Feliz Navidad to me. Making tortillas provides all the tactile joy and warming aromas of baking bread, with none of the waiting or kneading.
The first step to making your own tortillas is mixing masa harina with water. I used Maseca; they don't mill wheat, so there's no risk of cross-contamination. Plus, there are handy instructions on the bag.
Now you get to roll the dough in your hands like play-doh, forming golf ball-sized spheres.
Then place the balls of dough on the press and squash the living daylights out of them (this is the truly fun part). Plastic on either side of the tortilla keeps the press clean and makes moving the tortilla easy.
The tortillas get cooked over medium-high heat for 50-60 seconds per side. A tortilla warmer keeps them soft until you're ready to eat. Celiac disease is a wonderful excuse to buy yourself specialized tortilla equipment. It's not expensive—it'll pay for itself in four or five loaves of gluey rice bread—and it practically turns your kitchen into a taquería. My first homemade tortillas were heartier and fresher than any I've bought in a store. I don't think I'll ever go back.
When it came time to serve these, with black beans, rice, tomatoes, lettuce, sautéed peppers, and guacamole, I wasn't sure whether to call them fajitas or soft tacos. Both consist of warm tortillas folded around fillings, so what's the difference? My Mexican culinary vocabulary is limited—I am from Maine, the whitest, oldest, and most capsaicin-phobic state in the union. I remember being fond, in junior high, of McDonald's chicken fajitas. There was no Taco Bell.
It wasn't until college that I discovered a world beyond the Old El Paso taco kit (don't get me wrong, that ground beef seasoning packet is delicious, but it's neither Mexican nor food). Then I married someone from southern California, and received an education in enchiladas, empanadas, chilies rellenos, and tamales. For a time we lived above a restaurant called Taco Taco, and it became our second home.
I guess it doesn't matter what you call this meal. It was fresh and filling, and while I was cooking and eating it, I didn't miss wheat at all. I can feel a Mexican binge coming on; after months of gentle rice and mild soup, it's time revel in flavor and a style of bread that doesn't require alteration to be safe and delicious.
A final note: I'm so pleased to have avocados back in my life. For years, I thought I was allergic, because every time I ate them I got sick. Now I'm eating guacamole with gusto, and realizing it was flour tortillas that made me ill. Welcome back, you fatty fruit. I used this recipe, but next time I'll wing it with some lime juice, cilantro, onion, tomato, and salt.