Not-So-Pretty

Posted by Brette in Food

CharSaladI’ve been cooking a lot from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s book Mad Hungry Cravings. In general, I love her food. However, I made two recipes together from this book on a recent night that I just could not get to work. I haven’t posted about a cooking disaster in a while, so I thought it was time to share my failings:)

The first was a grilled romaine salad. I’ve had this in restaurants and have been wanting to try it at home. Basically you cut a head of romaine in half and rub with olive oil and season with salt. You put it on a very hot grill and just char it a bit around the edges. Then drizzle lemon juice and place some shaved Parmesan on it and serve (anchovies optional). Sounds so easy, but mine was a mess. My lettuce fell apart and it sort of shriveled on the grill instead of charring in some places. I just couldn’t get it to work very well. I do like the charred flavor BeanWrap2and the simple dressing, so I may try this one again.

The second one was Flautas. I’ve never had or heard of flautas, but Lucinda says they are a Mexican takeout specialty. They’re supposed to be thinly rolled little tortillas that are brown and crispy, as if deep fried. This sounded really good to me.

Lucinda says to use:
12 corn tortillas

6 oz Monterey Jack, grated

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 tsp coarse salt

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp oil

She says to preheat the oven to 425 and lay the tortillas on baking sheets, sprinkling the cheese on top. No problem. Bake them until the cheese melts – just a few minutes. Mix tomato, beans, lime juice and salt in a bowl. Spread this mix on the tortillas after the cheese is melted, and tightly roll them and place seam side down on a baking sheet. Brush with oil and bake 8 minutes until they are golden and crispy.

Nothing about this recipe worked for me. I couldn’t get them to roll – the tortillas kept cracking and ripping. They wouldn’t roll tightly at all. I couldn’t get them to sit on the baking sheet without unrolling. I baked for 8 minutes and they didn’t get crispy. I even went several minutes longer and they in no way resembled fried food. By the time I took this out of the oven I was so frustrated I was ready to pitch it out the window.

The family liked the way this tasted even if it didn’t look or behave like it was supposed to. I don’t think I’ll try this one again. It’s tortillas, beans, cheese, and tomato – not a lot going on here. I’m sure it is all my own ineptitude that made this a mess, so if it appeals to you, give it a try!

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3 Responses

  • I love grilled romaine! We’ve been making it on our grill; we put wooden skewers to secure it and somehow it works.

  • I don’t think it is your fault. It’s her technique, which sounds kind of inside out for a Mexican dish. I love flautas and don’t make them often because we have so many wonderful Mexican restaurants in Tucson. The more normal way to make them would be to heat oil in a skillet. Dip the tortillas in the oil briefly to soften (holding with tongs). Lay them on a pan and put the filling in–you can make them with diced chicken or other fillings beside beans–top with cheese, roll up. Then bake. The tortillas need to be fresh so they won’t crack–maybe that’s a problem in Buffalo. By the way, there is a subtle difference, but what she is making is generally called a taquito. Flautas are longer and skinny. Take the same thing with a larger tortilla, make it fat and fold in the ends and deep fry it and it becomes a chimichanga.

  • Brette says:

    Thanks! I don’t know a lot about Mexican food, so I appreciate the input! My options for tortillas are limited since I am gluten-free. The recipe did say to use corn tortillas though.



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