Keep Reading: There's a Queso Recipe from The New York Times

A few years ago I cut back on my magazine subscriptions, especially the hard copy magazines. When it came to my online subscriptions, there is one I could not rid of: The New York Times Cooking page. 

There are many reasons why I find the cooking page of NYT so endearing, Besides the quality of the many recipes using fresh ingredients, the comments from their readers are entertaining and sometimes frustrating. I have a love-hate relationship with the comments. 

We're talking about the NYT - a newspaper that is 170 years old, with stats showing 72% of the paper’s readers have at least a university degree, and the average NYT reader is well-informed and politically opinionated, except some of their readers leave their kitchen logic stuffed into an old Tupperware container kept at the back of a hard-to-reach bottom cupboard. Need an example of some of the comments?

The recipe called for whole wheat flour and yeast, and I am gluten intolerant. I only had rice flour and I was out of yeast so I used baking powder. The bread was hard and flat. This bread recipe sucks! Do better New York Times!

There was too much vinegar in it, so how come when I read the recipe a second time there was no vinegar listed in the ingredients? When did you change it?

The crust recipe listed a whole stick of butter. No recipe is worth wasting a whole stick of butter, so I cut it down to half a stick of butter. I will never try this crust recipe again. It was too dry!  

Do not make this recipe after drinking copious amounts of gin. 

Okay, back to my original point... Sometimes the NYT Cooking column will surprise its readers and post an age-old favorite recipe that I, and probably other readers have forgotten about and yet welcome the reminder. For sure this recipe for Queso brought back old memories from the 1980s. It was a favorite for a Saturday night when the family got together and rented VHS movies, Super Bowl gatherings, or college tailgate parties (long extension cords). I was "fondue pot will travel." 

This holiday season I recovered the old 1980s Oster fondue pot stuffed in the back of the pantry and dusted it off. This dip was just as tasty as I remembered it. The only thing I did differently than I did 30 years ago I used organic blue corn tortilla chips to accompany the dip instead of big brand bland chips. 

Now, don't get all uppity and spew you're not going to use this popular American processed cheese and instead use the finest cheddar, blah blah and blah. It won't be the same experience and will probably leave you with a layer of oil. So follow the original recipe, and don't be like the NYT Cooking commenting weirdos.


1  (2 lb. block) processed American Cheese, aka Velveeta 

1 (10 oz) can of diced tomatoes with chiles, like Ro-Tel (or a jar of your favorite salsa)

Try this recipe as above when making it the first time. To start, chop the cheese into small hunks for easier melting. Add cheese and Ro-Tel (including juice) together in a fondue pot or a double boiler on the stove, or microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir the mixture often until melted, warm and creamy. 

If you find the queso too thick to your liking, thin the mixture slowly with a bit more salsa or even a touch of milk (The NYT recipe calls for water. Don't. Use milk in keeping with the richness.) 

Serve with your favorite corn tortilla chips, corn chips, pita chips, bagel chips, or vegetables like sticks of celery, carrots, and sliced bell peppers or even meatballs and hunks of cured meats like Polish sausage. 

In the future add your own style such as adding semi-soft cheese like Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese along with American cheese like Velveeta. 

Other additions to personalize:

Canned black beans (drained and rinsed), can of chili beans (including sauce), crumbled cooked sausage, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, canned or fresh chopped chilies, sliced black olives, cumin, garlic, chili powder, oregano, and if desired add your choice of "heat" using jalapenos, red chili flakes, or hot sauce. 

The New Year is just a few days away. This queso would make a great warm dip for celebrating, especially during the cold winter evenings. Okay, get to dippin'!  Happy New Year! 

Wine Recommendations: A bubbly one on the palate will assist in smoothing out the richness. If your pocketbook is feeling a bit wounded after the holidays and can't afford Champagne, then look for a Spanish Cava like Juvé & Camps. Freixenet Cordon Negro is especially affordable, tasty, and easy to find in most supermarkets.

Also, most still white wines will pair well such as an Albariño, Vinho Verde, Viognier, or Riesling. Want to skip the wines? Of course, a margarita or a beer from Mexico will complete the cheesy experience. 




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