Tag Archives: Rick Bayless

Weekend Cooking: The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy #weekendcooking

cover imageMaybe it’s all the fresh cilantro around, or maybe it’s the new store in our town with the great avocados, but we’ve been craving Mexican food and margaritas around here lately.

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!

Weekend Cooking buttonThis post is part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click on the image for more Weekend Cooking posts.

Weekend Cooking — Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks #weekendcooking

book cover imageI have a feeling I know the name Rick Bayless from other Mexican food cookbooks, but what attracted me to take Frontera out from the library was the cover photo with the icy cocktail shaker, the summery cocktails, and the dish of guacamole. Looking good!

My husband already makes a perfectly wonderful guacamole (lots of cilantro) and margarita (not frozen, please, and lots of salt on the rim) without needing a recipe for either, but I might convince him to try one of the guacamole variations in this cookbook, such as Guacamole with Strawberries and Habanero or Guacamole with Bacon, Grilled Ramps (or Green Onions) and Roasted Tomatillos.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on the cocktail recipes. The author goes into detail on the making of the perfect margarita, and I definitely agree with him on the salt question (Should it even be a question?):

“Personally, for most margaritas, I don’t consider the salted glass rim an indulgence, a gilding of the lily. I consider salt as important in most margarita making as in good salsa making or good grilling. Without salt, you can produce a tasty creation…but not a drop-dead delicious one. More than any other distilled spirit, tequila has a flavor that pops when you add a little salt. Plus the combination of lime and salt seasons half of what folks eat in Mexico. So salted-rim margaritas make sense from both a flavor and a cultural perspective.”

There’s a chapter on agua frescas that gives recipes for each day of the week, and recipes for seasonal variations on the margarita — to make individual drinks and pitchers for parties. I definitely want to try the summer Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita using fresh basil from our garden. (The bartender’s notes for this recipe say that instead of basil, you should use the Mexican herb hoja santa, if you can find it in your area.) Find the Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita recipe here.

I also want to try the Black Currant-Rhubarb Margarita this summer, which calls for creme de cassis (black currant liqueur). We have rhubarb from the garden to use up!

pina coladas with chips, guacamole, and salsa
Pina coladas instead of margaritas here, but next time, margaritas a la Rick Bayless!

The recipes in Frontera seem a little time-consuming and fussy, but that’s partly because of all the detailed notes, I think. This cookbook is great for someone concerned with making these drinks and snacks in the best, most authentic way, but I think you could substitute here and there and be a little slap-dash about your preparation and still come out with some great margaritas, guacamoles, and snacks using this book!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking buttonThis post is part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click on the image for more Weekend Cooking posts.