potato, cheese, and thyme quesadillas


It doesn’t look like it but these are leftovers. The tortillas and the remoulade are from Sunday’s fish tacos, and I always have tzatziki sauce and Sriracha on hand because they go so well with everything! This is a riff on Charley Brown’s Mexicana’s quesadillas, and my husband says it’s a keeper!

Potato, Cheese, and Thyme Quesadillas
Makes 2 quesadillas

2 medium potatoes
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
A little cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh or dried thyme
4 whole wheat tortillas

Peel and cut up the potatoes into chunks. Boil potatoes in salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and mash potatoes. Season with butter, cream, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Spread a little butter on the inside of each tortilla. Top one buttered side with cheese. With a spatula, spread about a cup of mashed potato on top of the cheese. Top mashed potato with more cheese and sprinkle with thyme. Cover with another tortilla, buttered side down.

Lightly grease a griddle and heat it. When it is hot, put a quesadilla on the griddle to toast. When the bottom becomes golden brown, flip it over and toast the second side. When both sides are golden brown, remove to a cutting board and slice into quarters or eighths. Repeat with the second quesadilla. Serve warm.

Serve with dipping sauces such as salsa, tzatziki sauce, yogurt remoulade (or just plain Greek style yogurt), sour cream, and/or Sriracha sauce.


pan pizza margherita


Still on a quest to find the perfect pizza crust! I adapted Mark Bittman’s recipe for pizza dough to make these pizzas and they were perfect. Chewy but not dense, and strong enough to be shaped. I topped these with simple basic pizza margherita toppings, just fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I made one with ham for the Meat Lover. 

Pan Pizza Margherita (adapted from Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe)
Makes 2 9-inch pizzas (8 slices)

Pizza Dough
3 cups (414 g) bread flour plus more for kneading*
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 cup water, plus more as needed
*To measure flour, scoop flour into a dry measure then sweep the top to level it.

Pizza Topping
2 large tomatoes sliced into rounds, seeded
3 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
Basil shredded for garnish

Make the dough. Put the flour and yeast in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil and combine. With the machine running, add 1 cup water gradually through the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a slightly sticky ball, about 30 seconds. If the mixture is crumbly and dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and process for 5-10 seconds after each addition. Process until dough forms a ball. If the mixture refuses to come together because it has too much moisture, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time and process until it forms a ball.

Rest the dough. Rub a little olive oil or flour on your hands and shape the dough into a ball. Put the dough ball in a large greased bowl. Cover it with plastic. Let the dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in size, 1-2 hours. You can just let the dough rest as little as 20 minutes if you’re in a hurry. I refrigerated the dough for several hours then brought it to room temperature and let it rest 20-30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the toppings. Place the tomato slices in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle the tops with salt to draw out the moisture. Pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C. Put the oven rack in the upper third of the oven.

Make the pizzas. Reshape the dough into a ball and cut in half with a dough scraper to get two equal pieces. Brush the bottoms of two 9×2 inch round cake pans with olive oil. Don’t oil the sides. Roll a piece of dough into a 7-inch circle.

Baker’s Note: If the dough is sticky and won’t release from the board without sticking, flour the board and the rolling pin. I didn’t need to. If the dough doesn’t need extra flour, it’s best not to use it.

Pick up the dough circle and turn it around in your hands, stretching it into a 9-9 1/2 inch circle. Leave the edges with a little one-inch ridge to form the crust. Place the dough circle in one of the prepared pans. If it shrinks from the edges, let the dough rest for about 5 minutes then gently pat it out towards the edge of the pan. Repeat process with the other dough piece.

Place the salted tomatoes on top of the pizza dough circle, making sure to leave a border for the crust. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese. Avoid getting cheese on the crust. Repeat with the other dough circle.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove pizzas from the oven and let cool in the pans for 5 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Using a pancake turner, slide the pizzas out of the cake pans onto a board. Sprinkle tops with shredded basil. Slice and serve.

vegetarian japchae

About halfway through Lent and my meatless journey. Sigh. To keep my tastebuds engaged I have to be inventive. So I adapted this beef japchae dish to make it vegetarian simply by substituting tofu for beef tenderloin. It was delicious.

Vegetarian Japchae

Tofu Marinade
1 1/2 cups extra firm tofu cut into strips
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon or to taste ground black pepper

5 oz dangmyeon (Korean sweet potato starch noodles)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil

Everything Else
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided, plus more if needed
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced into thin strips
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1/4 inch strips, stems discarded (save stems to make vegetable broth)
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
2 green onions cut on the bias

For the marinade: combine tofu with garlic, sugar, soy sauce sesame oil and black pepper in a small bowl. Cover and marinate until ready to cook. Set aside.

For the noodles: add noodles to a large bowl of warm water and allow to soften, 15-20 minutes. Drain noodles, rinse with cold water and drain well. Toss noodles with sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil; set aside.

Cook spinach: In a wok, bring about an inch of water to a boil. Quickly cook the spinach on high heat until it turns bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. Set aside.

Cook eggs: Heat wok over high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add beaten eggs. Swirl to cover bottom of pan. Cook until underside is set, about 1 minute. Flip. Cook until set, about 1 minute. Remove from pan to a large plate. When cool, cut into thin strips and set aside.

Cook veg: In the empty pan/wok, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. On high heat, stir-fry onions, carrots, and bell pepper until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cook mushrooms and tofu: Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, if needed. On high heat, stir-fry mushrooms until browned. Then add tofu, reserving marinade, and cook, turning frequently, until just browned.

Assemble japchae: Add the sweet potato noodles. Taste. If more flavor is desired, add reserved marinade. Stir-fry until hot, 1-2 minutes. Add all reserved ingredients, except shredded egg. Stir fry until heated throughout, 1-2 minutes. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with egg strips and green onions. Serve immediately.