Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Queso Fresco Quesadillas become very easy
if you don't make homemade salsa

As I scanned the list of recipes that use queso fresco on the Food Network website, I saw one for quesadillas at the intermediate level.
   Surprised that quesadillas would rank above an easy preparation level, I looked at Queso Fresco Quesadillas (click for the recipe) and found the reason why it was ranked at the intermediate level: It included making a tomatilla salsa.
   Forget that! Store-bought salsa would work just fine, I thought. Without making the salsa, the quesadillas looked like a breeze to prepare – just the kind of recipe that appeals to me.
   Queso fresco is a creamy, soft, and mild unaged white cheese that originated in Spain and is very popular in Mexico. When I saw it recently at the supermarket, I grabbed it, as it’s not always around.
   Mozzarella or Monterey Jack, or a combination of both, are often suggested as substitutes for queso fresco.
   The quesadillas were delicious, with lots of gooey cheese and nice fresh elements from the tomatoes and scallions (green onions).
   The recipe says to crumble the quesco fresco cheese, but the block I had was hard enough to easily grate, so that’s what I did instead. Grated queso fresco was easier to distribute on the tortillas.
   The recipe calls for clarified butter. You can make this yourself (there are dozens of instructional sites online) or buy it in the Indian foods section of the supermarket, where it’s often called ghee. Or, you can be like me and not worry about clarified butter at all. We simply used regular butter and melted it in the skillet, and it worked fine. A silicone brush can be used to spread the melted butter all around the skillet.
   The recipe also calls for six julienned scallions (also known as green or spring onions). This may seem like a lot and that it might provide too much bite, but it’s surprisingly not. Spread out over a 10-inch flour tortillas, it provides just enough extra taste.
   My husband and I skipped the called-for cilantro completely, as we both hate it!
   A quesadilla is made by laying a flour tortilla on a work surface (we used whole wheat tortillas), then sprinkling on grated queso fresco. Thinly-sliced Roma tomatoes (or any type of tomatoes) are arranged over the cheese, then the scallions placed on top.
   Another tortilla is placed on top, and the quesadilla is placed in a skillet or frying pan coated with melted butter. The top is brushed with melted butter. After about two minutes of cooking time, or until the underside is golden brown, the quesadilla is flipped and cooked for about another two minutes.
   After one quesadilla was cooked, my husband put it on a plate in a low oven to keep it warm while the other was cooked in the skillet.
   He put more butter in the pan before cooking the second quesadilla.
   The quesadillas are cut into four to six pieces, and served with salsa and sour cream.

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