November 20, 2009

Foodie Friday 1! Light, fluffy, cheesy goodness

Hey folks!

First actual recipe post. Many thanks to Designs by Gollum for hosting this Foodie Friday thing. Really neat idea. Blog Carnivals are cool. Lots of really neat ideas over there. Check it out.

So.... At Hand Cooking. Today's random assortment of kitchen denizens:

4 ounces of milk.
2 eggs
A bottle of taco sauce
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Taco Spice
Mexican cheese
Sour cream

Looking at these, I could only come to one conclusion. Quesadillas.
I'm gonna apologize right now... I don't own a digital camera, and the pictures were taken from a phone by a friend. That being said, I don't have as many 'in progress' photos as I probably should.... but I'll fix that at some point.

Anyway, on to making those delicious cheesy wonders.

The Experiment:

1. Grab your ingredients, and also grab a skillet and a round, shallow dish with high sides. This dish must be big enough to hold your quesadilla laying flat. As does the skillet. You may also want to grab a whisk and measuring cup.

2. Put the skillet on and melt about 1 tablespoon of butter into the pan. Keep the heat low. By the time you are ready to throw things into the pan, the butter will have spread out, and the pan will be just right in heat. Keep an eye on it though. Nothing worse than accidentally nudging a hot skillet.

3. Put the cheese into a bowl. For every handful of cheese, put a big pinch of taco spice and mix them thoroughly.

4. Break the two eggs into a bowl. Pour the milk over the eggs, and mix them thoroughly. A drop of taco sauce into this mixture is optional, and gives the quesadillas as a whole a slightly heavier, but also slightly spicier taste.

5. Pour the egg-milk mixture into the shallow dish. Dip a tortilla into the mix, covering it entirely.

6. Lay the tortilla into the now hot skillet. Sprinkle cheese to taste (I made my quesadillas really thick, but that's not everyone's cup of tea) on one half of the tortilla. Fold tortilla half that is un-cheesed over the cheesed side. Then hands off for about a minute.

7. Using a spatula or other implement of flipness, turn the not quite quesadilla over. Let that sit for another solid minute.

8. Flip twice more, or until both sides are browned in the center and somewhat crispy looking near the edges. Also, there should be a ballooning effect that makes the whole thing look something like a warty toad when seen from the side.

9. Move quesadilla to paper plate or towel to drain excess buttery outside goodness off.

10. Eat immediately. Cheese does not retain heat nearly long enough to be complacent about it. Serving with more taco sauce and a bit of sour cream rounds out the taste of the quesadilla.

Total time: About 5 minutes a quesadilla once all ingredients were on standby.

This one actually worked out really well. The melt was perfect, the tastes complete, and the texture this side of awesome. They were surprisingly light, further helped along by the sour cream.

The real hero here was the egg/milk mixture which I tried on a whim after reading about using milk to make eggs easier to work with. Whole wheat tortillas, which have none of the lightness associated with their corn made cousin, are generally a little on the tough, vaguely jerky side of the flat bread world. The milk/egg mixture made them behave like their corn based cousin, and took some of that awful full force whole wheat flavor that is so unwelcome in tortillas right out of them. It also lengthened the time it took to cook each side, and kept the cheese from passing that delicious melty point to just stringy and gross, like burnt mac&cheese.

The only thing that I'm distressed about is that I simply had zero meat of any kind. Some chicken would have been excellent. Ah well, such is life with only cooking with what's immediate.

I'm open to any suggestions related to quesadillas. Ideas that people have for their prep, or experiences you've had making them. They are a wonderful at hand food, as they are so simple to make.


Ugly Soup! Adventures in At Hand Cooking

Hey folks, and welcome to Ugly Soup!

What is Ugly Soup? What is At Hand Cooking? Both are fairly simple, and what I hope to better explore in this blog. Let's break those questions apart.

What is Ugly Soup? In the most basic sense, Ugly Soup is just that: hideous, unappealing to look at food of the brothy and stuff-in-broth-y variety. But to a certain extent it is far more complicated. Ugly Soup is not just soup. Instead, it is a broad term to describe any food made for taste and fulfillment instead of for aesthetics. Certain amounts of Ugly Soup are consumed by everybody. We all eat that one thing that someone across a lunch table has looked at and did the 'What are you eating?' face of dread. The face that suggests that the facemaker's greatest fear is that you will leap cross the table and stuff the food into their mouth. But that is a conversation for another day. Ugly Soup is food made without care for anything other than taste.

Which brings us to question two. What is At Hand Cooking? Why, it is how to make Ugly Soup of course! At Hand Cooking is the practice of using whatever food, and if at all possible all the food, available in any given kitchen to make a meal. At Hand Cooking's ingredients are not specifically bought from the grocery. At Hand Cooking's ingredients are not always raw. At Hand Cooking's ingredients are not often associated with each other. At Hand Cooking's ingredients, when listed back to a fellow, often result in the gagging of those not exposed to such cuisine. At Hand Cooking is the art of making something from almost nothing. It is something often practiced, but little explored.

Ugly Soup's mission is simple. To create fine, wonderful tasting food, with whatever I have. No matter how horrible or vaguely alive it may appear.