The only time that Mrs. Cooper could be diverted from her subject (which was American History) was if you could get her talking about her former students. They were smarter than we were, way smarter. They were busy graduating magna cum laude, there was not much hope for us.
She was never late, she rarely smiled and no one ever knew her christian name. But one Wednesday morning in November, 1964 Mrs. Cooper was just one big smile and we all knew why. We knew her tendencies. “President Johnson has beaten that man,” she said. “I’m suspending your pop quiz.”
In honour of Mrs. Cooper and history teachers everywhere, I have made an election night tv dinner – home made nachos.
- Ingredients – Masa harina, cheese, chilis, cilantro, end of season tomatoes, mexican oregano and a few salt flakes.
- Method – Masa harina is a pale maize flour. In order to turn it into tortilla chips, all you have to do is add salt and water. There are no elaborate proportions involved. Put your flour into a bowl, add a little salt and whatever else you would like as a flavouring (I have sprinkled mexican oregano into the masa harina). Dribble in lukewarm water until you have a moist ball of pastry without any remnants of the flour left in the bowl. Chill your ball of pastry for at least an hour. When it has chilled, break it up into a series of smaller lumps. If you have a tortilla press, now is the time to use it. If you don’t, cut out two pieces of freezer bag (I’ve had grave disappointments with clingfilm). Take the little portions of pastry, put them between your pieces of freezer bag and, one by one, roll them out with a rolling pin. Unlikely as it may seem, they will hold together. Best of all, as you’re making tortilla chips rather than tortillas it really doesn’t matter in the least what they look like. Ideally, you would then deep fry your flattened pieces. I don’t deep fry, however, so these here are lightly brushed with oil and baked in a hot oven.
All that’s left is to break up the pieces of tortilla, decorate them with the other ingredients and put them back into an oven. I have made nachos with Wisconsin cheddar, Monterey Jack, gouda (not recommended) and Danish havarti. But in this recipe it’s British mild cheddar. In the past, there might have been jalapeño chilis from a glass jar but these are fresh red chilis. The tomatoes should be sharp tomatillos but these are the final, mostly green, tomatoes from my vines.
What can I say? Thank you, Mrs. Cooper