Cheese, please!

Once upon a time ago, N.’s parents bought him a quesadilla maker.  I’m not sure what this was in response to, but my first reaction might have been a giggle.  I can make a quesadilla, you just fold a tortilla in a frying pan!  I resisted the quesadilla maker.  I begrudged it the space it took up in our moving boxes when we moved in together.  I glowered at its awkward shape in our cabinets.

Since those early days, the quesadilla maker and I have become good friends.  I still use a skillet for plain cheese quesadillas, but when I want to go all out and add other vegetables, the dual surface cooking mechanism is helpful in preventing flip-related spills and leaks.  In fact, we’re down to a fairly standard recipe that one of us employs once every month or two.

Tonight, inspired by the need to use up some vegetables, I dug out the trusty quesadilla maker and layered in the standards plus a few additions.  I usually fry some sliced mushrooms and defrosted corn in olive oil until the mushrooms are soft and the corn has just started to caramelize against the bottom of the pan.  Then I layer Monterey jack cheese, baby spinach, the mushroom and corn mixture, and a little bit more cheese onto the bottom tortilla before slapping on the top.  Today, since I’ve been reading everywhere to eat a rainbow of colors in your fruit and veggie diet, I added some chopped radicchio that I had hanging around in my crisper drawer.

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While I was waiting for the mushrooms and corn to do their thing, I addressed several aging avocadoes in our fruit baskets.  I’ve recently made a few alterations to my old standard guacamole thanks to a shortage, and am pleased enough with my new strategy to share it.  I’m not calling this a recipe, because I still adjust things every time I make a batch.  Tonight’s avocado-and-a-half was joined by four or five strips of julienne cut sundried tomatoes, chopped cilantro and garlic scapes from the back garden, lime juice, sea salt, one finely chopped miniature pickled jalapeño, sea salt and black pepper.  Sometimes I use garlic powder and some green onions instead of the garlic shoots, but the key ingredient, the fundamental change, is the move from fresh tomatoes to sundried.  There’s a pleasant textural difference, and I like the intensity of the flavor profile that the dried tomatoes lend.  Tonight’s spice from the pickled jalapeño was a bright change as well, that cut nicely through the thick cheesiness of the quesadilla itself.  I cleansed my cheesy palate with a Hornsby’s hard cider, but I suspect any pilsner or lager would have done the trick just as nicely.  A crisp pinot grigio or some other fruity white wine would have paired well too.

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