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Queso Quest, Part 1

By Thursday, January 17, 2013 , ,

One thing that I really miss from the states in Mexican and TexMex (an American interpretation of Mexican) food. I enjoy the strong, spicy flavors and I love how easy it is to make without meat.

Unfortunately, Mexican food is not a German strong point. We found a both a  good place and an absolutely awful place in Cologne. The salsas and other products for sale in the stores are all very, very sweet and not spicy at all. The salsa is somewhere between ketchup and marinara sauce, and the queso... shall not be spoken of.

I can make a passable salsa, although it involves SO much chopping I eat it faster than I make it. To stop it from simply becoming Pico de Gallo, I chop up the incredients, put them in the container they'll be sitting in and pour something called Passierte Tomaten (Passata di Pomodoro in Italian) over it until I get the liquid/vegetable bits ratio I want. It's more like tomato soup than anything else, thick but not chunky, and not too tomato-y (I don't actually like tomatoes, although I love lots of things they're in).

But Queso -a white, creamy cheese dip- I haven't been able to make, largely becaue you cannot get any American or Mexican cheese here,or even any cheddar. So no Monetary Jack, and no processed 'american cheese', no Velveeta, which seem to be the preferred cheese ingredients in queso.

I've tried using other cheeses available here, but to no avail. Gouda seems like a good choice, but it can sometimes have a nutty or even lemony flavor to it - not queso approved.

Another ingredient that's tough to find are Jalapenos and other chilies  You can find them occasionally, but they're often in mixed pepper packs where they don't identify what you're buying - so you can't really gauge how spicy they will each be.

I've tried making this recipe by Pennies on a Platter, but without the White American Cheese I didn't have any luck.

But! But now we've found a blend of cheese that works pretty well as nacho cheese, so I decided to give it another attempt using this recipe by macheesmo.com (isn't that the best name ever???) and use a 48% fatt Gouda for both cheeses.

First, the Pico de Gallo:

Then you combine some flour and sugar to make a roux (a french cooking term! fancy!), and add some cream or milk (I used milk) to make a béchamel sauce. (another french word! I would feel so sophisticated if I wasn't making cheese dip)


All melted and poured out with a little Cayene Pepper. It looks like fried egg!

And Finally, with the Pico de Gallo mixed in.
The end result certainly looked like queso dip, and like Macheesmo says, it kept it's viscosity as it cooled. The texture was good, too. But... I'd chosen the 48%  fat Gouda because it was mild and creamy and didn't have any strange nutty or other flavors. But it was so mild that it didn't have a lot of taste to it that wasn't from the vegetables in the pico. It was a little disappointing  since in all other ways it was really close to what I was hoping for.

I think if I used different cheese, either the ones in the original recipe or the gouda and another more flavorful cheese it could be great. I also used cayenne since I didn't have any fresh peppers and I think that could make a big difference as well.

I'll keep trying different recipes and cheeses until I can find a good way of making Queso in Germany!

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  1. Ah whoaaa looks like a good queso attempt! I love that you're on a quest. I always just bring back lots of Velveeta and Rotel and use it for special occasions :)