With all of the rockets being fired at Israel right now, it feels awfully inane to publish a post on quesadillas (or just about anything, really). To everyone living in areas under fire, we are davening for you and hoping you are okay. And to every member of the IDF: Thank you.
About the quesadillas.
This is one of our favorite dinners, no question. First of all, when you have the right combination of fillings and toppings, they’re just so fantastically good (our toddler agrees). But that isn’t enough for me to really love a meal. It also has to be easy on the prep, short on the cooking time, and easy on the cleanup. Maybe I have high expectations, but look — if it takes me too much time to work through a dinner recipe, I’m probably not going to use that recipe again for a long time. And by long I mean long.
Caramelized onions are definitely not a quick thing to make, since it’s the slow cooking process that deepens their flavor, but because you can make them ahead and freeze, they feel fast to me. Well, not the day I caramelize, but all the days after that, when I magically pop little nuggets of incredible flavor out of the freezer.
Cooking with two kids under 2 can sometimes feel impossible, but you know what? If cranking out dinner is as easy as filling a tortilla wrap, browning it on the stove, and taking a bite … I can totally do this.
Yield: 16 quesadilla wedges
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus a bit for browning the quesadillas
- 3 large onions, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, sliced (actually sliced, not halved)
- 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Couple pinches of Italian seasoning blend*
- 8 (20-cm/8-inch) tortilla wraps
- For serving: Guacamole (mash avocados with lemon juice, salt, and pepper), sour cream, salsa
*Can’t find it? Sub with dried basil and oregano.
1. Caramelize the onions: Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a stainless steel pot. Add the onions and garlic and stir to coat them in the oil. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. This softens the onions; now it’s time to brown them.
2. Remove the lid and stir, leaving the onions to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes before stirring again. Repeat several more times. After a few rounds, you’ll start seeing brown bits at the bottom of the pot. This is where the flavor is building up, so scrape them back into the onions when you stir. Turn off the heat when the onions have reduced significantly and turned a deep brown.
–> The longer you go, the better the flavor will be (just make sure to stir more often than every 10 minutes if it seems like they’re close to burning). I usually let mine go 60-70 minutes.
–> Does this seem like a big time investment for one ingredient in a weeknight meal? I think so, too. That’s why I caramelize a whole bunch of onions at once (like 10 at a time) and freeze them in small portions. You can whip them out of the freezer and add them to recipes as needed.
3. Assemble the quesadillas: Lay a tortilla wrap on a plate. Place a big spoonful of caramelized onions, a couple of tomato slices, and about 3 Tbsp of cheese on the bottom half of the wrap. Sprinkle with italian seasoning. Fold the top of the wrap down over the filling. Repeat until all of the fillings and wraps have been used up.
4. Finishing touch: Heat a bit of oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet (or mist it with cooking spray). Fit two folded wraps inside and let them cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minuter per side, just to heat them through, melt the cheese, and brown the wraps. Add a little oil to the skillet between batches as needed. (If you’re caramelizing onions and then making the quesadillas right away, go ahead and use the same pan for this step. You may need a little extra oil to prevent sticking and/or burning.)
5. Slice each quesadilla into wedges (one cut down the middle gives you two wedges per wrap) and serve with plenty of guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and your other favorites.
This recipe first appeared in the March 31, 2014 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my cooking column in Binah magazine.
The heat has been kind of extreme around here. Friday, Shabbos, and Sunday were 39 C (that’s 102 F), and it hasn’t been too much cooler since then. Oddly enough, until maybe a month ago, I hadn’t checked the weather forecast since I made aliyah. Can’t figure out why this took me four years.
The point is, though, that it’s hot, and when going outside for five minutes is enough to leave you sweaty for the rest of the day (no? just me?), the best recipes are no-bakes. I developed this no-bake biscuit cake for an edition of my Binah column that printed right after Pesach. You could totally make it in the spring (and maybe some of you did), but it’s even better in the thick of the summer.
The concept comes from the popular Israeli dessert called “ugat biskvitim,” which is made from layers of cream and those ubiquitous tea biscuits. The finishing touch is a topping of melted or shaved chocolate.
For my spin on the classic, the cream is laced with coconut milk and caramel pudding mix, and the cake gets topped with shredded coconut and an easy caramel sauce drizzle. If coconut and caramel aren’t your thing, you can easily switch up the flavors. Any kind of no-bake cake is a winner in July.
- One year ago: Cookbook Review: The Kosher Baker
- Two years ago: The ultimate veggie slider
- Three years ago: Chocolate pancakes
Yield: 15 servings
- 1 (13.5 oz/400 ml) can coconut milk, chilled 8 hours
- 14 oz (420 ml) liquid whip topping, 2 Tbsp reserved
- 2.8 oz (80 grams) instant caramel pudding mix
- 18 oz (500 grams) tea biscuits
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1½ Tbsp powdered sugar, sifted
1. Open the can of coconut milk and remove ½ cup milk fat from the top. Scoop it into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the whip topping (reserving 2 Tbsp) and the pudding mix and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the cream is thickened and soft peaks form. Set aside.
2. Stir the rest of the contents of the can of coconut milk and pour into a shallow dish. Working with one tea biscuit at a time, briefly submerge the biscuit in the milk, shake off any excess liquid, and place the biscuit on the bottom of a 9×13 dish. Arrange the biscuits so they cover the area fully. Spread one-third of the prepared cream over the biscuits.
3. Repeat the process to create four 4 more layers: biscuits, cream, biscuits, cream. (You will have some biscuits left over. You know what to do.) Sprinkle the shredded coconut over the final cream layer.
4. To make the caramel topping: In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, water, and the reserved 2 Tbsp tablespoons of whip topping in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture reaches a boil, stop stirring and let it cook undisturbed until it turns a light amber color (about 4 minutes). Working quickly, remove from the heat, whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth, and drizzle over the cake.
5. Chill the cake for 3 hours before serving.
I was getting ready to finish up tomorrow’s post when my husband came home from maariv and told me that the kidnapped boys’ bodies were found. I don’t have the heart to put up a recipe right now, not when the parents of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal just found out that their sons were murdered.
Baruch dayan emet. Hashem yikom damam.