My mind is a bit scrambled right now with this big move looming over my head. Getting food on the table is tough to negotiate during a day filled with work, worrying about getting everything packed up for the move and wondering where I’ll be living.
It’s all good though. This is something I’ve wanted since I returned from Argentina 5 years ago.
I’m working on cleaning out the kitchen and have little left in the freezer and fridge. If you need a bowl of clear chicken broth, I’m your woman. If a big, huge, humongous, enormous, container of chopped garlic is your speed, do I have garlic for you! But making one of my usual dinners is not happening right now.
For those of you that don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter and may have missed my last post, I’m moving to Honduras in FIVE DAYS! Yep, I’ll probably still be digesting Thanksgiving dinner when I peel myself out of bed at 3:30 in the morning on Friday and getting ready to head to the airport for the trip to San Pedro Sula.
I flew to Honduras just a few weeks ago to get a feel for what it would be like if I were to live there and a few days after returning found out I’d be moving. Just like that. It’s a two week and a half week turnaround, so as you can imagine, my head is spinning.
This may lead you to be sitting there scratching your head asking WTF?! Why are you writing a blog post when you are scheduled to board a plane in 4 days! Fran, you have closets to clear out, boxes to pack, a refrigerator to empty and clean, laundry to do, suitcases to pack, old clothing donations to make … and the list goes on. What are you doing here behind the computer?!
My only answer is this — I’m OBSESSED with this blog so today I bring you a Honduran Specialty — the Baleada. Check out this post for an interesting take on Honduran food and the Baleada.
I happened to have flour tortillas and beans in the fridge today, but I was missing a critical component of the dish — Queso Fresco. Ah, all was not lost … I had a quart of milk in the fridge!
In minutes a round of queso fresco was chilling in the refrigerator and lunch was right around the corner. All it takes is some milk and lemon juice or vinegar and voila! Cheese is made.
- In a small saucepan heat 1 quart of milk (I used 2% but you can use whole is you like — just be sure to add the appropriate points.
- The juice of one lemon
I used a lot of salt this time. It needs a lot of salt. I used about 1/4 cup of large chunk sea salt, but you can taste as you go. The lemon juice gives it the flavor of salt as well.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until just boiling. Add the salt and lemon juice or vinegar and stir. You will see the milk solids separate from the whey. Taste the solids to make sure you’ve added enough salt.
Pour the pan of solids and whey into a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer and let it drain.
Wrap the remaining milk solids in the cheesecloth and carefully twist to form a ball. Be careful! This was boiling just a minute ago! Let it drain — I usually tie the ball to one of my kitchen cabinets with a bowl beneath it to catch the liquid.
When it cools enough to handle and most of the liquid has drained off, take it to the sink and squeeze it. Then run it under cold water.
I like to press it, so I use either a kitchen towel or paper towels and place a plat on top and a heavy cast iron skillet on top of the plate to add weight.
Press for about 30 minutes and then use or chill. It will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
Voilå! Cheese!! See how easy that was?!
I’m not an expert and you know how I’m always embellishing recipes, changing them to make them my own, this is no different. The traditional baleada is a tortilla, beans and cheese. I added olives. Nothing major, but I’ve got a fridge to clear out and why throw away good olives, right?
Now all that’s left in my fridge are a few more corn and flour tortillas and a container of olives. I think it’s time to give this stuff to the neighbors.
There’s not much of a recipe for this dish and you should feel free to alter or adjust it in any way you like. To me, a tortilla is just a foundation for countless building blocks to go on top of it. It’s a “south of the border” take on pizza.
And with that, I leave you until I am in my new life, south of the border in less than a week.
Hasta Luego, mi amigos!!