February 4, 2015 · 8:11 am
This is one of the easiest recipes around, but it is also easy to mess up. When it is done properly it cam be ethereal. The first time I ever had it was some thirty years ago in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, a small town filled with artisans on the outskirts of Guadalajara. We had taken our children and one of their friends on a family vacation to the Mexican west coast, and this was to be our day of tourist shopping. The array of handmade goods was overwhelming. There were weavings, pottery, jewelry, worked silver, paper flowers, hand-made furniture, and the requisite “onyx” chess sets.
After a full morning of going from one vendor’s stall to another, everyone was ready for lunch. We chose a huge open air restaurant, partly because there were enough vacant seats for all of us.
The first thing we ordered was queso fundido and freshly made corn tortillas to snack on with drinks until our main dishes came. Dipping browned and molten cheese out of a dish and heaping it on a warm tortilla was a treat for all of us. There was crumbled crisp chorizo on top, but no chiles and no spice. It was just plain good eating. We ate quickly, and that was a good thing. When queso fundido cools off, it can set up into a solid chunk of cheese.
Since then, I have enjoyed queso fundido, aka queso flameado in many places along the US-Mexico Border. Most of those versions have been good, but none as good as that in Tlaquepaque. The dish is not to be confused with another stalwart, chile con queso. In its traditional form, that dish includes melted cheese and roasted green chiles. Neither queso fundido nor chile con queso is to be confused with versions you are likely to see in fast-food Mexican restaurants: Ro-Tel mixed with melted Velveeta, or worse, Cheez Whiz mixed with bottled taco sauce.
When you make your own queso fundido, use authentic asadero cheese if you can find it, Mexican chorizo of the best quality, and corn tortillas that you make yourself.None of that is really very hard. If you can’t find asadero cheese, any yellow melting cheese like Monterey jack, American Muenster, or mozzarella will do.
Serve with your favorite salsa or even guacamole or both.
Ingredients for queso fundido
Asadero cheese topped with browned chorizo ready for the oven
Bubbling hot and nicely browned
- 12 ounces asadero cheese, coarsely grated
- ¼ pound Mexican (not Spanish) chorizo, crumbled and lightly browned
- Heat a shallow baking dish, about 9 inches across, in the middle of an oven preheated to 375°F for about 5 minutes or until hot.
- Remove the heated dish from the oven. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly in the dish. Top with chorizo, and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven. Set on a heat-resistant surface. Serve immediately with warm fresh corn tortillas and spoons for dipping the melted cheese.
Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes, Travel
Tagged as asadero, asadero cheese, Cheez Whiz, corn tortillas, Mexican chorizo, Mexico, queso flameado, queso fundido, Ro-Tel, Tlaquepaque, Velveeta
August 16, 2014 · 2:40 pm
Some time ago I wrote about James Kraft and his invention of Velveeta processed cheese food. His small company morphed into a giant food manufacturer that has been responsible for some of the inventions that have made American cuisine what it is. Those inventions include Miracle Whip salad dressing, Cheez Whiz, Parkay margarine, and arguably the most famous of all, the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner that came into being in 1937.
Since then, there is probably not a single American child who has not had boxed macaroni and cheese. In fact, in our family it is a child’s favorite that is often preferred to Mom’s carefully crafted (no pun intended) macaroni and cheese made from the finest ingredients. The good news is that children’s tastes change as they grow older.
Recognizing the appeal of boxed macaroni and cheese dinners with kids, some time back when we were watching over some of our grandchildren for several days, I bought a box but wound up not using it. It came home with us and has been residing in our pantry for awhile (It is virtually indestructible and will probably last forever, along with my box of Velveeta). It has become a bit of an embarrassment, so when I was reorganizing the pantry a while back, I decided to use it with the sub-plot of disguising it so much that it would fool an adult.
Well, it turned out to be pretty well disguised, but sorry to say, you will not be fooled. Still it was a pleasant diversion and something that went ok with soy-sauce-and-lemon-vinaigrette-braised flounder.
Boxed macaroni & cheese dinner
Ready for the oven
Hot out of the oven
Served with flounder
Boxed Macaroni Dinner Incognito
- 1 7.25-ounce package of Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner
- 1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 teaspoon Pernod (optional)
- 5 button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (doesn’t need to be EVOO)
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup panko
- 1 ounce Parmesan, grated
- butter to dot the top of the casserole
- Prepare the macaroni and cheese dinner according to instructions on the box. Pour the finished dinner into a bowl and set aside.
- With your hands, squeeze as much water out of the thawed spinach as you can. Chop finely.
- Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in the olive oil. Drain.
- Combine the spinach and mushrooms with the prepared dinner. Stir in Pernod to your taste, but be careful as it can be overpowering if used too liberally)
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper
- Top with panko and grated Parmesan. Dot with butter.
- Bake in the middle of a 350° F (177° C) oven for 40 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling. Serve.
Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes
Tagged as Cheez Whiz, Kraft, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner, mushrooms, panko, Parmesan, Pernod, spinach, Velveeta