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Recipes by Christine Manfield

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Cirrus, Sydney review

Cirrus moves the Bentley team down to the water and into more lighthearted territory without sacrificing polish, writes Pat Nourse.

How to grow rocket

A vegetable patch without rocket lacks a great staple, according to Mat Pember. The perennial performer is a leaf for all seasons.

50BestTalks brings World’s best chefs to Sydney and Melbourne

Massimo Bottura and more are coming to the Sydney Opera House.

Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy to open Bad Hombres

Expect Mexican-Asian flavours and an all-natural wine list from two of Sydney’s edgier operators.

Local Knowledge: Moscow

Director of Shakespeare theatre company Cheek by Jowl Declan Donnellan walks us through the essential sights and his favourite cafes and restaurants of his hometown.

On the Pass: Danielle Rensonnet

Bellota chef Danielle Rensonnet talks us through the current menu at the restaurant and her favourite summer ingredients.

Melbourne's Tomato Festival is back in 2017

Returning for another year, Melbourne’s Tomato Festival is ripe with cooking demonstrations, talks, and produce stalls dedicated to plump produce.

Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Bali's new wave of restaurants, hotels and bars

The restaurant and hotel scene on Australia's favourite holiday island has never been more exciting and Australian chefs, owners and restaurateurs are leading the charge, writes Samantha Coomber.

Persian love cake

Baguette recipes

These baguette recipes are picture-perfect and picnic ready, bursting with fillings like slow-cooked beef tongue, poached egg and grilled asparagus and classic leg ham and cheese.

New South Yarra restaurants

The Melbourne suburb lost some of its lustre in recent years, but is now bouncing back.

Fast summer dinners

From an effortless tomato and ricotta herbed tart to Sri Lankan fish curries and chewy pork-and-pineapple skewers, these no-fuss recipes lend to relaxing on a humid summer's night.

Long Chim, Melbourne review

David Thompson brings the heat to Melbourne with his newest incarnation of Long Chim. Michael Harden drops by for dinner.

Curtis Stone's strawberry and almond cheesecake

"I've made all kinds of fancy cheesecakes in my time, but nothing really beats the classic combination of strawberries and almonds with a boost from vanilla bean," says Stone. "I could just pile macerated strawberries on top, but why not give your tastebuds a proper party by folding grilled strawberries into the cheesecake batter too? Cheesecakes are elegant and my go-to for celebrations because they taste best when whipped up a day in advance."


You'll need

360 gm (2 cups) masa flour (see note)


  • 01
  • Place flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt, then add 250ml warm water.
  • 02
  • Mix with your hands to a soft pliable dough (2 minutes), adding more water or flour if necessary.
  • 03
  • Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and rest for at least 20 minutes.
  • 04
  • Divide dough into 16 and roll each piece into a ball.
  • 05
  • Line a tortilla press (see note) with two squares of baking paper, cut to fit.
  • 06
  • Working with one ball at a time, press gently but firmly in press to form a thin disc, then set aside on paper.
  • 07
  • Heat a dry comal or pan over medium-high heat, peel baking paper from tortilla (be careful, it’s fragile) and cook tortilla, turning twice, until lightly browned (30 seconds on each side). Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • 08
  • Stack cooked tortillas in a basket lined with a tea towel as you go and rest to steam gently and soften slightly (3 minutes).

Note Masa flour is available from Asian and other select grocers and The Essential Ingredient. Tortilla presses and comal griddles are available online from Monterey Mexican Foods.

The basis of any good taco is a good tortilla. We're not talking about those crunchy corn-chip things (they can stay on the supermarket shelf), but we're not talking about the most time-consuming traditional version either. A really good soft tortilla, any purist will tell you, is made from corn which has been boiled and steeped in a solution of lime (calcium hydroxide, that is, not the citrus) to loosen the skin, washed and then ground to form a dough known as masa. The liming process, known as nixtamalisation, changes the nutritive qualities of the corn and alters its flavour. Making tortillas this way, however, is more of a chore than most Mexican cooks are prepared to bother with, let alone Australian ones, so here we're going to deal with tortillas made from masa flour (also known as masa harina or harina de maíz), a white or yellow nixtamalised corn flour made by drying freshly made masa. (If you want to explore traditional tortilla-making in more detail, our go-to author is Diana Kennedy.)

Even with this simplified method, some initial outlay is required, and the flour, though available at some specialist shops, may need to be ordered ahead (Essential Ingredient stores often carry it; Melbourne's Casa Iberica is another standby). The one thing you can't really do without is a tortilla press. It's not much more than two pieces of metal with a hinge and a handle, and shouldn't set you back much more than $25. A comal, a flat, heavy iron griddle to cook the tortillas, is a plus, but we've also had excellent results using a Scanpan. Monterey and Fireworks Foods online stock both presses and flours and ship nation-wide.

It's very much worth doing, because it's dead easy, and because there's a world of difference between a freshly made tortilla and the sort you buy in shops. A fresh tortilla needs only some fried eggs, hot sauce, avocado, spring onion, chilli and lime to make a meal, but also provides the perfect vessel for barbecued seafood, thinly sliced steak, or slow-cooked pork, greens, or whatever else your stomach desires.

The keys to tortilla perfection are getting the consistency of your dough right, then letting it sit, cooking it right and, crucially, letting the tortillas steam, wrapped in a towel, in their own heat at the table.

If your dough is too dry, it will crack in the press; too wet or sticky, it'll be impossible to peel from the plastic or baking paper you've lined your press with. Some cooks use Ziploc bags, cut into squares, to line their presses; we prefer baking paper. If we're making tortillas for a crowd, we'll stack them on the sheets, peeling them only when they're ready to be cooked, but if you're only making a few, you can reuse the linings, peeling the tortillas off and either cooking them immediately or draping them over the edge of a bench or board. (It's much easier, incidentally, to peel the lining from the tortilla than the tortilla from the lining.)

The cooking is just as straightforward: bring your comal or pan to medium-high heat without any oil, gently slip in your tortillas one or two at a time, allow them to brown on one side, flip and brown the other side, flip and cook briefly on the first side again to finish, then transfer to a basket lined with a towel. Don't worry if they seem a little stiff straight from the pan; they'll soften in the towel. The important thing is not to let them get cold. Reheating tortillas doesn't really work, but the cuisine of Mexico has as many recipes for leftover tortillas as Europe's cookbooks have for stale bread, whether it's cutting them into chips to fry, slipping them into sopa de tortilla, or putting them to a hundred other good uses.

At A Glance

  • Serves 16 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 16 people

Featured in

Mar 2011

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