Suggested song to play while cooking: Misty Mountain Hop, by Led Zeppelin
Dearest Sporkers, as you know from my previous articles, I talk about my family a lot and how they cook, particularly my mom and her strange yet fascinating ability to just throw shit together and come up with a mouth-watering dish only gods should dine upon. While my sister inherited this holy ability, I sadly did not. Nevertheless, while on vacation at our small cottage in Vermont, I decided to prove myself, and find those hidden chef genes that just had to be tucked away somewhere. It also didn’t hurt that mom way paying for the groceries.
Usually, any time I attempt something like this it always begins because of a craving, and this time I was craving quesadillas. But not just any quesadillas, oh no. I wanted these to be saturated with vivacious flavors and heaped with yummy veggies. Determined not to use recipes but to just, as my mother says, “go with it,” I collected all I thought I needed and prepared myself to wing it. The following is what I came up with.
A note, Sporkers, following the wing it rule, this recipe has no measurements. It was all to taste and what I thought felt right. So if you attempt this recipe, you must be brave, and trust yourself.
Spontaneous Spicy Chicken Quesadilla
Lime juice (I used 1 whole lime though you may want more—see my review of my own recipe below)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
Chicken (I used about 1 pound)
2 jalapeño peppers
Tortilla wraps (I used a jalapeño and cheddar wrap)
Cheddar cheese (could be a Mexican blend too, cheddar is just what we had in the fridge)
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Place in a pan with some butter (about half a tablespoon or so), over medium heat. Sauté for a few minutes, then add half the lime juice and spices. Season to taste.
While chicken is cooking, cut up the bell peppers and jalapeños and add to the chicken. Add the rest of the lime juice and more seasoning if desired. I like mine nice and spicy, so I added a lot.
Place a large pan over low-medium heat and add ½ tablespoon butter. As butter melts spread it around so it covers the bottom of the pan. Place tortilla wrap on pan, add cheese and filling (careful with this—I often overfill mine, not a bad thing but you may not want your food popping out the sides with every bite).
Let sit until cheese has melted and the bottom of tortilla has some brown crisp to it, then fold the tortilla in half. Cut into three pieces, and enjoy!
My end result: not too shabby. I went a little heavy on the cumin which overpowered some of the other spices, but it had a good amount of chili powder and cayenne to give the dish some heat. Would’ve added a bit more garlic, and some onions (I was using my mother’s pans, who’s allergic to onions, so did not include them). Could’ve used more lime juice as well, no lime flavors really stood out and I was hoping it would add that zest I was looking for. Perhaps I’ll try for a more cilantro and lime kick next time. Tortilla was light and slightly flaky, a nice surprise for me. Wonderful balance of peppers and chicken. Jalapeño and cheddar wraps were delicious as well.
There you have it, my attempts at finding that creative instinctual cooking gene was a sort of success, sort of a failure, but I’m hoping to bring it fully to form with trial and error.
Remember, dear Sporkers, the kitchen is your laboratory—experiment in it; the kitchen is your sandbox—play in it. It does not judge and it does not fear, so leave those hindrances at the door. It only exists to be an instrument of creation. Wield it like a master conductor or a great warrior sword, and go have some fun.
Post, Photos, and Recipe by Shannon Moloney.