To spice things up a little, and to compensate for any gaps in our own cooking creativity, we're startin' up some guest posting! After a bit of begging, a good friend here in Phoenix who is a master of scones and all things veggie agreed to do a few guest posts. Here's installment one!
Hello! My name is Heather, and, in lieu of a real job, I spend my days cooking. I am a vegetarian, which I realize has already been done here, but I am also a Bitter Vegetarian (bitter about life, not vegetables), so maybe that means I bring a different perspective? I'm also short, so maybe that'll be my angle. Who knows?
I would also like to thank the lovely blogmistresses for letting me ramble here.
Well, enough with the pleasantries - let's get to the food!
Since I thought The Husband would be at meetings all night, I invited my friend A over for dinner. But then The Husband never left, so it was dinner party time! I made black bean soup (mostly taken from here, without the salsa and with a few changes I'll mention) and chayote quesadillas (with inspiration and chayote-cooking tips from Rick Bayliss's Mexican Kitchen). For the soup, I used probably twice as much smoked paprika, and added a partially de-seeded dried chipotle pepper (I basically just snapped off the stem and shook out most, but not all, of the seeds) and a few sprigs of cilantro (both removed, along with the bay leaves, before blending), and let the beans simmer for about an hour (instead of 15 minutes). I also forgot about the bell pepper, because who buys yellow bell peppers? Honestly.
For the quesadillas, first, heat up a cast iron pan (or similarly heavy pan, I suppose) and roast two anaheim chiles (or any chile of your choice - I don't work well with heat) and four cloves of unpeeled garlic until they start to blacken. While the chiles and garlic are roasting, peel, de-pit and thinly slice two or three chayote squash. [HOT TIP: chayote squashes, when peeled, secrete a sticky substance not unlike that of okra, which, when dried, forms a thin film on your skin. Kind of like when, as a kid (or in college, like my roommate), you would put glue on your hands and let it dry and peel it off. Except that it sort of just makes your hands feel dry and you have to scrub a lot to clean them off.] Also, thinly slice half a red onion and the roasted chiles, and dice up the roasted garlic (after peeling). Saute the onions in a large pan with some oil, adding the squash after a minute or so. Once the onions have begun to soften, add the garlic and chiles, plus some salt, pepper and cumin (or a good chili or fajita mix, if you have one, or whatever spices you'd like). Cook until the squash in crunchy-tender.
Heat up your cast iron pan again. Spray two corn tortillas (the outsides only) with cooking oil. Place one on the heated pan and cover with cheese (I used a colby-Monterrey jack blend), then add some of the squash/onion/chile mixture. Add some more cheese, then add the other tortilla. Cook until the cheese melts and the tortilla begins to develop little brown spots (about 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot the pan is). Serve warm with salsa verde.
Also, serve entire meal with cheap wine and wonderful people (one of whom, incidentally, brought Meyer lemon ice cream from Sweet Republic for dessert!!).