Cheese Crisp (Crisp Quesadilla)
Here’s one of our favorite easy and delicious appetizers. And they bring back fond memories for me.
Back in my college days in Tucson, most of the Mexican restaurants served a big cheese crisp as a free appetizer. I didn’t realize until I had moved away that this was a fairly local custom; as far as I know, only La Piñata serves them in San Diego.
Putting a flour tortilla in the oven with cheese on it didn’t quite have the same effect, and I didn’t know why. Now I have a cookbook of Tucson Mexican recipes, and the answer turns out to be really simple. Like the Fried Quesadilla, it’s necessary to start with an uncooked tortilla if you want this to turn out right.
Now that makes it really easy. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the tortilla in the oven directly on a rack, and leave it to cook for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it, because it might fill up with air and you’ll have more of a balloon shape than a pancake. If it swells up, poke it with a spatula to let the air out, and push it down flat.
When it starts to brown, take it out of the oven, sprinkle cheese over it (I use a four-cheese Mexican blend of pre-shredded cheese), and put it back in the oven to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with garlic salt and serve. You can use a pizza cutter, but most often people just break off pieces to eat.
You can also add taco sauce, salsa, Tabasco, or whatever else you want. Even anchovies.
See, here’s one that Mrs. Cooking Dude fixed up for a party with tomato, cilantro, and tomatilla sauce…