Tag Archives: mozzarella cheese

Fried Mushroom Tacos

2 Dec

Tacos can be made much more interesting if you play around with the fillings and cheese… and making the tortillas golden brown and crispy.  I have never been a fan of the hard pre-made taco tortilla shells, but I do enjoy crunchy things.  So using the magic of olive oil and a skillet, tacos can become a much more interesting dish.

I used mozzarella and parmesan cheese here… but you can certainly use your favorite cheese combination.  I have also used goat cheese, manchego cheese and even the trusty cream cheese.

This is another recipe available in Spanish on the Qué Rica Vida website… If you’re interested, you can read the recipe in Spanish here.

Tacos filled with Mushrooms, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese

FRIED MUSHROOM TACOS

3 organic sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup white button mushrooms, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Kosher Salt
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Olive Oil

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

  1. First we cook the mushrooms in advance – in a large non-stick skillet over medium-hi heat add a drizzle of olive oil and place the chopped mushrooms  Toss them well so they coat themselves with the olive oil.  Organize them in a single layer so they all have the chance to caramelize well.  Grate the 2 cloves of garlic on top of the mushrooms.  Strip the leaves of the thyme sprigs and add them to the skillet too.
  2. After they’ve browned well on one side, toss and move them around so they get a chance to brown on a different side.   After they’re browned and have shrunk considerably in size, add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel to get rid of small pieces of mushrooms.
  3. Return the pan to the burner, add another 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.
  4. Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla.  Now place about 1 tablespoon of cooked mushrooms over the cheese.   Place little bit of Parmesan cheese over mushrooms.
  5. Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with mushrooms and cheese.  Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.

While one taco is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2 and #3 and so forth.

Fried Mushroom Tacos

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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.

Eggplant Sandwich Stacks

6 Jul

We were talking recently about my favorite sandwiches… but not all sandwiches need to have bread. Such is the case with these Eggplant Sandwich Stacks. I think they’re more aptly named Eggplant Stacks and done. But Mili at the Yoga Center always calls them Eggplant Sandwiches.

To me an eggplant sandwich is like these ones… eggplant fried or grilled inside two pieces of bread. In this case, the eggplant is the “bread” and the filling is lots’o cheese.

They’re easy to make and are a great way to enjoy eggplants…

EGGPLANT SANDWICH STACKS

2 medium sized eggplants
2 cups of tomato pizza or pasta sauce – I like to use this one I make
1 package of mild cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Garlic and herbs Seasoning mix
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Cut the eggplants in rounds. Do not peel them as the skin will help retain the shape of the eggplants. If you’re not fond of the skins, you can certainly remove them while you’re eating them. They’ll peel off easily.
  3. Drizzle the eggplant rounds with olive oil and season with garlic and herbs seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Place them side by side on several cookie sheets to roast in the oven covered with aluminum foil paper. Let them cook in the oven for about 15 -20 minutes.
  4. After the eggplant stacks are partially cooked… we stack them. Find pieces that are evenly sized so your stack is even. Or if pieces are not exactly the same size, try for the bottom piece to be larger than the top piece.
  5. Take one piece of eggplant, spread some tomato/marinara sauce on top, but not too much. Place a few slices of cheddar cheese, top with another piece of eggplant.
  6. Spread more tomato/marinara sauce and finish with a mound of mozzarella cheese. Repeat until you have stacked all pieces of eggplant into these sandwiches.
  7. Place again in the oven for about 10-15 additional minutes to finish cooking the eggplants and allowing the cheeses to melt and brown on top.
  8. Allow them to cool a bit before transferring to a plate to serve.

We had these eggplant sandwiches with a lovely rice made in the oven with spinach, mushrooms and nuts.

Caprese Pasta Salad

23 Jul

A while ago, I was shopping in Plaza las Américas with my friend Annie Mariel.  We decided to grab something light to eat at a restaurant there called La Patisserie.  She had her usual salmon fillet over lentils and I decided to have a pasta salad with tomatoes, pesto and fresh mozzarella.  That’s what the menu said – FRESH MOZZARELLA.

When I received my pasta salad… it was nothing like I had expected.  The pasta was overcooked, the mozzarella was certainly not fresh, the pesto tasted from a bottle and the cheese was added when the pasta was hot, so the pieces had melted into a strange goo.  Yuck…  I was not a happy camper.

 When I started making strange faces about my dissatisfaction with my entrée, Annie Mariel said:  “I am sure you can make a 200% better version of that pasta salad.  Go for it.” 

So this is it… my better version of a Caprese Pasta Salad… let me know if you like it too.

 

 Caprese Pasta Salad

CAPRESE PASTA SALAD

½ pound of whole grain pasta – brown rice or whole wheat spirals, macaroni or penne will all do
1 cup of tomatoes, diced
¼ cup of sun dried or oven roasted tomatoes, diced or sliced
About 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus more to dress the salad
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic, smashed once
3-4 large fresh basil leaves
3-4 thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
 
  1. In a large bowl marinate the tomatoes – add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Mix well all the ingredients together and let the fresh tomatoes break down and the dried ones plump up with the juices released from the fresh ones.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes mixing it well a few times throughout.
  2. In a medium pot filled with boiling salted water, cook the pasta about 3 minutes shy of what the package directions say.  You want them a bit undercooked from al dente… 
  3. Drain the pasta, rinse a bit with filtered cold water and add to the marinated tomatoes. Mix it all well carefully so you don’t break the pasta.   Make sure you remove the garlic clove before mixing the pasta… nobody will like to bite into a raw piece of garlic.  The pasta will absorb the juices of the tomatoes while it cools off.  Add more olive oil if you feel the pasta is too dry.
  4. After the pasta has cooled off, add the mozzarella cubes and mix well again.  You can serve room temperature or place it in the cooler before serving.

Re-creating the Pizzas as Co. Part 2 – Margherita Pita Pizza

12 Apr

When we visited Co. in New York City, we had their wonderful Pizza Margherita.  To me, this is the best pizza hands down.  It highlights the best of ingredients… the simpler the pizza the better the ingredients must be.

This is my own attempt to recreate Co.’s Pizza Margherita to my friends…

 

 pita-pizza-margherita

MARGHERITA PITA PIZZA

Makes 1 personal pizza

 

1 whole-wheat pita bread, the larger the better
2 tbs of my Chunky Tomato Sauce or any other light tomato sauce for that matter
 3 – 4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese – make sure it’s the fresh kind, not the part-skim processed kind
3-4 basil leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 450 F.
  2. Place pita bread in a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread the tomato sauce all over the bread.   Place the slices of mozzarella on top.  Place the basil leaves around.  Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle a bit more of olive oil on top.
  3. Place in the oven and bake until the edges of the pita bread start to toast and the mozzarella browns a bit.
  4. Take out of the oven and let it cool off a bit.  After about 3 minutes, cut into 4 slices using a pizza wheel slicer.

 

 

That night, we also had our homage to Co.’s Popeye Pizza.   Check it out…

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