Entering the Lenten period, experimentation and going innovative is what makes the cooking in the kitchen interesting. As a part of bringing the Mexican cuisine home, yesterday evening was all about quesadilla.
Typically different from the famous Mexican dish of tacos, quesadilla consists of a Mexican tortilla (usually corn) filled primarily with cheese, with addition of beans, vegetables, spices or meats, depending on choice and then cooked on a griddle. Made into a full cheesy version (as two tortilla with a layer of cheese between them) or a half moon griddles version, the former is a dinner favourite.
With origins in colonial Mexico, this dish has evolved and adapted with plenty of variations. Though the usual typical filling is cheese, one can go with purred vegetables or meat fillings like chicharron or tinga. In addition they can be had with toppings of guacamole, salsas, chopped onion, tomatoes, serrano chillies or cilantro being most commonly used.
With slight twists on the preparation, one variation includes the entire package of cheese and additional ingredients sandwiched between two flour tortillas grilled on the oiled griddle and flipped so that both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted fusing it like a sealed pie, often cut into wedges and served.
“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” Craig Claiborne
The quesadilla sincronizada, often found in the traditional Mexican recipes is a tortilla-based sandwich made by placing ham, re-fried beans or chorizo with a portion of cheese ( preferably Oaxaca) between two flour tortillas. Grilled or even lightly fried; these tortillas become crispy as the cheese melts. They are then cut into halves or wedges and served, usually with other toppings and condiments like salsa, pico de gallo, avocado or guacamole.
Served as a snack meal, main course or even as appetizers; each recipe calls for a subtle change depending on the chef’s choice. One variation is the pizzadilla, which has the ingredients and cooking technique of quesadilla, complete with pizza toppings. As for the tortilla base, with corn flour readily available; making the base is no longer a harried process. Giving the quesadilla a sweet touch with ingredients of chocolate, butterscotch or caramel; makes the dessert variant a beautiful addition to the regular bowl of ice-cream.
With plenty of recipes to choose from, home cooking in the holidays is what keeps the mischief makers at bay. As for family traditions, there is a new one to create for every holiday season. And the latter is what makes life fun, a little of variety with or without the spice.