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Chris Hennes

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

226 posts in this topic

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.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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 (log)

Primate Asilvestrado

Solano County, California

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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!


Primate Asilvestrado

Solano County, California

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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 (log)

Primate Asilvestrado

Solano County, California

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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
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.

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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


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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?

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"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.

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


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.


Primate Asilvestrado

Solano County, California

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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

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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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.)


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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 (log)

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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) .


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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    • By gfron1
      A friend gifted me a book written by someone I know of but only loosely. The acquaintance is a former missionary who has lived in Oaxaca for 15 years and co-authored this book with Susana Trilling (famous Oaxacan cooking instructor). The book is self published and really surprised me with its quality. The whole thesis is saving the indigenous foods of the area and combatting GMO infiltration of the area. Those of you who know the area might know of one of my hero restaurants - the like-minded Itanoni in Oaxaca City - surely they all travel in the same circles.
       
      Recipes are average fare - not fancy - clearly recipes from regular local folk, but very authentic, not fusion. They start with basic fresh masa, run you through all sorts of things including molé  and salads and end up with stuff like yucca and egg tacos. The chapters include: Wild Greens (purslane, amaranth, etc), Beans & Squash, Salsa, Nopal and Maguey, Food and Fiesta, Medicinal uses. About 300 pages in all (so figure 150 in English and 150 in Spanish).
       
      This book is not available through Amazon. It is bilingual. I highly recommend it. 
       
      Side note: Quite frankly these guys are goofs. They don't know how important and well produced this book is and aren't marketing it worth crap. Go buy it. Tell them I sent you. And enjoy this book.
       
      HERE
       
       
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