Quesadillas and Smokey Guacamole

There comes a time in every chef’s life when they may make the occasional meal after having drunk just a very little, and end the meal having, perhaps, drunk a little more. I am afraid that this was the situation I was in when I made quesadillas the other night and this fact, while not taking anything away from the quality of the meal, did lead me to delegate rather enthusiastically and also resulted in many fewer photos being taken than I would have liked.

It all began so well on the picture front as well – I was so impressed by the way that the ingredients I had picked up looked that I had to take a display photo:

And, in fact the guacamole was reasonably well documented at the start. For example, I started with five avocados (they were not quite as ripe as I would have liked – if you are going to cook with them that day it is best to get really soft ones. That said, if you have a little time and want to speed up the ripening process then try putting them in a brown paper bag with a banana or two – as the bananas ripen they release some kind of gas which caused other fruit and vegetables near them to ripen more quickly):

I halved them and scooped their insides into a bowl. Then, using the juice of a lime and some water to soften them up, I delegated the task of mashing them up to my first sous chef, Friede. (It had been suggested to me that, instead of using water, it would be even better to use sour cream, and I can only agree that that does sound like a good idea).

Next, I finely chopped up one and a half red onions, one large red chilli, two cloves of garlic, two tomatoes (the slimy insides removed), and then mashed them up in batches in a mortar and pestle, mixing them into the mashed avocado.

The best guacamole I have ever eaten was that made by my cousin Alex, and this was, at least in part, down to the fact that she added a sprinkle of hickory smoke (a kind of vegetarian, liquid smoke flavour). I couldn’t find this at Stoke Newington’s local Wholefoods, so instead I went with a teaspoon of smoked paprika. (This doesn’t work quite as well, but does give it a nice, slightly unusual flavour). At this stage a pinch of so of salt (to taste) was needed. The last stage was to mix in half a bunch of roughly chopped coriander (US: cilantro). And we finally had a very large bowl of guacamole:

Now the photos become more scarce… To make the quesadillas, I de-seeded and chopped two red peppers (capsicums), one big red chilli, and the other half of the bunch of coriander. I also asked my second sous chef, Sam, to finely chop two bunches of shallots (UK: spring onions; US: scallions) and to grate 800g of cheese (I used a combination of cheddar and red leicester). Here is a picture of Sam and Friede pretending to really enjoy my bossing them around in the kitchen:

Now all you do is heat a non-stick frying pan and put a tortilla in it (dry), place a large spoonful of the cheese mixture into the middle of it, and place another tortilla on top. When the bottom tortilla has become a little harder and crisper and the cheese has began to melt, you can flip it over. (Take care with this, I managed to burn both my arms in the process.)

We probably made enough dinner for 10 again, though there were only 6 of us eating that night. Luckily, this is a perfect lunch for the next day, and can be easily reheated in a non-stick frying pan in exactly the same way you used to melt the cheese in the first place. For dinner, cut the finished product into quarters and serve with a dollop of sour cream, and a big dollop of the guacamole. (Unfortunately, I did not manage to capture the finished product).

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