For my last Weekend Cooking post, I wrote about Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks by Rick Bayless. Update: I did make the Peach-Basil Margaritas, but without the basil in the salt on the rims. (I got as far as drying the fresh basil leaves, but didn’t have time to grind them and mix the basil with the salt before I needed to serve the cocktails.)
I’ve left The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy out for weeks but, as usual, the recipes haven’t made themselves, so the only one I can report on so far is Pollo en Ciruela Pasa (Chicken with Prunes and Sweet Red Peppers) which was delicious, even without roasting and charring my own red peppers and skinning my own tomatoes. (I resorted to jarred and canned to save time; dinner was already looking to be quite late.)
Compared to most of the recipes in this comprehensive and detailed cookbook, Pollo en Ciruela Pasa seemed short and relatively simple, but deceptively so, as it involved not only roasting red peppers and peeling and chopping tomatoes, but also sauteing seasoned chicken pieces in olive oil a few pieces at a time until golden. (What a mess that makes!)
From Frontera, I also tried the recipe for Watermelon-Ginger Guacamole, but when I went to take the cut-up watermelon from the fridge, someone had already eaten it, so it was actually Cantaloupe-Ginger Guacamole. (Still tasty!)
The recipe for Pollo en Ciruela Pasa is online here.
The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy was a gift, and although it’s the kind of cookbook I love – heavy on recipes and notes on ingredients, etc. and no photos, color or otherwise – it has been a little daunting. We live in a place where only a couple of varieties of hot peppers are found in the produce aisle (or only one) not dozens. Plus there are a lot of meat recipes, and my meat cooking needs a lot of work. The recipe section on pork is headed by a page listing all the parts of a pig in English and Spanish.
Also, Mexican food varies by region; it’s not just Tex-Mex, as the chain Mexican restaurants around here would make you think. Diana Kennedy’s cookbook is a comprehensive introduction to authentic Mexican cuisine; it’s perfect for someone who wants to learn how to make the real thing, has access to a good butcher, and is willing to spend a fair amount of time chopping up and crushing stuff to make one recipe. It’s definitely a weekend cooking type of book. Many of the recipes are going to require a trip to the butcher or a well-stocked grocery store.
Just sitting here with a fan on, the cookbook pages blew open to a recipe for Rellena de Pollo and the first two ingredients are:
1 cup (250 ml) chicken intestines
2 cups (500 ml) chicken blood
The recipe notes say rellena means “stuffed.” (So this “popular market food” is chicken intestines stuffed with chopped coagulated chicken blood, along with chopped onions, tomatoes, seasoning, etc. See what I mean?)
I just culled my cookbooks last weekend instead of writing a Weekend Cooking post, and I’m definitely keeping this one, which is great quality and still in pristine condition! It may be a while before I attempt another chicken recipe, but there are numerous salsa recipes that look more my speed.
Happy Weekend Cooking!