They were not nearly from scratch, but this evening's tostadas were immensely satisfying, and I do think that the extra care taken is partly responsible, along with many local or regional ingredients. Previous tostada efforts have begun with store-bought corn tostadas, which are usually available in little bags of about a dozen, stacked in a rather fragile pile in the "international" section of the larger grocery stores. These are not bad, but they are not a great beginning.
The Well-Filled Tortilla. Yes, it has an entire tostada section, which is yet another reason that you should go get a copy if you have been putting this off.
I started by boiling a couple of chicken breasts that were in the freezer. While they boiled -- which did take a while -- I chopped a small onion, a couple cloves of garlic, an Italian pepper, and one red-hot serrano pepper, all from this week's farm-box share at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. Once the chicken was very tender, I lifted the pieces into a medium bowl, where I used two forks to shred them. I then heated the last remnants of a bottle of Persian lime-infused olive oil from Lebherz (time to re-order!) in an indispensable cast-iron saucepan. I then browned the chicken in the oil, and added the aromatics, cooking until all of this just looked and smelled wonderful.
Meanwhile, I heated some refried beans (Trader Joe's Salsa Style) in a small, indispensable cast-iron skillet. Then I stirred a bit more EVOO and some chili powder into the chicken mixture. I turned both pans to very low heat and heated a goodly amount of EVOO (about a 1/4-inch deep; we never do this) in our large, indispensable cast-iron skillet. I then placed a store-bought, eight-inch, flour tortilla in the pan and heated it until the edges began to brown. I turned it over with tongs (our friend Rob insists this is the most important tool in the kitchen, and today he was right), cooked for another minute or so, and then placed it on a plate. I repeated with a second tortilla, being careful not to allow the oil to smoke, and to allow the tostadas (the first I've ever made!) to drain just a bit. When they got a bit puffy, the tongs proved useful in bringing them down to size.
Green Mountain Gringo.
What could be better than all this, besides delightful company? The perfect pairing with Original Recipe Pale Ale from our friends in Westport.
UPDATE: The panic about Persian lime-infused olive oil was premature. Pam remembers an additional bottle, purchased for our Lime Jubilee in May. I know readers were worried!