Tuesday, June 12, 2012


With no posts in over a month, I suppose this blog lapsed into dormancy. There are legitimate reasons, none of which I care to share. In that time I have eaten at some very good restaurants, and some not-so-good ones. I have cooked some very good meals, and some not-so-good ones. Rather than attempt to recount them all, I'll just detail my most recent success.

On Saturday, one of the vendors at the Deering Park Farmer's Market had some cute baby summer squash with their blossoms still attached. Another had some gorgeous-looking rainbow chard. My first thought was chard-and-squash-blossom quesadillas. I mean real Mexican quesadillas, made fresh with corn masa and folded over themselves, not their norteamericano namesake--grilled cheese between two flour tortillas, also known as sincronizadas.

Unfortunately, the Bodega Latina on Congress Street does not appear to stock Mexican masa harina, which was not a surprise, as the proprietors are Dominican. (They did, to my surprise, have Venezuelan masa harina, for the making of arepas, which I will have to keep in mind, since Venezuelan arepas are delicious.) They did have, in their freezer case, some think Salvadoran-style tortillas, which in a pinch are great for making sopes, and they do also stock Mexican-style queso fresco. So that is what I made.

Sopes with Chard and Squash Blossoms


  • 1 bunch rainbow chard, leaves removed from stems and chiffonaded; stems reserved and coarsely chopped;
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 jalapeño peppers (optional--see note on preparation below)
  • baby summer squash with blossoms--the squash thinly sliced, the calyx of the blossom finely chopped, and the petals chiffonaded, each separated from each other
  • chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 7 thick tortillas
  • grated queso fresco, to taste

Note on preparation of peppers: Hot Librarian and the Little One have such a low spice tolerance that I had to omit these entirely. I made up for it by eating too many of the La Costeña brand canned pickled whole jalapeños--I ended up eating five alongside my three sopes! If you are using fresh peppers, heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over high heat. Put the peppers in when the surface is very hot. Turn them as needed so the skins brown and blister all over. Put them into a paper bag and fold over the top. When the peppers have cooled enough to handle but are still warm, peel off and discard as much of the burnt skin as you can (it need not be perfect). Remove and discard the tops, slice them lengthwise into thick ribbons, discarding most but not all of the seeds and ribs, and then chop into squares.

Cooking instructions:

  1. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of cooking fat (olive oil, a neutral cooking oil, or good quality lard--I used olive oil) in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add onions and chard stems. Saute until onions are translucent and stems are softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and peppers (if using). Saute another minute.
  3. Add squash slices and saute until just softened, 1-2 minutes, then the calyxes and do the same (another 1-2 minutes).
  4. Add the squash blossom petals and the chard leaves and cook until thoroughly wilted.
  5. If you are using the cilantro (which I can't, because it tastes like soap to HL), you can stir it into the still-hot chard-and-squash mixture after removing it from the heat, reserve it as as a garnish, or use it as both, as I would. Put a lid on the pan to retain the warmth and set aside.
  6. Place a large non-stick skillet or griddle on high heat until very hot. If your tortillas are fresh, you will need to work very fast, so you may want to do one at a time. If they are frozen, they will need to heat through, about 90 seconds on each side. Heat and lightly brown tortilla on one side, then flip it and add the chard-and-squash mixture and a handful of cheese. When the cheese has just begun to melt, it is ready.

Makes 7 sopes. Serving size for an adult: 3 sopes. Serving size for a four-and-a-half-year-old: 1 sope, plus an extra tortilla on top to make it into a "Mexican grilled cheese sandwich".

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