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The same foods that parents pack into a hearty school lunch in Mexico are perfect for school lunchtime in America. These dishes are so tasty and filling, even grownups will want to take them to work…

Tortas de jamón y queso

2 Mexican bolillo or telera rolls, or small baguettes
1/2 cup refried beans
1/2 ripe Mexican avocado, scooped and sliced
4 slices Mexican queso fresco, Oaxaca or Mozzarella
4 to 6 slices turkey, ham or cooked chicken
1 tomato, sliced and seeded
A couple of thin slices of onion, optional
Pickled jalapeño peppers to taste, optional
Salt to taste, optional
2 tablespoons Mexican-style cream, optional

Slice the rolls in half lengthwise. If they’re not fresh, toast them slightly for a few minutes. On one side, spread a tablespoon of refried beans; on the other, mash 1/4 of an avocado with a fork.

Top the bottom half of the bread with a few slices of cheese, 2 or 3 slices of turkey or cold cuts of your choice, it may also be shredded chicken or meat, and a couple of slices of tomato.

Drizzle a tablespoon of Mexican-style cream and crown your package with as many pickled jalapeños as you wish. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top.

Place the top half of the roll on the sandwich and slice the torta horizontally. Eat it or wrap it up so that it can travel along with you.

Ham and Cheese Sincronizadas with Flour Tortillas
Sincronizadas de Jamon con Queso
Makes 6

12 flour tortillas
Safflower or corn oil, optional
8 oz Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, Muenster, or melty cheese of your choice
6 to 12 thin slices ham or turkey
Mexican avocado slices, optional
Salsa of your choice

Heat a non-stick sauté pan or a comal over medium heat. Place a couple flour tortillas, many as will fit in the pan or comal, top with a generous amount of shredded cheese and one or two slices of ham or turkey. Cover with a second flour tortilla.

Heat until the flour tortillas in the bottom become lightly toasted and cheese starts melting. With the help of a spatula, flip them to the other side and let it heat and crisp a bit. I like to wait until the cheese oozes out, browns and crisps a little! Transfer to a plate and slice in half or quarters.

Serve with a salsa of your choice and slices of ripe avocado on the side.

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