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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Steak quesadilla, guacamole and salsa

By Paul Suplee,

I spent a few days last week prepping and executing a wedding.

While it went off quite successfully, it came at a price. Since the Real-Feel was 96 degrees, we were all soaked to the core, sweating out any of our sins from the day prior, which was my birthday.

After a night of frivolities, and honestly not drinking enough water to stay hydrated, I felt it all day. From set up to food delivery to execution, it was a struggle. There were some scheduling issues that were well beyond our control and we fought through those, ending the day with a very happy couple; the only thing that matters on a day like that. The food was served without a glitch, and the venue (the first time that I had headlined there) loved us, so that was a great sign that the team went above and beyond.

The service staff kept themselves on par, and with an event of this nature, they were overly professional. Personally, I had a number of guests remark on how hot we all must have been. They were only wearing suits, after all, and they had witnessed us hammering through the night, making sure that our heat stroke-induced evening was seamless to the family and guests.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I sat in bed trying to recall dreams from the night before. As a young lad in the early ‘80s, I worked at the Chart House in Annapolis. When we would have work nightmares, we referred to them as Chartmares. Unable to conjure anything up, I felt my body buzzing from exhaustion and hunger. I had not eaten a thing all day.

Knowing that I did not drink enough water or eat, I set to work. I knew I could cook some of my favorite south of the border comfort food, perhaps to try to convince myself that I was on vacation and not derailing on this culinary train ride from hell.

And so the comfort food came, and come it did as I prepared a tried and true dish of Mexican repute, which of course may very well be an American adaptation of a Mexican classic; the Quesadilla.

Cheese, meat and bread. How can you go wrong? On top of this simple combination of wholesome goodies, add some fresh guacamole, crema fresca, shredded lettuce, and salsa roja, and you are in business. Sour cream can be a good substitute for the crema fresca, but if you have the time to make it, you will be glad that you did.

Of course, one of the beverages that goes so well with a dish like this is beer, or if you don’t like beer, a pitcher of fresh limeade or tamarind punch would certainly suffice.  Personally, I enjoy the tamarind sodas available in the “international aisle” in the grocery store, and they match the flavors of this dish perfectly.

So on with the summery, smoky meat-filled little cheesy things, and remember to make these when you feel like pretending you are a true Yucatecan. Anyone can use a break down here on the shore, and since I won’t be staying at any all-inclusive-resorts any time soon, this is a good way for me to pretend that I am basking in the sun.

And thank the good lord that we survived the weekend. Now it’s time to gear up for the next one.

Steak Quesadilla

serves 4

4 ea. flour tortillas, size of your choice

1 # trim beef, preferable flank steak or skirt steak

1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

1 ea. jalapeno, seeded and veins removed, finely diced

1/2 ea med white onion, finely diced

2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. vegetable oil

salt & pepper to taste

3/4 # cheddar, monterey jack cheese blend

  1. Marinate the beef in all of the ingredients except for the tortillas and cheese
  2. Grill the beef to the desired temperature, and let cool
  3. Pile half of the tortilla with cheese and sliced steak, and then fold over the empty half
  4. Cook in a pan or in the oven on a little bit of butter or margarine until toasted golden brown cut into wedges and serve

Fresh Guacamole

makes about a quart

2 ea. Haas avocados, ripened

1/2 ea. med white onion, diced

1/2 ea. vine-ripened tomato, seeded and diced

1/2 tsp toasted cumin seed

fresh cilantro to taste

1 ea. lime for juice

salt & pepper to taste

if heat is desired, diced jalapeno

  1. Mash avocado and combine with the rest of the ingredients
  2. Let sit for at least one hour, to let the flavors marry

Crema Fresca-made the night before to set up

makes about a pint

1 pint heavy cream

5 Tbsp. buttermilk

  1. Combine ingredients and set out on the counter at room temperature. The enzymes in the buttermilk will break down the heavy cream and thicken to make your crema fresca, aka creme fraiche

Salsa Roja

makes about 2 cups

1 ea. med tomato, vine-ripened

1/2 ea. med white onion, cut into quarters

2 ea. fresh jalapenos, seeded with veins removed

1 ea. lime for juice

fresh cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender if you want a smooth salsa roja, and blend, pulsing, until it reaches the consistency you prefer.

Paul Suplee is the owner of the
boxcar restaurant and is also
Senior Lecturer of Culinary Arts at UMES.