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Chris Hennes

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

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Over in the "Mexican Dinner Menu" topic rancho_gordo and kalypso recommended Rick Bayless's new book, Fiesta at Rick's. Not one to ignore recommendations from those two, I bought it immediately, and it just arrived. It's a nice-looking book, and is chock full of awesome-sounding recipes; so much so that I hardly know where to begin. For those of you out there who already have this book: what are your favorite recipes from it?

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It's on order! Looking forward to it...

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Over in the "Mexican Dinner Menu" topic rancho_gordo and kalypso recommended Rick Bayless's new book, Fiesta at Rick's. Not one to ignore recommendations from those two, I bought it immediately, and it just arrived. It's a nice-looking book, and is chock full of awesome-sounding recipes; so much so that I hardly know where to begin. For those of you out there who already have this book: what are your favorite recipes from it?

Some of these recipes have already been featured in mainstream magazines and on his PBS series.

Jamoncillo con Fruta y Nueces was featured in the December 2008 issue of Sauver. It translates as milk fudge with fruit & nuts, which isn't really a good description. I made it when the recipe first came out in 2008 and then again last Christmas. I love this stuff, but not everyone does. I made it originally because I know who the recipe originally came from, and because the preparation method is considerably different than most candy recipes I've made. It's easy to find good quality candided fruit in a Mexican market or tianguis, much more difficult here the U.S. I ordered the mixed candied fruit from Klustyan in NYC. I would not recommend trying this recipe with the usual candied fruit that most grocery stores sell.

Most of the recipes in this new book are geared towards entertaining and parties. In the drinks and nibbles cagetory I'm interested in trying the Champagne & Mezcal Margarita recipes as well as the Garlicky Habanero Macademia Nuts and Bacon & Tomato Guacamole recipes. Friends have had the Mezcal Maggie at his restaurants and love it.

I'm checking with the store from which I get most of my fish to see if they can get me a 3# whole snapper for this weekend. If they can, I'm trying the Pescado Zarandeado. If not, I may try the Costillas al Chipotle Enmieldo (Pork Ribs glazed with a honey-chipotle glaze)instead.

There are indeed too many good sounding choices. Other recipes I've marked to try include

Pollo a la Crema con Quelites, Chile Poblano Asado y Cebolla Caramelizado

Camarones a la Diabla

Tlayudas

Mejillones Asado con Salsa Verde y Cilantro

Costillas de Res Guisadas con Chile de Arbol, Alubias (white beans), Hongos (mushrooms) & Cerveza

Cochito Chiapaneco

There's a recipe for making Queso Fresco Mexicano that I want to try. And a recipe for Panela en Salsa Verde. Marilyn Tausend has a recipe for Panela en Oregano in her book Mexico the Beautiful that is amazingly good as an appetizer, I was thinking about making both recipes and serving them side-by-side as a comparison.

It took me about a year to get through most of Everyday Mexican, I suppose it will take me a year to get through Fiestas too :smile:

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My copy came yesterday. This weekend, I'm trying the Herb Ceviche and at least one of the salsas. Probably a guac as well.

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Oh yeah, the guac. He has a LOT of guacamole recipes in there! Guacamole is one of those things that I never really even considered playing with, I make the same basic guacamole every time. I think that is about to change...

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Tacos al Pastor with Three-Chile Salsa (pp. 188-190)

The first thing I tried from the book was his modified-for-home-equipment "Tacos al Pastor." All told it worked out pretty well: nothing mind-blowing, but pretty tasty. My one complaint is the use of pork shoulder here: I don't find that the texture is that good when the pork is cooked so quickly. I ended up having to chop the pork finer than I would have liked. The three-chile salsa on page 190 is quite good, I thought, and worked well on these tacos.

Taco al pastor  002.jpg

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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.


Edited by kalypso (log)

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Tacos de Arrachera al Carbón con Ceboliitas Asadas y Nopales, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with Knob Onions and Cactus) pp. 182-183 and p.208

While the title is a mouthful, this recipe is quite simple, and showcases the great flavors in the beef marinade without overshadowing the beef itself. I also like his recommended salsa here, a very basic roasted tomatillo salsa (the recipe is included in this book, and I think in all his others as well). My one question is, how do you eat the cebollitas? They are grilled whole, and are too large to just put on a taco without cutting them up. What's the story on those?

Tacos de Arrachera  002.jpg

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Aguacate Machacado (Yucatecan Guacamole) (p. 29)

I'm not real clear on what makes this "Yucatecan"—in his description, Bayless talks about what he thinks Yucatecan guacamole is (Florida avacados, habanero, cilantro, sour orange juice) and then says "I do the same thing, but use Mexico's west coast avocados—the creamy Hass avocados that are so popular in the States—and add a little tomato, a handful of red onion [...]". Which is to say, nothing at all like a Yucatecan guacamole, right? OK, enough whining about semantics. The guacamole is basically what I think of as a traditional guacamole, and it's good. In particular, this recipe calls for rinsing the onions in water before adding them, which is a very effective way to tone them down a little but still get that crunch.

Yucatecan Guacamole  002.jpg

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I made the simple Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail, and it was very good, quick and easy. I did omit the clam juice. We ate it more like a salsa in a bowl than cocktail-style in a glass.

Herb Green Ceviche with cucumber was delish. I used 3 jalapenos instead of the serranos and it was plenty spicy. Used ahi tuna, as that was the best looking fish at the market that day.

Lastly, the Salsa Huevona - lazy-ass salsa. Very simple, and the family really loved it.

I did add some additional tomatoes - we had kids and it would have been a little much for them.

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I cut the recipe for Arroz con Platano (Rice with Plantains) down from about 24 servings to 6. It was easy to make and very good, especially when drizzled with crema :laugh:

I was intending to make the Camarones a la Diabla but ended up having to do a riff on the recipe. The recipe called for 8 guajillo chiles. As I was assembling the ingredients I discovered I had every chile in the book except guajillo. Go figure. Then I considered not doing the recipe since I usually prefer to make a dish as written the first time. But Rick did provide the weight (2 oz)of guajillos needed, so I decided to go ahead using the chiles I had on hand. I ended up using 4 large anchos and 2 medium smoked chile Oaxaqueño (smoked pasilla). Basic toast, soak, blend and fry recipe. Needed to use more (about twice as much) liquid to blend than recipe specified. The paste I had on hand was plenty hot already so I just added the extra 3-4 tablespoons as water instead of the recommended hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and sugar at the end of the cooking time. I also ended up adding about a tablespoon and a half of apple cider vinegar to round out the sauce. The dish was finished by sauteing some onions until limp, adding the shrimp and then about half the sauce. Served over the rice w/plantains and a garnish of crema. So I didn't really end up making the Diabla sauce as written, but what I did end up with was actually very, very good.

I'm using the rest of the sauce tonight with chicken and think it will be equally good.

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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.

Enchiladas Suizas  002.jpg

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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.

Wow Chris, you're really going to town with this book. Good for you. So far everything you've posted looks great!

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Thanks. I really love Mexican food, but I've been in a bit of a rut with Szechuan before this; it's a welcome break from the routine. And tonight really paid off:

Enfrijoladas (Savory Bean-Sauced Tortillas with Fresh Cheese) (pp. 196–197)

Oh hell yes. Worth the price of admission right here, this innocuous-sounding recipe really fires on all cylinders. There are some changes I'll make next time to compensate for apparent differences in the way Bayless and I cook beans (my broth wound up a bit too salty once reduced), but the basic idea of this recipe is fantastic. Dip fresh corn tortillas in bean cooking broth, sprinkle with chorizo and cheese, add roasted tomatillo salsa, et voila!—a masterpiece. I unfortunately did not have any fresh cheese on hand so had to substitute leftover queso quesadilla from last night: still good, but I think with the fresh cheese this dish is a definite keeper, to be brought out whenever I have leftover bean broth to use up.

Enfrijoladas  002.jpg

ETA: I should mention that my bean cooking broth this time was a lightly-smoked chicken stock, and I cook my beans with heavy doses of both onions and garlic, which of course affects the taste of the final broth.


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

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Mmmm........enfrijoladas :smile: love 'em. When made well they are really spectacular. When made poorly, they are heavy little bean bombs. I looked at this recipe last weekend too, glad to know it's worth making.

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Has anyone tried to make the "Chile-roasted pork on the grill, Chiapas style" on pages 266–267? I see that he calls for a bone-in pork shoulder, but then instructs you to cut it into 2-inch slabs. Seems like you'd either need a meat saw to do that, or you'd have to bone it out first (but then why call for bone-in?). Any ideas?

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Queso Fundido al Tequila (Tequila-Infused Queso Fundido) (p. 133)

You win some, you lose some. This was not good, at all. Maybe it was the cheese I used (quesadilla—one that he recommends for this), but I did not find the taste or texture of this at all appetizing. I was expecting (or at least hoping for) something more like a Tex-Mex cheese dip, and what I got was a mass of melted cheese that tasted a bit too tequila-y for me. Has anyone had better luck with this using different cheese?

Queso Fundido  002.jpg

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Grilled Garlic and Orange Guacamole (p. 32)

Nothing bad to say about this one: it's very interesting (in a good way). The grilled garlic pops without being overwhelming, and the little bursts of orange are a nice touch. Overall a very good guacamole.

Guacamole with orange.jpg

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Cochito Chiapaneco (Chile-roasted pork on the grill, Chiapas style) (pp. 266–267)

Saying this is cooked "on the grill" is a bit misleading, IMO: it's cooked wrapped in banana leaves, in a Dutch oven, on a grill. Why use the grill at all, then? I used an oven, which worked just fine. It's a really nice, flavorful sauce that I think could stand a little more time to penetrate the pork and really flavor the roast through-and-through. Cooked as instructed the flavor is nice, but entirely as a sauce on the outside of the roast. I am thinking maybe next time give the pork a 24-hour marinade in the sauce before tossing it in the oven. All told, though, the pork was delicious. I wound up serving it as a taco filling mostly, though we ate plenty of it plain as well.

Cochito Chiapaneco 1.jpg

Cochito Chiapaneco 2.jpg

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Chris - are you making your own tortillias? They look delish.

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Yeah, all the tortillas have been homemade, from "fresh" masa. It's not really all that fresh, unfortunately, it's in the refrigerated case at the local Mexican grocer. But I think these are better than the ones I was making from masa harina, so I'm sticking with it for now, until I get an Ultrapride :wink:.

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Hi Chris,

There was a similar instruction when I made cochinita pibil from one of Bayless' other books. I just had the butcher saw the pork shoulder up for me. They were happy to do it.

Anne

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We have not found a Rick Bayless book we did not like. Does he offer variations and vegetarian option on the recipes like he did in his previous books?

Regardless, I am sure my wife is going to insist that I get this book soon. She is a huge fan of Mexican food.

Dan

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chemprof, thanks for the suggestion, that's a good idea. I ended up just cutting deep slashes in the shoulder, like he suggested for the picnic ham. DanM, he doesn't offer variations in this one, but I sorta view this book as a supplement to his others. I don't think I would want it to be my first Mexican cookbook, since a lot of what it offers are themselves variations on other recipes that I was familiar with.

Tonight we were using leftover pork from last night, so I made enchiladas. The filling is the Cochito Chiapeneco I posted about above, but the chile sauce is from Diana Kennedy's "[amazon=0553057065]The Art of Mexican Cooking": Salsa de jitomate, Sierra de Puebla y Michoacán (p. 337). I made these enchiladas more like I think of a traditional enchilada (as compared to Bayless's Enchiladas Suizas, for example), quickly frying the tortillas in oil and then dipping them in the chile sauce before rolling them around the filling. Spicy and delicious!

Enchiladas de Cochita Chiapaneco.jpg

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Chris, those enchiladas look wonderful :cool: DK would have had you fry, dip and fold (rather than roll) and probably put a little more sauce on them, but as long as you liked them and they tasted good, why stand on formality.

I did Rick's Roadside Chicken recipe (from Everyday Mexican) last night, it's always a hit

Happy 4th

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