SQUASH BLOSSOM QUESADILLAS
Quesadillas de flor de calabaza
Makes 12 quesadillas
2 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon safflower or corn oil
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
12 oz (about 8 cups) fresh squash blossoms, rinsed, dried and chopped
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
8 oz Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups instant Maseca corn masa flour, if making fresh masa tortillas, or substitute 1 package store-bought corn tortillas
1 3/4 cups water, for the masa, if making fresh masa tortillas
To Prepare Filling:
Place the poblano chiles on a tray under the broiler, directly on the grill, or directly on the open flame or on a comal or skillet set over medium heat. Turn them every 2 to 3 minutes for a total of 6 to 9 minutes, until they are charred and blistered all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag, close it tightly and let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes. Working under a thin stream of cold water, peel off their skin; make a slit down the sides to remove and discard the seeds and veins, then remove and discard the stem. Cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips or squares.
Add butter and oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the prepared poblano chiles, then the squash blossoms and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the blossoms exude their juices and the mixture begins to dry out. Remove from the heat.
If Using Fresh Corn Masa:
Mix Maseca or instant corn dough masa with the water and knead for a few minutes until soft. Make 1-inch balls and flatten between plastic rounds on a tortilla press.
Place 1 tablespoon of the cheese and 2 tablespoons of the filling at the center of the dough disk and, leaving it on the plastic round of the tortilla press, fold it over and press to seal the edges. Repeat to form the rest of the quesadillas, using all the dough and filling.
In a deep and large skillet, add enough oil so that it’s at least Â¾-inch deep; heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, about 3 to 4 minutes later, add a few quesadillas at a time to the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the skillet. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crisp. Transfer, with a slotted spoon, to a paper towel-lined platter to drain. Serve hot, with the salsa of your choice.
If Using Store-Bought Tortillas:
If using pre-made corn tortillas, add the cheese and filling to the center of the tortilla. Place on an already hot comal, griddle or skillet, and let them cook until the cheese has melted and the tortilla has begun to lightly crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Pati takes you to Xochimilco, the legendary floating gardens of Mexico, and sprinkles a few flowers into some impressive but easy Mexican recipes.
Agua de Jamaica
Makes 4 to 5 cups
1 cup jamaica concentrate (see below)
3 to 4 cups water
When ready to serve, dilute 1 cup concentrate with 3 to 4 cups water, or to your liking, and some ice cubes.
Makes about 5 cups
8 cups water
2 cups dried hibiscus or jamaica flowers, about 2-3 ounces, depending on how tightly you pack the cups
1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
In a saucepan, pour 8 cups of water and place over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the jamaica flowers, simmer at medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it cool down and strain into a heat proof glass or plastic water jar. Add the sugar and lime juice, mix well, cover and refrigerate.
It will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 months.
Originally from Africa or India, hibiscus flowers arrived in Mexico in colonial times and have become deeply integrated into Mexican cuisine. Often used to prepare agua de jamaica, or freshly flavored water, fruit popsicles or Jell-O, the dried flowers infuse the liquid with a deep, vivid red color.
They are not just any Hibiscus flower though. These are “Hibiscus Sabdariffa” also known as Roselle. In Mexico known as Jamaica, it is well known in Mexico that the flowers contain helpful diuretic and digestive properties, as well as high levels of vitamin C and other minerals. These days it is easy to get them in many stores in the US or online. They can be incorporated into many other dishes to add a peculiarly tangy taste, similar to cranberries.
Continue reading Hibiscus or Jamaica Flowers
Growing up in Mexico City, my sisters and I used to prepare exotic meals, perfumes and potions for the inhabitants of our enchanted forest. That was our dog, the bluebird, snails, butterflies and ladybugs that happened to peek into our backyard and witness our extravagant mess. It also included any family friend who happened to stop by and become a willing victim. We sometimes offered cooking classes too.
My mother set us up in the backyard on a big blanket with random pots and pans, while she cooked laborious weekend meals. There was a fig tree, an apple tree, a peach tree, a couple of what we called Chinese orange trees and tons of azaleas and herbs that offered an immense array of witch-crafting material. But among our most prized ingredients were dried jamaica flowers, known here as hibiscus flowers, stored in a big jar in the kitchen.
Continue reading Jamaica Flowers Charm the Kitchen