion stems from how to eat anything on the rigid tostadas we can buy. Of course, I never could see eating anything in a taco shell either. :hmmm:


Darienne

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They taste cornier and are thicker and crunchier than most tortilla chips so we used them broken in nice pieces for nachos. When served whole with toppings this is a lean forward from the waist and don't sweat some drips kind of eating.

Back in the day they were the first thing we bought when we crossed the border along with cold beers in glass bottles. Perfect driving snack.....(looong ago)

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More on Tostadas (now I know how to spell it).

Can't recall the brand of the last package I had bought but the tostadas were quite thick and the package did not rip (identification only)

Bought a package today finally, Charras, made in Mexico, very thin and crispy, thinner than any corn chip I have ever seen. The disc completely broke and fell apart as soon as I bit into it. They were packed in a cellophane package which ripped from one end to the other upon opening it. Tasted good tho...

So there is much variety in what is called tostada? BTW, I would guess that Charras might well be the only brand I'll find in Peterpatch. Not too useful.

Forgot to mention that DH bought me a package of what I thought was masa and now I discover that it's not plain masa, but rather instant corn masa mix. Now what? Should I take it back or use it?


Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

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Bought a package today finally, Charras, made in Mexico, very thin and crispy, thinner than any corn chip I have ever seen.

Those are intended more as a standalone snack food than a platform for other stuff I think. Rub them with half a lime and sprinkle with chili powder or use it to eat salsa or pico.

So there is much variety in what is called tostada?

Here (Northern Mexico) we get white, yellow and red, ranging from very thin and crispy such as you described to dehydrated which are hard but comparatively very chewy. Drying tortillas in a low oven gets you the same result as the last and is a good use for tortillas that have gone slightly stale.

Forgot to mention that DH bought me a package of what I thought was masa and now I discover that it's not plain masa, but rather instant corn masa mix. Now what? Should I take it back or use it?

Is what is sold as "masa" up there prepared dough (that's what we would call "masa") or dry meal?

The standard brand around here for dry meal is the Maseca brand, although generics and store brands have made some inroads in the past few years. I'm not sure I've ever seen prepared dough in a store.


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