Saturday, June 4, 2016

Quesadillas from Coyoacán for Foodie Reads 2016

When I signed on for the Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge, I pledged that I would read more than nineteen books during the course of 2016. Amazingly, this is book number nineteen and the year is not yet half over!

Dare I think I might be able to knock out thirty-eight books this year? I'm not sure about that. But I'll try. Maybe I can hit at least thirty. Maybe.

I had started The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Haghenbeck* last month, but just finished it this week.

images from

On the Page...
I can probably pick out a Frida Kahlo painting; they're pretty distinctive. But I definitely can't say that I know much about her life. So, I was instantly intrigued by the premise of The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo.

The titular secret book was found among her personal effects at La Casa Azul, her childhood home, and contained recipes for offerings on the Day of the Dead. The book mysteriously vanished the day it was supposed to be exhibited.

This is just one of the things that puzzled me. Did this book actually exist? Did it actually disappear? Were these her actual recipes?? While it seems that this is a biographical work, it is labeled as "a novel." So, where do facts cease and literary license begin? I really have no clue and I found that doubt and confusion clouding my enjoyment of the book.

As in many novels from that part of the world, I'm thinking of Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel or The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, there is an overt mysticism and a tangible connection between the spirit world and this world. For example, Frida regularly interacts with Death and the Messenger; her suicide attempt is even twarted by a woman who has been dead for many years.

Frida's identity could not easily be articulated. Artist, yes. Communist revolutionary, yes. Wife, yes. Lover, yes. I have to admit that her series of affairs, both heterosexual and homosexual, were a bit off-putting to me. And the explicitness of the sex scenes were also written in a decidedly juvenille way. I want to say it's a product of a poor translation more than poor writing. But I can't know for sure. What I can say is that if even half of the stories are true, she led a colorful life with her volatility and her passions.

On My Plate...
I did enjoy the recipes. Whether they were her actual recipes, or not, they sounded delicious. Though I have to say that I still don't fully understand what a mole is. I am scheduled to attend a cooking class next weekend all about moles. So, it'll be interesting to see if I can follow any of these recipes once I know what it's supposed to look like.

For now, I decided to make her Quesadillas from Coyoacán which sounds a lot like arepas that we really love.

Ingredients makes 12 to 14 cakes
  • 2 C masa harina
  • 1 C hot water
  • 1 C hot chicken stock
  • 4 T butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 C crumbled or chopped queso fresco
  • butter or oil for cooking the quesadillas
  • fresh herbs, for garnish
  • crema Mexicana or sour cream, for garnish

Place the masa harina in a large mixing bowl. Add the hot water and stock. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until well-combined. Stir the egg yolks and butter into the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Separate the dough into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Make an impression in the ball with your thumb. Spoon some queso fresco into the hollow.

Then press the dough together into a ball again, trying to keep the cheese enclosed as much as possible. Flatten the dough to about 1/2" thick. Melt a pat of butter in a large, flat-bottom pan. Cook quesadillas in batches, adding more butter if needed.

They should cook approximately 5 minutes on each side - till the outside is dry and crusted, but the inside is creamy and soft.

Serve hot, garnished with crumbles of queso frescocrema Mexicana, and fresh herbs.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in June 2016: here.


  1. I am not familiar with Frida Kahlo but I love the quesadillas.

  2. I agee with your take on the book. I enjoyed it, but now I'm digging around for FACTUAL information about Frida Kahlo!

    Love your recipe! I still need to decide what I'm making for this book!


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