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WanderSups: Quesadillas are a recipe for happiness

“We do not need to further compound January’s bleakness by denying ourselves some simple pleasures in life such as a glass of wine, or god forbid... carbs.” Hannah Gregory, Velvet’s resident recipe writer, shares a quesadilla recipe guaranteed to brighten both plate and mood

January can be a bleak month, making it no time to cut back on calories, says Hannah Gregory (61032435)
January can be a bleak month, making it no time to cut back on calories, says Hannah Gregory (61032435)

I say it every year but I’m going to say it again for the people at the back. Can we please screw the ‘new year, new you’ sentiment? Why oh why do we put such pressure on ourselves to become this weird elevated version of ourselves because clever marketing companies say we should? When the current version of you, the one reading this, the one that may have gained a few extra pounds over the festive period because they have been busy enjoying life and friends and mince pies, is absolutely fantastic.

And what is even more baffling is that we choose to do this to ourselves during one of the hardest months of the year. At least the darker months that come at the end of the calendar year are filled with excitement and romance, peppered with holidays that conjure up feelings of cosiness and warmth - Hallowe’en, Guy Fawkes and of course the big C-word. In comparison, January is just bloody bleak.

We do not need to further compound said bleakness with denying ourselves some simple pleasures in life such as a glass of wine, or god forbid. . . carbs. So, in theme with this issue and ‘being true to you’, I decided to put forward a recipe that is completely and utterly true to me. A twist on a Mexican classic, a combination of all my favourite things that I turn to to pick me up when the cold, dark nights get the better of me - punchy chilli, oozy melted cheese, crispy carbs and rich chorizo.

There are a million and one variations of quesadillas - a Mexican street food comprising of a folded tortilla, stuffed with any concoction of ingredients (although cheese being the one constant that acts as the glue to hold everything together), think of it as the cheese toastie of Mexico if you will.

You can of course, fill it, cook it, devour it, but I wanted to level mine up and douse it in all the finishings, because if you can’t slap a load of gubbins on a quesadilla in January - when can you?!

I have stated that this recipe feeds two and I’m sure in a calorie-counting world that’s about right. Full disclosure, when testing this recipe I ate the whole lot to myself and was absolutely fine with it.

This recipe will provide you with a jar of the most delicious chilli oil you have ever tasted; you only need a touch for this recipe but it keeps in a sterilised jar for up to six months. You will also end up with excess pink pickled onions but again, these keep in the fridge and are delicious on just about everything.

Pimped and loaded quesadilla

Serves 2

Hannah Gregory's pimped and loaded quesadillas (61032434)
Hannah Gregory's pimped and loaded quesadillas (61032434)

What you need:

For the chilli oil

● 125ml sunflower or veg oil

● ¼ cup of chilli flakes (I use a combination of ancho, chipotle and jalapeno - all from The Suffolk Spice company - but if you can’t get your mitts on these, red chilli flakes will do)

● 1 teaspoon fine salt

● ½ teaspoon caster sugar

For the avo puree

● ½ avocado

● Juice of a lime

● 2 tablespoons mayo

● Pinch of salt

For the pink pickled onions

● 3 red onions

● 60ml cider vinegar

● Juice of a lime

● Juice of half an orange

For the quesadilla

● Glug of olive oil

● Half a ring of chorizo

● 1 medium potato

● 2 spring onions

● 1 green chilli or jalapeno

● ½ cup of sweetcorn (tinned or frozen)

● 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

● Salt and pepper

● 1 cup grated cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella, Cheddar and Mexicana)

● 2 large flour tortillas

● Sour cream

● Coriander

How you do it:

1. First off, make your chilli oil. Put your chilli flakes, salt and sugar into a heatproof bowl. Put the oil into a small saucepan and heat gently; keep testing it by popping a chopstick or end of a wooden spoon in. As soon as bubbles start to form around the edges of the wood, pour over the dry ingredients. Mix everything together to help dissolve the sugar. Leave to cool.

2. For the pink pickled onions, place a kettle on to boil. Peel the onions and finely slice using a mandolin or sharp knife. Add the sliced onions to a non metallic bowl and cover in boiling water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

3. After 15 minutes, drain. Add back to the bowl and add the vinegar, lime juice and orange juice. Stir to combine. Keep any extras in a sterilised jar.

4. To make your avo puree, add the avocado, mayo, lime juice and salt to a blender and blitz till smooth.

5. Remove the skin from the chorizo and dice into 1 cm squares.

6. Pop a frying pan the same size or bigger than your tortillas on the heat and fry your chorizo till golden.

7. Whilst the chorizo is cooking, peel and dice your potato the same size as the chorizo.

8. When the chorizo is cooked, remove from the pan, leaving behind the flavoured oil that has rendered. Throw the potato dice into the pan with the chorizo oil and fry for 15 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove the potato from the pan and add to the reserved chorizo.

9. Thinly slice the green chilli and spring onions. Chuck in the pan with the chorizo oil, adding some olive oil if needed. Throw in the sweetcorn, dried oregano, salt and pepper and fry until the sweetcorn is cooked through - it will only take a couple of minutes.

10. Remove from the pan and add to the potato and chorizo - mix so everything is well combined.

11. If your frying pan is dry, add a spot more olive oil and keep at a medium heat. You only need a tiny amount to prevent sticking.

12. Lay your tortilla in the pan and spoon over your potato, chorizo, sweetcorn mix over one half.

13. Top with a handful of cheese, fold over the other half of the tortilla to make a semi circle and, using a fish slice, press down so the ingredients compress and everything sticks together as the cheese begins to melt. After a couple of minutes, carefully flip the quesadilla and cook on the other side till golden and you can see the cheese has melted.

14. Repeat the process with the second tortilla and remaining ingredients.

15. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and top with your avo puree and chilli oil, sour cream, pink onions and coriander.

A former BBC MasterChef quarter finalist, Hannah hosts WanderSups supper clubs, “serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf”. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. To find out more follow @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com.

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