Friday-evening dinner with Ligament was a thing of beauty. Ligament had wanted to come over and bake cupcakes; I told her that I'd do pulled-pork quesadillas. I also quietly decided to make a companion dessert for her: some of the same faux chocolate mousse—my "mouce"—that I had made earlier. This time around, I think I did a much better job.
Below, a shot of the table setting (hover cursor over image for caption):
Next, a picture of the now-prepped pulled pork:
It's not so obvious in the above photo, but the muscle fibers in pork shoulder—and the fat deposits as well—look substantially different from both sirloin and tenderloin. More chunky. A bit silkier, a bit less fibrous. The mouth-feel is also a bit different.
Below, my franks and beans (why am I thinking of "There's Something About Mary"?):
The tortillas were a Costco purchase, and all the local Costco had was wheat tortillas sold in enormous 40-packs (3 kg worth of bread!). I'll be eating tacos, burritos, and enchiladas for a month, I fear. ("Not a horrible fate," my coworker joked.)
Big tortillas make for big quesadillas. I painted one side of each tortilla with mayonnaise, per a suggestion made by Wolgang Puck years ago. A German chef with a heavy accent isn't normally the first person I'd turn to for suggestions on how to prep Tex-Mex, but mayonnaise works because it's mostly egg and oil. The only drawback is the smell: cooking mayonnaise doesn't exactly evoke quesadillas for me. But the results, visually speaking, are undeniable.
Below, I'm holding open a tortilla to give you a peek inside. With cheese both above and below the pork, I've justified the "quesa" in "quesadilla."
Here's a better shot of the mayonnaise:
And here's the first quesadilla, loaded onto Ligament's plate before being topped:
Here's my quesadilla, cooking on one side and soon to be flipped:
The nice thing about the one-tortilla style of quesadillas is that such quesadillas are easy to flip. When you use two tortillas and try to flip the whole thing, the chance of spillage is much higher. I spilled nothing during the making of all three of my quesadillas.
Below, my quesadilla, prepped and ready for eating:
We paused after dinner to wash dishes and prep the kitchen for making dessert. I became Ligament's sous-chef, helping her where I could. A bit of eggshell got lost in the batter when Ligament cracked an egg, but das macht nichts.
The cupcakes came out flat-topped instead of rounded and puffy, the way they're supposed to look. As much as I love my oven (a gift from Charles), it does have flaws, and two of those flaws are (1) weak heating elements and (2) wildly uneven cooking. This isn't a big deal when baking cottage pie, but it matters greatly for cupcakes: each cupcake is like a data point, indicating quite clearly where the hot spots and cooler spots are inside the oven.
This flattening was to our advantage, however, when it came time to put on my homemade Nutella ganache (Nutella, cream, and a bit of table sugar to make the ganache shiny—all heated in a double boiler): the cupcakes, being flat, dipped straight into the ganache and were 100% covered without any need for rolling them around.
Here's the ganache:
I put a lone cupcake on a plate to make it look all pretty:
And here's another cupcake, but not plated:
Here's a platoon of cupcakes that, no matter how they looked, tasted amazing and had a perfectly moist consistency to them:
We ate cupcakes and my "mouce au chocolat." I made it pretty much the same way I'd done before (Nutella, gelatine, heavy cream, water), but this time, I beat the heavy cream until it became more whipped-cream-y, and I added chocolate chips. The whipping made a small difference in texture, but the most curious phenomenon, visible in the final picture, is how the bubbles floated to the top, even after my having mixed the gelatine thoroughly, to form a true couche mousseuse—a foamy layer that, when scraped off with a spoon, felt and tasted like the mousse I had been trying to simulate all along. This gives me ideas for how to make a better mousse next time.
And in this final image, you can see the cross section, with the different layers of pudding and mousse now clearly visible:
It was a fantastic dinner. Very comfort-foodish and rib-sticking. We were stuffed, having enjoyed ourselves immensely, and we'll be doing something along these lines again soon. Ligament needs to get more familiar with Tex-Mex cooking, so, given all the damn tortillas I have, that's the path we'll be heading down for the next little while. I think she'll enjoy the culinary tour; she texted afterward that her quesadilla had been "sexy."