Tacos are actually tortillas stuffed with vegetables. Now you may feel then what is a burrito or what is the difference between taco and burrito? Both enclose a filling.And burritos are actually tacos and are known as tacos de harina as traditionally they were made from corn/maize tortillas. The difference is in the way of folding the tortilla over filling. Burritos completely enclose the filling and are cylindrical in shape. Whereas tacos are tortillas simply folded in half around a filling, leaving a semicircular perimeter open.
There are generally two types of tacos. Hard shell tacos and soft shell tacos.Soft shell tacos are easier to make - prepare the filling, spoon in the middle of the corn/wheat/flour tortilla and fold over in half moon shape. Simple and quick meal. If you completely enclose the filling and roll it out in a cylindrical shape then you call it a burrito :).
Hard shell tacos are actually tortillas 'u-shaped' and deep fried in oil.These are crispy crunchy tacos that retain the shape and can hold sizeable amount of filling and still retain the shape and crispiness over a period of time. These came in the taco kits that I was familiar with while in NJ.I used to wonder what were in the box like packages that were boldly advertised containing taco seasoning kit. I wanted to prepare them at home but was clueless on getting the u shape. Then I simply forgot about them. :)
Then when I recently made flour tortillas, I wanted to make these. But this time I had found an excellent recipe for baked tacos shells in the EatingWell Site.The recipe is nothing much and if you have an oven with a rack then its very easy.
Oil/ Oil Spray
You can lightly warm the tortillas in the steamer or in the microwave for a few minutes or else use room temp tortillas.
Coat both sides of a tortilla with oil or using an oil spray. You can even sprinkle few spices and seasonings on one side of the tortilla.
Carefully drape each tortilla over two/three bars of the oven wire rack.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F/ 190 C for 7-10 minutes.Mine was done by 7th minute. Keep an eye from 5th minute onwards.
You can make the shells few days prior to using them. There is no need to refrigerate (I didn't), but you can if you want and then warm them in the oven. You can use any type of tortilla -flour,corn,wheat - to make these and depending on how thick the tortillas are the oven time might vary for a minute or so.
You can start with one or two tortillas which might not turn out nicely,but you might get a hang if it the second/third time onwards.
I simply stuffed them with some lime rice,pico de gallo, refried beans and dollops of thick yogurt.
Mine does not look machine made, but it was perfect in taste and health.