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Chris Hennes

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

226 posts in this topic

I got one of the bowls that attaches to your stand mixer. You keep it in the freezer. It took about five minutes of churning to freeze a half-batch of this recipe, so I'd say that on the whole it was pretty successful.


Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Chipotle-Glazed Baby Back Ribs (Costillas al Chipotles Enmielado) (p. 261)

Roasted New Potato Salad with Poblano Mayo (Ensalada de Papas Cambray Rostizadas con Mayonesa al Poblano) (pp. 156–157)

This is almost your traditional American ribs-and-potato-salad midsummer cook-out: except the flavors are all Mexican, all the way. First up, though, anyone who thinks that the only way of cooking ribs is to smoke them, avert your eyes. These ribs are baked, and then finished over a high-heat grill to set the glaze: the only smoke flavor is coming from the chipotles in the glaze. Frankly, that's really not a problem for me. While I like smoked ribs, I like them cooked other ways too. And I'm not sure you would have been able to taste the smoke on these anyway, the flavoring is not exactly subtle! In particular, the glaze is very spicy, being just a can of chipotles en adobo and honey. No reasonable amount of honey can eliminate the fire in that can, so if you don't like spice, these ribs are probably not for you. That caveat aside, I really liked these: very porky, not too sweet, and spicy as hell. Excellent.

Chipotle-Glazed Baby Back Ribs.jpg

This was a problem for the potato salad, however. I'm very glad I took a bite of it first, because once I started in on the ribs I couldn't taste the salad anymore. It was a good potato salad: I used half olive oil and half canola, since Bayless says to use an olive oil that is not too strong. What is the point of keeping bland olive oil around in the first place? Still, the mayonnaise had a nice flavor from the olive oil, poblano, and garlic. It was pretty different from a traditional American mayonnaise-based potato salad, at any rate. However, it has "wilted" green onions in it, which I did not care for. The flavor is fine, but I don't care for the texture of partially-cooked green onions: a bit leathery, if you ask me. I'd simply omit them next time, or replace them shopped shallots.

Roasted new potato salad.jpg


Chris Hennes
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kalypso, were you following the new recipe, or the original one?

Chris, the photos are from Dec. 2009 and my annual candy making ritual. I had done the post and then wanted to check something and grabbed the book to verify. That's when I discovered the recipe had been altered from the original in the Dec. 2008 Sauver. I thought about deleting the entire post, but so few people even attempt to make candy that I left it in for that reason. There is a photo of the candy in the book and, really, the only visual difference is that my candy has a darker caramel color than that in the book.

My guess - and this is only a guess - is that the recipe was modified to make it more accessible to the home cook using the cookbook. I've been making candy for a long, long time and the only reason I tried this originally was because the method was so different than anything I was used to doing. I read the recipe in Sauver through 3 or 4 times and realized it wasn't really very hard, just different. So I ordered the candied fruit and made it. It was really simple but did take some time because you had to let the candy cool to a certain temperature before going on to the next step. He's eleminiated a stick of butter and the cooling is done by putting the cooked milk mixture into a stand mixer and beating it for 15 mintues. In the original, you let the milk mixture cool, add the butter and then beat for, I want to say, 10 minutes. The beating on the stand mixer will probably accomplish the same thing as the butter and hand beating. The texture is probably less dense and more fudge-like too. When I thought about it, altering this part of the recipe made some sense for American cooks not used to candy making.

What I'm not sure about is why he elminiated all the canela. The first year I made it I thought the flavor from the canela was great, last year it was a bit too strong, but that's easily controlable by the amount used. The original recipe called for canela in inches :laugh: and this is what I wanted to check in the recipe in the book. I had a major computer crash this past April and lost all the recipes I had saved in MasterCook, including the Jamoncillo recipe. I thought saved by the bell when I saw it in "Fiestas", but didn't read it when I first saw it :sad: I frequently bring canela back from Mexico, so I almost always have a supply on hand. It may have been deleted because it's not easy to find in other parts of the country? Only a guess

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kalypso - thanks for the clarification. I can't understand why he'd eliminate the canela. He calls for it in half of the other recipes in the book! And considering how much lard appears in these recipes, I wouldn't think he'd eliminate the butter for health reasons, either. Very odd. Makes me curious, I may have to try it both ways and do a direct comparison.

Dark Chocolate-Chile Ice Cream (Helado de Chocolate y Chile Pasilla) (pp. 308–309)

I'm making some progress on the ice cream front. The texture of tonight's is much better: I mixed on higher speed, which increased my overrun a bit, helping a lot. I was also more careful to ensure that my custard was thick enough before pulling it off the heat. Flavor-wise this one is much simpler than yesterday's: basically just chocolate ice cream with pasilla chile added. The chile adds an interesting flavor, and I've always liked the various chile-infused ganaches I've had, so it's no surprise that I like this ice cream. I think I personally still liked the taste of last night's better, but my wife disagrees, she likes this one more. So, not exactly a decisive verdict: it's a nice flavored ice cream, and I'm sure it would go over well at a party.

Helado de Chocolate y Chile Pasilla.jpg


Chris Hennes
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Yucatecan Ceviche with Shrimp, Squid, and Habanero (Ceviche Yucateco de Camarones Calamares y Habaneros), p. 96

Holy cow, this is delicious. It might be my new favorite summer seafood salad. Light, flavorful, spicy, and easy.

ceviche habanero 2-1.JPG

The habanero chili makes a nice change from the jalapenos and serannos elsewhere in the book. I don’t use habaneros often, mainly from fear. They have a distinctive taste, fruity and delicious but HOT. This recipe adds the pepper, halved and de-seeded, to the marinade for a short time then removes it entirely. Result: lots of flavor and just enough heat. It’s a great foil to the sweet-sour taste of orange and lime in the marinade.

Unlike most other ceviches, both the squid and shrimp are fully cooked in this recipe. Jicama and cucumber give some crunch, chunks of orange keep it sweet. The combination works beautifully.

BTW, Chris, I tried the poblano potato salad last week and it was one of the worst things ever to come out of my kitchen. The leathery green onions were the least of the problems. It was bad enough that I didn’t post about it, thinking that it must have been something I did wrong. I am trying to muster enthusiasm for giving it a second chance.



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BTW, Chris, I tried the poblano potato salad last week and it was one of the worst things ever to come out of my kitchen. The leathery green onions were the least of the problems. It was bad enough that I didn’t post about it, thinking that it must have been something I did wrong. I am trying to muster enthusiasm for giving it a second chance.

That's really interesting, Linda: I'd be very curious to know more. In particular what olive oil, and what vinegar? I think those are the two big variables, right? Otherwise, adding roasted poblano to a mayo doesn't seem that far off the beaten path.


Chris Hennes
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BTW, Chris, I tried the poblano potato salad last week and it was one of the worst things ever to come out of my kitchen. The leathery green onions were the least of the problems. It was bad enough that I didn’t post about it, thinking that it must have been something I did wrong. I am trying to muster enthusiasm for giving it a second chance.

That's really interesting, Linda: I'd be very curious to know more. In particular what olive oil, and what vinegar? I think those are the two big variables, right? Otherwise, adding roasted poblano to a mayo doesn't seem that far off the beaten path.

You're right on all counts, Chris. My complaints with the recipe start with those two ingredients.

For one thing, as you noted, the recipe calls for all olive oil. One thing I've learned is that making mayo in a machine with all olive oil is likely a recipe for bitter mayo. The solution is to do as you did, start with canola or other veg oil then add the olive oil once it's already emulsified (maybe you can combine the two, never tried). Anyway, I know this but I went ahead anyway and followed the recipe. Result? Bitter mayo that I had to toss. My fault for not following my own instincts.

Luckily, I'd roasted some extra poblanos so made the corrected version above. No bitterness but really lacking in flavor, too, imho. The recommended rice vinegar was no match for the poblano so the resulting mayo lacked any acidity, the result was flat and the flavors muddied. I thought about jazzing it up with some lime juice or a livelier vinegar, but no, I grimly continued testing the recipe. Maybe once combined with the potatoes...

One thing I like about a good potato salad is the way the potatoes absorb the dressing, whether it be mayo or vinegar based. I liked the idea of using roasted potatoes for a little extra flavor, but had not thought through whether the light crust formed by roasting would interfere with absorbing the dressing. After I picked the leathery pieces of green onion off the potatoes, I tossed them with some of the dressing, with some new slivers of green onion, the reserved chilis, and cilantro. After a rest, I took a taste. No marriage of potato and dressing. More like roasted potatoes swimmimg in some blah green mayo. Let it sit longer, no difference. Pretty gross, actually. Down the disposal they went.

I like the idea of a poblano mayo, but if I ever want it, I think I'll figure out my own recipe.



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Linda, how was the salt level in the mayo. Chiles love salt. You described the mayo as flat in spite of the poblanos and other ingredients and I'm wondering if some additional salt (in addition to a morea acidic vinegar) might have also been helpful. Partciularly since potatoes often need a good bit of salt to pop their flavor too.


Edited by kalypso (log)

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Kalypso, good point. I salted the potatoes and chilis before roasting but maybe not enough. Ordinarily when I boil potatoes, I salt the water heavily. I defintely use less when roasting. I did add salt to the final mayo but possibly it needed more. I'll remember that next time. I still wonder about the use of roasted potatoes in this recipe, maybe that's another reason to try it with the standard potatoes boiled in salted water.



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Linda, you and I may just have different taste in potato salad, from what you are describing. In particular, I would not have wanted the mayo to soak into the potatoes. I don't actually care for the texture of a traditional American potato salad and found that change to roasted rather than boiled was a change for the better.


Chris Hennes
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I'll give the poblano mayo recipe another try soon, in the interest of fairness to Senõr Bayless, keeping in mind Kalypso's advice to use sufficient salt.

But Chris, we need to discuss potato salad philosophy. How about over in the Potato Salad: what makes it good topic?



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Thanks for posting all of the great reviews on this book. I just received a copy from Amazon today. With sukkot coming up, I figured this book will come in handy for entertaining.

I picked up a bunch of poblanos, potatoes, and bulb onions, at the farmers market on Sunday. I plan on making the potato salad tomorrow night and will try using the heartier greens from the bulb onions to see if that makes a difference. How much leftover mayo did you have from this dish?

Which is your favorite guacamole so far?

Thanks!

Dan


Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I had a lot of leftover mayo, maybe almost 3/4 of a cup? I don't like it on there too heavily. As for the guacamoles, I probably liked the roasted garlic one the best, of the unusual ones. The mango one was very party-friendly, too. ETA: Oh, and the bacon one...


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
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Toasted Almond Guacamole with Apricots (p. 33)

This guacamole was reminiscent of the pepitas guac in that the almonds are in the form of almond butter, not actual slices of almond (for the most part: there is an optional almond slice garnish). But the almond flavor was subtle enough not to take over the whole dish, unlike the pepitas, so I felt this was more successful. On the downside, I didn't really like the texture or the flavor of the apricots in this application. I made this guacamole twice, once with the apricots, and once with onion instead, and I think the onion version was clearly superior, at least to my palate.

Apricot Guacamole (1).jpg


Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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I'm on the fence about buying this, I have to say. There seem to be a lot of misses as well as hits, and though the recipes seem compelling, it's the flavor or textural combinations that seem most interesting to me. Do you think that someone who has a decent handle on basic Mexican cooking techniques would benefit from the book?


Chris Amirault

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I've really, really enjoyed cooking through the book, but that is as much a function of the book as a whole body of work as it is any individual recipe. It's really broadened my perceptions about Mexican flavor profiles, and introduced me to a number of dishes I never would have even thought of making if I hadn't been trying to cook so much from it. Frankly, I still think that Mexico: One Plate at a Time would be a better choice for even that purpose, with its careful and well-thought-out blend of "Traditional" and "Contemporary" dishes (all of which are labeled as such). Although I treated Fiesta at Rick's as a general-purpose cookbook, it really probably is more useful if you actually intend to have a party based on the food in it, and is especially useful if you need a little hand-holding during the party-planning phase. I don't think Bayless intended it as a general-purpose Mexican cookbook, and I don't think it functions particularly well as one.


Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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I'm on the fence about buying this, I have to say. There seem to be a lot of misses as well as hits, and though the recipes seem compelling, it's the flavor or textural combinations that seem most interesting to me. Do you think that someone who has a decent handle on basic Mexican cooking techniques would benefit from the book?

Chris, for someone familiar with Mexican cooking techniques, this isn't the book. However, if you're looking for some decent party ideas and larger volume recipes, it has some value. I was really excited when I got it, but have become less enamored of it as I've cooked from it. In the first chapter of the book he states that he viewed Fiesta as a companion volume to Everyday Mexican (which I own and like). In Rick's opinion, the 2 volume when taken and used together present an overview of the breadth of Mexican cooking from the things people make and eat everyday to the party food, and Mexicans can throw a darn good party :laugh: . I can see his point, though I personally think it's something of a stretch.

I own all of RBs cook books and have cooked from everyone of them. My 2 favorites are Saslas that Cook and Mexican Kitchen (his 2nd book). Fiesta is the only one of his cookbooks that I have consistently had recipes either fail, be less than thrilling, or have structural problems. What I have noticed, starting with Mexico: One Plate at a Time is that his recipes have become more and more Americanized and less and less traditionaly Mexican.

For technique, Fiesta will not cut any new ground. Compared to his other cookbooks, I found it disappointing. :sad:

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I own all of RBs cook books and have cooked from everyone of them. My 2 favorites are Saslas that Cook and Mexican Kitchen (his 2nd book).

That's good news for me as a novice. I have Mexican Kitchen and have made a few recipes from it.

I've followed this entire thread with great interest and am indebted to all, and especially Chris Hennes. Thanks, Chris. :wub:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

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What I have noticed, starting with Mexico: One Plate at a Time is that his recipes have become more and more Americanized and less and less traditionaly Mexican.

I agree with this assessment: my argument is that's not such a bad thing. I really enjoy seeing how Bayless takes a traditional Mexican approach, or ingredient, or dish, and twists it around into something "contemporary." As far as I am concerned, Kennedy "wrote the book" on traditional Mexican cuisine. Once you've documented it, there is limited new ground to tread, so I welcome the innovation in OPT. Of course, I'm also waiting impatiently for the English translation of DK's Oaxaca!


Chris Hennes
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As far as I am concerned, Kennedy "wrote the book" on traditional Mexican cuisine. Once you've documented it, there is limited new ground to tread, so I welcome the innovation in OPT. Of course, I'm also waiting impatiently for the English translation of DK's Oaxaca!

I've said it before but the more I learn about Mexican food, the less I really seem to know. There's a LOT more ground to cover. I think the early Kennedy and Bayless books might be ok overviews but Mexican food is so regional, that it would be impossible to write a definitive guide. Every region deserves a version of DK's Oaxacan book.

I think Kennedy is a terrific, no compromise type of writer and I can read her books like novels. Bayless is great and I think Mexican Everyday is one of his best because he can innovate without the restrictions of "authentic" or even "traditional" as a burden. I also like One Plate at a Time because there's so much text and it's not all recipes.

I'm a sucker for Mexican books and I'll buy anything that is halfway serious.


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What I have noticed, starting with Mexico: One Plate at a Time is that his recipes have become more and more Americanized and less and less traditionaly Mexican.

I agree with this assessment: my argument is that's not such a bad thing. I really enjoy seeing how Bayless takes a traditional Mexican approach, or ingredient, or dish, and twists it around into something "contemporary."

Chris, I actually agree with you to a large extent. As much as I love traditional Mexican cuisine and find the traditional methods and techniques fun to work with, over the last several years I've been drawn more to some of the alta cocina and refinement that's been showing up in Mexican cooking.

Since my first trip to Central Mexico in 1984 I have been completely amazed and seduced by the aromas, flavors and sheer abundance of the Mexican kitchen and the ingredients that lend themselves to multiple uses and interpretations. There is tremendous value in preserving the traditional recipes and ingredients, but too much rigidity stifles the natural evolution of food and recipes, not to mention creativity. I think the real trick is in taking traditional dishes and modernizing them in such a way that they don't loose their original integrity.

I also think that Rick Bayless has been luck enough to be in the right place at the right time for a lot of his career (perhaps because he did what Joseph Campbell suggested and followed his bliss? :laugh: ). It's not terribly hard to see how his approach has grown and evolved over time, and that's not a bad thing. Think how boring we'd all be if we didn't grown and change over time.

I have the DK book in Spanish and am anxiously awaiting my English copy as well. I do okay reading in Spanish - and really well with recipe translation :smile: - but Diana always has interesting stories to relate about where she's been, how she acquired a recipe, and the people she's met along the way that I'm afraid my Spanish reading missed as much as it understood when I read it when I got it. Whether you cook from the book or not, I can attest that the Spanish edition is a beautifully produced cookbook. I think you'll enjoy it.

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I'm a sucker for Mexican books and I'll buy anything that is halfway serious.

Oh, do I hear you on that one. English, Spanish, makes no difference. If it's a half-way decent Mexican cookbook I'll buy it. They're like catnip...

One time last year when I was in Mexico, I ended up buying so many cookbooks, I actually had to buy another suitcase to get them all home. Thank god it was in International flight that allowed 2 checked bags at no extra charge.

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Personally, I didn't buy the book, just borrowed it from the library, and I doubt I will be purchasing it anytime soon. It's not nearly as helpful as his other books and I just don't need the half dozen different guac recipes.

As a person who watches One Plate at a Time on a fairly regular basis, I was surprised to see many of the recipes that he does on the TV show to be in this book (and, if you know what you're looking for, many of the recipes are available straight off of his website). I've actually cooked many of the recipes in this book before I ever opened it; I just never realized it until I did...

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Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese (Enchiladas Suizas de Verduras Asadas), (pp. 199-200)

I don’t remember the last time I made enchiladas, but the thought of creamy tomatillo sauce was too tempting to pass by. Plus, with an overflowing vegetable garden, I’m always searching for new ideas to use them in a main dish.

DSCF0218.JPG

The sauce is a snap to put together. Roasted tomatillos, garlic, onion and chilis, pureed and cooked with some broth. Not having a working blender at the moment, I used my food processor to make the sauce. It gives it a little texture—the tomatillo seeds in particular don’t disappear entirely. A blender would likely give you a smoother sauce. But no matter, it was delicious—tart, hot, creamy. Nice, too, that you can make it a day or two ahead, which I did.

Otherwise, the recipe is simply roasted vegetable-filled tortillas, napped in the sauce with a little cheese. I used this recipe as motivation to finally try my hand at making tortillas, inspired by the tutorial and conversation in the Making Tortillas at Home topic. That was a lot of fun. A bit tricky at first but I got some good ones, enough to make the enchiladas. What a difference they made to the recipe, both flavor and texture.

Oddly enough, the only thing I didn’t especially care for in the recipe was the roasted vegetables. Their caramelized sweetness was jarring in contrast with the sauce. I like roasted vegetables but the combination didn’t meld in the finished dish for me. Still, the recipe is a good template for enchiladas suizas in general and the sauce recipe is definitely a keeper. I’ll try the enchiladas again with other veggie combination or with a chicken filling.

I am in the process of making this for dinner. I was wondering what veg you used for your enchiladas. I am using a blend of carrots, kohlrabi, eggplant, bell pepper, and white onion.

May I suggest an index be made for this thread? I am starting to make recipes from this book and the critiques, comments, and suggestions really come in handy. An index will make it easier to find the info that I am looking for.

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Dan,

I know I used zucchini, yellow squash, and onions.. but there was another one, I can't remember.

Your combination sounds good, I think the eggplant will balance the sweetness of the others. i didn't really take that into account when I made mine the first time. I'll make it again, the sauce is wonderful.



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    • By worm@work
      Hi,
      I am a newbie both to this board and to the world of mexican cooking. I love tamales but the place where I live distinctly lacks good mexican restaurants. The best tamales I've tasted were made by my mexican friends mom at home and served fresh and they tasted like something that'd be served only in heaven. Am dying to try making them myself but I don't have the slightest idea how to get started. Can someone give me a tried and tested recipe using ingredients that I'm likely to be able to buy in the US? I'd be really really really grateful. Oh and I'm a vegetarian although I do eat eggs from time to time. So I need a vegetarian recipe too . Really looking forward to some help!!!
      Thanks a million,
      worm@work
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