Processed cheese: fun for both children and adults Food
Another mouth feed. I can’t wait.
Processed cheese of any kind always makes me think of my children as little ones. Our cast-iron lattice sat for a decade on the stove, waiting for the daily orders of the quesadillas. My son preferred simple versions of white cheese and flour pancakes, and my daughter liked more sophisticated combinations of spicy goat cheese and soft vegetables. Regardless of their age, the children in our home do not get tired of the warm, handy goodness.
As they grew older, we added soft guacamole and salsa for dipping. Later fried vegetables and shrimp got into quesadillas. As my mastery of Mexican cuisine grew, so did our quesadillas. These days we press fresh corn mass into mugs to welcome boutique cheeses and squash flowers. Flour tortillas, quickly thawed, turn into northern snacks with leftover fried vegetables and long slices of smoked hard cheese.
Two secrets we’ve learned take our quesadillas out of baby food: first, use the freshest tortillas you can find, such as the ones that are delivered daily to the Mexican market. Or follow the instructions on the masa harina package to make fresh dough dough and then squeeze the fresh corn tortillas for baking on a preheated grill. Second, skip the pre-grated cheese; cellulose added to prevent caking also prevents good melting. It takes just a few seconds to grind a couple of ounces of hard cheese, and the rewards are great.
Like any good processed cheese, I could easily enjoy these timeless recipes as a main course with a hearty green salad and a cold Mexican beer or Argentine malbec. Maybe a glass of cold milk for my granddaughter – if she’s ready for my cooking.
JACK AND THE AVACADA KESADILI TRIANGLES
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Ingredients: 2 servings
Quesadilla in its simplest form. Cutting circles into triangles helps prevent burns in the mouth from hot cheese. Add chopped red pepper flakes to the cheese if you like spicy things. I would never object to chopped fresh cilantro or onions in avocado puree.
1 medium-ripe avocado, cut in half, pitted
¼ teaspoon of salt
Chopped fresh cilantro or green onions, optional
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Flakes of chopped red pepper or smoked paprika, optional
4 tortillas made of flour (6 inches)
Scoop the avocado pulp into a small bowl. Large grind with a spoon; season with salt and cilantro if using.
Heat a well-seasoned or non-stick frying pan over medium heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add 2 tortillas in one layer. On top of each sprinkle ½ cups of cheese, spreading it within ½ inches from the edge. Sprinkle each with chunks of pepper, if using a second tortilla. When the bottom tortilla becomes hot and slightly golden, about 1 minute, gently turn to brown and heat the other side for about 30 seconds.
Transfer to a cutting board; cut each into 6 pieces. Serve immediately with avocado puree.
Nutrition information per serving: 572 calories, 37 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 41 g carbohydrates.
CARAMELIZED ONIONS, YARN AND KESADIA OF GOAT CHEESE
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Manufacture: 2 quesadillas
I also like this with creamy soft cow’s milk cheese from Dorothy’s Creamery in Lena, Illinois. Brie or Camembert are also suitable.
2 teaspoons squeezed canola, safflower or sunflower oil
½ small yellow onion, very finely chopped
4 spears of asparagus, chopped
Salt to taste
2 very fresh corn tortillas, about 6 inches in diameter
3 to 4 ounces of crumbled soft goat cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Roasted salsa tomatoes
Preheat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and onion. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Add asparagus; cook and stir until crispy, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer to a plate.
Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned pan over medium heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and add the tortillas. Turn once to make the tortillas smeared with oil. Heat until softened, about 30 seconds. Immediately put on top of half of each tortilla half of the onion mixture and half of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortillas in half to enclose the filling. Press with a flexible spatula to seal everything. Cook until the tortillas are a little crispy; turn to crispy on the other side, 1 to 1½ minutes.
Serve hot, sprinkled with cilantro. Pass the salsa.
Nutrition information per serving: 231 calories, 16 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein, 209 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
PATELKA FAILURE WITH SALAD
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Manufacture: 4 servings of snacks
Here the thickness of the cheese is more important than the shape. I used a wedge of imported prolon, squares of cashier cheese and two pieces of domestic crescent-shaped prolon. Here everything will work as long as they have a thickness of ¾ to 1 inch. Before cooking, cut off the whole skin.
1 piece of aged provolone cheese (¾ inches thick) or 2 smaller pieces of the same thickness, totaling about 12 ounces
1½ cup chopped halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped baby belly or baby salad greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
Flakes of crushed red pepper, optional
4 to 8 thick slices of crispy bread, preheated
Allow the cheese to rest, unfolding, at room temperature until everything else is ready. You can leave the cheese uncovered for a few hours.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees shortly before serving. Mix the tomatoes and lettuce in a bowl. Season with olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of parsley and oregano.
Turn the exhaust fan over the stove. Heat a small (6 or 7 inch diameter) cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot. Reduce heat to a minimum. Add a slice of cheese; sprinkle with half the remaining parsley and oregano, and chopped red pepper to taste.
Cook until the bottom of the cheese begins to brown and the middle begins to soften and drain, about 3 minutes. Gently turn the cheese over with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining greens and pepper flakes.
Continue to cook until the bottom of the cheese is golden brown but not hard, 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the bread on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes. Transfer the bread to the basket; cover with a towel to keep warm.
Serve hot cheese immediately, straight from the pan, sprinkled with salad. Spread the cheese on slices of bread and plant the remaining salad.
Nutrition information per serving: 427 calories, 27 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 59 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 25 g protein, 919 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.