In a bind
Anna Jones’s flatbreads
Quesadillas are really just sandwiched flatbreads, which in some form or another you’ll find in almost every culture
The happiest days of my childhood were spent in northern California, just north of San Francisco. We lived in a bungalow that had a small back garden with a lemon tree, spent weekends at the beach or picnicking in redwood forests.
Most nights we ate simply at home, leaning on the sun-laden produce from surrounding farms: avocados for almost every meal, oranges and lemons straight from the trees. Sometimes, we’d walk a couple of blocks to buy a peaky-topped cup of chocolate frozen yoghurt, which we’d eat on the spot. It was all pretty wholesome in the times before we started venturing out for our dinner.
Later, as older kids, we loved those cheery American joints – the ones with a menu longer than your arm, where the waitresses wear name badges and bottomless coffees are served all day. The food was always American with a nod to Mexico, and as kids we loved it. Crisp potato skins, topped with a melting of cheese dipped into chivepeppered sour cream, shoestring fries and burritos. But what we loved the most were the quesadillas – two flour tortillas fried on the plancha until crisp, then sandwiched around a very generous layer of melted Monterey Jack cheese, cut into wedges and served with guacamole and salsa. These triangles of joy were served as a starter, but were really big enough to be a meal in their own right.
I make quesadillas a bit differently now, leaving the seriously cheese-laden ones in my memory with chocolate milkshakes and knickerbocker glories. Instead, I use vegetables, pulses, herbs and even eggs to make textured fillings with pops of flavour that move from Mexico, to Italy, France, Morocco and back again. In fact, quesadillas are really just sandwiched flatbreads, which in some form or another you’ll find in almost every culture.
We make armies of them when we have a crowd to feed as they are the perfect vehicle for dipping, a great snack with a cold beer in hand, and are pretty fuss-free. A quesadilla allows you to play around and use what you have to hand. The main thing to think about is to fill your tortillas with something that will bind the two sides together – some cheese, egg or soft mashed vegetables or beans are ideal.