Quesadillas & Secret Laws

October 19, 2016

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
~Benjamin Franklin

Unfortunately, this is posted just beyond the cusp of National Hispanic Month this year (September 15 – October 15, 2016). Yet, quesadillas are welcome at our table at whatever the day or hour.

Now, imagine that your second language is English.  Better yet, that your cradle language is English. Either way.

Still, there are “secret laws” that are unsettlingly passed without public consent or approval to anyone and all. We have been taught endlessly that Congress publicly enacts statutes candidly, but when the secretive panel known as the Foreign Intelligence Survey Court (FISA) permits the surreptitious collection of phone records, interrogation or torture procedures it somehow becomes the law of the land. Intelligence agencies issue rules and regulations on national security issues are very often not published and not made known to the public and remain “classified.” These include, inter alia, intelligence gathering and the detention, interrogation and torture of suspected terrorists.

Secret laws deny each individual the ability to comprehend constraints imposed by official conduct. In short, perilous secret laws disallow constituents to challenge accountability or to demand any form of legal or legislative transparency. Law and fact soon become an addictive blur in a what is otherwise known as a democratic society with supposedly open courts, judges, prosecutors and legislators. Now, each may act with impunity and without the thoughts, acumen, judgment or oversight of citizens — individually or collectively, before, during, or afterwards.

The last time I looked, the preamble to the United States Constitution began with “We the People” — one of our Constitution’s guiding principles, to make no mention of the due process and confrontation clauses explicitly stated in the Bill of Rights.

While quesadillas may sometimes have directed ingredients, truthfully they are an amalgam of fine leftovers here — so, whatever is recently in the fridge or pantry are fair game (so long as you do not overload), e.g., brussels sprouts, asparagus, tongue, tripe, shredded pork butt, chicken or lamb, gizzards, livers, whatever greens, leeks, green onions, thinly sliced radishes, cheeses of any and all types, fresh or dried oregano, coriander, herbes de provence, thyme, fennel seeds, chipotle peppers, chiles of any species, garbanzo beans, hominy, new potatoes, fennel bulbs, edamame, chinese peas, snow peas, peas, salmon, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, squid, mussels, et al.

QUESADILLAS

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 T unsalted butter

1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 T brandy or cognac
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ozs spinach or arugula, stems removed
2-4 ozs or so, cilantro, stems removed

1-2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced

Spoonful of salsa verde

Goat cheese or chèvre, grated or broken into small pieces
Gruyère cheese, grated

8 or so flour tortillas

1-2 T extra virgin olive or canola oil
2 T unsalted butter

4 local, farm fresh eggs (1 per quesadilla), fried

Place a heavy, medium to large sauté pan over medium high heat and add 2 T extra virgin olive or canola oil and 1-2 T unsalted butter. When oil and butter shimmer, add mushrooms and as well as salt and pepper. Sauté, adding brandy or cognac until mushrooms release liquid and begin to evaporate and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

Combine mushrooms, greens, chilessalsa verde, and cheese in a bowl. Place a large nonstick, heavy skillet over medium to medium high heat, and add extra virgin olive or canola oil and unsalted butter until it begins to shimmer. Do not allow to burn. While pan heats, place a large spoonful of mushroom, greens, chiles, salsa verde, and cheese mixture into each tortilla and place other tortilla over the filled one so as to make a sandwich. Place tortillas in preheated heavy skillet and cook, turning once, until tortillas are nicely browned on both sides and cheeses are melted.

Top with a large, fried egg.

Serve promptly.

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
~Benjamin Franklin

My failure not to write here for a short while was not inadvertent. Over the last several months, I have been poring over texts, tomes, papers, memoirs, etc., while my fingers have been pecking feverishly on another project. So, a tad bleary eyed and a bit weary handed with little mention made of a littered mind & brain — time just did not permit work on both. My brief leave should not suggest that our kitchen went fallow, though. To the contrary, creative yet humble eats (sometimes at strange hours) have been the rule in this urban galley. My apologies to you readers. Enough said?

The ampersand emerged in the first century from the Latin word et meaning and, ultimately giving rise to the ampersand shape. Latin cursive scribes often connected the two letters “e” and “t” to form a ligature. In the more flowing New Roman cursive, ligatures became quite routine. However, with the development of Carolingian script in the 9th century the use of ligatures began to diminish even though the “e” + “t” continued to flourish, becoming even more stylized and less revealing of its origins.

Fanciful versions of the ampersand abound. For instance, the Frenchman Claude Garamond’s 16th century character depicted a clear indication of the form’s Latin origins. On the left side appeared the “e” and on the right the “t,” and the stray letters were linked by a cradle that begins weightily, then thins out, with inky globular endings at each end of the crossbar on the “t.” Comme ça:

garamond ampersand<

The actual term did not appear until the early 19th century when “&” became the 27th letter of the English alphabet. The mark concluded the alphabet with “X, Y, Z, and per se and” with “and per se” meaning and and by itself. This final phrase was slurred and reborn as ampersand.

E.g. Gilbert & Sullivan, Jules et Jim, Mumford & Sons, Flammen & Citronen, Abbott & Costello, De rouille et d’os, Ben & Jerry, Bouchard Père & Fils, This & That, Proctor & Gamble (P&G), & a slew of law firms. Its shape has evolved continuously since being introduced, and while some ampersands are still manifestly e/t ligatures, others merely hint at their past, sometimes in oblique ways. Now, the ampersand is often sadly about that inane word “branding” & seemingly apt logos that are given so much bland thought.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

1 C old-fashioned rolled oats
2 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt

2 sticks (16 T) nsalted butter, room temperature
1 C light brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs

1 t vanilla extract

2 C bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa) cut in 1″ pieces or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F

To the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the rolled oats. Pulse the until most of the oats are somewhat ground, but they should not be ultra fine like flour. (In some respects, this is an optional move as many like the texture of full bore oats.) Add the pulsed oats to a large mixing bowl. Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl, and add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift the flour mixture over the oats. Whisk the dry ingredients together.

To the bowl of a electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat the mixture on medium low until combined. Then, increase the speed to medium high and beat until airy and pale in color, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low again and add 2 eggs. Once the eggs are well incorporated, stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract, then turn the mixer back on to medium low briefly to assure a good mix.

Then, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour & oat mixture until mostly combined. Turn off the mixer and remove the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir with a spoon until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl throughout.

Use a large spoon to divide the cookie dough into pieces about the size of a rounded tablespoon, rolling the dough in your hands. Set the cookies about 2″ apart on a parchment paper lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake until golden brown around the edges and still soft in the center, about 5-6 minutes longer. Many oven temperatures differ, so try not to overcook.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool there until set, about 5 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. Then serve these delectable morsels and savor — whatever time of day or night.