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

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#61 Chris Hennes

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 01:02 PM

Has anyone tried any of the shrimp recipes? We don't each much shrimp around here because my wife doesn't like it.

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#62 kalypso

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:05 PM

Yes. I've done the Camarones a la Diabla. Recipe is pretty easy but a little time consuming when you factor in soaking time for the dried chiles and cooking time for the finished sauce. I served it with the rice and plantain recipe which I decreased to about 8 servings from 24. Actually, I thought I had decreased the recipe to 6 servings but got a far greater yield than expected. The rice was a great foil for the shrimp and I like it better than the shrimp.

I can say that so far every dish I've done from this cookbook has had some problems. As noted upthread the chile de arbol and garlic in the Oaxacan peanut recipe is far too little for the amount of peanuts in the recipe. The shrimp recipe is good but not great. I did the Flan Imposible (very good, BTW) this weekend and the cooking time was off by 20 mintues! What I'm really noticing is that there doesn't appear to be the same attention to detail in Fiestas that I've found in his earlier works. A friend wants to participate in Rick's Twitter contest so I'll be doing more of the recipes over the next few weeks, which should give me a better idea as to how structurally sound these recipes are, or are not. First contest recipe looks like it's the Creamy Chicken and Poblanos that you made last week.

To be honest, so far other than the Flan Imposible, nothing I've made from this new cookbook as really turned my crank all that much. I'm somewhat disappointed in it so far.

#63 Chris Hennes

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 05:09 PM

I definitely agree about the attention to detail problems with the book. I'm convinced that if you don't already know how to cook some version of each of these dishes you are in for some nasty surprises. It turns out that tonight's dinner is a clear case in point...

Polla Asado en Mole Rojo Clásico (Laquered Chicken in Classic Red Mole) (pp. 236–238) with
Arroz Blanco con Plátano Maduro (Mexican White Rice with Sweet Plantains) (pp. 240–241)

This meal is really broken into three separate items: a mole sauce, a baked chicken, and the rice dish. I'll address each individually, starting with the construction of the mole. By now I suspect most people around here are at least passingly familiar with moles, and are aware that they typically contain a myriad ingredients, and a fairly complex cooking schedule. Here's the mise en place for this one (plus three quarts of chicken stock, not pictured):

1 of 11 - Chicken Mole Mise en Place.jpg

The first step in the construction is to fry the chiles in a fairly substantial quantity of lard. This serves two purposes: first, of course, is that frying brings out a lot of additional flavors in the chiles, but secondly, it flavors the lard, which we are going to be using throughout the cooking process:

2 of 11 - Chicken Mole Frying Chiles.jpg

Once the chiles are fried they are submerged in hot tap water to rehydrate. While that is going on, the other ingredients are fried. I found that Rick's time estimates for how long this would take were quite a bit too long: maybe his idea of "medium heat" and mine are different, but I was making the same quantity listed in the recipe, in the same size pot, over a standard residential stove, and my garlic cooked quite a bit faster than he suggested it would (this actually seems to be a very common problem with this book). The almonds (cooked along with the garlic) seemed fine.

3 of 11 - Chicken Mole Frying almonds and garlic.jpg

You also toast the sesame seeds, toast the bread, broil the tomatillos, and fry the raisins.

4 of 11 - Chicken Mole Everything Fried.jpg

Once you've done all that the chiles are probably soft enough to puree. This is done in two batches since the quantity is so large:

5 of 11 - Chicken Mole Puree Chiles.jpg

Once strained, this is the finished chile puree:

6 of 11 - Chicken Mole Chile Puree.jpg

Now, the puree gets "fried"—heat the lard back up, and then dump the chile puree in. It will spatter like mad and come to an immediate boil. Cover it with something to prevent spatters (I use a kitchen towel):

10 of 11 - Chicken Mole Spatter.jpg

While that is reducing, puree all the other ingredients together until as smooth as your blender can make it. Strain it.

7 of 11 - Chicken Mole Other Stuff Ready.jpg

8 of 11 - Chicken Mole Other Stuff Puree.jpg

When the chile has reduced and is a dark red color, add the other puree and continue cooking. Here are the two purees: on the right is the pure chile puree, ready for the addition of the tomatillo puree. On the left is the fully cooked puree before chicken stock is added.

9 of 11 - Chicken Mole Two Stages of Cooking.jpg

Finally, you add the stock and cook for a couple hours. At this point, I refrigerated it overnight and made the chicken the following day.

The chicken: this is just a standard baked chicken, glazed at the end with a mole/agave syrup glaze. I thought his instructions as written give you chicken that is a bit overcooked, so I tweaked them more to my liking. Your guests may appreciate slightly drier chicken, though, so YMMV.

While making the chicken, I also made the plantain rice that Kalypso mentions up-topic: I again found his cooking time on the plantains to be way off, but I just fried them until they were done. Same went for the rice (10 minutes, Rick?!). Those corrections made, however, I really liked this side.

So finally, the verdict on the mole chicken? It was very good. I thought the glaze got a bit too BBQ-sauce-like, but it was a mighty fine BBQ sauce at least. And the mole served with the chicken is a very good one. Not the best I've had, or even the best I've made, but very good, and worth the time investment. I suggest making a whole batch and freezing the (massive quantity of) leftovers. This recipe makes a heck of a lot of mole.

11 of 11 - Chicken Mole Plated.jpg

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#64 Shelby

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 07:07 AM

I just ordered the book --after only reading through the first page of this thread.

Mr. Bayless should pay you guys a royalty :laugh:

#65 Shelby

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 07:12 AM


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.



Chris, where did you get the banana leaves?

#66 Shelby

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 07:23 AM

"I found that Rick's time estimates for how long this would take were quite a bit too long: maybe his idea of "medium heat" and mine are different, but I was making the same quantity listed in the recipe, in the same size pot, over a standard residential stove, and my garlic cooked quite a bit faster than he suggested it would (this actually seems to be a very common problem with this book). "


Chris, I don't know where Rick does the main amount of his cooking, but if it's in a higher elevation than we are at--such as up in the mountains of Colorado--cooking takes so so much longer. It always amazes me how long it takes a pot of water to boil up there lol.

#67 Chris Hennes

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 10:40 AM

I got the banana leaves at the grocery store. Mine sells them both fresh and frozen.

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#68 danielito

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 07:47 PM

The most reliable sources for banana leaves are Asian markets, in the refrigerator or freezer section. A well-stocked Mexican grocer is a strong possibility, too.
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#69 kalypso

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 11:32 AM

Chris, have a question for you...

I was looking at the mise en plas foto of the mole ingredients and saw your tub-o-lard. Were you able to get a rendered lard, or was that a commercial product? (Farmer John is the most common commercial lard in my neck of the woods, looks and acts a lot like hydrogenated shortening)

I can get a really nice rendered lard at one of our main Mexican markets, of course I have to buy 3# at a time but thankfully it freezes well :smile: It's substantially different using that product than the commercial one. The rendered product truly imparts a layer and depth of flavor and meatiness that I find lacking in the commercially prepared lards. I've made a lot of moles over the last few years. When I first started making them I used mostly veg oil to do the frying because I perceived it to be "healthier". However, over the last couple of years as my mole making skills have been honed and refined, I've migrated to almost exclusively using rendered lard when I make a batch. I think the rendered lard just really helps mellow and round out the flavors. The one thing about Mexican cooking (and probably any cooking genre for that matter) is that the more you work with the products the more you really understand the role they play in the overall flavor profile of the dish, as well as just how elastic they really are in their impact.

And lastly, the hallmark of a really good mole is that it doesn't taste predominately of any one ingredient. It's supposed to be an amalgamation of all the ingredients that went into it. Did your mole hit the mark? Did the total of all the ingredients add up to more than just their sum total? It sure did look good

#70 Chris Hennes

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 11:39 AM

I usually render my own lard, but this recipe called for a LOT, and I am conserving my last batch for some tamales later this week (where I find the flavor of the lard to be more critical). The commercial lard I used in the mole is quite neutral, with only a little traditional lard flavor. I'm certain you are correct, that using it resulted in an inferior mole as compared to using a fresh-rendered lard. But overall I was happy with the flavor profile of the mole. I think the mulato chiles in this one come across a little stronger than the others, but it's otherwise in excellent balance.

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#71 Jaymes

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 01:02 PM

Chris, where did you get the banana leaves?


I'm in Springfield, MO, which is not a exactly hotbed of Latino culture, but I find them frozen in each of our three small Mexican markets.

#72 Chris Hennes

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 11:18 AM

For lunch today I was looking to use up the leftover chicken from the Chicken Mole the other day, and maybe some of the vast quantity of mole as well (I froze most of it, but still had a few cups in the fridge). So for lunch today I made... something. I'm not sure what to call it... are these still "enchiladas"? I made a filling by shredding the chicken and adding some sauteed onions and peppers and a little of the mole. Then I made some tortillas, fried them, and dipped them in the mole the way you would an enchilada. Wrapped it around the filling, added a little extra mole on top, shredded on some cheese, and served:

1 of 1 - Enmoleadas.jpg

Enchiladas? Enmoleadas? Abomination? (actually, quite nice I thought... the mole has a much fuller flavor than a typical enchilada sauce, and I thought it worked reasonably well. The cheese was superfluous, but looked nice.)

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#73 kalypso

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 04:39 PM

Enmoladas...tortilla enrobed in mole sauce. Frankly, I'd just call them enchiladas and be done with it. They look divine and I bet they tasted great.

BTW, thanks for the clarification on the lard question. If you were saving the rendered lard for tamales, then I totally agree, it certainly does enhance the flavor of the masa.

Edited by kalypso, 15 July 2010 - 04:40 PM.


#74 Chris Hennes

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 05:50 PM

It was definitely a nice use for a bit of leftovers at any rate: really, Bayless should have included a section on what to do with all the food leftover from your fiesta. Since if there is not food left, you didn't make enough!

Tonight I made a batch of tamales using some of the lard I've been saving up. It's hard to get fatback here, so I render mine from bellies. This lard has much more flavor than the commercial stuff in the tubs, which is essential to good tamales where that flavor comes through so clearly.

Tamal de Frijoles Negros con Queso de Cabra (Black bean Tamales with Fresh Goat Cheese) (pp. 212–213)

These tamales are interesting: the black beans are not used as a filling, but are incorporated directly into the tamale batter. My one issue with the recipe is that it says to add liquid to the tamale batter until it "reaches the consistency of cake batter." I've made more than a few cakes in my day: what kind of cake batter, Bayless?! That's a pretty damn hazy consistency, if you ask me. I just made the batter to the same consistency I'd been taught for other kinds of tamales, which is probably actually a bit thicker than the "cake batter" he is referring to. Turned out fine, I think the texture of the batter part of these tamales is very good. I also cheated a bit and actually used a 60-day aged goat cheese (Humboldt Fog), rather than the fresh the recipe calls for. What can I say, I love Humboldt Fog. It tasted good, but I should have used more of it. In terms of flavor I was surprised how little of the bean was evident: they tasted mostly like normal tamales, with a goat cheese hit in the middle. Not a bad flavor, just nothing terribly unique. Texture-wise, I would have preferred some contrast between the batter and the filling: goat cheese has about the same texture as the cooked batter, so it was uniform all the way through. I think using some whole black beans in the filling would have been a nice addition.

As a side note: I get why there is no photograph of these in the book... they are not the most photogenic of Mexican foods...

Block Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales - Prepped.jpg

Block Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales - Wrapped.jpg

Block Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales - Steamed.jpg

Block Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales - Served.jpg

That corn was just added to the tamale steamer near the end of the cooking time, and then rubbed down with the Chiptle-Cumin Butter in Janet Zimmerman's recent NPR article (JAZ here on eG) .

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#75 Chris Hennes

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 05:52 PM

A different sort of tamales altogether tonight:

Tamales de Elote con Picadillo (Pork Picadillo Sweet Corn Tamales) (pp. 220–221)

The batter of these tamales is very different than others I'm familiar with, consisting of almost equal parts pureed sweet corn and masa. It has a very nice texture, and a sweet flavor that I'm sure would go over well at parties: these will appeal to a broad range of tastes. The pork picadillo recipe is very good, thought I probably would add more vinegar next time to counteract the sweetness of the fire-roasted tomatoes and raisins, and to provide a better contrast with the sweet batter. Overall though, very nice tamales, and relatively easy to make, as tamales go.

Picadillo Tamales Prep.jpg

Picadillo Tamales Plated.jpg

If you compare this last photo to the one in the book, you will notice a difference in the texture of the pork. The recipe calls for coarse-ground pork, which I used, but the photo seems to be more shredded than ground. My guess here is that the way Bayless actually makes it is to cook the pork in larger chunks and then shreds it, rather than grinding it. I don't know why he doesn't call for that in the recipe. Ground worked fine, but I may shred next time just to try it out.

Picadillo Tamales Eaten.jpg

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#76 djyee100

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 12:02 PM

If you compare this last photo to the one in the book, you will notice a difference in the texture of the pork...My guess here is that the way Bayless actually makes it is to cook the pork in larger chunks and then shreds it, rather than grinding it. I don't know why he doesn't call for that in the recipe.


Did Bayless do the cooking for the photos? If somebody else did, maybe he/she got a little creative with the recipe. Sometimes that happens inadvertently, sometimes it happens for a better food photo.

Chris, this is a wonderful thread. I'm enjoying it so much. Thanks! :smile:

#77 Chris Hennes

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 12:38 PM

I can get a really nice rendered lard at one of our main Mexican markets, of course I have to buy 3# at a time but thankfully it freezes well :smile: It's substantially different using that product than the commercial one. The rendered product truly imparts a layer and depth of flavor and meatiness that I find lacking in the commercially prepared lards.

Kalypso, you are a freaking genius. I had never thought to look for fresh-rendered lard until you mentioned this, but this morning after my usual supermarket run (it's just a big-box supermarket in a hispanic neighborhood), I went down the street to the mercado (after brushing up on my Spanish so I knew I was looking for "manteca"). There, in the back corner, were dozens, maybe hundreds of still-liquid two-pint deli containers of pure gold, rendered this morning, selling for $2 each. Holy crap. I hate rendering lard so much, this is a HUGE find. I owe you one!

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#78 Chris Hennes

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 02:28 PM

Last night we tried a couple more drinks from the book: trying to trim back the mint from taking over the garden...

Mexican Mojito (p. 52)

A Mojito made with tequila: pretty good, actually. The recipe as given is quite sweet, but that's probably appropriate for a party. As my wife put it: "this is good, but I'm going to need another one in three seconds."

Mexican Mojito.jpg

Sizzling Mojito (p. 53)

This is the same as the Mexican Mojito, but instead of using plain simple syrup (sugar water) to sweeten, you use a simple syrup that includes fresh ginger and habanero. I found the habanero to be too subtle to really "sizzle" here, and would probably increase the quantity next time. But again, for a party, the recipe as given is probably appropriate. You also muddle some ginger in with the mint: I didn't bother to peel the ginger first, and probably should have.

Sizzling Mojito.jpg

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#79 kalypso

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 06:31 PM

Kalypso, you are a freaking genius. I had never thought to look for fresh-rendered lard until you mentioned this, but this morning after my usual supermarket run (it's just a big-box supermarket in a hispanic neighborhood), I went down the street to the mercado (after brushing up on my Spanish so I knew I was looking for "manteca"). There, in the back corner, were dozens, maybe hundreds of still-liquid two-pint deli containers of pure gold, rendered this morning, selling for $2 each. Holy crap. I hate rendering lard so much, this is a HUGE find. I owe you one!


De Nada, glad the suggestion helped. I'm not so wild about rendering a bunch of lard either. I discovered the lard at my Mexican market by accident several years ago when I wasn't really looking for it. It was one of those "aha" moments. And it's dirt cheap.

Just out of curiosity, are you going to do every recipe in the book? If you are, that's pretty impressive :laugh:

If you make the Mexican Snakebite please post about it.

For the tequila based drinks using simple syrup, try subbing it with agave nectar. I switched all my maragritas to agave nectar from simple syrup and am really pleased with the change.

A sipping cousin to your mojitos is my summer drink, the Margarita Spritzer. Half maggie, half club soda. It's refreshing and they go down even easier this way :wink:

Edited by kalypso, 17 July 2010 - 06:35 PM.


#80 Chris Hennes

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 07:07 PM

I was sort of hoping someone else would start in on chapter 2, actually :smile:. I can only make so many ceviches before I've exhausted my political capital with my wife: she'll eat them, but she's not a big fan. Same goes for anything with shrimp in it. And the recipe that begins "dig a two foot deep fire pit in your backyard." (I'm not kidding, that's how the recipe starts). Someone else can have that one, too. Come on, who's in?

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#81 Chris Hennes

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 07:51 PM

The chapter I am most willing to comprehensively analyze, perhaps several times, is the first: the one with the guacamole and booze. I like this chapter a lot...

Champagne Margarita (p. 46)

This is a really nice drink: the effervescence of the champagne (actually, I used prosecco...) is a great touch. The flavors are recognizable as a margarita, with that added bit of flair from the bubbly. I was skeptical at first that the drink as written would be too sweet again, but I used a quite dry prosecco, and I think the balance is quite good. If you have a sweet tooth you may need to ramp up the sugar a bit, either with a sweeter wine, or with a bit of sugar in the mix. One word of warning: this is not a shaken drink, it needs an hour in the fridge to chill. So if you need it RIGHT NOW, as I did, you need to find an alternate chilling method. I knew all those thermodynamics classes must have been good for something...

Champagne Margarita.jpg

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#82 Darienne

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 06:16 AM

I was sort of hoping someone else would start in on chapter 2, actually :smile:. I can only make so many ceviches before I've exhausted my political capital with my wife: she'll eat them, but she's not a big fan. Same goes for anything with shrimp in it. And the recipe that begins "dig a two foot deep fire pit in your backyard." (I'm not kidding, that's how the recipe starts). Someone else can have that one, too. Come on, who's in?

Sorry, Chris, I'm not in for the doing, but I sure am in for the reading of your wonderful achievements. :wub: I don't have the book, and I don't have the time, energy, expertise, available consumers, ingredients, etc, etc.
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#83 Anna N

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 11:10 AM

Chris,
I just came from the bookstore where I had time for a very quick peek at the book. Looks like my kind of book in terms of its format etc., but I cannot justify it on the grounds of my complete lack of knowledge of most Mexican dishes and my dislike of some of the staples. Having said that I have never tried a tamale, or posole, or Mexican empanadas or many other truly Mexican dishes. I have never even sampled a margarita! I once made a very complicated mole and thought it was just magnificient but then I was the only one who liked it! I bought the ingredients for the mango guacamole and so far I not even had time to make it and it hasn't really shown promise to fit into any meal plan. I am almost afraid to check on the avocado and/or mango in case they have already gone far south. Please send me off to the eGullet Hall of Shame where I truly belong! :laugh:
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#84 Chris Hennes

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 12:49 PM

Anna, if you don't like the food, you don't like it, not much to be done there! I would not choose this book as an introduction to Mexican cuisine, personally. I think Bayless's "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" is great for that purpose.

Damn, it's hot here today. I'm barbecuing a pork shoulder, which calls for a beer. But that would be so boring, how about a beer with lime juice and hot sauce!

Michelada (p. 56)

I've never had one before, so I can't compare it to other recipes, but this is not my favorite drink in the world. It's OK, but I guess I just like a plain beer better. It's interesting to be sure, with the hot sauce adding a little zing, but probably not something I'll make again. (The photo is of the drink before stirring, but I stirred it up before drinking it)

Michelada.jpg

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#85 kalypso

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 01:39 PM

Chris, I'd like to help you out on the cochinita pibil since that is one of my favorite dishes. Unfortunately, it would take a back-hoe to make a pit in my backyard. The soil is extremely dense with a very high clay content :wacko:

Though not nearly as fun as tearing up half your backyard, it can be done in the oven.

#86 Chris Hennes

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 02:30 PM

kalypso, I have the same issue with the clay. But believe me, it's tempting to do anyway! Maybe it needs to be a two-day party: on the first day, guests dig the BBQ pit (tell them it's fun!), and on the second day you BBQ. Speaking of BBQ.... the great thing about it is the number of drinks you can sample while you are "tending the fire" :cool:

Coconut Horchata Colada (p. 67)

I made the coconut horchata a couple days ago, which was pretty easy with the new BlendTec blender. I should have strained it better, though, but I got lazy and decided to try to make this drink anyway. I'm not a fan of the texture, so I will be going back to strain it again after all. The drink tastes basically like a piña colada, but with the texture of horchata, and the barest hint of cinnamon. I used Rancho Gordo Canella (Mexican cinnamon), but it was probably two years old, so was a bit weak-tasting. I've put in an order for some fresh stuff, I may try this again when it arrives.

One annoying thing about these beverages is that he calls for ice in cups (a volume measure). I really wish he would include a weight for this as well, since ice varies wildly in volume depending on its shape. I found the recipe as written to contain too little ice, I personally would double it if using half-moon icemaker ice.

Coconut Horchata Colada.jpg

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#87 Chris Hennes

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 04:47 PM

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole (p. 34)

Just your basic guacamole with the fresh tomato replaced by sun-dried. Bayless makes it clear in his intro that this is not his preferred guacamole, but rather a stopgap when good tomatoes are unavailable and none of the other options appeals. Of course, he also says he adds jicama to it, though jicama is not in this recipe. It would probably be good, though. Frankly, I don't see the point of the sun-dried tomatoes. They don't really bring anything beneficial to the bowl, and the guacamole would be better without them. But I guess if you're looking for a change... it's not bad, but I wouldn't make it again.

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole.jpg

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#88 Chris Hennes

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 11:10 AM

Atún en Escabeche de Chile Jalapeño (Tuna in Jalapeño Escabeche) (p. 129)

I made this for lunch today, thinking it would be sort of like a tuna salad with some pickled jalapeño in it, which sounded pretty good. But what it actually turns out to be is a jalapeño salad with a little tuna in it. Also good, but not what I was expecting. I personally found there to be too much onion, and the pieces of onion to be too large, but that's just a personal preference, I think. Also, make sure you use chunk light tuna here, not white: you need the added flavor in order to taste the tuna at all. I don't think I'd serve this at a party (it's probably a little too weird for most of my guests), but I'll probably make it for lunch again. I served it as a salad atop the dregs from a bag of tortilla chips.

Tuna in Jalapeño Escabeche.jpg

Chris Hennes
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#89 cadmond

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 12:33 PM

I've been on a tamale-making tear from his other book, Authentic Mexican, for a bit now, but before I tackle the tamales in "Fiesta at Ricks" I figured I'd use up some leftover shrimp and avocado in his Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana (pg. 146) to fill some tacos with. I feel like more avocado would've been good to make it a little richer, but it was tasty overall.

shrimptacos.jpg

The leftovers are about to go on tostadas for lunch.

Overall I'm liking the book, despite only having made a couple of the recipes. Maybe it's all the food porn...

#90 Chris Hennes

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 01:11 PM

Welcome to eGullet, cadmond! Glad to find another person trying out the book, the tacos look great.

Re: the food porn... actually, I have been a bit underwhelmed by the photography in the book itself: seems like half the photos are of Rick, not the food. Though looking at his photo on 147, I see why you wanted to make these shrimp tacos! Very nice.

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org






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