How to Spend a Total of 15 Minutes in La Cocina

Take 5 minutes to grate some dry Jack cheese and chop a bit of cilantro and hot red chilies (we used Cayenne chilies from our kitchen garden). Fry 3 small corn tortillas at a time in a large non-stick skillet (you only need a T. of vegetable oil), fold tortillas into half moon shapes when cheese has melted and tortillas are brown and crispy.

Serve the warm quesadillas over a salad of mixed greens and black olives. We topped it all with some steamed chayote squash quarters we found in the recesses of our fridge. The dressing is a 2-minute blender concoction of equal parts plain yogurt and sour cream, 1/2 chopped green bell pepper, salt, black pepper and ground cumin.

On boiling hot nights, simmered black beans share the plate with crisp sliced onions and juicy tomato wedges. Just rinse and drain a large can of black beans and place then in a small saucepan with salt and black pepper, 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock, 1-2 dried chilies such as chipotle or arbol (tear into pieces), 1 clove of garlic, 1 t. ground cumin and fresh or dried oregano leaves to taste. Simmer on a very low heat, stirring just now and then, whenever you brave the kitchen heat. Serve hot or warm garnished as above or, alternately, with a dollop of sour cream and minced chives.


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