Preparation / Directions:
1) The dough: If you are using masa harina, mix it with the hot water,
and let stand 20 to 30 minutes. Mix the fresh or reconstituted masa with the
lard or shortening, flour, salt and baking powder. If necessary, correct the
consistency of the dough. Divide into 12 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
2) Forming the quesadillas: Divide the filling into 12 portions **; if you
are using cheese, press each portion into a flat oval about 2 x 2 inches (5
6-cm). Using a tortilla press, flatten a ball of the dough between sheets of
plastic to make a medium-large (5-inch/12.5-cm), thickish tortilla. Remove
top piece of plastic.
3) Lay one portion of filling across half the uncovered tortilla, leaving a
1-inch (1-cm) border around the edge; if the filling is cheese, top with a
leaf of the optional epazote. Slip a hand under the plastic beneath the
uncovered side of the tortilla, then carefully fold the tortilla over the
filling. Press the edges together to seal.
4) Next, peel the plastic off the top of the turnover onto one hand,
uncovered-side down, and peel the plastic off the bottom. Lay on a tray
covered with plastic wrap. Continue making the remaining masa balls into
turnovers and lay each one several inches (or centimeters) from the next to
ensure easy retrieval. Cover with plastic.
5) Frying: Heat the oil to 375§F (190°C), then fry the turnovers 2 or 3 at
time, until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and
warm in a low oven until all are ready. Serve right away.
The quesadilla: crisp-fried so the crunchy exterior gives way to soft, corny
masa and melted or spicy insides. They're one of Central Mexico's favorite
most common edibles, made everywhere from the capital's finest restaurants
the makeshift snack parlors. Some of the best ones come from the snack
in Coyoacan, a wealthy sector of Mexico City, where the turnovers are
with everything from tripe to the musty, gray-black corn mushrooms
(huitlacoche) and back home to the simple queso ("cheese") that gives the