Friday, June 20, 2008

Saag (Indian Spinach) Quesadillas

You know, I've always claimed that Indian and Mexican foods have a strong common base - heavy use of cumin, cilantro and serrano and jalepeno peppers.

With this, I made my first venture into the fusion and nailed it.

I had promised Channing we'd have Chicken Quesadillas for dinner, only to get home and find that I had left the chicken filling out all day. It went very bad. So, rather than dooming him to another night of microwaved Grillers Prime, I searched around for something I could make quesadillas from beyond the cheese and tortillas I knew I had.

In scrambling through the fridge, I came across the leftover saag panir (Indian creamed spinach with cheese) from our dinner a few nights before. I can't claim the saag for myself - it was frozen from the store, btw.

So I took that, removed the panir chunks (because those basically wouldn't melt) and mixed in the shredded monterey jack cheese we had. It was still a bit soupy, so I threw in some cheddar to get to the right consistency for quesadillas (basically, just enough cheese to bind the rest when melted).

Pre-cooked, it tasted pretty good.

When properly grilled up, amazing. Wow. I'll make this on purpose, for sure, though I may try with just the jack cheese, to see. But it's a definite winner. And as I want to start actually creating recipes, I think this Indian/Mexican fusion is a great direction that will work.

P.S. I'm starting to teach Channing some basic kitchen techniques, so he can have some of the things he likes if I don't happen to be home (slicing meats, etc). We did these collaboratively, with him manning the grill after the first one, and he did a great job. While I don't think that cooking will be an interest for him like it is me, it was fun and I think we might take one of the Chopping Block's couples classes just for grins.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kale & Fiddlehead Fern

At least, I think it was kale.

It might have been the spigarello. I've never had either, so it's hard to tell.

But I shied away from it for a while, kind of afraid of how it'd turn out. I learned two things:

1) It keeps fresh a long time. It was in my fridge for almost 10 days without wilting or discoloring (both of the greens were hearty like this). I had trimmed and wrapped the stalks of the fern in a wet paper towel, so I wasn't as surprised with their longevity.

2) It's really not bad. A little like spinach, without that turnip green bite I was afraid of.

I sauteed both in about a tablespoon of olive oil with a clove of minced garlic each. I folowed the advice of the booth guy and brought the oil to a heat with the garlic already in it.

The fern was a little nutty tasting, in a good way, but the garlic really overpowered it. And might have been responsible for that taste, as well. But they were kind of fun and interesting. There's a page from the University of Maine that has recipes and info about them.

Served up with a sliced chicken breast sandwich on onion roll with lemon-thyme mustard, this was a pretty nice, slightly different meal.

When I cook the other green, I'll either figure out which one this was (I'm still leaning kale, though) or I'll have to buy another batch of at least one and keep track. Lesson learned? Mark your bags from the farmer's market, folks.