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Cooking from "Fiesta at Rick's" by Rick Bayless

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#31 Chris Hennes

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 09:37 AM

Darienne, I'm still hoping that others will hop on the bandwagon here and post about their experiences with the book. It's pretty new, still, so maybe there aren't that many copies out yet. But I definitely think it's worth a purchase, if you like Mexican food and already have some books of Bayless and Kennedy's.

Guacamole de Pepita Tostada (Toasted Pumpkin Seed Guacamole) (p. 27)

This guacamole was not quite what I was expecting from the ingredient list. In particular, the pepitas are ground very finely so don't provide any noticeable crunch, and there are a lot of them, making the flavor very assertive. In my opinion this guacamole would have been better with the pepitas left much larger, and I'd cut the quantity in half. There was 3/4 cup of pepitas to three avacados, which I think is just too much pumpkin seed.

Guacamole de Pepita (1).jpg

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#32 Chris Hennes

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 05:32 PM

Tamales Colados (Yucatecan "Pudding" Tamales with Achiote and Chicken) (pp. 216–217)

These tamales have an exterior texture unlike any I have ever encountered: Bayless's description of them as "pudding" tamales is apt. I found the texture unusual, my wife found it objectionable: it's an extremely smooth just-barely-holding-together pudding like texture that is nothing like what I expect of a tamale. The taste is good, though. I'd also be inclined to include more chicken in the filling to act as a foil for the ultra-smooth exterior, which may also just be an acquired taste. I served them with the Roasted Tomato-Habanero Salsa from p. 218, though I replaced the habanero with jalaeño since that's what I have on hand. A nice simple roasted salsa that went well with the tamales.

(Yeah, the filling in this first picture is wrong, it's supposed to be at the top of the masa layer, not the bottom. Oops! I learned after the first one...)

Tamales Colados 1.jpg

Tamales Colados 2.jpg

Tamales Colados 3.jpg

Tamales Colados 4.jpg

Tamales Colados 5.jpg

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#33 rancho_gordo

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 06:35 PM

Thanks, rancho_gordo—since I picked up the book on your recommendation, any suggestions you have for what else I should try out of it would be most appreciated. What have been your experiences with the recipes in the book?


I've only looked at it and thumbed through it!
So far it's been more of an inspiration book than an actual cookbook. The thing that really hits me is the pozole for 30 party. I've been meaning to a big one like that but I fear I'm a little rusty for 30 guests (I like 4 to 6!) and I'm contemplating a date.
In the meantime, i'm enjoying your hard work, as I sit on the couch and sip tequila under the fan!
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#34 rancho_gordo

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 06:38 PM

These tamales have an exterior texture unlike any I have ever encountered: Bayless's description of them as "pudding" tamales is apt. I found the texture unusual, my wife found it objectionable: it's an extremely smooth just-barely-holding-together pudding like texture that is nothing like what I expect of a tamale. The taste is good, though. I'd also be inclined to include more chicken in the filling to act as a foil for the ultra-smooth exterior, which may also just be an acquired taste.


the first time I had these in the Yucatan I thought they were like baby food and did not care for them, but at some point I grew to love them and now I crave them. I bet by the time you finish the batch you'll be a fan. And it seems like the soft masa really picks up the flavor of the leaf wrapper in a way that dried corn doesn't.
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#35 nakji

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 07:00 PM

They remind me of banh chung or other banana-leaf wrapped sticky rice dumplings. I also found the texture off-putting at first, but you eat enough of them (especially if there's nothing else around) and they grow on you. I imagine masa is less glutinous than the rice is, though. Once, over Tet, when they were all we had to eat, we were served them unwrapped and pan-fried for breakfast - it really helped the texture for me.

#36 Chris Hennes

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 08:11 PM

And it seems like the soft masa really picks up the flavor of the leaf wrapper in a way that dried corn doesn't.

Yeah, I agree, that definitely seems to be the case. Most of the time with tamales the wrapper seems to only be there to hold stuff together, you could probably use paper for all the difference it would make. But the flavor of the banana leaves came through quite clearly in these.

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#37 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 06:41 PM

Mochomos con Cebolla Dorada y Salsa Roja (Crispy Flank Steak Shreds with Golden Onions and Red Chile Salsa) (pp. 140–141)

From the instructions for this dish:

Shred the meat into long, thin strands (this takes a while, but within reason, go for the thinnest possible—nothing larger than a strand of angel hair pasta).

You know what the main difference between a professional chef and a home cook is? A professional chef has a sous chef to do this crap!! It takes a LONG TIME to shred a pound of flank steak. Next instruction:

Let the oil return to 375 degrees, then quickly drop the meat shreds into the oil one by one, making sure the don't clump together.

So let me get this straight: I have one pound of flank steak, shredded into bits NO LARGER than a strand of angel hair pasta. That's hundreds, probably thousands of individual threads. For reference, here's 1/4 pound:
Shredded flank steak.jpg
You see all those tiny little strands? That's a lot of strands to drop in one by one. Also, you see that bit of moisture on them? That's water. There's water in them, too, and when they heat up the fibers squeeze together, forcing the water out into the 375 degree oil... where the water vaporizes and rises to the surface to the oil in the form of a big splatter. A LOT of big splatters. So, finally, you fry some up. If you get too aggressive adding too many at once, you wind up with this:
Fried shreds.jpg
Lovely, OK, we can still work with that, clumped though it may be. And then I tasted it. Tasted like... deep fried crispy stuff. Wait, how much time did I just spend shredding that perfectly good flank steak? To wind up with "deep fried crispy stuff"? I should have just bought some damned Chow Mein noodles. The texture was quite nice. The taste was fine on its own, and totally lost with the other components of the dish, with the fried stuff serving in a purely textural role. My advice? If you want this dish just go to Bayless's restaurant, where he has dozens of minions shredding beef for him, always-ready fryolators manned by line cooks with no fear of oil splatters, and a ventilation system to get rid of the smell. This has no business existing in a cookbook at this level, if you ask me. This is not "The French Laundry", it's "Fiesta at Rick's."

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#38 Darienne

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:06 AM

Hi Chris,

If you should decide to make something from this book at the Heartland Gathering in August, I would be honored to be your sous-chef. We could just skip the Mochomos con Cebolla Dorada y Salsa Roja however. :raz:
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#39 Florida

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 07:23 AM

Enchiladas Suizas de Verduras Asadas (Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce) (pp. 199–200)

This is a great dish, in my opinion. I made the filling with carrots, white onions, turnips, and butternut squash; this wound up being a slightly-sweet medium-firm filling that contrasted very well with the bright flavors of the tomatillo sauce. I love enchiladas made with slightly-thicker-than normal homemade tortillas since they hold up to being immersed in the sauce better, and the queso quesadilla added a nice textural component, though is perhaps not flavorful enough to stand up to the vegetables and tomatillo sauce.


I don’t have this book yet. However, I was ecstatic to see you post this since my CSA has been pumping out more turnips and kohlrabi than I know what to do with. Since most of Bayless’s recipes seem to find their way to the internet, I was able to locate it. Even better, I was able to find the actual pages from the book:

http://www.scribd.co...nchilada-Recipe

My filling consisted of turnips, kohlrabi, and carrots. To avoid turning on the oven, I roasted them on the grill. After they were roasted I added in few tablespoons of mojo de ajo.

I used smoked turkey stock and heavy cream in the sauce, because those are what I had available. As with the veggies above, I roasted the tomatillos, jalapeno, garlic, and onion on the grill.

Personally, I thought this turned out to be a great dish. While the vegetable filling had that typical autumnal earthy-roasted flavor, the heat and the acidity of the tomatillo sauce offered a very nice brightly flavored contrast. Only problem was I used store-bought tortillas and they were just on the verge of falling apart, but this could be remedied in the future.

#40 Chris Hennes

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 07:43 AM

Awesome, I'm glad the publisher has put some of these recipes online, thanks for finding that. You addition of the mojo de ajo sounds great, too. Did you use homemade?

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#41 Florida

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 08:34 AM

Awesome, I'm glad the publisher has put some of these recipes online, thanks for finding that. You addition of the mojo de ajo sounds great, too. Did you use homemade?


Yes, homemade, though I must admit I was unaware it could even be purchased pre-made.

#42 Chris Hennes

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 08:47 AM

I've never actually tried the jarred stuff, but I think I've seen it on the shelves at the store I get all my Mexican ingredients at. I could be thinking of something else, though.

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#43 Chris Hennes

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:13 PM

Huaraches (Sandal-Shaped Corn Masa Cakes with Black Beans, Salsa, and Aged Cheese) (pp. 206–207)

There were pretty tasty, and also pretty easy to make. I'm trying something new tonight, since the final photo doesn't really describe what's going on here, and I think the photo in the book is completely worthless, so here goes...

You start out with a pound of fresh masa and 3/4 cups of black beans, both seasoned to taste with salt and adjusted with water so they are the same consistency:
1 of 13 - Huaraches - Masa and beans.jpg

Portion the masa into eight equal balls (2 oz each), and the beans into 2 teaspoon balls (for me that was 11 grams... sorry for the mixed units!):
2 of 13 - Huaraches - portioned balls.jpg

Bayless says to take the ball of masa and form it into an "egg" shape, so here's my egg, with a quarter in the background for size reference:
3 of 13 - Huaraches - egg.jpg

Then, you press your thumb into the egg to create a pocket for the beans:
4 of 13 - Huaraches - Thumbprint.jpg

Add the beans:
5 of 13 - Huaraches - Filled.jpg

Then seal it up and roll it into the shape of a "cigar" (again, according to Bayless). I wasn't sure what kind of cigars Rick smokes, though, so this first one I made basically completely cylindrical. Later I made them tapered at the ends, which I liked better visually.
6 of 13 - Huaraches - cigar.jpg

He then says to flatten it into a "six-inch oval." When I think of flattening masa, I think of a tortilla press, but that didn't work very well. I think he just means to press them out with your hands. I used a frying pan to squish them, which worked fine (I've made tortillas that way too):
7 of 13 - Huaraches - flattened.jpg

Next up you cook them like tortillas, but on lower heat since they are so much thicker
9 of 13 - Huaraches - first cooking.jpg

Here's how thick mine came out (again compared to a US quarter):
8 of 13 - Huaraches - thickness.jpg

After their first cooking, you fry them on each side:
10 of 13 - Huaraches - frying first side.jpg

While frying on the first side mine puffed up: Bayless didn't mention that they would do that, but it seemed reasonable.
11 of 13 - Huaraches - puffed.jpg

Then you flip them over and top them with salsa (I used Roasted Tomatillo) and cheese (I used Cotija):
12 of 13 - Huaraches - flipped.jpg

Let them cook a bit, then serve them with chopped onions, radishes, and cilantro:
13 of 13 - Huaraches - Served.jpg

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#44 maggiethecat

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:24 PM

Chris, you've created one of the classic eG topics here and I'm hanging on your every word and photo. Rick owes you: I think you've sold a few books for him.

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#45 Chris Hennes

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 04:20 PM

Thanks, Maggie. Not sure Rick really needs my help... after all, on the back of the book he's got an endorsement from Rachel Ray! Strange, there aren't too many 30 minute meals in here...

Tonight is an exception, however: this was indeed a 30-minute meal, and probably even less if you don't count the time to get the grill going.

Tlayudas "Casi Oaxaqueñas" con Chorizo, Guacamole y Queso Fresco ("Almost Oaxacan" Grilled Tostadas with Chorizo, Tangy Guacamole and Fresh Cheese) (pp. 202–203)

This is a pretty simple dish: grill some tortillas until crispy, top with chorizo and a thin tomatillo-avacado sauce, and sprinkle on fresh cheese. Best enjoyed by a group of friends standing around the grill with a beer in hand. Or perhaps margaritas... at any rate, simple and excellent. In particular, the guacamole is fantastic, sort of a hybrid between guacamole and a tomatillo salsa.

The first step is to take somewhat dried out tortillas and grill them. As you can see from the one that is puffed up, mine were still too fresh: I don't think they are supposed to do that.
1 of 4 - Tlayudas - Grilling.jpg

Once they are crispy on both sides (which takes some judgement and some prodding with the tongs) you brush them with lard:
2 of 4 - Tlayudas - Larding.jpg

Hopefully after that step you haven't lit anything on fire, and can pile on some cooked chorizo:
3 of 4 - Tlayudas - Chorizo.jpg

Finally, once the chorizo is warm you pour over a bit of the "guacamole" and sprinkle on some queso fresco:
4 of 4 - Tlayudas - Finished.jpg

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't like these. And as long as you are OK just sort of hanging out around the grill, I bet you could arrange an entire fiesta around this dish and some beer. Sign me up.

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#46 rancho_gordo

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:13 AM

I bet a layer of refried black beans after the lard would be pretty swell!
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#47 Chris Hennes

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 07:35 PM

No doubt at all, that would be excellent.

Tonight I'm starting to dig into Bayless's beverage section while I prepare some chicken stock for tomorrow's mole. To whit:

Agua de Jamaica (Crimson Jamaica Flower Cooler) (p. 60)

I messed this up a bit and added too much sugar: I read the 1 1/4 and put in 1 1/2 cups instead, so mine is not as tart as I would like. Still, the flavor is nice (quite a bit fruitier than I would have expected), and the real application is going to be in cocktails, so the additional sugar shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

1 of 1 - Agua de Jamaica.jpg

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#48 Chris Hennes

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 08:07 PM

Mexican Cosmo (p. 61)

Hopefully Bayless chose this name based on appearance and not flavor, because this is really a Jamaica Margarita, in my mind. The first taste is clearly of the tequila (I used 1800 blanco), then you get the fruity-floral taste from the Jamaica briefly, and then back to that funkiness of the tequila. Not a bad drink, if a touch sweet for my tastes (I omitted the extra sugar Bayless calls for in the recipe since my Jamaica was over-sweet already). I personally prefer my Margaritas with a bit less Cointreau, but plenty of my guests disagree and prefer the sweeter version.

1 of 1 - Mexican Cosmo.jpg

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#49 Anna N

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 08:30 AM

Like maggiethecat I have been reading every word in this topic and over on this topic I admit to my dislike of so many Mexican ingredients but that I did make a batch of mojo de ajo. I think this will become a fridge staple.
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#50 Chris Hennes

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:20 AM

Anna, your distaste for avocado might actually be avoided in this next guacamole, depending on how strong your aversion is. My wife and I commented about how "party-friendly" this one is:

Mango Guacamole (p. 28)

This is basically a straight guacamole with a LOT of mango added to it, which is actually a very nice taste combination. As usual I found it a little sweet, but I think this could easily be a favorite at parties, where it's a bit less "aggressive" than some other guacamoles. In particular, the mango softens both the heat from the pepper and the bite from the red onions to the point where I think even kids would like this recipe.

1 of 1 - Mango Guacamole.jpg

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#51 Anna N

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 01:12 PM

Anna, your distaste for avocado might actually be avoided in this next guacamole, depending on how strong your aversion is. My wife and I commented about how "party-friendly" this one is:

.....


Avocado is not really a distaste so much as "what does anyone see in this?" But I would like to give this salsa a shot so can you give approx. ratios? Thanks, Chris.
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#52 Chris Hennes

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 01:27 PM

Anna, I wasn't sure if you meant the roasted tomatillo salsa, or the mango guacamole. The ingredients for each are:

Mango Guacamole
3 avocados
Half a small red onion
1 mango
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 hot pepper (or to taste)
Salt to taste

Make a normal guacamole but stir in 2/3 of the mango finely diced, and top with the other third, also diced.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
6 medium tomatillos
1 hot chile, jalapeno or serano
1 small white onion
Salt

Roast the tomatillos and pepper until blackened, then puree in the blender until it's relatively smooth but still a bit chunky. Chop the onion finely and add it. Season to taste.

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#53 Anna N

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 01:59 PM

Anna, I wasn't sure if you meant the roasted tomatillo salsa, or the mango guacamole.

....


Both actually! I will have to reduce quantities somewhat since it will only be me trying this but that's a no-brainer. Thank you.
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#54 Chris Hennes

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 05:15 PM

No problem. Today is a Mole-making day, which calls for a drink!

Sangria al Jamaica (Jamaica Sangria with Cointreau) (p. 62)

This one is really quick and easy if you have a stash of Jamaica (which I made yesterday). You start with a fruity young red wine, Cointreau, and Jamaica (in the Clement bottle):
1 of 3 - Sangria Ingredients.jpg

My wife calls that a "Rebate Red" because we bought it for the rebate :smile:. But it's a useful thing to have around for things like this:

2 of 3 - Sangria.jpg

The drink is pretty dependent on that wine: with the Red Truck Merlot, which is pretty fruity and soft, this works quite well. You get the sweetness from the Cointreau plus a nice finish from the Jamaica. A decent party punch, and very easy to whip up.

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#55 Chris Hennes

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 05:22 PM

The plan tonight had been to have the chicken mole for dinner, but the mole took longer than anticipated. The backup plan: guacamole. Quick, easy, filling.

Bacon-and-Tomato Guacamole (p. 26)

I was a little apprehensive about this one at first because it seems like the trend these days is to add bacon to everything. I like bacon and all, but I prefer to exercise a little restraint in its application. This particular use, however, turns out to be a good one. The smokiness of the bacon and the chipotles play very well together, and both go great with the avocado. I had to omit the tomato because the only ones I had on hand were crappy, so I dropped in a little tomatillo instead, which works fine.

3 of 3 - Bacon Guacamole.jpg

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#56 danielito

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 06:46 PM

No doubt at all, that would be excellent.

Tonight I'm starting to dig into Bayless's beverage section while I prepare some chicken stock for tomorrow's mole. To whit:

Agua de Jamaica (Crimson Jamaica Flower Cooler) (p. 60)

I messed this up a bit and added too much sugar: I read the 1 1/4 and put in 1 1/2 cups instead, so mine is not as tart as I would like. Still, the flavor is nice (quite a bit fruitier than I would have expected), and the real application is going to be in cocktails, so the additional sugar shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

1 of 1 - Agua de Jamaica.jpg


I had an Agua de Jamaica variation recently at Rick's Xoco- in addition to the traditional jamaica they added lemon grass. It was delicious, giving it a new fragrant undertone. I tried it at home with a good sized stalk of lemon grass, cut in 1" sections, added to the the other ingredients as they steep. Next time I'll add a bit more. I also don't add sugar until after the ingredients have steeped, cooled & strained. Then I can incrementally add sugar to taste until I get the desired level of sweet-tartness I prefer. I sometimes use piloncillo instead of regular sugar for a little added depth to the flavor.

Edited by danielito, 11 July 2010 - 06:53 PM.

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#57 danielito

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:12 PM

Mexican Cosmo (p. 61)

Hopefully Bayless chose this name based on appearance and not flavor, because this is really a Jamaica Margarita, in my mind. The first taste is clearly of the tequila (I used 1800 blanco), then you get the fruity-floral taste from the Jamaica briefly, and then back to that funkiness of the tequila. Not a bad drink, if a touch sweet for my tastes (I omitted the extra sugar Bayless calls for in the recipe since my Jamaica was over-sweet already). I personally prefer my Margaritas with a bit less Cointreau, but plenty of my guests disagree and prefer the sweeter version.

1 of 1 - Mexican Cosmo.jpg


So far my favorite drink recipe from this book is the Margarita de Mezcal, but only make this if you have a really good, smoky mezcal available because it is that smokiness that gives the drink its distinctive character. The Del Maguey mezcals Rick mentions are pretty expensive, often on the order of $70 a bottle, but worth seeking out. I like to use Presidente brandy to maintain the mexicanidad of the drink, and at least this part of the recipe is bargain priced.

Watch out for the measurements in a lot of the drink recipes in this book- the number of drinks the recipe is said to make don't match the quantities of ingredients. For example, the Mezcal Margarita header says "makes eight 6-ounce margaritas", which is obviously 48 ounces, but there are only about 2 cups, 16 ounces, of liquid ingredients. Even shaken with ice you're not getting another quart!
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#58 danielito

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:24 PM

I hadn't intended to, but I ended up making the Cacahuates con Ajo y Chile (Peanuts with Garlic and Chile). The recipe was about as simple as they come, 5 ingredients if you count the salt at the end. The cooking time in the recipe said 10 minutes, I think I ended up cooking the peanuts 30 minutes. I think the time difference is a due to a difference in pan sizes. The recipes calls for a 12" saute pan, I used a 10". Had I used my 12" pan I think the nuts would have been spread out more across the surface of the pan and cooked more quickly. They were probably deeper than called for in the smaller pan so took a longer time to heat and toast. The chile flavor is very subtle, I'm hoping it intensifies as the nuts sit overnight.

I am making the Camerones a la Diabla for inner tomorrow night along with a variation on the rice with plaintain (I don't need 12 servings of rice, yikes). The shrimp recipe looks pretty simple too.


I love those Oaxacan peanuts. I find the ones they serve in Oaxaca have a much darker toast to the cacahuates which makes them so much more flavorful. I like to start off with unroasted Spanish peanuts, then roast them myself so I can control the degree of toastiness. I put them dry in a single layer on a large sheet pan and roast them at 350º for about 30 minutes, but the time can vary. Watch them closely so they don't go too far towards burnt.

Unless you have a very tender palate, I also would recommend doubling the amount of garlic and tripling the chiles de arbol. And maybe more salt... These are powerfully tasty little nuts!

Edited by danielito, 11 July 2010 - 07:26 PM.

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#59 Chris Hennes

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 09:48 AM

I had an Agua de Jamaica variation recently at Rick's Xoco- in addition to the traditional jamaica they added lemon grass. It was delicious, giving it a new fragrant undertone. I tried it at home with a good sized stalk of lemon grass, cut in 1" sections, added to the the other ingredients as they steep. Next time I'll add a bit more. I also don't add sugar until after the ingredients have steeped, cooled & strained. Then I can incrementally add sugar to taste until I get the desired level of sweet-tartness I prefer. I sometimes use piloncillo instead of regular sugar for a little added depth to the flavor.

Good suggestion about adding the sugar later, rather than to the Jamaica, I think that control would help a lot when using the stuff. I'll be curious to know how much lemongrass you end up settling on: I find that too much lemongrass can result in something that tastes a bit like furniture polish!

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org


#60 kalypso

kalypso
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  • Location:San Diego, CA

Posted 12 July 2010 - 12:16 PM

I love those Oaxacan peanuts. I find the ones they serve in Oaxaca have a much darker toast to the cacahuates which makes them so much more flavorful. I like to start off with unroasted Spanish peanuts, then roast them myself so I can control the degree of toastiness. I put them dry in a single layer on a large sheet pan and roast them at 350º for about 30 minutes, but the time can vary. Watch them closely so they don't go too far towards burnt.

Unless you have a very tender palate, I also would recommend doubling the amount of garlic and tripling the chiles de arbol. And maybe more salt... These are powerfully tasty little nuts!


Dan, I agree completely about upping the amount of chile and garlic. The flavor did not intensify upon sitting and they really need more of that Oaxacan zing. My garlic got pretty "roasty toasty" and what there is of it is a great addition to the nuts.





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