The DIY task appointed by Morgyn at The PPK forums for this week is tortillas. I bought a press yesterday (inexpensive, and worked like a charm), and already had masa harina and water (the only ingredients) on hand.
I followed Rick Bayless' instructions from Authentic Mexican, which are very detailed and helpful. A couple of notes, though - He said the masa should be like soft cookie dough. Mine was too wet at first, and I had to adjust. Also, he mentions using thick plastic on the press, but offers no explanation of where to obtain such. A little internet exploration revealed that one can cut squares from a freezer bag - and they are durable enough to wipe off, keep, and re-use. (If you are trying to avoid plastic, waxed paper works, too, although you don't get many uses from a sheet. I tried both waxed paper and the freezer bag pieces.)
Condensed instructions: Mix masa harina with hot water from the tap until you have a soft but entirely non-sticky dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes or more. Place one iron skillet on medium-low heat, and one on medium-high. (No oil. Both skillets are dry.) Use your tortilla press to make a tortilla: Press a walnut-sized ball of masa in-between sheets of plastic or waxed paper, turn 180 degrees, press again, and peel off into your hand. Drop the raw tortilla in the medium low skillet for 20 seconds or so, then flip into the hot skillet for another 20 seconds, then (still in the hot skillet), turn over for a final 20 seconds. It should puff up like a pita (it does, it does!). Wrap the finished tortillas in a kitchen towel, while you continue working.
Having made these once, I have a much better sense of the proper dough consistency, timing, how hot the skillets should be, and so on. It's really easy once you get the hang of it, and if my first tortillas are not so pretty, that's a sacrifice I'm happy to make for the education. Much like yeast bread, there is a tactile learning process here - you have to get your hands in the masa to understand it.
Results: SO much better than the tortillas in the store. I don't think I can buy the pre-made anymore. It's a whole different world. We had them with Soy Curls cooked with taco seasonings, baby spinach, and Cahill Desert Corn Relish (another crazy-delicious swap package score from ViT).
Go make tortillas!