Tomato and Avocado Quesadillas with Mango and Red Pepper Salsa

Love, love, love quesadillas and salsa.  Easy, forgiving, zingy, sloppy, cheap, pretty and the girls like them.  What more could a person ask for?

Wait for them to cool a bit before slicing as it gives the cheese time to set up and not ooze out the sides.
You can hold these in the oven at 200º for up to one hour.

Tomato and Avocado Quesadillas

8 plain flour tortillas, 8-inch
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 tomatoes, peeled pitted and sliced
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
Pinch of salt for each quesadilla, use sparingly as the cheese is also salty
3 tablespoons olive oil, approximately

Prepare the quesadillas by laying out four tortillas and dividing the avocado, cheese and tomatoes evenly between  them.  Sprinkle with salt.  Place the other tortillas on top like a sandwich.  Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium  high heat.  Add a tablespoon of the oil and carefully place one quesadilla into the skillet.  Cook for 2 minutes  on one side or until golden brown and flip.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool on a cutting board or hold in the oven on a cookie sheet at 200º.

Repeat with the other three quesadillas adding oil to the pan at the beginning as needed.  Cut into 6 or 8 pieces each.

Serves 4-8

Mango and Red Pepper Salsa

1 mango, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2-3 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 to 2 limes
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients together and serve.

Makes 2 to 3 cups


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Caribbean Spiced Snapper with Peach Salsa

Many years ago, the Caribbean was our home in the wintertime. We spent three winters sailing in and around the island chains and learning about local cooking. Occasionally, the island spices still pop up in my cooking – this Caribbean Spiced Snapper is an example. Cloves, allspice, nutmeg and many others spices are not just used in baking, but in savory dishes as well. As you might imagine one of my favorite things to do was go to the markets on each island and talk with the local women about what they were selling that day, how they used it and in what combinations. I found the local market is an excellent way to understand the culture of folks and get to know the true feeling of a place. I think this is true even in the states.  I fell in love with the brilliant colors of their clothing, the musky smells of overripe fruit, the textures of so many new fruits and vegetables all swirling around each other to make it an experience. It got so that I had my favorite market ladies and would go to them first. Purchasing something new each shopping trip helped me learn about how to cook all of the unusual produce I saw.

Caribbean Spiced Snapper
The kind of fish you use is less important than the process. Any firm grilling fish will take well to this technique. Snapper, tuna and swordfish would be the best.

2 pounds snapper

Caribbean Rub:
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pineapple juice
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Mix together all the ingredients but the fish. Rub the mixture liberally on both sides of the fish. Grill the fish until you can see it is cooked a little more than half way up the side, about 5 minutes. Turn carefully and continue cooking on the other side; the second side won’t take as long, about 3 minutes. Serve with Peach Salsa.

Serves 4-6

Peach Salsa
This salsa is best when served within 1/2 hours of making it. Make sure to finely dice the peppers and onions because they don’t have time to marinate. As alternatives, serve with grilled salmon, tuna, pork, or chicken.

3 peaches (firm, but ripe), peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1 tablespoon each finely diced red and green pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
salt and fresh black pepper to taste: use sparingly

Gently toss all ingredients together; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Buy local fish!

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