Tag Archives: corn tortillas

Spinach Fried Quesadilla with Goat Cheese

29 Jul

I went to a very well-known Mexican restaurant that just opened in Puerto Rico… one that has many locations in cities around the US, but apparently according to the hard-core fan base, it’s not a chain restaurant. Well… back to my experience, the thing was, I was underwhelmed. After all the fanfare of this restaurant opening in PR and having friends telling me such “wonderful” things about it, I was not impressed. My net takeaway was – I can make better Mexican food at home!

This is how these quesadillas came about… Why make quesadillas with only 1 cheese, or only one ingredient for that matter? And newsflash to all the “fancy schmancy” restaurants out there, quesadillas can be made with something other than just chicken.

Inspired by the fried quesadillas of Guadalajara, here is my take on a great vegetarian option for lunch on even dinner…

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SPINACH FRIED QUESADILLA

3 sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup baby fresh spinach – what you can fit in a 1 cup measuring cup
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
2 ounces of goat cheese – cream cheese will do in a pinch
Kosher Salt
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Olive Oil

 

You’ll be able to make 2 quesadillas at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps. I consider 3 quesadillas is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4 quesadillas, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients. This is more a method than a recipe…

 

  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and place one tortilla… flip it over on both sides so there’s some of the olive oil on both sides.
  2. Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Now place a few fresh baby spinach leaves on top of the cheese. You can rip them into smaller pieces with your hands if you’d like. Season the spinach with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place a few pieces of goat cheese over spinach.
  3. Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with spinach and cheese. At first it will seem as if there is too much spinach for the small tortilla, but the heat from the skillet will wilt the spinach and it will reduce the bulk considerably.
  4. Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.

While one quesadilla is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2. And start the process all over again.

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Poblano Pepper Rajas

20 Jan

When I went last year to Guadalajara, I fell in love with a taco filling they call RAJAS… Rajas are translated directly as STRIPS of something. I had the pleasure of having RAJAS made from Jalapeños, Nopales and Poblanos.

The Rajas de Jalapeños were delicious made in a creamy sauce with corn and little pieces of some other crumbly cheese. They served me three corn tortillas with the filling and you top them with your favorite veggies – lettuce, tomato, crema, etc. Something that surprised me about all the Pepper Rajas I had while in Mexico is that I always expected the dishes to be so spicy that I would not able to handle them. This was not the case… All dishes were mild, even to my wimpy palette.

I saw this recipe from Marcela Valadolid on making Poblano Rajas and I had to try it… I am almost certain I used some other chile other than a POBLANO, because after seeding and deveining, it was WAY SPICIER than what I remembered in Mexico. Maybe one of my peppers started to ripen and I’ve been told this adds to the spicy level of a pepper.

Who knows what happened… but the results were delicious. You should try this too…

POBLANO PEPPER RAJAS

6 fresh poblano chiles
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
2 fresh ears of corn, kernels removed
1/4 cup heavy cream
½ cup plain yogurt – or Mexican crema…
¼ cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup, shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup mild feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
For Accompaniment:
Fresh baby spinach
Fresh tomatoes
1 cup of strained plain yogurt – or Greek yogurt
Slices of lime
Corn Tortillas

 

  1. Char the poblano chiles under the broiler of your oven until blackened on all sides. I did mine in a toaster oven. Enclose in a plastic bag and let steam for about 10 minutes.
  2. When the chiles have cooled a bit, peel and seed them. Cut the chiles into 1/2-inch strips (rajas) and set aside.
  3. Add the oil to a heavy large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Add the strips of chile to the onion and corn mixture and sauté until the corn is tender, about 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the heavy cream, vegetable broth and yogurt. With the back of a knife, scrape all the liquid that resides in the corn hull left behind. Cook until bubbling, about for 8 minutes more. Add the cheeses and stir until melted and smooth. Season the rajas with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish and serve as part of a Taquiza.
  7. Warm the corn tortillas in a dry skillet and place inside a clean cloth surrounded by aluminum foil to maintain warm and pliable as long as possible.

What’s a Taquiza??? When you set out all the fixings for making TACOS buffet-style… just like they do in Guadalajara. Buen Provecho!!!

Quesadillas Guillén with Fresh Tomato Salsa

5 May

Guillén is my friend from the yoga center… He lives in Mexico City, but tries as much as he can to come to Puerto Rico, Miami or New York to attend our yoga center activities and retreats.  Last time we saw each other was during our Xmas retreat, which took place last in New York.  We always have a great time together, talking about anything, but mostly about food.

Guillén loves to cook and to share his Mexican delicacies with all of us.  And as soon as we were given the “green light” to eat anything and everything after our retreat, he said he would make some quesadillas for breakfast for all of us.  Quesadillas for breakfast?!?!?  Well, that’s how the Mexicans in the DF (capital city) roll, and I am getting on this wagon for sure.

Something Guillén taught me this time around is that what I have showed you so far as quesadillas – Caprese Quesadillas, French Quesadillas, Quesadillas  Cordon Blue, etc. – are not really quesadillas according to true Mexican cuisiniers…  these are really called “sincronizadas”.  Guillén tells me that Quesadillas need to be FRIED, and made mainly with corn tortillas, while Sincronizadas are made with flour tortillas and are just heated on top of a skillet or on the oven to brown and melt the cheese, but are never fried.  To be honest… this was super enlightening for me because I had seen sincronizadas in Mexican menus during my last trip to Guadalajara and when I asked what was the difference from quesadillas, nobody was super clear on what it was… and according to Guillén is the FRYING part.

So… here is Guillén’s recipe for truly awesome quesadillas.  First, we start with organic sprouted corn tortillas.  These are not too easy to find here in Puerto Rico, but I have seen them in most every health food I have gone to in the US.  This is the brand Guillén prefers and they are truly delicious. 

Then the cheese to use…  Guillén prefers to use pepper jack cheese, but if you have a milder palate, try some Monterrey Jack cheese or even those cheddar/jack shredded cheese blends.  However, what’s traditionally Mexican is to slice the cheese from a block, not use the shredded kind.

And what makes these quesadillas really special is the Fresh Tomato Salsa… it’s super easy to make and it tastes soooooo authentic, I felt I was back in Guadalajara.  Guillén was nice enough to allow me to photograph him while making these quesadillas and salsa.  I have since tried it on my own and the results were extremely reliable.  Look for the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find.  It really makes a difference… 

 

QUESADILLAS GUILLEN WITH FRESH TOMATO SALSA

8 organic sprouted corn tortillas
16 slices of pepper jack cheese – we’ll use 2 slices per tortilla
Canola oil for shallow frying
2 medium tomatoes, cored
½ yellow onion, chopped finely
The juice of 1 lime
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tbs olive oil

 

We’ll make the Fresh Tomato Salsa first…

  1. In a non-stick skillet, place the tomatoes and roast them on top of the stove at medium-high heat.  Keep moving the tomatoes around to char the skin all over.  This will cook slightly the tomato flesh and impart a great smoky taste to the salsa.
  2.      
  3. After the tomatoes are charred all over, take them off the skillet to cool off a bit.  I peel the tomatoes a bit and take off the very charred skin.  Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place them in a food processor or blender. Blend or process well for about 1 minute.
  4. Take the tomato blend out of the processor and into a bowl.  Add the choppped onion, lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. 
  5.  Set aside to allow the flavors to blend well together. 

Now we make the quesadillas… which is really no science at all to it.

  1. In a large skillet, add about ¼” of oil at medium-high heat… when the oil is hot enough for frying, add a tortilla and fry slightly on both sides.  Immediately, add two slices of cheese on one half of the tortilla and fold the other half over to create a half moon.  Fry on both sides until the tortilla is slightly golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  2.               
  3. Drain the quesadilla onto a plate covered with paper towel.
  4. When the quesadilla has cooled off slightly enough to handle, open it up a bit and drizzle about a tablespoon of salsa inside the quesadilla.

 

And that’s it… you could serve these with a nice salad on the side and some sour cream on top.  But believe me, these are perfect just like this.

Tortilla Casserole

18 Dec

I work from home quite a lot… and half the time, by the time I get hungry I am too hungry to prepare something to eat.  So I usually have a fridge full of delicious stuff to cook and I end up having a boiled potato or a sandwich for lunch.  I just can’t spend 30-40 minutes cooking something right in the middle of a work day.

I had a bunch of tortillas I had bought to experiment with a few Mexican dishes I learned in Mexico and got tired of seeing them in the fridge, so I searched several recipes and found a few interesting ones, but of course all included some kind of meat.  I had some left-over tofu-chón in my fridge and I decided to mix and match recipes to see what would work.

I liked one in particular because it needed to chill overnight before baking… I thought it was awesome for lunch because I could just pop into the toaster oven at about 11AM, leave it alone and by the time I would get hungry, it would be ready.  My kind of recipe… 

I am not certain if the overnight soak is essential, but I love that this is an easy assembly you can prepare while making another dish the night (or even a few nights) before.  It’ll be ready when you are…

 

TORTILLA CASSEROLE

7 corn tortillas, cut into ½” strips
6-7 slices of marinated tofu, sliced into small pieces – I used this tofu-chón recipe here
1/2 cup mild or medium salsa
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ a packet of white button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
4oz sour cream
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup of water, if needed

 

  1. Prepare the tofu… first you need to press the tofu for about 1 hour and marinate in the adobo mixture for about an extra 2-3 hours.  So I recommend you making this tofu ahead and save them in the fridge and have them ready for you when you want to make this recipe. 
  2. Add salsa, mushroom soup and onions to a medium bowl and stir to combine.  If you find it too thick, add the ¼ cup of water in small increments to avoid making it too watery.  Set aside. 
  3. Now mix together the sour cream and yogurt in a separate bowl.  Set aside too.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup of the salsa mixture in bottom of a medium baking dish that can fit into your toaster oven. Place half of the tortilla strips in an even layer over salsa mixture
  5. Followed by half of the tofu, half of the mushrooms, half of the remaining salsa mixture, half of the sour cream/yogurt mixture, and half of the remaining cheese. Repeat process with remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Uncover and transfer baking dish to a 300F degree oven. Bake until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted ad golden brown on top, about 1 hour.

Mexican Lasagna

5 May

Today we celebrate 5 de Mayo… which many US people think it’s the celebration of the Mexican Independence and of great consequence to Mexicans, but it’s not so…   I believe 5 de Mayo it’s a nice holiday to them but not nearly as important as the celebration of their Independence, celebrated on September 16.  I know… I moved to Chicago around that time and it was impressive the amount of Mexicans with huge flags riding on their cars up and down the main avenues.  However, on 5 de Mayo, not nearly enough…

I think it’s just easier in English to say “5 de Mayo” than to say “16 de Septiembre”… you know, that issue with the rolling r’s.  So if the US wants to celebrate Mexican culture, let them do it at the beginning of the Spring/Summer season… it’s more festive anyhow.

Jumping on the bandwagon myself, I decided to treat my friend AnnieMariel to lunch the other day with a Mexican-inspired lunch.  The theme had dual-purpose – to celebrate the upcoming 5 de Mayo and to support our Mexican friends whose been getting such a bad rap lately with all this “swine flu” news.  They’ve been hurting health wise and they will continue to hurt due to decreases in travel to Mexico.  It’s just unfortunate that the level of poverty over there just prevents people to seek medical health as easily or rapidly as we do here in the US and probably that’s part of the increased severity of the cases there.

Both AnnieMariel and I had trips planned to Mexico that were abruptly cancelled or postponed.  So we want to support them symbolically with our lunch…

 mexican-lasagna

MEXICAN LASAGNA

About 8 corn tortillas
4 tomatillos, washed well and quartered
1 medium onion, chopped into large pieces
6 garlic cloves
The Juice of 1 lemon/lime
¼ cup textured soy protein, re-hydrated in about 1 cup of water
2 tbs sofrito
1 vegetable bouillon cube, divided in half
¼ cup red-wine vinegar
¼ tsp Herbamare
1 cup Italian-blend grated cheese
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola Oil Spray

 

This is a simple recipe, but we need to take care of a few steps before we assemble. 

  1. First you need to re-hydrate the textured soy protein.  Place the soy protein in a medium bowl or measuring cup and fill it with water and wait for it about 30 minutes to re-hydrate well.

For the tomatillo salsa…

  1. In a pyrex pan, place the tomatillos, onion and garlic.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.  Mix them all together to make sure everything is well-coated with the oil.  Roast in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, or until you see the onions and tomatillo getting caramelized on top.
  2. Wait a few minutes until the tomatillos/onion mixture cools down a bit.  Transfer the contents of the pyrex to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the juice of a green lemon and pulse a few times to make a thick sauce.  Set aside.

 

While the tomatillos are roasting in the oven, we can make the soy picadillo… but this soy picadillo is dryer than the versions I have showed you before…

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, drizzle about 1 tbs of olive oil, add ½ of the vegetable bouillon cube and the sofrito.  Cook for a few minutes and add the soy protein after you’ve squeezed out as much water as you can from it.  Mix it all together to combine.  I want to add some moisture to help it cook along… so I add the vinegar at this point.  Season it with a bit of pepper and Herbamare. 
  2. Cook over medium-low heat until the soy looks cooked, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Set aside too.

 

  1. In a medium tall-sided skillet, warm up about ½- ¾ cup of water with the other ½ vegetable bouillon cube to make a vegetable “broth”.  Add about ¼ cup of the tomatillo salsa to this broth and whisk well to combine.
  2. In a medium-sized glass dish sprayed with canola oil spray we’ll start layering the lasagna…
  3. Take the tortillas and cut in half 4 of them.  This will help you layer them as evenly as possible in the glass dish. 
  4. Take about 1/4 cup of the thinned tomatillo salsa and place it at the bottom of the dish.  Now dip in the thinned tomatillo salsa one whole tortilla and 2 halves.  Place them on the bottom of the dish. 
  5. mex-lasagna-2
  6. Now spread intact tomatillo salsa on top of the tortillas to create a layer and sprinkle a third of the cooked soy picadillo.
  7. mex-lasagna-1
  8. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, a layer of the grated Italian cheeses and sprinkle a third of the pepitas.  
  9. mex-lasagna-3
  10. Now we start all over again, starting with the tortillas, creating 3 layers and finishing off with wet tortillas covered with parmesan cheese, Italian blend cheese and pepitas.
  11. Place in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.

 

mex-lasagna-4

 

I always turn off the heat in the oven and leave it there for a few minutes until the lasagna settles a bit.

It takes a few steps, but your hard work will be rewarded…    it tastes very Mexican because of the corn tortillas, but the tomatillo salsa gives it a nice tang, different than a regular tomato-based sauce.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did… and  ¡¡VIVA MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO!!

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