Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lime Bars and Quesadillas

I made a batch of lime bars today, using the lemon bar recipe I posted back in April, and they came out amazing. I just used lime juice instead of lemon juice, the finely grated zest of one lime instead of the lemon extract, and powdered sugar in the filling instead of granulated sugar. This last change was born of necessity, because I didn't have any regular sugar in the house, but I think I'm keeping it. Because the two sugars don't substitute freely (supposedly 1 3/4 c of powdered sugar is equivalent to 1 c granulated), this version was less sweet. I think the cornstarch in the powdered sugar may also have helped the filling jell, as it was done in exactly 20 minutes without being at all browned on top. Deliciously sweet and tart and summery. The bars (except the one I swiped for quality control) are chilling in the fridge, waiting for dinner.

Dinner is chicken quesadillas. The chicken breasts are thawing now, and then I'm going to marinate them for a couple of hours with lime juice, salt, pepper and Penzeys chili con carne seasoning. I'd probably do something more elaborate if I had my whole spice collection here, but I'm sure this will do fine. And to go in the quesadillas along with them, I'm frying up some onions and jalapeƱos. Who would have thought it: pickled jalapeƱos, right out of the jar and into the skillet with some onions and canola oil, cooked till they brown and shrivel up, are incredibly delicious. The sweet, vinegary, vegetal and hot flavors all meld together. It's irresistible. But it's also somewhat toxic: the peppers release capsaicin as they fry. So do this under a really good stove hood, with the window open, and/or get yourself a face mask. The fumes are pretty intense. That's why I'm doing it hours before my dinner guest arrives, and why I'm spending most of the cooking time in another part of the house, going in every few minutes (holding my breath!) to stir them up.

When we're about ready to eat, I'll pan-fry the chicken breasts, probably in canola oil after dredging them with flour mixed with more of the chili seasoning. Then I'll chop them and layer them on a flour tortilla with shredded sharp cheddar and the peppers and onions, and cook the tortilla slowly in a cast iron skillet until the cheese melts, when I'll fold the tortilla in half and slide the whole thing onto a plate. We'll eat the quesadillas with chipotle salsa, beer to drink, and have the chilled lime bars for dessert.

Though at this rate we're going to be eating in the backyard. It's July, and the house is hot. Having the oven on can't have helped, either, but the results are worth it.

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