Your Life A to Z

Queso Oaxaca, Tomato and Oaxaca Cheese Salad and Cheese Quesadillas With Fig Ancho Jam


Queso Oaxaca

This is fun and after you do it, it is hard to back to store bought stuff.  The acid is optional but it gives a slight tang that reminds me of quesillo from the market in Oaxaca. Oddly enough people in Oaxaca call this Quesillo not queso Oaxaca.

2 lb mozzarella curd whole milk

1 gallon water
1/4 cup salt
a pinch of citric acid

Cut the curd into 2 inch pieces and allow time to come to room temp.

Heat the water to 180 with the salt and acid.  Stir to dissolve.  Remove from heat and add the cheese to the pot gently.  Move the curd around to make sure all is exposed to hot water.  Using a spoon let it rest for a couple minutes.

While that is happening make an ice brine with 4 cups of ice 4 cups cold water and 2 tbsp salt stir to dissolve the salt.

Now back to the hot stuff (I wear gloves but that is optional), gently form the curd into several tennis ball size balls.  It should be melting slightly.  The size is only a guide they don’t have to be perfect.  If the cheese is not forming return to stove and heat slightly.  Fish out one ball at a time and gently knead it until smooth and not lumpy.  Congrats you have fresh mozzarella!  But now pull slightly- it should stretch - think salt water taffy, double ver and dip into warm water bath, stretch again.  Do this one or two more times working quickly.  Then when stretched and smooth wind up into a ball and toss into the ice brine.  Repeat with remaining balls maintaining the water temp.  I like to reserve a bit of water on the stove to keep hot and add as needed. After about 10 minutes when the cheese is cooled, I remove from brine and put in the refrigerator unwrapped for about an hour to dry.  Then wrap balls individually- they keep like this for about 5 to 7 days.

Tomato and Oaxaca Cheese Salad

Summertime tomatoes will make this shine.  As contemporary as this one sounds you can find it around Oaxaca city these days. Oaxaca cheese is a lot like mozzarella cheese or braided mozzarella, sort of big wound up braids of stringy cheese. One person actually wrote that this salad “ must have medicinal properties the combination of flavors tastes that right”.  I am guessing that over the years my kitchens have put out around 50,000 of these.

2 cups hand shredded oaxaca cheese
4 large vine ripe tomatoes sliced thick
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
4 radishes cut in 1/2 and sliced thin
4 jalapenoes en escabeche sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cider vinegar

Toss everything together and serve at once. Serves 4 hungry people.

Cheese Quesadillas With Fig Ancho Jam

Quesadillas are made with flour tortillas that are filled, folded, and toasted. To make a simple cheese
quesadilla, top a freshly made flour tortilla with sweet butter and shredded queso Oaxaca. Fold it in half and heat it in a dry skillet. Fig Ancho Jam is a delicious condiment for quesadillas.

Fig Ancho Jam
5 ancho chiles
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups dried white figs, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon black pepper

Soften the ancho chiles in 2 cups hot water and pulse in a blender with the water. Rest the blended chiles 5 minutes. Heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic till light gold. Add the puréed chiles, vinegar, figs, salt, sugar, and pepper. Simmer about 15 minutes until slightly thickened.

Elote  Flour  Tortillas
We make a basic flour tortilla now that has become vital to our kitchen. So simple the ingredients, but so primly satisfying the result. It makes a huge difference to use your own high-quality homemade lard. Freshness also matters. Hot off the comal they are angelic.

8 cups flour (Blue Bird brand works well)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup lard (homemade is best, see the Pantry section of the book)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water

Combine the flour, baking powder, lard, and salt. Add the water and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes, to make a dough. Divide the dough into pieces slightly larger than golf balls and flatten them slightly. Place the balls in a lightly oiled pan and set aside to rest for a half hour or so.
Dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Flatten a ball of dough slightly and dust that as well. Now roll out each dough ball into a tortilla, turning and dusting as needed. Roll to your desired thickness, erring on the side of thick to make life easier later (thin ones have a tendency to stick). Reserve the rolled-out balls between sheets of wax paper. Bake each tortilla in a large ungreased skillet or comal over medium high heat.  Cook each tortilla on one side for about 15 seconds, flip, and cook for about 15 seconds more, or until you see some brown (not black) spots. Stack tortillas on a plate and cover with a towel to keep them from drying out.