At last, the romance of South-of-France cuisine brings the unbridled passion of Mexican spices into sweet submission. This particular fusion of Latin flavor is therefore safe for those normally avoid spicier dishes. The following recipes will fire the imagination, not the tastebuds. Historically, the French palate is delicate and sensitive. So when Mexican and French cuisines go a-courting, the hot chilis are kept at bay, yet the overall flavor is only intensified. Voilà, the birth of the “Frexican” dish.
Paprika Chips with Tapenade Dip
- Ingredients for Chips:
- 8 corn tortillas
- canola or other cooking oil
- sweet paprika
Directions for Chips:
- Brush tortillas with oil.
- Cut up each tortilla crosswise, again and again…into 6 wedges.
- Either fry tortilla wedges in a pan over medium heat OR
- bake them in the oven at about 350° F for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Flip them over and repeat.
- Remove the chips and drain them on a towel. Sprinkle chips with salt and paprika while still warm.
Ingredients for Tapenade:
- 1 1/2 cups pitted Kalamata or other black olives
- 2 anchovy filets
- 1 garlic clove
- 10 capers
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Directions for Tapenade:
- In a blender or food processor, blend olives, anchovy, garlic, and capers until the obtention of a paste.
- Slowly add the olive oil and black pepper and continue blending until the paste is creamy. Leftovers can be stored, sealed and in the refrigerator, up to a week.
Gourmet Goat Cheese Quesadillas
- 8 flour tortillas
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese (“chèvre” is the French equivalent)
- 1 cup shredded jack cheese
- 16 slices (if large diameter, if not, more) thinly-sliced chorizo
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 plump tomatoes, diced
- Distribute each of the ingredients evenly over 4 flour tortillas, then cover over with the other 4 tortillas, sandwich style. Bake quesadillas in the oven at 350° F for 5 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. Flip them over and repeat.
- Slice up with a pizza wheel and serve while hot. These are especially good with a side of guacamole.
When it’s time to serve what the French call l’apéro, an hour or so before dinner, pair the above appetizers with a light cerveza like Corona (and don’t forget the lime wedge), or a French rosé (Cotes du Rhone or Cotes de Provence being the real deal). For dipping, provide guacamole, salsa, and refried or black beans topped with crumbled feta cheese if you can’t get authentic Mexican queso fresco. It’s the closest match. As the quesadillas are filling, a full meal is fleshed out easily by adding a soup or salad of the French or Mexican persuasion. Guests will be delighted to partake in the happy cross-cultural marriage of Franco-Mexican cuisine.
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