How To Make A Proper Quesadilla

Quesadillas have gone from being a little-known Latin American street food to something that's on every bar menu in town, weighed down with pickled jalepenos, three kinds of cheese, sour cream, scallions and bacon bits. Often overcooked and overloaded with ingredients, Flay has pared his down to a few savory ingredients -- and the quesadillas are baked, not fried.

Another recipe to save for a cold and rainy day is Flay's famous Sixteen Spice Chicken. The explosive spice rub can be made and held for future use (or, to save time, you can purchase it from Flay's Web site, And to finish the meal, Flay suggests a knockout combo -- chocolate and peanut butter creme brulee.

All these recipes are from Flay's newest cookbook, "The Mesa Grill Cookbook" (Clarkson Potter), which was published this week.

Wild Mushroom Quesadilla with Red Chile Jack Cheese and White Truffle Oil
(Serves 4)

Says Flay: "This is a perfect fall quesadilla. Make sure to add the truffle oil right before serving -- decadent."

2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1-1/2 pounds wild mushrooms, any or combination of all, cremini, shiitake, Portobello, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack
2 ancho chiles, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
Twelve 6-inch flour tortillas
Olive oil
1/4 cup grated cotija cheese, or romano cheese
4 teaspoons white truffle oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown and all of their liquid has evaporated.

Place cheese in a medium bowl. Remove anchos from soaking liquid, reserving the liquid, remove stems and seeds and finely chop. Add the chopped ancho and 2-4 tablespoon of the soaking liquid to the cheese and mix to combine.

Place 8 tortillas on a flat work surface. Divide the cheese among the eight tortillas. Divide the mushrooms mixture among the eight tortillas, season with salt and pepper then combine the tortillas to make four 2-layer tortillas. Cover the four 2-layer tortillas stack each with the remaining tortillas.

Brush the tops with oil and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoons of grated cheese. Transfer to a baking ungreased baking sheet (you may need 2) and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Remove the quesadillas from the oven and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon of white truffle oil.

Sixteen Spice Chicken with Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Sauce
Serves: 4

Says Flay: "This has become the Mesa Grill poultry spice rub. It sounds -- and looks -- like a lot of ingredients, but the combination of all of the spices creates one distinct Mesa Grill flavor."

Sixteen Spice Chicken:
3 tablespoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
3 tablespoons pasilla chile powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon allspice
1 teaspoon chile de arbol
3 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Olive oil
4 bone-in chicken breasts

For the Chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the spices in a medium bowl and remove 1/2 cup of the mixture. Store the remaining rub in an airtight container for future use.

Rub each breast with a few tablespoons of the spice mixture. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Sauté each breast in the pan, skin side down, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the breasts over and transfer the chicken to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Sauce
2 cups packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
2 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place cilantro, pumpkin seeds, shallot, garlic, vinegar and water in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Add the honey and salt and pepper. If the mixture is too thick, begin adding water 1 tablespoon at a time.

Milk Chocolate - Peanut Butter Crème Brulee
(Serves 4)

Says Flay: "I can't think of too many people who don't love the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter. This dessert takes that candy-counter favorite and makes it elegant."

3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup toasted peanuts
3-1/2 ounces best quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
7 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup turbinado (raw) sugar

Bring heavy cream and milk to a simmer over medium heat, remove from the stove, stir in the peanuts and let sit for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Strain the mixture into a clean medium saucepan and discard the peanuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the mixture back on the stove with ¼ cup of the sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and peanut butter.

Whisk together the yolks and remaining sugar in a large bowl until combined. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture and continue whisking until combined. Strain mixture through a fine mesh chinois into a bowl.

Place four 8-ounce ramekins inside a baking dish and using a ladle, divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins. Pour hot water into the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the oven until the custard is set around the edges but still jiggles in the center. The custard will continue to cook as it cools. Let cool to room temperature then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.

Preheat broiler until very hot. Sprinkle an even coat of the sugar over each custard, place ramekins on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the sugar is melted and a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.