Quesadilla Saturday

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Saturday screams for a certain kind of dinner.  Saturday’s a day of loosened restraints– a day free from the toils of the work week (for most), free from religious piety (unless you’re a Seventh Day Adventist), a cutting-loose day with the work week a safe distance away thanks to Sunday. 

Lentils don’t work for Saturday.  Definitely not tofu, either.  Saturday deserves something better than left-overs no matter what they are, or Kraft Dinner no matter how you doctor it up.

A dinner that really says Saturday needs open flames, hot oil, or a combination of the two.  Saturday dinner ignores food groups, leaves you with a certain amount of regret, and would be lethal if co-opted by two or three other days of the week.  A Saturday dinner is not food for sustenance– it is food to suss the limits of digestive tract tolerance.  Dionysian gastronomic indulgence.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, hot chilly peppers, and slabs of beef . . . So, what specifically is a candidate for a dinner that deserves Saturday night?  The nominees are numerous, and final determination can rest upon a multitude of personal persuasions.  Fitting most qualifying criteria, making any Saturday night a happy Saturday night, is the underrated quesadilla.  Follow the instructions below, and sink your teeth into Saturday night. 

Saturday Night Quesadillas

Ingredients

3 oz goat cheese, crumbled into tiny bits

cooking oil

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 pinch ground black pepper

2/3 lb (or so) diced chicken breast

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

6 soft tortilla shells (10 inch)

sour cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Defrost corn, then throw in a pan with oil, chicken, onions and pepper over medium heat.
  2. When cooked, put into separate bowl and stir in cilantro.
  3. Divide into three, and spread over 3 tortillas (or really load up 2).
  4. Sprinkle goat cheese over.
  5. Heat a flat frying pan with oil over medium heat, then lay in first tortilla and add shell to cover.  Check to see if the shell is browning, then flip and cook the other side.  (You could probably bake them in an oven, but that’s not really in the spirit of Saturday night, so I wouldn’t do it.)
  6. Remove from pan, cut into four, and place on a plate in the oven to keep warm.
  7. Repeat for other tortillas.
  8. When you serve them, top with sour cream if you like.
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Salad of Impending Alarm

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According to a report in the July 1983 edition of the Journal of Belgian Medical Anomalies, the beet is charged with being the vegetable causing most unnecessary visits to the doctor. To counter this alarming trend and rehabilitate the reputation of Belgium’s eleventh most popular root vegetable, the Beet Growers of Belgium produced a cookbook called (in English Translation) Rooting for Beets! This cookbook was full of beet recipes for every imaginable occasion.  There were recipes for beet bread, beet sherbet, beet salsa, and beet martinis. The recipe book was distributed free by the overhead flight of a fleet of Mars bombers dropping 150,000 copies over the cities of Brussels and Liege.

One month later, the Beet Growers of Belgium surveyed the populations of both cities for their reaction to the recipes. Far and away, the most popular recipe was the final recipe in the book– Salad of Impending Alarm. Immediately, the question was asked, “Why was this?” Why would Salad of Impending Alarm be more popular than, say, beet pie or beet smoothies?

The popularity of Salad of Impending Alarm remains one of the great unanswered questions still troubling the culinary elite of Belgium. You can choose to do your part for resolving this seemingly minor yet persistent national quandary by making the Salad of Impending Alarm, then send any hunches you may have to the nearest Belgian embassy. An entire nation awaits your answer.

Salad of Impending Alarm

(adapted from Nichols Garden Nursery)

Ingredients:

4-5 cups claytonia with stems

6 small baked beets, peeled & sliced

2 tablespoons red onion finely sliced

4 teaspoons oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

1/3 to 1/2 cup cup walnut pieces toasted in a frying pan

2 to 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Directions

  1. Peel the beets and cut into small cubes.  You can bake them in the oven, but I prefer to stir-fry them in a pan.  That’s just the way I am.
  2. Pan-fry the walnuts.
  3. Combine the beets, walnuts, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onions, then mix them up.
  4. Wash and lay out the claytonia on a serving dish.  Cover with the beet mixture, then sprinkle the cheese to top things off.

The Defining Burger

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Dillon and Miranda, in every sense of the definition, are meant for each other.  Both have pet iguanas named Cuddles, a mutual love of complementary colours– her red, him green, and both are fans of the now-defunct Kansas City Scouts Hockey Club.

Dillon asks Miranda to his place for their first date– he’ll make his special, pretty-much famous homemade burgers.  He loves to cook, she loves to eat.  How convenient!

Everything’s going swimmingly.  The iguanas are asleep in the corner, compliments fly back and forth, there’s smiling and laughing, and then,  Miranda sinks her teeth into her burger.

She chews three times and then, convulsively, spits out her partly chewed lump of burger and bun.  It lands in Dillon’s lap.  It was an accident.  Her aim isn’t that good.

A look of confusion comes over Dillon, but Miranda wears a look of abject horror.  “What the hell is that?” she says, her voice sounding more gag than question.  “I thought this was supposed to be a burger!”

“It’s a non-meat alternative burger,” Dillon says in an apologetic mumble.  “I call them Dillon’s Pretty-Much Famous Yam Burgers.”

Miranda throws her napkin on her plate and rises abruptly out of her seat. 

“The words Yam and Burger do not belong within the covers of the same cookbook! A burger contains beef!  Does your garden contain a herd of yams?  I think not!  When you say Burger, the Beef part is an unspoken assumption!  This monstrosity on my plate is definitely not a burger!”

Their fledgling relationship has not merely hit a bump in the road– it has gone over a steep precipice and burst into flames upon impact with a dry riverbed.  Yes.  It is over.

And so, Dillon resolves to learn from this catastrophic misstep in romantic relations.  He still enjoys his Pretty-Much Famous Yam Burgers, but elects to make a slight alteration to his recipe.

Dillon’s Pretty-Much Famous Yam Not-Really-Burgers

(Adapted and possibly even slightly mutilated from a recipe in Made With Love by Kelly Childs and Erinn Weatherbie)

For this recipe, you will want:

1 large yam or a sweet potato

1 cup of quinoa

1/2 cup of white flour

2 tablespoons of dried cilantro or 1/2 cup fresh

2 green onions

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic crushed

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon olive oil

How Dillon Makes Them:

1.  Dillon peels the yams, cuts them in small cubes, then stir fries them until they’re soft.  He puts them in a large bowl and mashes them with a potato masher or a robust fork.  When he’s frustrated with life, he’ll just use his bare hands.

2.   Dillon cooks the quinoa according to the directions on the package, then throws it in with the yams.

3.   He adds the rest of the ingredients, then gets his hands in there and mixes the mixture until it is well mixed.  Dillon uses a 1/2 cup measure and they come out about the right size. 

4.  Dillon microwaves them for 45 seconds to firm them up before frying.  He fries them in a pan at medium high heat until they are nice and crunchy.  Dillon likes to see a little bit of black charcoalish stuff on them.  He claims it gives them added personality.

5.   He places them in his bun of choice. 

6.  He’ll tell you that these don’t need much in the way of condiments.  Lettuce and tomatoes are always good, and his Great-Aunt Minnie’s plum or pear chutney also works well.

7.  Serve with caution.  Emphasize the non-burger aspect of the name.  Maybe even call them Yam Cakes on a Bun.  Assess your guest.  Use your judgement.

8.  Do not be discouraged by an unfavourable reaction.  This means it was not meant to be.