quesadillas florales

quesadillas florales

edible flowers and herbs harvested from my garden this morning

rose, geranium, lavender, day lily, marigold, mint

Once again I turn to John Sedlar for inspiration. After a most enchanting lunch at his restaurant Rivera in downtown Los Angeles, we fell head-over-heels for his Modern Southwest Cuisine. The chef serves tortillas florales with “indian butter,” a spread made from avocado. Here, I take his idea to embed flowers into the masa and make decorated quesadillas filled with brie.

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Baja-Style Tortilla Vegetable Soup

Baja-Style Tortilla Vegetable Soup
Garnished with Avocado, Lime, Serrano, Cilantro
Queso Blanco

Baja California, Mexico! Have you been? Unfortuately it’s been a few years since I’ve been down there. We loved Ensenada –  a couple decades ago we rode our bicycles 50 miles from Rosarito to Ensenada. That ride is still going strong, in its 31st year. And we always love Los Cabos, with it’s great beaches, restaurants, nightlife and fishing. In Guerrero Negro, where the whales come in the winter to give birth, you can experience them up close in the lagoon.

Fish tacos have been a specialty in Baja, no wonder, as it is a long thin spit of land surrounded by water. Traditionally, the tacos are local fried fish served on a corn tortilla, with shredded cabbage, onion, crema, and lime. That’s the way I remember them sold from street vendors in Ensenada back in the early 80’s. Speaking of Ensenada, have you been to Hussong’s (est. 1892), the oldest cantina in the Californias?

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Fried Oyster Taco, Ají Amarillo Crema

Panko crusted Hama Hama Oysters from the Hood Canal in Washington State, quickly fried in canola oil served on a handmade corn tortilla with napa cabbage, sliced serrano chile, cilantro, ají amarillo crema, and a squeeze of lime.

One of life’s small pleasures is a fresh homemade tortilla. Buy tortilla masa from the refrigerated section. Knead the masa until it is soft and pliable, then form a ball. Place the masa ball between plastic wrap on the tortilla press, then firmly close the press. Lay dough on a hot heavy skillet for about 30 seconds per side.

For a change from the now ubiquitous chipotle cream sauce try making a sauce with chiles from Peru. Ají amarillo is one of my favorites, it is a lovely yellow color, quite hot but with a slightly fruity extraordinary flavor. You can buy ají amarillo paste in a jar (middle right). Mix the paste with Crema Mexicana or sour cream. I find it in the Peruvian section at my local supermercado.

¡Feliz  Cinco De Mayo!