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Quesadillas


nakji
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Right, say what you will about American cultural hegemony, but one of its great benefits is being able to buy Old El Paso products throughout Asia. Yes, handmade ones are better, but those in the dine-and-dash topic will agree there are times when convenience and speed are needed. Last night, I cam home from a murderous day at work, pulled out the shame tortillas and attempted to put together some quesadillas for dinner.

Now, I've never really had a recipe for these, and since they're not too far off from a grilled cheese sandwich, I never bothered to look for one. But last night, standing in the middle of fall-out radius covered with pepper strips, corn, and half-melted cheese shreds, holding a pan with two blackened tortilla discs resting on a middle layer of unmelted cheese, it occurred to me that I might need some help.

I'm okay if the middle only has to hold cheese - I can manage that. But adding anything else - I can't get it to hold together. What's your best method for stuffing quesadillas?

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If your tortillas are blackened and your cheese is not melted, it sounds like you are heating the pan too hot. Lower and slower. That should take care of the ingredients sticking to the cheese and tortillas. Unless I am misunderstanding the situation.

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classic quesadillas are cheese only. Low and slow.

To add peppers, cook the peppers first, separately. Otherwise the water in them keeps the cheese from sticking to them.

Shrimp are another good add-in.

Add the additional ingredients when the cheese is already melted; its the last step before folding*.

*I usually heat one tortilla, put cheese on one half of it, then fold it in half when its about done, so I have half circles.

Easier to manage than two full circles slipping around each other.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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And you can always put your tortilla in your skillet or comal, add your cheese, etc., and then, rather than fold, top with another tortilla. Then you just keep flipping until both tortillas and the fillings are cooked to your liking.

Slice as though one might slice a pizza and serve that way.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I have had quesadillas stuffed with meat or veggies at restaurants, but when I make them at home I use only cheese. Usually, it's for a quick lunch/dinner, a side dish, or an appetizer.

There are other things called quesadillas. We used to get crispy quesadillas at a restaurant in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. The tortilla was fried flat, cheese was sprinkled on and the quesadilla was broiled until the cheese melted. (At least, that's how we duplicated them.) They were served as an appetizer.

There's also a "special quesadilla," or empanada de queso. Tortilla dough (uncooked) is rolled into a circle, cheese added, the dough folded over and the edges sealed. It's then fried, giving a wonderful crispy, gooey, cheesy dish. We've only been able to find these at restaurants in the Imperial Valley part of southern California.

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There are other things called quesadillas. We used to get crispy quesadillas at a restaurant in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. The tortilla was fried flat, cheese was sprinkled on and the quesadilla was broiled until the cheese melted. (At least, that's how we duplicated them.) They were served as an appetizer.

Ah, Consuelos :-) I grew up eating there and that was the freebie app instead of chips and salsa. I'll confess to making those at home as well. It's really not a quesadilla so much as it was a really, really good cheese crisp.

Since this is the Mexican board, I will mention that the vast majority of quesadillas in Mexico are made with masa not flour tortillas. They are filled raw with just about anything and everything, and then griddled, sauteed or deep fried. Utterly delicious

Edited by kalypso (log)
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Cheesy quesadillas are one of the few things I let my 7 yo do alone in the kitchen. Put tortilla on plate, grate cheese of choice, nuke for 20 seconds, fold.

When I make them as a meal, I heat the other ingredients separately and add them after the cheese is melted, unless I'm also putting on beans, in which case I do those under the cheese. Slathering on homemade refried beans underneath the cheese works well for a protein, then cheese, then melt, then the other stuff.

I tend not to do it in a pan or oven because I always get dried out edges on my tortillas when I do. I really like making tortillas with my kid but they aren't always as nice and flat and pretty and well rounded as they should be for even cooking.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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There's also a "special quesadilla," or empanada de queso. Tortilla dough (uncooked) is rolled into a circle, cheese added, the dough folded over and the edges sealed. It's then fried, giving a wonderful crispy, gooey, cheesy dish. We've only been able to find these at restaurants in the Imperial Valley part of southern California.

How did I miss this? Oh my stars, I am SO doing this. Fried cheese in any form is always a good thing.

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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Quesadillas were my son's daily food. I concur with pre-cooking the fillings. If the filling ingredients are warm I add them with the cheese. If they are from the fridge I usually bring them to room temp at least in the microwave, or in the pan before I begin start the tortilla. Based on the thinnish bottomed pan I used, I found just a rub of neutral oil (pour a bit in and wipe out with paper towel) resulted in a nice texture and taste. I heat the pan, then build the quesadilla in the pan. I favor a large tortilla the size of my pan that gets folded over. Makes it easier to eat when you cut it up since you have the fold on one side. I am also in the low and slow camp with the heat, bringing it up just when all looks melty to get a final crisp. This is also a dish like pizza where I find kitchen scissors to be the ideal portioning tool.

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I like to make a sort of paste, or spread, with goat cheese, and whatever other ingredients I'm going to include: Chopped roasted peppers, scallions, chopped grilled onions, grilled corn, cilantro, etc. Then I smear a good amount on one tortilla, smoosh on another, and toast in a pan on both sides until the middle melts.

Not traditional, I know -- but tasty, and it always works! Plus you can make the filling way ahead of time, or even make the quesadillas ahead of time, and just keep them refrigerated, stacked with parchment paper between so they don't stick to each other. A great party food.

- L.

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Another classic is corn tortilla, oaxacan (or stringy cheese), fresh epazote and salt.

Since this is the Mexico forum, could you give us an idea of other traditional fillings? I've always thought piling a flour tortilla with stuff to make it resemble a pizza was a North American spin on it, but that traditional quesadilla would be corn tortillas with simple fillings. I've always just done cheese, but that's just what I like. What other traditional quesadilla I can try?

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In the state of Coahuila in the North of Mexico a quesadilla is a corn tortilla heated on the comal with a melting grated cheese like Menninite cheese and allowed to melt. Then served folded where hot fresh sauce can be added. It is usually a late supper thing served with beans and calabacita. That's cooked diced zuccini squash with chile and cheese. Simple but oh so good.

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Then served folded where hot fresh sauce can be added. It is usually a late supper thing served with beans and calabacita.
I favor a large tortilla the size of my pan that gets folded over.

Folding is clearly the way to go with a maladroit like me. It just makes so much sense. Keep the vegetables on the outside, leave the queso in the tortilla, which solves the sticking problem altogether. I shall adapt. I guess what's bugging me is that the first time I saw quesadillas (I'm from rural Canada) was in Martha Stewart, and she used two tortillas, stuffed with veg and cheese, and the bloody things came out perfect. Of course. I definitely pre-cook my peppers and the like. What I have a problem with is getting those peppers to adhere to the cheese which then should adhere to the other tortilla. I suspect that either a) I'm not using enough cheese (cheese is very expensive where I live, so I tend to skimp) b) I'm using too much of the "other" ingredients, or c) all of the above, plus bad methodology. Current method: I heat my tortillas in the pan first, then put down some cheese on one, plus peppers, wait for the cheese to semi-melt, then pop another on, wait another minute or so (on low heat), then try to flip it. Invariably, the vegetables come tumbling out the sides. From now on, I shall fold.

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In the state of Coahuila in the North of Mexico a quesadilla is a corn tortilla heated on the comal with a melting grated cheese like Menninite cheese and allowed to melt. Then served folded where hot fresh sauce can be added. It is usually a late supper thing served with beans and calabacita. That's cooked diced zuccini squash with chile and cheese. Simple but oh so good.

Jmahl

What kind of cheese is "Menninite cheese"? Or should that be "Mennonite cheese"? (But even then, what kind of cheese is it? I've never seen Mennonite cheese, despite growing up in a province with a large population of Mennonites.)

Simple is best, it seems. Have you ever seen zucchini put into the quesadilla? Zucchini blossoms might be interesting in there with the cheese. I wonder if that's ever done.

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Simple is best, it seems. Have you ever seen zucchini put into the quesadilla? Zucchini blossoms might be interesting in there with the cheese. I wonder if that's ever done.

One of the gentlemen who worked for me was from a very poor family in Mexico. I can not recall the region but it is a several day drive from the US border. He said his mother used the squash blossoms regularly in quesadillas pretty much in place of the cheese they could not afford... with cheese I think they would be even more lovely.

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In the state of Coahuila in the North of Mexico a quesadilla is a corn tortilla heated on the comal with a melting grated cheese like Menninite cheese and allowed to melt. Then served folded where hot fresh sauce can be added. It is usually a late supper thing served with beans and calabacita. That's cooked diced zuccini squash with chile and cheese. Simple but oh so good.

Jmahl

What kind of cheese is "Menninite cheese"? Or should that be "Mennonite cheese"? (But even then, what kind of cheese is it? I've never seen Mennonite cheese, despite growing up in a province with a large population of Mennonites.)

Simple is best, it seems. Have you ever seen zucchini put into the quesadilla? Zucchini blossoms might be interesting in there with the cheese. I wonder if that's ever done.

In the early 1900's, a group of Mennonites immigrated to the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua from Canada and started growing crops and raising dairy cows and making cheese and butter. I actually was lucky enough to be able to take an extensive RV trip south from Laredo through Chihuahua, and then on the train across the Copper Canyon and over to the Pacific Coast, down to Mazatlan, and then finally, back up along the coast to the US. One of the overnight stops was at the Mennonite farm community where they prepared dinner for us and gave us a little talk about themselves and how they happened to settle there. We purchased many homemade goods, fabrics, wooden carved toys and other handicrafts, and cheese and butter. The cheese is a pale yellow cheese with the texture of a jack. It's not crumbly or particularly salty like some other Mexican cheeses. In Mexico, it's often called 'queso menonito.' However, in recent years, because it originated in the state of Chihuahua and has become so popular that other manufacturers are now making it, you hear it more often referred to as 'queso Chihuahua.'

Of course, the best versions of this are still made in Chihuahua by the Mennonite community.

And to your other question, squash blossoms are used extensively throughout Mexico and often find their way into tortilla-based dishes.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Of course you are right. That is why I need a spell checker. It is also called queso Chihuahua or queso asadero. Now I see above that we have a spell checker or at least one that can be downloaded if I can figure out how. I should have looked for the new features. Actually any melting cheese will work. And to confuse things further, when we only have queso fresco in the larder we use that. My wife is a fantastic cook and you do not question what is offered. On your question as to adding quisado de calabasa to the quesadilla - why not - you are the one who is going to eat it aren't you? There are no quesadilla police.

So, melt, fold, add what you like and eat up. And yes, I would like three more.

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Our little local grocery caters to the many farm/nursery workers in the area. They have a great selection of Mexican cheese and recently added made-fresh-daily tortillas. So, I've been making lots of quesadillas, breakfast burritos and such. I usually get what is labeled as Queso Quesadilla, but I recently bought Oaxaca cheese and love it! It comes in a cryovaced ball and looks similar to mozarella. It is harder than fresh mozarella and can be shredded/grated. It melts beautifully and has a nice fesh, salty (but not too salty) taste. The only problem is, we have a hard time using a package before it spoils. I have some in the fridge now and enchiladas are on deck for dinner, so I can use it up. I also have a bag of grated/crumbled Cotija I need to use, but haven't figured out what to do with it.

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When my kids were small, I obviously didn't let them cook on a hot comal/skillet. But they loved quesadillas. I always had vats of my homemade salsa (recipe elsewhere on eG) on hand in the fridge, so the kids would take a tortilla, put a little grated cheese on it, fold it over and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds until the cheese melted and then eat it, topped with plenty of Mom's homemade salsa.

Not so good as a crispy version perhaps, but so quick and easy for them to make.

And with three kids and a husband to cook for, anything that got them into the kitchen and me out of it cheered me immensely.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Quesadillas are great vehicles for leftovers in the fridge. Leftover steak, roast chicken, pasta sauce...it all goes into quesadillas. One time I used leftover Chinese steamed pork patties! :smile: This weekend I roasted a pile of fall veggies. Veggie quesadillas are on the menu for tonight. I like to cook the fillings separately or zap in the microwave to warm up a bit before putting it in the tortilla. Cheese goes on tortilla, with the filling on top so it sticks together better.

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