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Dec 5, 2005 10:10 AM

Rick Bayless cookbook recommendations- Please help.

  • m

Could you kindly recommend your favorite Rick Bayless cookbook? Or if you have recommendations for lesser known but better writers about Mexican cooking, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Many thanks in advance.

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  1. b
    Becca Porter

    I have Mexican Kitchen and Mexico One Plate at a Time. I covet Authentic Mexican. They are really great. I have been going through a Mexican stage. I pretty much cooked nothing but for about 6 months now. It is so good.

    Once you buy a tortilla press, render your own lard, and track down the chiles, you may find you don't want to stop.

    If you get Mexican Kitchen make sure you make the black bean and bacon Taquitos w/ tangy romaine salad. They were unbelievable.

    The sopes in MOPAAT were incredible as well. Everything I have made has been excellent.

    So my opinion is get them all!

    1. I have (and like) Bayless' "Mexico One Plate At A Time", but the other one looks good too.

      Diana Kennedy (no less Well Know!) is wonderful if you're interested in reading more and learning authentic tools/methods - more a Marcella sort of experience. "The Cuisines of Mexico" and "The Art of Mexican Cooking"

      1. I have just two Bayless books, and they're BOTH I'm not sure what to tell you. "Mexican Kitchen" and "One Plate At a Time" are both passionate and useful explorations of Mexican cuisine; I've even cooked the same dish out of both books at once (the braised short ribs), because the recipes were slightly different and I decided to run down the middle, as it were. I think perhaps MK is a better introduction to the food and to the techniques, while OPAAT extends the repertoire to include both traditional and modern dishes.

        Bayless and Diana Kennedy are both held up as THE authorities on Mexican cooking. I frankly find Kennedy to be a bit dry and not terribly inspiring, which may not be a wholly fair evaluation, but there ya go. Maybe it's just that Rick's enthusiasm is as contagious as his recipes are good and well-presented.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          Just a comment on Rick Bayless' "enthusiasm". I have finally forced myself to watch his tv cooking shows because I admire his take on Mexican cooking. His personality, however, makes me squirm. His over-heartiness and prissiness are the worst. I don't think there's anybody else with a tv cooking show who turns me off as much as he does. Oth, I watch every once in a while cause of his great recipes and film of Mexico. I have Diana Kennedy's books and use them quite often. I love her recipes and the history and background on the dishes. Some are verrry complicated, though. Check out the mole section. A big undertaking, but worth it.

          1. re: oakjoan

            Rick was not that "perky" in the first season of his show.

            I spent a week cooking with him in Oaxaca a couple of years ago and he's not that over the top in person. He's actually quite nice and normal and a *phenomenal* teacher. I think his value lies in his ability to effectively communicate and teach more than anything.

            Annoying? I dont' know, I think Rachel Ray is way more difficult to watch than Rick........

            1. re: Gayla

              I totally agree! I can't watch Ray's show and I do watch Bayless'

              The guy I REALLY can't stand is somebody whose name I don't know. He's on PBS occasionally now but used to be on here in SF BayArea every Saturday. His Italian accent may be real but it sounds fake. He started each show by walking around what looked like a restaurant set, talking to diners. Yecchhh. Maybe he had some great recipes. I'll never know.

              1. re: oakjoan

                Nick Stellino? Last time I watched him I surmised that accent to be fake or at least exaggerated.

                For the OP: I only own Mexican Kitchen, but I love it! Bayless is a great teacher, and I find his recipes to stay close to traditional flavors w/o being too rigid.

        2. Diana Kennedy's books are indispensible. Bayliss is way too proscriptive, sometimes downright anal, about what can and can't be used for ingredients--does this lunk know the meaning of the word "substitute"? Kennedy also has a far more sensitive(and knowing) grasp of what "regional" means in Mexican food.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ronin

            Interesting that you should say that - my take on it's always been that it's Kennedy who's the stern purist and Rick who's the anything-goes guy! I think it's a question of emphasis: Bayless is primarily concerned about how a dish tastes - he's a restaurateur, after all - and hardly at all about strictly regional authenticity, whereas Kennedy's interested as much in the cultural foundations of a particular version, and preserving the regional integrity of the recipe.

            The two versions of the braised beef dish I mentioned are very much a case in point: I think one is traditional and the other a modern version, though I could be wrong and they're really from two different regions. As for me, the difference is academic: they're both delicious, and I'll choose one or the other or both, depending on what I want at the moment.

            1. re: Will Owen

              I have to agree. Diana Kennedy is much more strict in her treatment of mexican food. Which is what makes her indispensible to me... she treats the cuisine with upmost authenticity. For me, that is important because I use cookbooks as references more than recipe guides. So I want my reference to be authentic, then I'll do the dabbling...

          2. i have mexican kitchen, and i really like it. i chose it because i liked the structure, with "essential" sauces in the beginning that are then used throughout the book in other dishes. i have found that it always takes me just a little longer than i think it will to prepare the recipes. shopping is also an issue as i am not that close to a mexican market. for me it is more of a sunday cookbook. however, i have had great success with every recipe i've tried.